Easy Guide to Knit the Brioche Stitch

Easy Guide to Knit the Brioche Stitch

In knitting, Brioche is a general term used for a variety of stitch patterns that are worked in a similar way and not just a set of stitches. It is one of the most beautiful stitch patterns that are worked with your regular knitting needles. The reversible stitch pattern is essentially worked as two rows, though it's technically a one-row repeat, with the first row only being worked at the beginning of the pattern. Though it seems quite challenging, it can be mastered with practice.

Barbara G. Walker in the popular book "Treasury of Knitting Patterns" wrote, “The elements of Brioche patterns are (1) a slipped stitch, and (2) a yarn-over; these are knitted together on the return row."

You can try the brioche stitch pattern with any knitting needles you own. Single-pointed needles work wonderfully for a pattern knit back and forth as do circulars. For patterns knit in the round, you can work with either double-pointed needles (DPNs) or a circular needle of the right length. If you are a beginner start with a dishcloth or coaster of brioche before moving on to hats, garments, or even a blanket.

Knitting Abbreviations for the Brioche Stitch 

Brioche is different from other stitch patterns worked with their special techniques (each row is worked twice) and unique charts and, brioche is the rebel of the knitting world. Abbreviations in the knitting pattern instruct the steps but you must be proficient with the terms beforehand.

Yarn Forward (YF): Bring the working yarn under the right needle to the front of the work.

Slip 1 (Sl1): Slip the next stitch purlwise (a.k.a. as if to purl).

Yarn Over (YO): Bring the yarn over the needle.

Yarn Forward, Slip 1, Yarn Over (Yf-Sl1-YO): Bring the working yarn under the right-hand knitting needle to the front of the work. Slip the next stitch purlwise. Bring the working yarn over the right knitting needle to the back of the work. This slipped stitch with a YO on top of it is considered one, and will be worked as a BRK (brioche stitch) on the next row.

How to Knit the Brioche Stitch? 

Practice the stitch pattern on a swatch before you go ahead with a knitting project.

Step 1: Cast on

Cast on an even number of stitches. The Brioche stitch typically requires a multiple of 2 stitches, so you can cast on any even number that suits your project. We recommend a stretchy cast-on method, for a seamless transition into your knitted fabric. For example, a tubular cast-on will have a stretchy start.

Step 2: Knitting the Stitch Pattern 

To establish the stitch pattern, first, complete a setup row:

Setup Row: Knit one row in your main color (MC) yarn. Now remember the Brioche knitting abbreviations and Sl1, *Yf-Sl1-YO, k1* to 1 stitch before end, k1. This means, slip 1 stitch, yarn forward, slip 1 stitch, yarn over and knit 1 to the second last stitch. This will create the base for the stitch pattern.

Since the knit fabric is highly elastic, selvedge stitch - the first and last stitch of each row will help stabilize your swatch and create neat edges.

Row 1 (right side): *Yarn over (YO), slip one stitch purlwise with yarn in front (sl1yo), and repeat from * to the end of the row.

Row 2 (wrong side): *Knit one stitch (k1), slip one stitch purlwise with yarn in front (sl1yo), and repeat from * to the end of the row.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until your piece reaches the desired length.

Then proceed with Row 1:

Row 1: Sl1, *Yf-Sl1-YO, BRK1* to 1 stitch before end, k1.

Repeat row 1 till you have reached the desired length.

Bind off loosely. While you can work with any stitch pattern, it is recommended to knit in k1, p1 rib, working all slipped stitches together with their YO’s.

With this, you are ready to work with Brioche knitting patterns.

Tricks to Get Started with Brioche 

The technique of knitting Brioche works smoothly with a few tips and tricks.

1. Choose a Smaller Knitting Needle Size 

A smaller knitting needle than what the yarn label recommends is recommended. You can choose a needle two or three sizes smaller too depending on your knitting tension. A gauge swatch will help you calculate efficiently.

2. Use a “Sticky” Yarn 

Brioche creates a stretchy and squishy-textured fabric that springs back when you tug on it. Because of the nature of the stitch pattern, springy fibers like wool or wool blends are the best to use. It is recommended to stay clear of slippery yarn options that have a lot of drapes, like cotton.

3. Be prepared with enough yarn 

In comparison to traditional knit stitches, Brioche uses twice as much yarn. Make sure you have plenty of skeins on hand as you don’t want to run out halfway through. If you are using two colors, make sure that there’s enough yarn in both shades.

4. Remember Sl1yo Is One Stitch

In Brioche a sl1yo consists of a slipped stitch and a yarn over that is worked together. When you count stitches or work that stitch, make sure to count as only one, even though it may look like two on your needle. Take care to not miscount.

5. Use a Loose Cast-On and Bind-Off 

Work a cast-on and bind-off with a knitting needle that’s one or two sizes larger than used in the project. The long tail cast-on method can also add elasticity to your edging. It is also recommended to cast with two knitting needles so that you can have enough elasticity.

With this ready to work the Brioche Stitch. Start with a swatch or a coaster then move on to a basic pattern such as a scarf or a hat. With time, you can even try a hand at two-color Brioche. In fact, many knitters find the ribbing effect better in Bricohe than in other stitch patterns.

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