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Definitions

Under Construction

As can be seen, houndstooth, typically coloured black and white, masquerades itself under a variety of names and some intrinsically different designs, all of which causes no end of difficulties in exact referencing. Some names are more popular than others, such as dogstooth, pied de poule, chicken’s foot, pepita, and shepherd’s check, which broadly act as synonyms and indeed there are still others. Indeed, I have identified no less than that 15 broad distinctions (admittedly some are variations of the theme, with Shepherd’s Check, Shepherd's Plaid etc). And then, to add to the muddle, different countries have their own preferences as to nomenclature! For instance, what is one person’s houndstooth is another’s pepita. And so on with the other terms. And then on occasion, by extension, any black and white tiling with jagged edges is described as houndstooth by less discerning authorities (if they can be called that)!  In short, confusion as to intention reigns! Typically, the author will discuss houndstooth in a vague sense, using these terms as abstract concepts, with a myriad of personal meanings that without a categorical reference in terms of images leaves the reader unclear as to what is intended. For instance ‘houndstooth, or dogtooth...’. To this end, I here now discuss and show the exact patterns with names, as clear definitions, in the hope of at least of bringing some degree of rigor to the matter. Likely I will be whistling in the wind here, but there you go.


Houndstooth

In short, two types are identified, one as according as to tessellation principles, left, and another, right, typically of a step appearance, in which the tessellation element is effectively merged, resulting in a 'cursive frieze' that I describe as interlocking. Note that the number of steps is not fixed in any way. Here, in contrast of defining succeeding examples, one is on relatively firmer ground.


    
Tessellation, left, Cursive, right

Twill type, Colour/Thread, Instigation

For convenience I separate, or discern, three distinctions here, namely of twill type, colour/thread, and date of instigation in dictionaries.


Twill Type

Being a layman in matters of twills and weaving, I’ll begin by stating that such matters have yet to be studied. One day perhaps…

Be all as it may, from the following it would appear that houndstooth can be reliably described as a 2:2 twill (with four dark and four light threads).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houndstooth

The traditional houndstooth check is made with alternating bands of four dark and four light threads in both warp and weft/filling woven in a simple 2:2 twill, two over/two under the warp, advancing one thread each pass.


https://textilesmithing.com/2011/02/22/weaves-with-animal-names/

[houndstooth] The weave structure is the same as the Sharkskin; a 2/2 twill.

https://www.oldbullshorts.com/houndstooth-weave

Denotes a family of patterns, of which, it, itself belongs to the larger twill family. Traditional houndstooth check is made with alternating bands of four dark and four light threads in both warp and weft/filling woven in a simple 2:2 twill, two over/two under the warp, advancing one thread each pass.


Colour/Threads

As refers the colour and number of threads, from this, albeit somewhat limited in extent sample, the ordering is seemingly of four dark and four light threads.


https://textilesmithing.com/2011/02/22/weaves-with-animal-names/

The pattern is created from a rotation of 4 dark and 4 light picks with a rotation of 4 dark warps and 4 light warps.

 

https://www.oldbullshorts.com/houndstooth-weave

Traditional houndstooth check is made with alternating bands of four dark and four light threads in ...


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houndstooth

The traditional houndstooth check is made with alternating bands of four dark and four light threads...


Dictionary

These entries for the date of instigation are quite simply shocking in their inaccuracy! I have yet to find a single one giving answer anywhere near the correct date, currently 1925.

 

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/houndstooth

First Known Use of houndstooth 1936...


https://www.dictionary.com/browse/houndstooth

First recorded in 1955–60

 

https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=houndstooth

also hound's tooth, in reference to a jagged-edged design pattern, 1936, so called for resemblance.


https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/houndstooth-check

Houndstooth is a term that first came into use in the 1930s...




Dogtooth

Dogtooth is seemingly used as a direct, one-for-one synonym for houndstooth. Ideally, given that houndstooth has become the de facto term, this would fade from use.



Pied de Poule

Pied de Poule is also seemingly used as a direct, one-for-one synonym for houndstooth. This French term (for chicken’s foot) is the de facto use in France, and so likely will remain popular.



Chicken’s Foot

Chicken’s Foot (seemingly derived from the French pied de poule) is also seemingly used as a direct, one-for-one synonym for houndstooth.



Puppytooth

Puppytooth is seemingly o(r can be) used as a smaller scale synonym for houndstooth, albeit, infuriatingly for the purist, typically no mention is made of the scale! However

in contrast to the above four terms, this is decidedly less frequently used


Pepita

Of all the above terms, pepita is perhaps the most vague as to intention. As well as standard houndstooth, it is applied to a whole host of other designs as well. In Germany, it is commonly used rather than houndstooth itself. Again, in contrast to the above four main terms, this is decidedly less frequently used.


Observations

In short, the above all (with a proviso of pepita) refer to the classic houndstooth definition above, of either version, tessellation or frieze. Aside from these broad standard terms, are others, less frequently applied.  


Gun Club Check

The largely arbitrary first of a number of check patterns that have houndstooth of at least a part of the pattern.


Gun Club Check

Much remains obscure as to the origins of the Gunclub check nomenclature coloring and background. Harrison gives:

Then there is the great group of the Gunclubs, which linked our District Checks with the New World when the Coigach was adopted in 1874 as their uniform by the Gun Club of New York or Baltimore. I should be deeply indebted to anyone who could give me authentic information on this point.

Seemingly every reference since is predicated on this, in some form or another, with successive copying. However, much remains vague. Indeed, even as far back in 1933 Harrison was seeking clarification. From this, the exact gun club is uncertain. Of note is the Coigach background.

‘Gentlemans Gazette’ gives:

Originally, a gun club check meant four colors of crossing lines–black, rust, gold, and green–designed as both an homage to the colors present in the landscape of the Highlands (similar to the nature of tweed) and as a kind of hunter’s camouflage; however, these days, it’s equally common to find gun club checks in only two colors, usually brown and blue. Like gingham and shepherd’s check, the lines in a gun club check are even and fairly thick, and like shepherd’s check, the diagonal twill pattern is visible. What makes gun club check unique is the presence of two or more colors, though such patterns may also be labeled shepherd’s checks, so identification can be tricky.
So is it two or four colours?


Hespokestyle gives:

Originally called The Coigach, the pattern came from the Ullapool area in the western part of Scotland. Sometime around 1874, an American shooting club adopted it as their uniform and it henceforth became known as gun club check. Traditionally, the pattern consisted of black, a reddish-brown or rust, gold and forest green all connecting and intermingling.


Gq gives:

The fabric’s signature motif was created by four colors (traditionally black, red-brown, light gold, and pine green) intersecting to create bos [sic] of various sizes.


American Fabrics, 1949 NOT SEEN

The first of the original Gun-clubs was adopted as the club check of one of the American Gun Clubs in the year 1874. It is like the Shepherd on a white ground, but with alternating checks of black and strong red-brown. The six-threads in the check are just less than a quarter of an inch in the fabric, and the all-over effect is both pleasing and distinctive.


A major concern here is the colouring, of either two or four colours, with the colours largely inconsistent.


The first reference in newspapers to Gun Club check is in the UK:

Western Daily Press Wednesday 17 December 1884 p. 3 A mohair cloth gown, of the small Gun Club check, was trimmed with fine red and black braid...


Wikipedia does not give a dedicated entry.




Prince of Wales Check

One of a number of check patterns that have houndstooth of at least a part of the pattern.


   
Left, Prince of Wales check, right, The Prince of Wales in his eponymous checked suit.

Glenurquhart Check

One of a number of check patterns that have houndstooth of at least a part of the pattern.


Shepherd's Check (or less frequently seen Plaid/Tartan/Maud)

Shepherd’s Check is seemingly used as a direct, one-for-one synonym for houndstooth, despite there being obvious, albeit subtle differences. Of note is that the term itself predates houndstooth, by hundreds of years. As can be seen, despite bearing similarities, below, there are subtle differences in the design, as when compared to standard houndstooth. As such, I consider that the distinction should be retained, and not used synonymously.


Glenurquhart Check

The largely arbitrary first of a number of check patterns that have houndstooth of at least a part of the pattern.


Border Tartan

A decidedly less used term, almost to the point of inconsequence.


Falkirk Tartan

A decidedly less used term, almost to the point of inconsequence.


Northumberland Tartan

A decidedly less used term, almost to the point of inconsequence.


Galashiels Grey

A decidedly less used term, almost to the point of inconsequence.


Four and Four

A decidedly less used term, almost to the point of inconsequence.




Created 16 January 2019
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