Welcome to a free sample of your Brioche class!
Are you ready for a walk on the wild side?
Welcome to the world of brioche knitting, where the possibilities for color and texture multiply, and all your knitting skills are taken one (or a few) steps further than they’ve ever been taken before.
What is Brioche Knitting?
Like ribbing, it is reversible and can be used to make all types of garments, with cables, increases, decreases, and color-patterns.
Like double-knitting, brioche has two right-sides, but unlike double-knitting, the two sides are knitted one after the other, instead of all in the same row.
Brioche stitch can be done with one, two, or as many as five or six colors, and incorporate Intarsia color-blocks, just like regular knitting.
Most of the patterns you’ll see call for two contrasting colors like the Newsprint Cowl at left.
What You’ll Learn In This Course
Because you can do anything with brioche that you can do with regular knitting, and many things that you can’t, brioche knitting is a complex and almost boundless subject.
This course will teach you beginning and intermediate brioche skills. I’ll give you tips for choosing the right yarn and needles for brioche projects, and then I’ll walk you through how to read written brioche patterns.
We’re then going to jump in and start knitting brioche together, because that is the easiest way to get a feel for how the fabric is constructed.
Actually, knitting brioche is much easier than understanding how it works.
You’ll practice the brioche knit stitch and a special yarnover-slip stitch.
While we work different variations of one-color brioche, I’ll teach you a few different cast-on and bind-off techniques, all designed to fit well with the look of brioche and be just as stretchy.
After practicing a little, we’ll examine the fabric and take a look at why it works the way it does, and I’ll give you some tips for counting your stitches and rows, and checking your gauge.
We’ll then cover one- and two-color brioche in the round, introducing the brioche purl stitch as well as combining Magic Loop with brioche.
I’ll give you lots of tips and troubleshooting videos to watch as you practice.
We’ll also cover decreasing with two colors, which is important if you’re making a brioche hat.
The final challenge is a two-color flat brioche scarf – you’ll practice using a selvedge stitch with two colors, reading your work to know where you are, and learn to to fix mistakes and dropped stitches.
Projects You Can Knit After Doing This Course
In order to learn these skills, which will enable you to knit 90% of the beginner and intermediate brioche patterns out there, we’ll be working through different swatches and projects together.
By the time you finish this course, you’ll be able to knit a one- or two-color scarf, cowl, and hat, all in brioche.
In addition to the scarf at left, you’ll be making a number of practice swatches during this course – I recommend that you keep them all, so that you can remember what you’ve learned and what it looks like.
I found my swatches very helpful to have on hand while I was learning. They also help you remember what you need to improve on.
Skills You’ll Need
Brioche knitting is an advanced technique that will build on the knitting skills you already have.
I’ll be walking you step-by-step through the techniques of brioche knitting, but you’ll need to already feel comfortable doing the following*:
- Long-Tail Cast-On, Standard Bind-Off
- Read standard knitting patterns
- K, p, k2tog, p2tog, sl 1, and yo (American and Continental styles are both fine)
- Read your work, recognizing knit and purl stitches
- Knitting in the round (any technique is fine)
*All of these techniques can be found demonstrated in your Video Knitting Dictionary and the rest of your “Become a Knitting Superstar” Premium Video Knitting Library.
The definitive written work on Brioche Knitting is Knitting Brioche by Nancy Marchant (I’ve given you the Ravelry link, but if you are going to buy it, please ask at your LYS).
I use slightly different abbreviations and terminology than she does, but I recommend this book for its wealth of patterns and stitch-combinations.
This complex and fun technique is much easier to learn by doing it than by reading about it, so let’s get started.
Choosing Yarn and Needles for Brioche Projects
Non-superwash wool yarn works best for brioche knitting – the springiness of wool yarn helps the fabric, which tends to spread, keep its shape.
For this course you’ll need two colors of worsted-weight wool yarn in any contrasting colors you like. Cascade 220, Ella Rae Classic, Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted, and Malabrigo Merino Worsted are all great choices.
Brioche stitch is best knitted on smaller needles than you would normally use, as it tends to be a loose fabric.
However, casting on and binding off on brioche stitch works best with needles that are a few sizes larger than what you will be using to knit with. This helps the edges be as wide and springy as the rest of the project.
So, you’ll need:
- A pair of US size 6 (3.75 mm) and a pair of US size 8 (5 mm) straight needles.
- US size 6 (3.75 mm) and US size 8 (5 mm) of whatever needles you use for knitting in the round (in 40-inch circular needles, for instance, if you are using Magic Loop).
- Two US size 6 (3.75 mm) DPNs for two-color flat brioche knitting.
Note: Since we are just practicing, if you only have size 5s and 7s, or 5s and 8s, or whatever, that is fine. Just find the sizes that work well for you.
This is the simplest form of brioche stitch. Grab just one color of yarn for now and both large and small straight needles.
As I explain in the below video, certain abbreviations are used in brioche knitting. The ones used here are:
- Yf sl1yo – move the yarn to the front of the work, slip the next stitch, yo
- Br-k – brioche-knit: knit the next stitch together with the wrap that accompanies it
Here are the written instructions for what we are knitting in the video:
Flat Brioche Over An Even Number Of Stitches
With larger needles, CO 12 sts.
With smaller needles, work as follows:
Set-up Row: *Yf sl1yo, k1; rep from * across.
Row 1: With smaller needles, *yf sl1yo, br-k1; rep from * across.
Repeat Row 1 until you are ready to bind off.
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Brioche stitch is quite easy to get the hang of once you can recognize where you are and what to do.
This next video show you how to read your work, so that you can work one-color brioche stitch without thinking too hard.
I’ll also show you how to avoid the most common mistakes that can happen while knitting brioche.
Brioche fabric is made by working half of the stitches in each row first, and the other half second.
This creates the double-layered fabric that is the hallmark of brioche knitting.
Let’s take a look at our swatch and examine the two layers, as well as understand how to count your stitches and rows in brioche stitch.
There are a few different ways to bind off in brioche.
The important things to try to achieve in a bind-off on a brioche project is that it matches the cast-on nicely and is very stretchy.
Setup for a Standard Bind-Off
For a standard bind-off or any of the stretchy sewn or not-sewn bind-offs, you’ll want to set up your stitches with one row of br-k, p1 rib, on the larger needles.
You can then bind off the swatch with a conventional bind-off, use the easy Yarnover Bind-Off below, or try Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off, which is, of course, stretchy, and matches a traditional cast-on edge nicely.
- Po – pass stitch over
With larger needles, yo, k1, po, *yo, k1, po, po, rep from * to end.
Weaving in your tails is really easy on Brioche, because the yarnovers leave convenient little vertical pockets that you can tuck your tails into. Here’s how it works:
Let’s build on the skills we’ve just learned.
We’re going to learn a new cast-on, how to knit flat brioche with a selvedge (a one-stitch edge on either side_, and a new invisible bind-off.
Here’s what our next swatch will look like:
Here’s an introduction to brioche knitting with a selvedge:
Let’s get started. When working brioche with a selvedge-stitch edge, note that you always cast on an odd number of stitches.
Here’s how to do the Italian cast-on and the proper set-up rows*.
*Please note: we’re actually going to work three set-up rows – just go straight to the next video when you’ve finished this one and I’ll do the third one with you.
Below the video are the written instructions.
- Sl 1 wyif – slip 1 with yarn in front
- Sl 1 wyib – slip 1 with yarn in back
Flat Brioche Over An Odd Number Of Stitches
With larger needles, CO 13 sts.
If using Italian Cast-On, follow it with 3 rows of tubular ribbing as follows:
Row 1: K1, (k1, sl 1 wyif) to last 3 sts, k1, p2tog (this purls the last st with the loop that we started with).
Row 2: (K1, sl 1 wyif) to last st, end k1.
Row 3: (Sl 1 wyif, k1) to last st, end k1.
Begin to work in brioche stitch as follows:
Set-Up Row: With smaller needles, sl 1 wyib, *yf sl1yo, k1; rep from * to last st, end k1.
Row 1: Sl 1 wyib, *br-k1, yf sl1yo; rep from * to last st, end k1.
Row 2: Sl 1 wyib, *yf sl1yo, br-k1; rep from * to last st, end k1.
Repeat Rows 1-2 until you are ready to bind off.
Here’s a great invisible bind-off that will match your cast-on perfectly.
If you already know the Invisible Ribbed Bind-Off, this will be a breeze. But either way, I’ll walk you through the whole process below.
Brioche Knitting in the Round
Brioche knitting in the round is a great set-up for two-color brioche, which I know you’re dying to start. This section will give you the right foundation.
Introducing the Brioche Purl Stitch
I use a new abbreviation in this section, which is:
- br-p – brioche-purl: purl the next stitch together with the wrap that accompanies it
You can use any technique to knit in the round with brioche. I show you here on Magic Loop.
Written instructions below the video.
One-Color Brioche In The Round
With larger needles, CO an even number of sts (here, 24 sts).
Set-Up Round: *sl 1 wyif, k1; rep from * to end. PM for BOR.
Round 1: with smaller needles, *br-k1, yf sl1yo; rep from * to end.
Round 2: *yf sl1yo, br-p1; rep from * to end.
Repeat Rounds 1-2 until you are ready to bind off.
Using a large needle, bind off with the Yarnover Bind-Off or any stretchy bind-off.
Tips And Skills To Practice
- Take care not to lose your yarnover at then end of each round.
- Try to read your work after the first two rounds, so you don’t have to read the instructions.
Great work! Let’s now do the same thing, only we’re going to incorporate a second color. But first, a quick note about blocking.
Blocking Your Brioche Knitting Project
Now that you might be starting an actual project with brioche, here’s a note about blocking.
Brioche fabric behaves differently than normal knitting when you get it wet. It’s already quite stretchy – when you wet-block it, brioche fabric groooows.
Please exercise caution before you wet-block a finished project; perhaps block a small swatch first.
If you want to block your project, I recommend you steam-block it. Just lay a damp cloth over the project and gently lay a steam iron over the cloth, pressing steam down into the knitting.
Don’t press down with much force or you will flatten the shape of the knitting.
Two-Color Brioche Knitting in the Round
It is actually easier to know what to do with two colors, because one color always knits, and the other color always purls.
There are still some tricky bits, but I’ll give you pointers in each video that will help you avoid any pitfalls.
I’ll be teaching you on a small swatch, but if you would like to work an actual project, I recommend Haven Leavitt’s Newsprint Cowl.
It’s a free pattern from Haven’s brioche popular Brioche class, and it uses exactly the skills I’ll be teaching you here.
Select two contrasting colors of wool yarn for this swatch.
For this exercise, we’ll call one color the dark color (DC) and the other the light color (LC). This is a naming convention in two-color brioche patterns in general.
- LC or lc – Light Color
- DC or dc – Dark Color
The following video shows how to knit two-color brioche in the round. Written instructions below the video.
Two-Color Brioche Stitch in the Round
With larger circular needles and DC, CO an even number of sts (here, 20 sts). Slide sts to other end of circular needle.
Set-up row: with LC, *k1, yf sl1yo; rep from * to end.
Prepare for working in the round, making sure there are not twists in the round. PM for BOR.
Round 1: with DC and smaller needles, *yf sl1yo, br-p; rep from * around.
Round 2: with LC, *br-k, yf sl1yo; rep from * around.
Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until you are ready to bind off.
With DC, bind off using the Yarnover Bind-Off or any stretchy bind off.
- DC is always brioche-purling,
- LC is always brioche-knitting.
Tips And Skills To Practice
- On LC rounds, leave your yarn hanging to the front as you do the last sl 1.
- On DC rounds, make sure to catch the LC-wrap on the last br-p of each round.
- Every time you switch colors, make sure both yarns are out of the way, so you don’t get any twisted colors at the beginning or the round.
Here’s how to read your work without having to look at the instructions, and some tips for finding out where you are in case you get lost.
You’ll need to know a good two-color brioche decrease if you want to make hats or other shaped projects in brioche.
There are many different ways to decrease in brioche – I’ve chosen a basic one that looks great: the 3-round Brioche-Slip-Slip-Knit.
- Br-ssk – Brioche Slip, Slip, Knit.
This decrease is worked in the round over three rounds. Watch the video and practice on your swatch.
Written instructions below the video.
Brioche Slip, Slip Knit
Round 1: Work in two-color brioche stitch up to 2 sts before the stitch you want to decrease (you can place a marker on this stitch, if that helps). Slip the next st knitwise, twice. Br-k the next st (the marked st). You will have two same-color sts next to each other. Work in two-color brioche stitch to end of rnd.
Round 2: Work in two-color brioche stitch up to the two same-color sts next to each other. Wyif, sl 2 yo. Work in two-color brioche stitch to end of rnd.
Round 3: Work in two-color brioche stitch up to the two slipped stitches. Br-k the two slipped sts together with their wrap. Work in two-color brioche stitch to end of rnd.
Brioche Hat Patterns to Try
If you’re ready to try a two-color brioche hat, you can check out the many hat patterns by brioche guru Nancy Marchant.
Great work! You’re now ready for the last challenge – a flat two-color scarf.
You might think that knitting two-color brioche flat is easier than in the round, but it’s actually not – knitting from both ends of the work adds an extra dimension of trickiness.
Two-Color Flat Brioche Knitting
This is the last and most-advanced technique in the course, and it’s been worth the wait. All your new skills come together!
Grab two contrasting colors of wool yarn, and designate a LC and a DC. This time, we’re going to make a two-color flat swatch that will teach you how to make this course’s project, a two-color brioche scarf for men.
Supplies Needed for Two-Color Flat Brioche Knitting
Because we need to work each row twice, starting from the same end, you’ll need double-ended needles.
You can use your circular needles for this project, but if you use double-pointed needles, I think it will be a lot easier (no cable to worry about).
I’ll show you how to hold both needles together to work a loose cast-on, so you need only one size of DPN – the smaller size. I’ll be using size 5s in the video.
We’re going to be casting on an odd number of stitches for this swatch, and using the DC to create a selvedge, which I highly recommend for two-color flat knitting.
Work along with the following video to create a swatch. Written directions below the video.
A few things to watch out for: in flat two-color brioche, we brioche-knit and brioche-purl with both colors.
I’ll teach you how to read your work so it will be easy to know what to do when.
Two-Color Flat Brioche Knitting
Using both DPNs held together and with DC, CO an odd number of sts (here, 13 sts). Remove one DPN. Turn.
DC Setup Row: With DC, (p1, yf sl1yo) to last st, end p1. Do not turn work. Slide sts to other end of needle.
LC Setup Row: Sl 1, with LC (br-k1, yf sl1yo) to last st, sl 1 wyif. Turn.
Row 1: With DC, k1, (yf sl1yo, br-k1) to last 2 sts, yf sl1yo, k1. Do not turn. Slide sts to other end of needle.
Row 2: Sl 1, with LC (br-p1, yf sl1yo) to last st, sl 1 wyib. Turn.
Row 3: With DC, p1, (yf sl1yo, br-p1) to last st, end p1. Do not turn. Slide sts to other end of needle.
Row 4: Sl 1, with LC (br-k1, yf sl1yo) to last st, s 1 wyif. Turn.
Repeat Rows 1-4 until you are ready to bind off. Using DC, BO using the Yarnover Bind-Off or any stretchy bind-off.
Here’s a video that will show you how to remember where to put your LC yarn when you are done with it.
- When you are working with the LC, end by putting your yarn to the opposite side and slipping the edge st.
- When you are working with the DC, the selvedge sts are worked in the same stitch that you work the brioche stitches in (i.e. if you’re brioche-purling, purl the edge sts too).
- Only turn your work when both working yarns are on the same end of the needle.
- The color of the wraps on the needles is the color that you used in the previous row.
You may have noticed that making mistakes in brioche is easy, and that fixing them is hard.
While you always have the option to ignore mistakes, or take out a whole row to correct a mistake, I think you are ready for an advanced lesson in dropping stitches and picking them back up in brioche.
Try working along with me on one of your practice swatches – you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment when you are able to do this.
Project: Two-Color Brioche Scarf for Men
Download the pattern here: Two-Color Brioche Scarf for Men
You can make a brioche scarf manly or girly, depending on what yarn you choose.
You can try some unexpected combinations: a laceweight mohair/silk blend like Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze would look gorgeous on a large gauge (a larger needle than normal).
This pattern calls for laceweight or sock-weight with the yarn held double.
I find that when you include thinner yarns with the option of doubling them, you have many more possibilities. You can also use one strand of sport-weight yarn.
At right you can see Malabrigo Lace held double in a two-color brioche scarf for a man.
Congratulations! You did it.