A bit of brioche, please

Chevron Deep Rib V Pullover
Norwegian-Style Hat

I've taken several classes on brioche knitting (one that started out with a breakfast of cappuccinos, brioche, and jam!), but I haven't used my skills to make a garment yet. I made a cowl and a hat in classes, and now I need to make something on my own. Since my classes were several years ago, I need to brush up on my technique, and Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark's wonderful new book, Brioche Chic, is my ticket to a wonderful brioche sweater!

Here's Mercedes to tell us about brioche knitting and to show us how to work the stitch:

Brioche knitting creates an unusual stitch structure, quite unlike anything you may run across in an average knitted fabric. Brioche is sort of a hybrid of k1, p1 ribbing and double knitting, in which you work each row or round in two passes and slip the unworked stitches to create on finished row. Unlike double knitting's technique of simply slipping the unworked stitches on each pass, brioche relies on an unusual stitch called the sl1yo, or slip one, yarnover. This stitch combined with the subsequent brioche knit and brioche purl create what appears to be a single fabric layer, but it could almost be considered two enmeshed layers of knitted fabric. The result is thick, luxurious, highly textural, and warm, especially when worked at a slightly smaller gauge to highlight the ribbed stitch columns.

Basic brioche rib, left, and k1, p1 rib, right

Brioche is, admittedly, a bit of extra effort. So why go to the trouble? The minute you feel the texture of a brioche-stitch in person, or see a bold piece of brioche colorwork, the answer will seem obvious. The depth of texture and stunning color effects made possible through brioche's stitch manipulation make these pieces worth the time. In colorwork, handling two colors of yarn per row can be easier, since you are working each color one at a time before returning to the beginning to work the second color, much like mosaic knitting. With cables, colorwork and other texture patterns, the work is often reversible, making turndown collars, double-sided scarves, and two-toned cowls a design option.

The Structure of Brioche

To create briuoche's unique structure, we rely on an alternating pattern of slipped and knit ( or purled) stitches. Each row or round is worked in two passes, which equal one completed row or round. As alternate stitches are worked, they're not merely slipped but slipped while a companion yarnover is simultaneously worked. This stitch, the sl1yo, is what creates brioche knitting's "enmeshed" structure. Once you have sl1yo stitches in place, these stitch/yarnover pairings are either knit or purled in the brioche method, as a brk (brioche knit) or brp (brioche purl).


SL1YO (Slip One, Yarnover)

This is a stitch combination that creates a stitch/yarnover pairing, which counts as a single stitch. Following a knit or brk (brioche knit) stitch, bring yarn to front between needle tips, slip next stitch purlwise and simultaneously bring yarn over needle to back of work. (Fig. 1). Following a purl or brp (brioche purl) stitch, with yarn in front, slip next stitch purlwise and simultaneously bring yarn over needle to back of work.

BRK (Brioche Knit)

This is the brioche version of a basic knit stitch, and it is as easily worked as a k2tog. With yarn at the back of the work (Fig. 2), insert right needle tip knitwise into both a stitch and its companion yarnover. Work together as one knit stitch (Fig. 3).

BRP (Brioche Purl)

This is the brioche version of a basic purl stitch, and it is as easily worked as a p2tog. With yarn at the front of work (Fig. 4), insert right needle tip purlwise into both a stitch and its companion yarnover. Work together as one purl stitch (Fig. 5)

Men's Shawl Collar Pullover from Brioche Chic

These three basic stitches make up the majority of all brioche stitch structures. From this point, as in traditional knitting, the options to expand upon the basics are diverse and limited only by your imagination!

—Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark, from Brioche Chic: 22 Fresh Knits for Women & Men

I know from experience that brioche knitting is challenging at first, but really quite easy once you get going. There's a rhythm to it that keeps you on the right track. My best tip for you is to make sure the row you just worked is correct before moving on. It's difficult to rip back brioche because of all of the yarnovers; it can be done, but it's so much easier to quickly check your work after each row.

Get your copy of Brioche Chic today, and join me in planning a brioche project!


P.S. Have you knit any brioche projects? Leave a comment and tell us about them, and share any tips you might have!

Post a Comment