One of my favorite sock patterns to knit is a simple feather and fan pattern. It’s easy to memorize, knits up fast, and looks good in both solid and multi-colored yarns. However, all of the feather and fan patterns I’ve found also tend to pull in too much for my feet, and after a few washings my socks have tightened up to the point where they’re uncomfortable to wrestle onto my foot. So I started researching other similar patterns, and after much test-knitting, settled on one of many variations of Old Shale, sometimes also called Old Shell, sister pattern to Feather and Fan. In A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Barbara Walker writes that no two families in the Shetland Islands knit this pattern in the same way, and after exhausting research on the many different styles, I am inclined to agree.
While written as a toe-up pattern (for which I give two different styles of heel), experienced knitters should feel free to use the chart and make it a cuff-down sock by including their favorite cast-on, cuff, heel, and toe.
This pattern has both charted and written instructions.