Examining the Bountiful Brioche Stitch

The brioche stitch is all over Ravelry and Pinterest these days, so I was puzzled to discover I’m one of the very few people on the Interweave staff who actually knits brioche. “Too fiddly,” said one colleague. “Complicated,” said another.

Nonsense.

The beauty of brioche knitting is how simple it is. Slip a stitch, yarn over, then knit that combo together on the next row. But did you know that’s just the tip of the iceberg? Half-brioche, syncopated brioche, interrupted brioche, fluffy brioche, and many more—all derive from the same stitch with minor adjustments.

I want to give you 3 variations on basic brioche, so you can see for yourselves.

A few notes

When knitting brioche, begin with a tubular cast-on, as brioche benefits from a stretchy edge.

• The examples below have an even number of stitches.

• Each swatch has selvedge edges where I slip the first stitch pwise with the yarn held in front and knit the last stitch. These stitches are not part of the pattern stitches below. This makes for a wonky-looking swatch, but is great for seaming projects.

• A standard bind-off is fine if you are careful to work loosely. If you want to get fancy, use a tubular bind-off.


brioche stitch

The stitch that launched a thousand scarves. Each side looks the same.

Basic Brioche Stitch

Fully reversible, basic brioche rib is my go-to pattern when male friends request “just a plain scarf”—and they are delighted with the results. Use a chunky yarn and size 11 or 13 needles, and it works up super quick.

• Using the tubular method, CO an even number of stitches.
• Set-up Row: K1, *k1, sl1yo; rep from * to last stitch, k1.
• Pattern Row: K1, *brk1 (knit the slipped stitch and yarn over together as one stitch), sl1yo; rep to last stitch, k1
• Rep Pattern row for brioche rib.


brioche stitch

Interrupted Brioche. This has a definite WS.

Interrupted Brioche Stitch

This takes center stage in Norah Gaughn’s lovely Big Sur Pullover. Essentially basic brioche with a row of stockinette to break things up, it makes a tasty waffle texture. Do note that the brioches ribbing is not as deep, due to the stockinette, well, interrupting the rib. This pattern definitely has a wrong side and likes to curl a bit. Like most brioche stitches, it’s better when knit on a smaller-than-usual needle size.

• Using the tubular method, CO an even number of stitches.
• Set-up Row K1, *k1, sl1yo; rep from * to last stitch, k1.
• Rows 1-4 K1, *brk1 (work the YO and slipped stitch together as k2tog), sl1yo; rep to last stitch, k1.
• Row 5 (RS) K1, *brk1, k1; rep from * to last st, k1.
• Row 6 (WS) Purl.
• Rep Rows 1-6 for pattern.


Syncopated Brioche. RS and WS are mirror images.

Syncopated Brioche

Now that you’ve warmed up, t

ry purling in brioche. The symbol brp indicates that you work the slipped stitch and yo of the previous row as a p2tog. Alternating rows of knit and purl brioche stitches makes a deeply textured fabric. Syncopated brioche is another fully reversible pattern and one I like for cuddly edgings on a sweater.

• Using the tubular method, CO an even number of stitches.
• Set-up Row K1, *k1, sl1yo; rep from * to last stitch, k1.
• Rows 1-6 K1, *brk1 (work the yo and slipped stitch together as k2tog), sl1yo; rep to last stitch, k1.
• Rows 7-12 K1, *brp1 (purl the yo and slipped stitch together as p2tog), sl1yo; rep from * to last stitch, k1.
• Rep rows 1-12 for pattern.


Fluffy Brioche. A definite (and delightful) RS.

Fluffy Brioche Stitch

How can you not love something called fluffy brioche? It’s often called “honeycomb brioche” as well, and both names aptly describe the lush, 3-D texture. This stitch pattern is better worked at a larger gauge to show off the texture, and the extra drape helps with curling. Go up a needle size or three and see what happens. Admittedly, the reverse side is a bit “meh,” but I’m ok with that. Try it in a gently marled yarn, and see that honeycomb pattern really pop. One note: unlike the brioche stitch patterns above, there is no set-up row per se, and you begin working the wrong side.

Using the tubular method, CO an even number of stitches.
• Row 1 (WS) K1, *sl1yo, k1; rep from * to last stitch, k1.
• Row 2 (RS) K1, *k1, brk1 (work the YO and slipped stitch together as k2tog); rep to last stitch, k1.
• Row 3 (WS) K1, *k1, sl1yo; rep from * to last st, k1.
• Row 4 (RS) K1, *brk1, k1; rep from * to last stitch, k1.
• Rep rows 1-4 for pattern.

Which version of brioche stitch will you knit first? Let us know in the comments!
Allison


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