Easy Herringbone. Really.

I’m a big sucker for any form of slip-stitch knitting. Brioche fans already know the amazing textures you can achieve by slipping one little stitch. When it comes to colorwork, slip-stitch is the lazy knitter’s best friend because it creates impressive patterns with half the normal amount of knitting.

Then there is herringbone stitch. Almost every article, tutorial, and pattern makes a point of saying that it’s a tricky, troublesome stitch with a gorgeous texture. And it is, on both accounts. But did you know there are way easier versions of knitted herringbone? They each look a little different, but all are very herringboney. I’ll compare basic herringbone stitch with 2 variations and let you pick your favorite.

A few notes:

• Basic herringbone stitch is dense. Go up 2 or 3 needle sizes at least. You want fabric that will bend.
• Herringbone also sucks up a LOT of yarn. You will not find 1-skein basic herringbone patterns unless it’s an awfully big skein.
• Herringbone fabric is perfect for pillows, bags, or anything that gets hard wear.
• Pointy needles will save you a lot of struggle and agita.

herringbone stitch

Basic herringbone. Both sides are beautiful.

Basic Herringbone

Beautiful, and a total pain in the butt to knit. There are several different ways to work the stitch, and all of them kind of suck. If you want to ignore this example and skip to the ones below, feel free. That said, it does have a pleasing rhythm if you keep your stitches loose. Like, way loose.

• CO an even number of stitches.
Row 1 (RS) SSK, dropping only the first stitch off the left needle, *ssk but slip the first stich purlwise and slip the second stitch knitwise; drop only the first st off the left needle; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 2 (WS) P2tog, dropping only the first st off the left needle; rep to last st, p1.
• Repeat rows 1 and 2, or give up and try the easy versions below.

herringbone stitch

Woven Herringbone

Not sure why this is called “Woven Herringbone,” as all herringbone looks woven. The slipped stitches are always on the right side of the fabric. Worked tightly, it makes a bomb-proof bag.

• CO a multiple of 4 st plus 2.
Row 1 (RS) K2, *sl2 wyf, k2; rep to end.
Row 2 (WS) P1, *sl2 wyb, p2; rep from * to last stitch, p1.
Row 3 (RS) Sl2 wyf, *k2, sl2 wyf; rep to end.
Row 4 (WS) P3, *sl2 wyb, p2; rep from * to last 3 sts, sl2 wyb, p1.
• Rep rows 1-4 twice more.
Row 13 (RS) Sl2 wyf, *k2, sl2 wyf; rep to end.
Row 14 (WS) P1, *sl2 wyb, p2; rep from * to last stitch, p1.
Row 15 (RS) K2, *sl2 wyf, k2; rep to end.
Row 16 (WS) P3, *sl2 wyb, p2; rep from * to last 3 sts, sl2 wyb, p1.
• Rep rows 13-16 twice more.

herringbone stitch

Triple-Slip Herringbone

Fun to say and easy to work, this is a bit more open. The additional slipped stitches make for a wider herringbone repeat, but the reverse is not for public show.

• CO a multiple of 6 stitches plus 2.
Row 1 (RS) K1, *sl3 wyf, k3; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 2 (WS) P1, *p2, sl3 wyb, p1; rep from * to last st, p1.
Row 3 (RS) K1, *k2, sl3 wyf, k1; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 4 (WS) P1, *Sl3 wyb, p3; rep from * to last st, p1.
Row 5 (RS) K1, *sl1 wyf, k3, sl2 wyf; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 6 (WS) P1, *sl1 wyb, p3, sl2 wyb; rep from * to last st, p1.
• Rep rows 1-6.
Row 13 (RS) K1, *sl1 wyf, k3, sl2 wyf; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 14 (WS) P1, *Sl3 wyb, p3; rep from * to last st, p1.
Row 15 (RS) K1, *k2, sl3 wyf, k1; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 16 (WS) P1, *p2, sl3 wyb, p1; rep from * to last st, p1.
Row 17 (RS) K1, *sl3 wyf, k3; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 18 (WS) P1, *sl1 wyb, p3, sl2 wyb; rep from * to last st, p1.
• Rep rows 13-18.

Do you use other versions of herringbone? Let us know in the comments.
Allison


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