General Information for Brioche Knitting
Brioche knitting tips
Brioche knitting creates a cushy reversible ribbed fabric. This comes about by working one stitch and slipping the next. In brioche knitting, instead of carrying the working yarn in front or in back of the slipped stitch, you bring the yarn over the stitch, giving the stitch a little shawl over its shoulders. In the following row, this shawled stitch will be either barked or burped (see “brk” and “brp” in abbreviations).
Brioche works best on loose-fitting garments that require ease. Because brioche stitches create a very lofty fabric, it is advisable to go down a needle size or two when making brioche to somewhat control its ‘give’.
Brioche knitting uses more yarn than, say, stockinette stitch – up to twice as much.
I generally work with yarns that have a “bite” such as 100% non-superwash wool. Slippery yarns like superwash wool, alpaca, or silk, worked in brioche knitting, have a tendency to ‘grow’ lengthwise. Adding selvedge stitches not only creates a pretty edge but also a firm one.
When washing a brioche garment, the stretching can become a problem because of the weight of the absorbed water. I squeeze out as much water as I can, wrap it in a thick dry towel, wrap this in several layers of newspaper and tread on it to get out as much water as possible without stretching out the garment. Then I ease the garment back into its original shape to let it dry flat.
Counting rows and stitches
In brioche knitting, a shawled stitch is considered ONE stitch. This is very important. The yarn over is not counted separately. When you count 4 stitches, you will actually have 6 loops of yarn on the needle.
Two rows are worked for each counted row that appears on the face of the fabric. Half of the stitches are worked in one row and the other half (the stitches that were slipped in the former row) are worked in the following row. When you need to count rows, count only the stitches going up one knit column. When you are told to work 4 rows, count 4 knit column stitches, even though you will have worked 4 rows back and forth. Two worked rows = One counted row.
Measuring a brioche sample for a stitch gauge is tricky. The larger the sample, of course, the more secure your measurements will be. You have the choice to either block your sample or not, depending on whether you plan on blocking the garment.
Casting on and binding off
Keep in mind that, given the elasticity of brioche, you should cast on and bind off very loosely. For adequate ease and looseness, when using a long-tail cast on, cast onto two needles held together or a needle larger than the one with which you plan to knit the rest of the piece. Of course, after casting on, pull out one needle to continue.
After casting on, it takes 8-10 worked rows before pattern can be recognized.
I have been ‘brioching’ for years and still find the stitch difficult to ‘read’ especially where increases and decreases or more than one color have been used. If you make a mistake in the middle of a row, don’t tear out the entire row at once; instead, return one stitch at a time. If the mistake lies a few rows down, rip out all the rows until one row above the mistake. From there, rip out stitch by stitch. You will be picking up normal looking stitches as well as stitches with yarnovers. It also helps to pick up the stitches onto a smaller needle. This will make the stitches easier to pick up and you can work off of this needle, onto your original needle.