Knitting is FABULOUS, but at times can cause pain if you're addicted to knitting like me.
For years, I have suffered from pain as a result of knitting too much. I have used ice, heat, sports massages, visited physical therapists, chiropractors and technicians specializing in Active Release Technique (myofascial release). (Please understand that I am NOT a medical professional - but I am sharing what has worked for me.)
In the end, it turns out my pain was not tendonitis, or related to my tendons or ligaments at all. It was muscle overuse. Physical therapists who specialize in myofascial release were able to break up the adhesions and provide instant relief. In the past, I was told to take a break from knitting for a few weeks, which really, I couldn't do. I was so relieved to find therapists specializing in myofascial release who provided a better way to help my body without stopping what I love. During the pandemic however, the option of visiting a therapist was not always available so they provided some stretching exercises that can be done at home.
I've found that taking a break from knitting every hour, and stretching really helps keep my body pain free. There are stretches for your neck, shoulder and back too, but the most important I've found are three vital stretches for the hands and forearms. These are the muscles that do all the work in knitting, especially in your dominate hand.
1. Rest your fingertips of your dominant hand on the palm of your other hand and with your palm, pull the fingers back as far as you can. Once you feel resistance, hold this stretch about 30 seconds. Rest and repeat.
2. Grab ahold of your thumb and pull it back towards the top of your wrist. Hold for about 30 seconds. Rest and repeat.
3. The most important (for me at least) is to stretch the outside of the forearm. This is a little harder to do, but if you create a fist, then with your other hand, pull the fist inwards to the inside of your forearm and hold. The first time I do this, the first doesn't move much. The second time I find that I can get a deeper stretch and you'll notice right away how good it feels. Hold for about 30 seconds. Rest and repeat. This stretch runs from your hand through your elbow which is oftentimes where my pain originates.
Shake out your hands, improve your posture, and resume knitting. Sometimes you don't have 10 minutes to exercise and walk around, so these three, quick exercises can get you back to knitting faster while stretching out the muscles that are doing the most work.
There can be many reasons why we experience pain when knitting, so it's always best to visit a therapist who is knowledgeable in sports medicine. (Yes, I'm the only knitter at my wellness center which caters to runners, and ball players but they treat my injuries much the same as any other athlete.)
Click on the below You Tube link for a short video showing you how to do these.
...when my knitting pattern doesn't have size labels?
If you're finding more and more knitting patterns omitting the traditional size labels you're not alone. From magazines to independent designers, patterns are dropping the S, M, L, labels and substituting them with sizes 1, 2, 3 or just the finished measurements 34, 38, 42".
If you're one of those knitters who "always wears a size ______ in sweaters" and just wants to knit that size, it's getting tougher to do just that.
When a pattern includes a size label, the designer has done all of the work for you. He or she has looked at the standard measurements, added the appropriate amount of ease based on the yarn weight, stitch pattern and intended look of the garment. If you want to knit a size Large sweater, it may be 40" finished chest circumference or it may be 50" depending on these factors, but if you wear a size large and you knit a size large, then you know the sweater will fit as intended.
When labels are removed, you as the knitter need to do some work. You need to know your own actual body measurements. You need to know how much ease to factor in. And you need to take into consideration the yarn weight, stitch pattern and intended look.
This is where one size does not always work. If you're a 34" bust and you like 2" positive ease, you can go about knitting sweaters marked 36". But a heavily cabled sweater in worsted weight wool which is intended to be worn with 6" of positive ease, will feel much the same as stockinette sweater in fingering weight wool with only 1" of positive ease. If you knit a fingering weight stockinette sweater in size 36" it may feel a little loose and look baggy in places. If you knit that Aran weight cabled pullover in a 36" you'll look like a stuffed sausage and it will feel very fitted.
If you find yourself without labels to guide you, consider the following:
Does the pattern tell you the amount of recommended ease?
Is the stitch pattern flat (like stockinette or lace), medium texture or heavily textured like brioche rib or cables?
Is the pattern for a summer tee or tank or outdoor winter cardigan?
What is the weight of the yarn?
Use this as a guide, but understand that ease and fit are very personal:
First look at ease:
(A) Body Hugging or Very Close Fit: -2 thru -4"
(B) Close Fitting: 0
(C) Normal or Classic Fit: +2 thru +4"
(D) Loose Fitting: +4 thru +6"
(E) Oversized: +6"
Now factor in the yarn and stitch pattern:
Top Row: Letters correspond to the desired fit.
2nd Row: Yarn weight 0-2= Lace, Fingering, Sport; 3-4 DK, Worsted, Aran; 5-7 Chunky, Bulky, Jumbo
3rd Row: Type of stitch pattern. Lace falls into the St st range. Brioche rib falls into the Cables range.
Bottom Row: Approximate Ease.
Each of these columns can vary. For example, oversized can be +10" of positive ease. There is no right or wrong answer. This serves a starting place when trying to figure out what finished measurement you should make. This also depends on the type of garment. A tank top or tee works well when it is fitted against the body. A baggy loose tank top with deep armhole isn't going to look or feel good on unless you wear it overtop of another garment.
I hope this helps you to select the best size when knitting your next project, or at least gives you some criteria to consider beyond actual body measurement and ease.
See a little more about how the Blackwater Mosaic Pullover is constructed, and some of the features. Worked in Miss Babs Yummy 3-ply merino.
Mosaic knitting was invented by Barbara Walker in the 1960's and here we are, 60 years later, still obsessing over the effect of this mesmerizing style of knitting. It is a subset of slip stitch knitting but has its own characteristics, or rules you may say, in order to define and separate it from the broader category of slip stitch.
Let's go over some of these differences:
First, mosaic is always worked with two colors, which are normally high-contrast colors. The broader umbrella of slip stitch knitting may involve one, two or three or more colors.
In mosaic knitting, only one color will be worked at a time, over two rows. All color changes are done at the beginning of rows or rounds but never involve working with more than one color across a row or round.
All stitches on are slipped purlwise unlike slip stitch knitting which may slip stitches knitwise or purlwise.
Mosaic stitches are slipped on right side rows with the yarn always held to the back and slipped on wrong side rows with the yarn always held to the front. This keeps the horizontal strand to the back of the work. In slip stich knitting, this is not necessarily the case.
Mosaic patterns are geometric and can be complex or simple, with longer multiples and repeats of a pattern. Slip stitch knitting uses smaller, simpler motifs that repeat frequently.
One row on a mosaic chart represents two rows of knitting.
Now that you know the parameters, let's put them into practice and see how it's worked:
One color is worked across two rows, usually in Stockinette or Garter stitch, then a contrasting color is slipped purlwise over the same two rows. It is then reversed with the contrasting color worked over two rows and the original color slipped over the same two rows.
Each horizontal row on a mosaic chart represents two rows of knitting and each row is usually numbered with an even number on the left and an odd row number on the right. You read first from right to left for the right side (odd numbered) rows, then from left to right for the wrong side (even numbered) rows.
The first and last squares of each row tell you which stitches to work.
When you begin a row, one color is dropped and the other is picked up from underneath.
The wrong side rows look exactly the same as the right side rows and most knitters do not refer to the chart when working the wrong side rows, they just read the knitting on the needles. This means less time paying attention to a chart. If you're working on a right side row for example, and you are working all of the dark stitches and slipping all of the light stitches, then when you turn your work, you will work back across the wrong side row doing the same thing, working the dark stitches and slipping the light stitches. This allows one color to travel to the end of a row and back.
Mosaic charts will come with their own set of notes. In the chart below, the notes that explain how to work the chart are listed here:
On RS rows that begin with a dark square, you'll knit dark stitches and slip light stitches purlwise with yarn in back.
On RS rows that begin with a light square, you'll knit light stitches and slip dark stitches purlwise with yarn in back.
On WS rows, slip all slipped stitches purlwise with yarn in front; knit all dark stitches, purl all light stitches.
On Row 1 for example, you'll begin at the right. The first square is dark, so you'll pick up the dark yarn and work with only that color. This is how Row 1 will be worked:
K11, sl 1, k1, sl 1, k2, sl 1, k2, sl 1, k1, sl 1, k10. On RS rows, stitches are always slipped purlwise with yarn in back.
Row 2 is worked by: K10, sl 1, k1, sl 1, k2, sl 1, k2, sl 1, k1, sl 1, k11. You're knitting the stitches that you knit and slipping the stitches you slipped on Row 1.
This produces the mosaic patterning seen in the Blackwater Mosaic Pullover. It's definitely not as hard as it may seem. It moves along quite quickly since you're slipping so many stitches. Once you remember that the color shown in the first stitch of each row is the color that you'll use for the next 2 rows, it's a fun way to knit.
Another plus is that tension is usually not as a big of an issue as it can be with stranded work. If you'll notice in the chart above, you only slip one stitch at a time. You may knit 10 stitches straight, but are only slipping one stitch. Just remember when you knit your next stitch following a slipped stitch, not to pull it tight. Let it rest across the slipped stitch with a bit of room.
Since you are slipping stitches over two rows (for example slipping all light stitches across the right side row, then slipping those same light stitches on the wrong side row) the fabric will become compressed. There will be more rows per inch than in plain stockinette. To prevent a distorted image, you'll often find a combination of Stockinette and Garter used in mosaic knitting. This produces a nice looking, deeply textured fabric that lies flat.
I really encourage you to not overthink mosaic too much. Just pick up your needles and yarn, and jump right in. Read the notes that accompany a chart. And just start. You'll find that it all makes sense after you work a couple of rows. What I love about mosaic charts is that they look just like my knitting, so if I'm not sure of which row I should be working next, I just look at what I've knit so far and compare it to the chart.
Knowing the differences will help you identify which patterns are truly mosaic. I hope you try mosaic knitting or if you're a fan already, that this helps to shed some light onto how mosaic knitting is defined.
Gonzalez, Leslie. “Slip Stitch Knitting Redux.” Cast On Aug – Oct 2014.
Gonzalez, Leslie. “Don’t Confuse Mosaic Knitting with Color Slip Stitch Knitting – They Are Different.” <http://whitehorsedesigns.blogspot.com/ 2014/09/dont-confuse-mosaic-knitting-with-color.html>.
Vogue Magazine Editors. Vogue Knitting. New York, NY: Sixth & Spring Books, 2002.
Walker, Barbara. Charted Knitting Designs. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972.
Walker, Barbara. A Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Pittsville, WI: Schoolhouse Press, 2012.
When you're working brioche in blocks of color, like in Eastport Pullover, you'll need to connect your yarns in the back of your work intarsia style when working blocks that are side by side. There are SO MANY types of brioche stitches out there. The Eastport Pullover uses a basic brioche rib based on an even number of stitches with each color block containing the same number stitches. The same row is worked on both right and wrong side rows.
or continue reading for a silent experience:
If you're working two different blocks of color from the very beginning, begin by casting on with the first color. Push those stitches to the side then cast on in the next color. The two colors will not be connected at this point.
Turn and work the first set-up row in brioche, across all of the stitches in the first color. Holding the working yarn secure in your left hand, use your right fingers to pick up the next color of yarn from underneath. Work to the end of the row in the second color.
Next row (right side) and all right side rows. Work in brioche stitch across all stitches of the first color. (First meaning the first color that you start working with in any given row.) When you reach the join, take your yarn to the back of the work drop the first color, pick up the next color from underneath, bring the next colored yarn forward again and continue working in brioche to the end of the row in the next color.
Next row (wrong side) and all wrong side rows. Work in brioche stitch across all stitches of the first color. Bring your yarn forward so it lies in the front of your work (which is the wrong side), drop it, pick up the next color from underneath, then work the next set of stitches in the new color.
By dropping the first color and picking up the second color from underneath, you'll avoid any holes or gaps, and the yarns will connect the two sections. They will form an even and neat pattern up the wrong side of the fabric. Keep your tension uniform. You don't want saggy loops at the join. Strive to maintain the same tension when you work the last stitch of one color and the first stitch of the next color as you've used in the rest of the garment. To err on the tighter side is better than working these too loosely.
Always keep your color changes to the wrong side of the fabric. On right side rows, take the yarn to the back, drop the old and pick up the new, then bring the yarn back to the front again to continue working in brioche with the new color. On wrong side rows, drop the old yarn and pick up the new one in the front of your work to keep the colored seam on the wrong side of the fabric.
One more tip on the brioche rib stitch used in Eastport Pullover, when you're starting your very first stitch and it's a yf type of a stitch, place your needle tip under the yarn, then start to work. You can't really pull the yarn forward since it is where it is. The only thing that moves when starting a row is the needle, so just slip your needle tip under the yarn, then start knitting.
I hope you enjoy adding blocks of color to your brioche knitting. It's a dramatic and fun way to work brioche and it's a great option when you're not ready to work brioche in 2 colors simultaneously.
I'm so excited to be teaming up with FACES Fiber Arts Center of the Eastern Shore on Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 7:00 pm to bring you lovely knitters a presentation class on Picking up Stitches!
Learn how to pick up stitches along a horizontal, vertical and diagonal edge, find the pick up ratio and discover tips to create a professional join.
This virtual, online presentation is sponsored and hosted by FACES Fiber Arts Center of the Eastern Shore.
Tickets are $15 ($10 for FACES members) plus knitters will receive a PDF of the presentation to refer to in their next knitting project.
Join from the comfort of your home, with your knitting in hand and learn techniques to take your knitting to the next level.
Link to Eventbrite for Tickets.
+++PLUS+++ if you email your ticket confirmation page to email@example.com, before February 12th, you'll receive a discount code good for two (2) FREE patterns from my website store. (Because you'll want to put your new skills into practice right away right?)
For more information about FACES, please visit their Facebook page.
I first discovered Decrease Bind Off when I was researching bind offs for Level 3 of the Master Hand Knitting Program. I used it, wrote about its pros, cons and applications, then forgot about it. A few years later I was searching for a stretchy bind off for a lace shawl and ran across the Decrease Bind Off again. After binding off 523 stitches using this method, I became somewhat addicted to it.
What it is: Decrease Bind Off is a slightly stretchy bind off that creates a neat, tidy edge. It's a good substitute for the standard bind off, especially for those who tend to bind off too tightly. It's fast. It's easy to do.
What is isn't: Since it does not involve lifting one stitch over another, it is not tight. Tension is easier to control. It's not floppy or sloppy looking. It does not cause the edge to flare out.
Other names: K2tog Bind Off, Alternate Bind Off, Stretchy Bind Off, Twice Worked Bind Off, Russian Bind Off, Lace Bind Off, Estonian Bind Off, English Bind Off, Twisted Bind Off. As you can see by the names, it has been widely used for a long time by knitters from different regions.
How to do it: *k2tog through the back loops, slip stitch just worked back to the left needle; repeat from * to end. You're basically knitting 2 together through the back loops, returning the stitch, then knitting 2 together through the back loops again, returning the stitch, etc.
I recently used it on a regular sweater and love how it looks and behaves. It's a good one to use when binding off toe-up socks too. I hope you have a chance to try it and add it to your knitting toolbox of techniques.
Bush, Nancy. IT Knitted Lace of Estonia. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press LLC, 2008.
Sease, Cap. Cast On, Bind Off. Bothell, WA: Martingale, 2012.
Brioche is a wonderfully diverse, almost mesmerizing stitch that attracts attention for its beauty and is loved for its cozy, squishy properties. In this master class on brioche, my goal is to help you understand this style better and learn some key techniques to your brioche knitting look and behave its best.
Brioche is not one knitting stitch, but rather a category of slip stitch knitting. This class of knitting is a hybrid of 1x1 ribbing and double knitting. Brioche is also referred to as Shaker Knitting, English Rib, Shawl Stitch, and sometimes Fisherman's Rib but in the latter, the needle is inserted into the row below instead of making yarn over, which gives a similar but uneven look since you're opening up a stitch which distorts it and leaves the knitting looser.
Brioche creates a double-thick layer of fabric that is deeply texturized, warm, and spongy. The loose, fluffy stitch creates a lofty fabric. The fabric should hold its shape with no holes. When you go down a needle size or two, you are able to create a fabric that has some substance and springs back to shape when stretched. There’s nothing else in the world of knitting quite as distinct and dramatic. The ribs in basic brioche stitch are more dramatic and deeper than regular single ribbing. When worked in two colors, garments take on a deep, 3-D appearance. When the brioche ribs are stretched horizontally, a fishbone pattern emerges on each side of the rib. One of the main qualities of brioche is that ribbing, cables and colorworks are often reversible. In the case of two colors, each side will have a different dominant color which gives garments and scarves more versatility in the wardrobe.
During the process of knitting, colors are easier to work than most other forms of colorwork in knitting since only one color is being worked at a time. Many knitters trying brioche for the first time will find it easier to work with two colors since there is no confusion as to which stitch the yarn over belongs to. With syncopated colors, you can alternate from dark to light or vice versa for an interesting effect. It is truly one of the most versatile, interesting stitch patterns in knitting and can easily become addictive.
Since the fabric is extra thick, brioche is best suited for loose-fitting garments with plenty of ease. Allover brioche sweaters are gorgeous with the right weight of yarn and ease. When the look of brioche is desired, but ease and fit of sweaters is a concern, brioche can be combined with other stitches by working brioche panels into garments with less textured stitches. Capes, coats and hats are ideal as they benefit from the double layer and extra warmth. Cowls, scarves and baby blankets are great projects due to the reversible fabric.
POTENTIAL PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS
Brioche will stretch a great deal, but there are ways to control this. Before you start knitting, select an untreated wool which sticks together and holds its shape better silky, slinky blends. Avoid heavy yarns like cotton and fibers that hang with gravity like alpaca and yak which really pull the already stretchy fabric downwards. You want to work with a light, airy, elastic yarn like wool. If you can find a woolen spun yarn, even better. Yarns that are woolen spun, as opposed to worsted spun, will be loftier and lighter which helps counter the effect of the extra yarn and weight. Divide the grams by yardage on the ball bands to find the weight per yard to compare yarns. Beyond yarn selection, to control the stretch you must use a needle several sizes smaller than you normally would for the weight of yarn you’ve selected. Brioche knitted with too large of needles will not spring back into shape, will have holes, look limp and misshaped. You will also need to cast on with a larger needle to prevent the cast on edge from being too tight. Use selvedge stitches to create a firm, neat edge. Lastly, for stability at the shoulder seams, you’ll want to bind off then seam since this is one bind off area that doesn’t need to match the give and stretch created by the brioche stitch.
Brioche uses 50-100% as much yarn as Stockinette so you’ll need to buy more yarn. Think about the total yardage needed before deciding on a yarn. Brioche takes more time to knit than other stitch patterns since each row is worked twice so don’t embark on a brioche project when you’re short on time.
The double thickness of brioche adds bulk to garments so they must have lots of ease. Since the fabric is extra thick, you want to allow more ease than normal when deciding on which size to make, so the garment still hangs freely instead of pulling tight against your skin. Consider the circumference of the inside of the sweater which will be tighter than the outside. Since sizes listed in patterns will be for the outside circumference, you will want to aim for a finished sweater size that is at least 4” larger than the actual circumference of your chest.
The stitch count of rows can change by mistake. If you’re working an even number of stitches without a selvedge stitch, the number of stitches can increase at the end of each row unless the last stitch and its yarn over are always worked together. If you’re working an odd number of stitches without a selvedge, the number of stitches can decrease at the end of each row unless you hold the yarn over in place as you turn the work so it doesn’t pop off. You can flip this last stitch around and place it half hitch style on the needle to better hold it in place. When starting out, take a stitch count at the end of every row until you’re confident.
Pieces made with selvedge stitches that are knitted or purled every row will have wavy edges since brioche uses more rows per inch than other stitch patterns. To solve this, always slip the selvedge stitch at the beginning of every row or with two color knitting, work the first and last stitch of every main color row and slip the first and last stitch of every contrasting color row.
Tension can be an issue. When you are on the brk or knitting row, since you’re knitting a stitch with the yarn held in the front, a yarn over forms automatically. When you knit the next st, it pulls the yarn tighter which can make the knit stitches smaller. When you are on the brp or purl row, you are taking the yarn from the front, over the needle and around the tip to the front again, then working the purl stitch. Since you have a yarn over lying on top of the needle, the tendency is not to tug when making the purl stitch, therefore the purl stitch can be a little looser. The best way to even out your tension is to be mindful of what’s happening and strive to create your knit and purl stitches with the same tension. This may mean loosening up the knit stitch a bit and giving a slight tug on the purl stitch.
There are many ways of working brioche. Some patterns cast on an even number of stitches, some cast on an odd number. Some use selvedges, some do not. Some begin with a brk and some with a brp. Some use one set up row and some use two. If you think of brioche as a category of double knitting/slipped stitches where the yarn is carried over, instead of in front or behind the work, you will begin to understand why there are so many variables. This is not one stitch with one way of working it. If you look at four books on how to work the 1x1 rib in two colors, you’ll probably see four different ways of working it. And they are all right. Brioche is fabulous in that it gives the creativity and flexibility to do what you want, within some parameters.
Some of these common rules, which must be present in all stitch patterns classified as brioche are:
When measuring gauge, brioche will have fewer stitches and more rows than Stockinette. When counting stitches for your gauge swatch, count the slipped stitch and its yarn over as one stitch. When counting rows, count what you see, so each knit stitch running up a column is one row.
When working in the round, you’ll work two rounds for every visible round.
When blocking, you’ve got more yarn soaking in the water than you normally would. Squeeze out a much water as possible, carefully support it from the bottom and remove it from the basin. Press out as much water as you can between thick towels. Reshape and let it dry flat.
Terminology does vary with brioche. Nancy Marchant created the abbreviations brk for brioche knit which basically means to knit the next stitch with its yarn over, and brp for brioche purl which means to purl the next stitch with its yarn over. Prior to brk and brp, patterns simply said to k1 or p1 and when you work one brioche stitch, you’re always knitting or purling the next stitch together with its yarn over. It’s also written as k2tog or p2tog, which means to knit or purl the next stitch together with its yarn over. You may see this written as k1, k2tog or brk, and p1, p2tog or brp. The reason for brk and brp, is that when working on a garment there are times when you are working a decrease on a non-brioche part so you can see where k2tog can be confusing. Sometimes it means to knit the next stitch with its yarn over and sometimes it means to decrease 2 stitches to 1. And if you have selvedge edges, sometimes you really are just knitting 1 stitch when you see k1, but sometimes it means to knit the stitch with its yarn over. Therefore, using Marchant’s abbreviations of brk and brp help to clarify.
Charting is different in that each row is worked twice. Some of the most common abbreviations include:
brk – knit the st slipped in the previous row tog with its yo.
brp – purl the st slipped in the previous row tog with its yo.
yo – bring yarn over the needle.
yf – bring yarn forward, under the needle tip. Do not form a yo.
yof – a combination of the yo and yf.
yb – bring yarn to the back.
sl – slip st purlwise.
HOW TO WORK
Single Color Plain Brioche Stitch (without selvedge) [Photo 1]:
CO an even number of sts.
Set up Row: *Yf, sl1, yo, k1; rep from * to end.
Row 1: *Yf, sl1, yo, brk; rep from * to end.
Repeat Row 1.
A good pattern for try out Two Color Brioche Stitch (including selvedge) [Photo 2] is the Rainstorm Scarf pattern.
Decreases [Photo 3] allow two knit columns in the ribbing to become one. When you decrease three stitches to one, you eliminate one knit column and one purl column, which maintains the 1x1 ribbing after the decrease. With increases and decreases, it’s easier to start with row 1 or row 1(a).
To make a Left Leaning Decrease (brsssk or sometimes written as sssbrk): On the RS, work up to the st that is to be decreased. This is usually a slipped st with its yo. Slip the next 3 sts knitwise one at a time to the RH needle. Since you always treat the stitch and its yo as 1 st, you will slip the knit st and its yo, the purl st, and the next knit st and its yo, which is 5 strands on the needle. Slip all 3 sts (5 strands) back to the LH needle to reorient the sts then knit all 3 tog through the back loops. 2 sts dec’d.
To make a Right Leaning Decrease (brk3tog): On the RS, work up to the knit column before the knit column that you want to slant. Insert RH needle knitwise from left to right one at a time into the next 3 sts (the knit st, its yo, the purl st, and the next knit st and its yo). Knit the 3 stitches (5 strands) together. 2 sts dec’d.
Non Directional Increases [Photo 4] are most commonly made by using a 1-3 and 1-5 increase. When you increase you take a knit column and branch it into one knit column, one purl column and one knit column for a 1-3 increase and into one knit column, one purl column, one knit column, one purl column and one knit column for a 1-5 increase. This keeps the pattern balanced.
To make a 1-3 increase (brkyobrk): On the RS, work up to the st that is to be increased. This is usually a slipped st with its yo. Treating the st and its yo as one, (brk, yo, brk) into the st/yo. When working with 2 colors, after finishing this row, slide work to the other side of the needle and work the next color. When you get to the 3 sts that you increased, continue in pattern with sl1 (first st), yo, purl middle st, yo, sl1 (third st) yo, and cont.
To make a 1-5 increase (brkyobrkyobrk), work the same as above but brk, yo, brk, yo, brk into the st/yo to create 5 sts.
CAST ONS AND BIND OFFS
The best cast ons are those that stretch. You’ll want a stable edge for scarves and open edges of garments, but the cast on cannot interfere with the tension of the garment. Since brioche is a loose, spongy stitch, you want a cast on with a bit of give to it. Use larger needles to cast on than the rest of the piece.
For brioche worked in one color, Italian Cast On (also known as Two-Strand Tubular CO, Kitchener Rib CO, Invisible Cast On, Tubular Cast On, KP Case On, 1x1 Rib Cast On, Alternating Cast On) is a favorite, as evidenced by its many names used in different regions.
For brioche worked in 2 colors: Two-Color Italian Cast On (a/k/a Two-Strand Tubular Cast On, and Tubular Two-Color Cast on) allows you to cast on with both colors, maintains the different colored ribs all the way through to the end of the piece, and creates an invisible edge.
The best bind offs are those that stretch. Keep your tension loose while binding off. For shoulders that will be seamed, bind off these tightly to provide stability here and prevent too much stretch at the seam.
For brioche worked in one color: Tubular Bind Off, Kitchener Bind Off, (a/k/a Italian Bind Off, Invisible Weave Off), Kitchener Rib Bind off (a/k/a/ Invisible Ribbed Bind Off, K1P1 Bind Off, K1P1 Rib Bind Off), Suspended Bind Off (a/k/a Elastic Bind Off) when you want a straight edge, Stretchy Bind Off (good for 1x1 ribbings). Since the Italian Bind Off is a favorite for 1x1 ribbing, it makes sense that it’s also a favorite choice for binding off in simple brioche stitch. When binding off be sure to match the tension of the preceding rows and do not snug up the yarn tightly as you go.
For brioche worked in two colors: Simple Two-Color Bind Off is fast and similar to regular bind off but gives a pretty chain of alternating colors resting on the top of the bind off edge, that match the columns of colored stitches below.
BEYOND BASIC BRIOCHE
Thinking of brioche as its own category of stitches, allows you to see how many brioche patterns can exist. Taking the brioche principles and applying them to cables, increases, decreases, ribbing, colorwork, etc. opens up many different types of stitch patterns. Besides the striking basic brioche, double brioche, honeycomb brioche, and waffle brioche are just some of the stitch patterns that proudly lie under the brioche category.
Brioche can easily become addictive. Understanding its’ qualities, suitable garments, and potential pitfalls to avoid will increase your enjoyment when working brioche and lead to better finished projects. Since it can be worked successfully with any weight of yarn, using one, two or more colors either in contrast with one another or monochromatic, it’s easy to find yarn in your stash to begin swatching. Once you get into a rhythm, you’ll find that it is a stitch that can be committed to memory and can be worked without total concentration.
I hope you enjoy the fascinating world of brioche from the fundamentals, to the exciting knitting process and the dramatic finished projects.
Buss, Katharina. Big Book of Knitting. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., 2001.
Editors of Vogue. Vogue Knitting. New York, NY: Sixth & Spring Books, 2018.
Forte, Mary. “Stitch Anatomy – Brioche Lesson.” Cast On Feb-Apr 2011.
Marchant, Nancy. Knitting Brioche. Cincinnati, OH: North Light Books, 2009.
Sease, Cap. Cast On, Bind Off. Bothell, WA: Martingale, 2012.
Tarasovich-Clark, Mercedes. Brioche Chic. Fort Collins, CO: Interweave. 2014.
Temple, Trudianne. “Brioche.” Cast On Nov 2014-Jan 2015.
Walker, Barbara. A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1968.
Hello! I'm Donna. I enjoy designing artistic knitwear that is comfortable. I specialize in sweaters with a contemporary silhouette.