Intro to Brioche
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?
Brioche stitch is a two-layered fabric that looks somewhat like ribbing, although it is constructed differently.
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 above and the hat at right, 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)
Choosing Yarn and Needles for Brioche Projects
Yarn for Brioche Knitting
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.
Needles for Brioche Knitting
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.
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.