Houndstooth Ribbons

I have a penchant for classic patterns: plaids, herringbone, and more recently, houndstooth. This year, houndstooth seems to have evolved from its traditional conservative black and white into a modern take on a vintage favorite, as artists play with color schemes and alter print sizes. I love the super-sized pattern seen on Fabric Paper Glue’s throw pillows, and the creative paper-cut design on P & P Paperworks notecards. Of course, houndstooth goes hand in hand with winter, making the green and brown felted wool Mom found on eBay a classic but no less appealing example of a print that, more often than not, is used to evoke the coziness of a thick coat or a crackling fire.

1. Houndstooth Pillow Cover in Bright Lime Green by Fabric Paper Glue
2. Houndstooth Pillow Cover in Neutral by Fabric Paper Glue

Houndstooth Pattern Hand Cut Card by P & P Paperworks

Houndstooth wool found on eBay, felted after purchasing

Since houndstooth now seems to be fair play for alteration and modernization, my take on houndstooth is a little different than the examples I shared above, but nonetheless suggests warmth and style, making it a perfect holiday gift. First, I have to admit that I did not start this project with houndstooth in mind; I began with three skeins of Jade Sapphire’s 4-Ply Cashmere, in three different colors, and the desire for a color-work cowl. After some experimenting, failure, and subsequent inspiration-browsing, I landed upon houndstooth and suddenly couldn’t understand why this winter classic hadn’t occurred to me before. When I purchased the cashmere, I had planned to design my own fair isle pattern and wasn’t yet ready to give up this idea once I settled on houndstooth. Hoping to put a unique spin on my design, I broke up the pattern into three ribbons of red houndstooth wrapping around the cowl, each framed by a solid stripe of green or grey; I immediately fell in love with the results, which both clearly illustrate a houndstooth print while also slightly resembling an unusual plaid. The final product? My Houndstooth-Encircled Cowl, the ideal quick and beautiful gift for anyone in need of a little style and luxury. For full instructions, see the end of this post.

Houndstooh-Encircled Cowl
3 skeins Jade Sapphire 4-Ply Cashmere, one each in Ruby Slippers #11 (pattern color, P), Oceana #62 (first color, A), and Silver Fox #65 (second color, B)
US size 5 straight knitting needles

This pattern should be fairly simple for anyone who has basic knitting skills. If you’ve never done color work before, I suggest looking for a quick tutorial online and diving right in–this pattern is quite simple and fun, and is excellent for a beginner.

Cast on 48 stitches with A and knit one row. On each end, knit three stitches in garter stitch (this will be your border); the center 45 stitches will all be knit in stockinette stitch. Begin working in houndstooth pattern using the fair isle technique–a chart can be found here, or follow the patterning instructions written below. To create the houndstooth ribbons, you will work so that there are three checks of houndstooth, followed by four stitches of solid A, three checks of houndstooth, four stitches A, and three checks of houndstooth (see pattern detail below). Knit in A (with pattern in P) for six inches, B for six inches, A for six inches, and finally B for six inches. Knit one row solid B and cast off. Seam the short ends of your cowl to create a circle, and weave in all ends.

Houndstooth-Encircled Cowl Stitch Pattern
k = knit
p = purl
*…* = houndstooth pattern
When working with one color for more than three stitches, remember to wrap yarn.

Row 1 (right side):  k3 A, (*k2 A, k1 P, k1 A* three times k4 A) twice, *k2 A, k1 P, k1 A,* k3 A
2: k3 A, (*p1 A, p3 P* three times, p4 A) twice, *p1 A, p3 P* three times, k3 A
3: k3 A,(*k1 A, k3 P* three times, k4 A) twice, *k1 A, k3 P,* k3 A
4: k3 A, (*p2 A, p1 P, p1 A* three times, p4 A) twice, *p2 A, p1 P, p1 A,* k3 A

6 Responses to “Houndstooth Ribbons”
  1. andy1076 says:

    Great colorful post! really enjoyed it :)

  2. I have a soft-spot in my heart for houndstooth. It was the wall paper in my bathroom at the house I grew up in.

    • Kate says:

      I agree, it just feels comforting. I had blue checks in my bedroom as a toddler–popular motif for children I guess!

  3. DannyK says:

    I love those pillows!

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