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Old Shale, and Its Many Varieties



After I posted some preview photos of the Fishermen's Muse sweater (which is coming out as part of the Apple Oak Fibre Works Stockholm pattern book), a couple of people have asked whether the edgings use the same lace motif as the Ripple and Bloom cardigan

The answer is both Yes and No!


I used Old Shale lace on both garments. However they are not the same version of the motif, and in fact - despite looking very similar - are quite different to execute.  

And therein lies the beauty of the Old Shale stitch: There are so many variants! Remarkably, the different versions accomplish basically the same look, but using different stitch counts, different increase and decrease techniques; at times even the stitches themselves are different (namely in that some versions of Old Shale involve purling, and others do not).

Now the question you might be asking is: What is the point of there being different versions of what looks to be the same lace motif? 

Well, one obvious benefit, is that you can choose one with a stitch count optimal for your specific garment/ accessory. For example, the Fishermen's Muse sweater is designed for chunky yarn, so it suits a lace repeat that works over relatively few stitches. On the other hand, the Ripple and Bloom cardigan is designed for sportweight yarn, and suits a lace motif with a longer repeat.  

Aside from that, a design might look better with some increase and decrease techniques over others, it might suit the versions that incorporate purl stitches or not, etc. 


I have used Old Shale lace in 4 of my patterns so far: the Fishermen's Muse sweater, the Ripple and Bloom cardigan, the Michelle socks and Rochelle socks. Each pattern uses a different version of the motif, and I like them all. 

If you are interested in an overview of the different Old Shale variations, have a look at this (free!) e-book from Mary Spanos. Amazingly, it still leaves a few versions out. But it will give you a sense of how amazingly varied and versatile this lace repeat can be.

Also: If you are interested in the difference between Old Shale vs the Feather and Fan motif it is often confused with, visit here for a very thorough comparison!