Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Loom stitches: Houndstooth Checks

Houndstooth Checks worked on 1/2 inch gauge knitting loom with bulky (#5) yarn
One of my favorite pastimes is translating needle knit stitch patterns to knitting looms. This is occasionally a challenge since I'm not a needle knitter, but it is a good mental exercise. However, I can always browse through knit stitch books and online sites thinking of all the lovely projects one can make with these stitch patterns even though it seems to be my fate to only knit unique little swatches since my time is very limited. The next best thing is to share the translated stitch patterns with other loom knitters and live vicariously through them when they use my translations in their projects.

Houndstooth checks is a tessellated pattern of alternating light and dark colors that originated in the Scottish Lowlands as a woven wool design and introduced into the US as a fabric in men's suits by a high end New York department store in the early 1930's. As the saying goes, the rest is history. You can now find the pattern in every possible color combination and utilized not only in clothing, but all sorts of accessories and household items. It is also revered by the University of Alabama in memory their beloved 1970's football coach, "Bear" Bryant, who always wore his trademark houndstooth hat to every football game. On that note, I give you the Houndstooth Check stitch pattern.

I've found two methods for creating houndstooth checks: Fair Isle stranded method and slip stitch method. While the Fair Isle method is more traditional, my instructions focus on the slip stitch method, because it produces a very nice check pattern without excessive amounts of floats on the reverse side of the fabric. Minimizing floats is more important if you are using a large gauge knitting loom (i.e., Knifty Knitter, Darice, etc.), but becomes less of an issue on the finer gauge looms and needle knitting. Here are the basic slip stitch instructions:

Houndstooth Checks Stitch Pattern
Multiple of 3 pegs
Two contrasting colors of yarn

  • MC = main color
  • CC = contrasting color
  • k = knit stitch
  • sl1 wyib = slip one with yarn in back. (Instead of knitting the peg, you will bring the working yarn behind the peg and on to the next peg.)
  • rep = repeat 
Row 1 (MC): k1, *sl1 wyib, k2; rep from * to last 2 sts, sl1 wyib, k1
Row 2 (MC): k all pegs
Row 3 (CC): sl1 wyib, k2; rep from * to end
Row 4 (CC): k all pegs

  • These instructions are for the basic stitch pattern. To prevent a flat item from rolling, you need to work either a garter, seed or moss stitch stitch pattern for at least two rows after casting on, two rows prior to binding off and several stitches along each edge.  
  • Do not cut the yarn when changing colors, but carry it along the edge. It is important when changing colors at the end of the row that you twist or hold the old color horizontal while bringing the new color up and over the old color. 
This version of the Houndstooth Pattern was adapted and translated to the knitting loom from The Harmony Guides: 450 Knitting Stitches, Volume 2. The Harmony Guides have become the most used books in my crafting library.