As most of the Northern Hemisphere is in the process of transforming into spring (according to Punxsutawney Phil, anyway, liar that he is), here in good ol' California it's like we're back in the bowels of January again. So what better topic than to discuss the warm and woolly tweed prints of houndstooth and herringbone (and their kin).
What these textiles have in common is that they consist of at least two colors, or two shades of the same color. This variation adds a nice depth to them, which offsets the heaviness of the fabric. As prints, they can be on any kind of fabric, really, but traditionally these are wood textiles.
This is probably the most common of the prints mentioned today because it is the most subtle (or can be, at least). Herringbone is a vertical print where the columns are alternating diagonals (up, down, up, down), forming little Vs and upside-down Vs. Herringbone can range from super-thin lines (these are the ones that are more subtle) to super-thick (louder and more fun). Usually this is just a two-color pattern, although sometimes it can be a single tone (still has the texture).
Houndtooth is a very distinctive pattern that reads more diagonally. Most often a duotone, houndstooth looks like a checkered pattern in which every other block is a diagonal mix of both colors (it also often reads as abstract angular shapes). Much like herringbone, it is most subtle when it is small.
Glen plaid is another subtle textile that gets its name from plaid prints, but really is rather different. It is lumped along with houndstooth and herringbone because of its construction--what appear to be lines in a regular plaid pattern are actually broken. Glen plaid is often made up of more than two colors on a more neutral base.
How to tell them apart
- Herringbone print looks like columns of fishtail braids next to each other (get it? fish? herring?).
- Houndstooth is a little jagged, like teeth.
- Glen Plaid has varying areas of tight print and loose print in squarish forms. Glens are narrow valleys, and the alternating tight and loose can be read like a topographic map (ok, this one is a stretch. I actually though glens were patches of trees, which would make more sense. Choose whichever method helps you best).
Which is your favorite tweedy textile? Is it one of the above or something else?