The gorgeous, squishy texture of brioche stitch has been increasingly visible in the knitting world over the last few years (- see my recent post on popular trends in 2017 here).
So what is brioche stitch?
Brioche is a type of tuck stitch in which each row is knitted twice, with yarn overs knitted together with a slipped stitch from the previous row. This produces an elastic, lofty fabric that lies flat. Two colour brioche involves every row being knitted first by one colour yarn and then another colour- producing a fabric in which both colours are visible, but one colour is dominant on each side (as shown in photo above). This effect can be made more pronounced by high contrast colours.
Nancy Marchant (sometimes known as the Queen of Brioche!) has led the way in her research and development of the brioche stitch (see Inspiration below). Her work has inspired other designers to discover and explore the stitch, including Stephen West whose colourful and innovative brioche designs were key in introducing the stitch to a wider audience.
In the last few years, more designers have been experimenting with brioche and there are now many versions and styles to try – one colour brioche, two colours brioche, lace brioche, cables brioche – with pieces ranging from coasters to shawls and sweaters.
Is it tricky to knit?
Brioche stitch can seem daunting for a beginner- it involves a whole new vocabulary of terms and abbreviations (e.g. BRK-brioche knit (‘bark’), BRP- brioche purl (‘burp’)) that can be confusing if read without any additional explanation. I also personally found that it took a while for the muscle memory in my hands to adapt to the slip, yarn over, knit combination- I found I tended to revert to knitting every stitch if I didn’t concentrate!
Brioche is certainly more straightforward than it can first appear though, and even simple brioche can give a really striking result.
There is also plenty of help available for new brioche knitters….
Online learning resources for brioche
Nancy Marchant has a website entirely devoted to brioche knitting that is a fantastic resource for beginner brioche knitters and for those wanting to develop their skills. See (here). You can also participate in Nancy Marchant’s tutorials through the Craftsy online platform in her classes- Explorations in Brioche Knitting and Brioche Knitting: exploring color and texture. See (here) .
There are also many free brioche tutorials available through blogs and youtube videos. A couple I found helpful include: a photo tutorial and short video for one colour brioche by Crafts from the Cwtch – see (here). And video introduction and demonstration of two colour brioche- Knitting Two Colour Brioche – With The Knitting Expat, see (here).
Nancy Marchant has written a number of books exploring brioche and other tuck stitches, e.g. Knitting Brioche (2010), Leafy Brioche (2016), Tuck Stitches (2017). Find out more about her brioche story at the Fruity Knitting podcast, episode 35: Nancy Marchant, Brioche knitting, see (here) .
There are a number of other designers who are particular fans of brioche at the moment, including Stephen West (see (here)), Lesley Anne Robinson (see (here)), Lavanya Patricella (see (here)), Andrea Mowry (see (here)) and Susanne Sommer (see (here))
Gina’s Brioche Hat and Cowl by Purl Soho (see (here) ) – This simple two-coloured brioche cowl is knitted in worsted weight yarn and can easily be adapted to different sizes depending on your preferred fit. (See photo at top of post.)
Beginner’s Brioche Hat by Lavanya Patricella (see (here) ) – Knitted in super chunky yarn, this hat may seem a little more approachable for beginner brioche knitters and was especially written by the designer for beginners- or for people who just want to knit a fast hat!
Art Deco Mug Mat by Lesley Robinson (see (here) ) – A great introduction to increases and decreases in brioche, this Art Deco inspired coaster is surrounded by two-colour garter stitch stripes and two-color brioche borders. Perfect for using DK yarn leftovers.
A taste of brioche
Half Moon Oracle by Voolenvine (see (here) ) – This beautiful half-pi shawl combines two-colour brioche and a simple chevron lace motif. Knitted in 4-ply/fingering weight yarn, directions are given for a combination of 3 colours, but it could be personalised with any number of yarn colours and combinations.
Inky by Susanne Sommer (see (here) )- Brioche and garter stitch are combined in this graphic, textured shawl . The designer recommends using high contrast colours in a two or three colour version with a contrasting border.
Ramble by Andrea Mowry (see (here) ) – This striking asymmetric shawl is knitted in DK weight yarn and combines simple garter stripes with brioche herringbone.
Vandre by Lori Versaci (see (here)) – This sweater combines elegance with comfort in its slouchy, oversized fit, softly falling cowl, sinuous curves and lines of brioche ribbing. Knitted in worsted weight and seamed, the knitter is also given the option to knit all or parts in fisherman’s rib.
Shusui Shrug by Susanne Sommer (see (here) ) – Knitted in 4-ply/fingering weight yarn and worked top-down like a shawl, this drapey shrug combines two-colour and one-colour brioche with garter stitch, and large eyelet increases at the shoulders.
Askews Me Sweater by Stephen West (see (here) ) – This top-down brioche sweater is a great project for a knitter who likes to experiment with colour and fibres, and maybe use up leftover worsted and DK weight yarns.
Champagne Bubbles Brioche Lace Scarf by Nancy Marchant (see (here) ) – Elegant lace weight shawl knitted in brioche lace. Photo copyright SoHo Publishing.
Sizzle Pop by Lesley Anne Robinson (see (here) ) – This 4-ply/fingering weight shawl features an all-over chevron brioche lace, easily modified to larger or smaller sizes and with options for both a square and triangle shaped shawl.
Strong Hearts Scarf by Lavanya Patricella (see (here) ) – A combination of brioche stitch with classic cables, this scarf is easily modified to make it as short or long as you like.
#15 Trellis Blanket by Nancy Marchant (see (here) ) This innovative, textured trellis blanket or oversized shawl is knitted using a column of woven brioche stitch on a two-color garter-stitch background. Photo copyright SoHo Publishing.
Over to you:
Have you tried brioche knitting or would you like to try it? What are your favourite brioche patterns? Do you have any tips for new brioche knitters?