The herringbone knit pattern is most associated with English men’s jackets, made in a heavy twill fabric, though it also works well for scarves, cowls, and blankets. Its distinctive feature is the deep V that changes direction at each repeat. Since basic stockinette knitting already creates a small “v” effect, it’s quite easy to translate that look into the deeper “V” of a herringbone.
There are several ways to vary a herringbone look. You can either create your herringbone by working the deep Vs horizontally across the length of your needles or you can have the V emerge from the bottom edge of your knitting and have columns of stitches be shaped in the V pattern.
All herringbone knit patterns rely on the use, in some way, of a slipped stitch, where you move a stitch from your left needle onto your right without knitting or purling into that stitch, or a double-worked stitch, where you knit or purl into the same stitch twice. The idea is to extend your stitches beyond one row or column.
A horizontal herringbone pattern will be two row repeats, where row 1 creates the V on the knit side and row 2 creates it on the purl side. A vertical herringbone pattern will have a knit row where the Vs are created. Row 2 will be a simple purl row. All of the pattern work will happen on the knit row. The pattern itself will likely involve at least a 4 row repeat.
For any horizontal herringbone pattern, you will need an even number of stitches. The most basic horizontal herringbone is knit two together, slipping only the first stitch off the left needle. Then you knit the next two together, again slipping only the first stitch off the left needle. In this way, all of the stitches on your needle get worked twice except for the first one. This creates the effect of your stitch stretching over two rows. The second row of the pattern is the same thing, except worked in the purl stitch. It can be hard to conceptualize before you put it on the needles and start working with it, but once you get the hang of it, you can get going pretty fast. There are other methods, as well, that involve passing a slipped stitch over.
A horizontal herringbone knit pattern is one of my favorite go-to projects. The scarf I made can be made in two days and all my friends love it. The herringbone is a classic, elegant stitch that never fails to please! What’s your favorite way to use the herringbone look?