Brioche? Don't mind if I do!

Brioche stitch is one of those knitting stitches that seems so complicated that knitters don't attempt it. But it's really not so hard! Brioche simply pairs slipped stitches with yarnovers to create a lofty, warm fabric.

Brioche du Jour ribbed scarf
by Nancy Marchant, from Cozy Knits

I've knitted just two or three brioche projects, but I took a class from brioche master Nancy Marchant and I got really inspired. She showed swatch after swatch of beautiful brioche patterns, using different colors and increases and decreases to make swirls, zig zags, and more. It's simply fantastic how this stitch can be used to create amazingly textural knits.

The Brioche du Jour ribbed scarf at left, from the book Cozy Knits, is knit from two high-contrast colors that really pop. To add even more interest to the scarf, Nancy uses a technique called syncopated brioche.

Syncopated brioche creates a motif by switching a knit column to a purled column and a purled column to a knit column. Because the knit columns protrude to the front and the purled columns recede, when syncopating using two colors, the light color will recede where it used to protrude and the dark color will protrude where it used to recede. This switch occurs every 20 rows until every stitch has been reversed.

Brioche du Jour is a classic. Knit it in your school colors to make it really personal! Here are some tips from Nancy, to help you knit brioche stitch successfully.

Brioche Knitting Tips

Brioche knitting creates a cushy, reversible ribbed fabric by working one stitch and slipping the next. Instead of carrying the working yarn in the front or in back of the slipped stitch, bring the yarn over the stitch in the same way as working a yarnover; the yarnover will sit over the slipped stitch, The yarnover and the stitch it sits over are counted as one stitch, and both will be either knit or purled together with the stitch that it sits over on the following row.

By using two different colors and working in plain two-color brioche stitch, you will have straight vertical knitted columns of one color and purled columns of the second color. When the work is turned, the colors are reversed, and the knitted columns are in the second color and purled columns in the first.

Two rows are worked for each row that appears on the face of the fabric. Row 1A (light side, light color) is followed by Row 1B (light side, dark color). Both rows are considered Row 1. Row 2 consists of 2A (dark side, light color) and 2B (dark side, dark color).

In brioche color knitting, the yarnover of the row just worked is the last color that is used. So if you have to set down your knitting and are unsure which color you used last, look at the yarnovers.

A Good Ribbing brioche pullover
by Debbie O'Neill, from Cozy Knits

The slip 1, yarnover (sl1yo) is always worked with the yarn in the front of the work before slipping the stitch. On a knit row, bring the yarn between the needles to the front before slipping the stitch, then over the slipped stitch to the back of the work after slipping the stitch to have the yarn in place to knit the next stitch. On a purl row, the yarn is already at the front of the work, so slip the next stitch, then bring the yarn over the slipped stitch to the back of the work, then between the needles to the front again to purl the next stitch.

If you need to rip out some of your work, remove the needle and ravel to the point where you need to make the correction. Pick up the stitches with a smaller circular needle; this makes the stitches easier to pick up, then use the original needle to begin working again.

—Nancy Marchant, from Cozy Knits

There's another pretty brioche project in Cozy Knits—A Good Ribbing brioche pullover by Debbie O'Neill. This brioche-ribbed pullover is a lovely blend of texture and coziness. The sleeve cuffs are worked vertically and then rotated with stitches picked up to work the sleeves.

One thing to note when knitting a brioche garment is that the fabric is extremely elastic and can be stretched to a wide range of widths or lengths. When choosing which size to knit, err on the smaller side.

I hope you'll try one of these brioche knitting projects. The stitch is addictive to knit, and to wear!

Get your copy of Cozy Knits today and cast on!


P.S. What's your favorite stitch pattern? I think mine is moss stitch. Leave a comment and share your stitch!

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