Checkered Stitch Pattern

For me, the iconic Canadian plaid is reminiscent of lumberjacks, bush parties, high school, and weekends at the lake. I’ve recreated it in knit form using intarsia and slipped stitches. There is no stranding in this stitch pattern.

Red and black buffalo plaid pattern created with slip stitches and intarsia techniques.

You’ll need a circular or double pointed needles for this is a swing style stitch pattern. Two right side rows are worked, followed by two wrong side rows. When you reach the end of the first row, slide the stitches back to the other end of the needle and work the row again.

1. The first row in each pair of rows is always worked using the intarsia technique, using butterflies or bobbins of yarn for each section of colour.  You’re basically creating vertical stripes. Work a right side row in intarsia as follows.

Grey and black plaid stitch pattern on the needles with several strands of yarn pulled up above the needle and laid across a hand.

2. Intarsia row: Work up to the spot where you’ll change colours.

Two hands knitting with black stitches on right needle and grey stitches on left needle.

3. Intarsia row: When changing colours, pick up the new colour from behind the old colour, allowing the strands to cross (old colour crosses over top of new colour). The old colour will be trapped in place and this will prevent holes in your fabric.

Transitioning between two colours, while knitting an intarsia pattern, by crossing the black yarn over the grey yarn.

4. Intarsia row: Work in this manner to the end of the row, changing colours where required; do not turn. The new stitches on your needle will clearly show the vertical stripes. This swatch shows checks that are 3 stitches wide; the checks in the photo at the top are 7 stitches wide.

Hand holding knitting on the needles with right side facing showing a completed row of intarsia stitches; stitch pattern is black and grey plaid with one column of red stitches on left selvedge.

5. Slide the knitting needle through the stitches so you’re ready to work another right side row.

Left hand holding stitches on needle with right side facing; a yellow arrow indicates the right hand is pushing the needle to the left allowing the stitches on the needle to slide to the other end.

6. Slip-Stitch row: The second row in each pair of rows is always a slip-stitch row with no colour changes; the working yarn for these rows is separate from the intarsia rows. *K1, sl 1; repeat from * to the end. All stitches are slipped purlwise.

Hands holding knitting on the needles and showing the right needle is slipped into the next stitch on left needle, slipping it purl wise.

7. Slip-Stitch row: When you’ve finished the row, the stitches on the needle will be a jumble of colours. Now it’s time to turn your work and get ready to begin a new intarsia row.

Hands hold knitting with right side facing showing a completed row of slipped stitches alternating with knit stitches.

8. Intarsia row: Work the first wrong side row in intarsia. The new colour is picked up from underneath the old colour which is held out of the way to the left, when purling. Work in this manner to the end of the row; do not turn.

With the wrong side facing, hands show how to transition from red stitches to grey stitches in the intarsia technique; red yarn is held to the left and grey yarn is pulled up and to the right.

9. Slide the knitting needle through the stitches so you’re ready to work another wrong side row.

Stitches on the needle with the wrong side facing and held in left hand; yellow arrow points to the left indicating direction right hand is pushing needle.

10. Slip-Stitch row: The second wrong side row is always a slip-stitch row. Remember the working yarn is separate from the intarsia yarn, so find the correct strand of yarn before beginning. *K1, sl 1; repeat from * to end of row. Turn and you’re ready to begin a right side intarsia row.

Hands holding knitting on the needles and showing the right needle is slipped into the next stitch on left needle, slipping it purl wise.

Knitting on the needle is laid on a knit background; wrong side is facing showing the intarsia joins running up the back side and the several strands of yarn needed for the intarsia columns.

When knitting the Checkered Stitch Pattern, you can’t go wrong with the traditional red and black, but it’s fun in other colour combinations, as well. Experiment with it and use more than two colours or make your stripes uneven in width.

Ready to try out this Checkered Stitch Pattern in a project? Get the Lumberjack Mitts knitting pattern.

Hands crossed on lap, one hand holding a cut of cocoa and both wearing red and black checkered fingerless mitts.