Brioche Knitting for Socks
Back in December 2012, I showed you the handmade socks for Dad’s Christmas gift… well, the promise of socks. I’m embarrassed to say that those remain in the promise phase. In the meantime, though, I did manage to knit socks for my boyfriend (previously unmentioned here to keep them secret).
These socks were a chance to practice my belief that good knitters rip. I’m glad I chose a tightly twisted yarn, because it needed to hold up to many different design phases from allover stranded colorwork to the eventual plain stockinette with stranded knitting accents. The circuit-board-inspired socks have a green background with gold-striped heels and toes to evoke connectors. (The socks’ recipient is an electrical engineer.)
When it came to the cuffs, though, the stranded ribbing was either too tight or too sloppy in my uneven tension. (I confess that stranded colorwork is an area in which I need serious practice.) I wanted to keep the two-color vertical stripes, so I used a technique that’s less common in socks: a two-color brioche rib.
Brioche is a generally reversible fabric that’s frequently seen in sweaters, hats, and scarves, but the springy and thick fabric of the classic brioche rib is a rarity in socks.
Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark has a passion for brioche knitting, so I asked her about using it in socks. "Brioche stitch in two colors can be a great way to add colorwork to sock projects, since its unique structure makes it very stretchy, flexible, and often reversible (think turn-down cuffs),” she advised. “Try it in ribbing or stockinette stitch versions to add bold color effects without the floats of traditional stranded knitting."
The brioche stitch cuffs were the most fun knitting in this project, and I’m thinking of swapping out the corrugated ribbing for brioche in my next two-color socks. The cuffs of these are extremely stretchy, enough to accommodate a very wide calf. I went down a needle size for the cuff, and if I were making these again I’d go down another needle size.
(Note: There will be no pattern for these socks. The process of their creation was one I can’t recommend, though I do like the outcome; they started top-down, then ended by ripping out the first cuff and knitting it in the other direction, and the toes are entirely fudged. If I didn’t already have huge respect for the talented designers I get to work with, I would now.)