Sunday, May 23, 2010

Checkerboard Slipper Tutorial

A while ago a buddy gave me a holey pair of slippers that his grandma had made for him in hopes that I could reproduce them. Flash forward a year, during which time I still hadn’t gotten around to making them, when one of the Knit knack girls started talking about these checkerboard slippers they wanted to make. I didn’t really pay attention to it until I saw the picture - it was the exact pattern that he had asked me to make! Naturally, when something like that falls into your lap, you know you can’t put it off any more, so I quickly made them up for him.

(those are his hairy legs, not mine)

Recently I was messaged by a couple of knitters for advice on making these rad slippers, so I thought that I’d go ahead and make a photo tutorial of the major features of the pattern. The original pattern is written well enough, but simply lacks pictures of any kind.

The first thing that you need to understand about this pattern is that its structure is based on the biggest NO-NO of colorwork: carrying your unused color tightly. 99.9% of the time when you are working with multiple colors you want to carry the yarn loosely on the backside of your work, however with this pattern, you actually need to pull the non-working yarn tight. That’s what makes these neat bumps all over the slippers.

If you do it correctly, the backside will feel more smooth and flat, looking something like this:

You’ll also notice that the edge has a rippled effect. That’s okay! This will become the heel portion which will be stitched together.

The pattern tells you to anchor the contrasting color at beginning of each row, which just means that you need to twist the contrast color around the working color before the first stitch. In the picture below, white is the working color which twists around the green, kinda like this:

This anchoring of the yarn at the edge, along with pulling the stitches tight, will eventually make for a very nice turned edge, which should look like this:

When you’re working on the wrong side you have to switch your yarn colors between the needles to change color, much like when you are switching from knit to purl if you were ribbing. As shown in the picture below green has just been worked so I move that between my needles to the front (wrong side), and move the white between the needles to the back (right side) to begin knitting with the white.

The rest of the pattern should be fairly simple – just garter stitch knitting, simple decreases for the toe and then sewing seams.



  1. I'm so happy to come across this pattern! I learned to make them probably in high school, and last made them maybe just out of college, which would be the early to mid 70s! Totally forgot how to make them, and the instructions were lost long ago. My son and DIL live in a little house in the woods, and require everyone to take their shoes off in the house so as not to track the woods in with them. I was thinking it would be nice to make a few pairs of these for them to keep in a basket by the door for visitors to put on. And thus keep feet warm on that cold tile floor!

  2. i love the look of these slippers but i just can't get the hand of this pattern as of yet just too it wasn't actually in moving video i'm going to keep trying
    thks Diane

  3. These are my Dad's absolute favorite slippers. I am a beginning knitter and imagine my horror when my Dad proudly handed me the pattern and said "the lady said they were easy!" I could not understand the second line of directions. Thank's so much for the pictures! I'm sure knitting them up will be much easier.

  4. so happy to come across the first site that explains a bit about this pattern! i still don't seem to understand it, though and i am not sure if it's due to my not being a native english-speaker or my poor knitting skills :( i can't seem to find a video of this anywhere, could anyone else point me to one? if anyone can help, thanks a bunch in advance!

    1. go to youtube and type in
      checkerboard slippers

  5. Great suggestions - I'll try at some point to make a video and add it to this blog post

  6. I have been looking for this pattern for sometime now, I was thinking it was called basketweave. My sister and I can't wait to put our fingers to work and try this out. Thanks

  7. Well hi there - these slippers warm my heart! My husband's grandmother made these wonderful slippers for decades. She was a very special lady to me as both of my grandmother's passed away when I was young.

    She tried to teach me to make these slippers once, but it didn't take long for us to realize I was never going to be a knitter (you're lucky you are!). Anyway, I have a huge plastic bin filled full of them, all different colors and sizes that she made for us and our children through the years. Some are missing their mates, some have holes, and some are too small to fit anyone, but I can't bear to throw them away.

    She passed away a couple years ago. I miss her so much and will miss getting her slippers on birthdays and Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, my husband's aunt just gave me the last pair she found in her mother's stash... I will cherish them and think of her every time I slip those comfy yarn hugs on my feet. I refuse to walk around the house in them in an effort to prolong their life as long as possible.... they're for sitting on the couch only!


  8. thank you so much for posting pics. I also found the pattern on Ravelry in a printed form. I consider myself a skilled knitter ( over 30 years ) but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to carry the stitches
    across without the strands showing. I can see now that they should show. It helps when you can see the pattern from back and front views.
    Can't wait to try try again

  9. hello can you please do a youtube video please please. I have a harder time with directions. this is for a family that wanted this done. this family had their grandma passed away. they asked me to help them. i reading everything and i have no clue. thanks for reading this anyone. if any of you knw how to do this. please do a youtube video. thanks and god bless

  10. I have been looking for this pattern EVERYWHERE. My grandma used to knit these slippers for us. I have ONE slipper left that she made for me years ago and now that she's no longer with us, I've been searching for the pattern so I can make them for me and my family... thank you thank you thank you!

  11. Hello I was wondering if you could post a video on how to stitch up the heel part? I love these slippers always used to get them as a xmas gift. But now I need to knit them myself. Which im a crocheter so it will take me time to knit. lol thank you.

  12. Also have had someone else make these amazing slippers and they have since passed. Am a beginning knitter (self taught) and these slippers are great! Just need to sit myself down and get started. Thanks for the pictures as I believe they will help me as I take on this project. Have had requests from family for them already. Thank you again !

  13. Thank you for putting up the pictures especially. I had a hard time finding the pattern. Gramma gave everyone, in the old days, a new pair of slippers at Christmas. We wore them inside of the rubber boots too when we had barn chores, etc. Anyhow , that is a something I got to started for my little family this Christmas season. Warm, comfortable, and tough. Thanks again!

  14. thanks for the lovely pics of the different stages. I learned how to make these without a pattern by someone showing me, but i wanted to show a friend the different stages of how they're made and you have great pics, thanks!

  15. YAY! I want to learn how to make these, as I have to keep begging my friend's mom for them. They're the best, all nice and cushy. ( I also love how the Phentex pom-pom kind of melts together and becomes one big ball of whatever-which is why you never see photos posted after the wash LOL!). I've just order some of that nuke-proof yarn, and can't wait to give it a go.

  16. OH. MY. GOD. I read THIS and thought it was me writing.

    "I got involved with knitting just after marrying my husband. Unluckily for him (but thankfully for me) the marriage was legally binding before I developed my obsessive yarn-hoarding, pattern-dreaming, technique-learning, multi-project-starting, knit-knacking ways so now he's stuck with it."

    Scared me 'cause I'm not & never have been married. I quick rushed to see and -- gasp -- IT'S NOT ME!!!!! But it sounds just like me! :))

    Thanks for the slipper pattern.

  17. Have been looking for a pattern for this type of slipper for so long. My grandmother used to make them and they are the BEST!!! She has been gone for some time now. I so wish I had learned to make them from her. I will be teaching my daughter how to make these once I figure it all out:)

  18. I did a poof job of stitching the back/heel's bulky and wasn't sure how to sew/stitch...the heel portion is questionable to you have a "bottom" pic of this slipper...please! The visuals are great...I did finish a pair and keeping for me due to the above but want to do neater in the future!!!

  19. oops and one more question: clarity on directions.....when it notes something about block 8 (row 9) I got confused. Womens called for 10 blocked rows (60 rows) so I wound up knitting until that many blocks ..which actually in the tenth block portion I started the 6 rows of reduction which said (3 and 4) knit...not sure if I understood correctly how the reduction began and in what block row...

  20. The Bev's Country Cottage version seems to combine 2 different versions. I had the same problem, then just paid attention to the text on the bottom. I would also appreciate details on sewing up the entire heel. I want sturdy, but not painful.