Brioche knitting creates complex patterns with precision. How to knit brioche stitch and the history.
I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on May 22, 2023.
Table Of Contents
What Is Knitting Brioche?
Brioche knitting is a knitted technique using ribbing, slipped stitches, and yarnovers. It creates a thick, spongy texture. This technique is used in French and Italian knitting for attractive, reversible patterns and a smooth front side.
Unlike other knitted fabrics – Garter Stitch & Stockinette — there’s no turning your work! Always work on your wrong side (Purl Side). It’s intimidating due to the complicated patterns. Don’t let it scare you!
Why Is Brioche Knitting Called Brioche?
Nancy Marchant, an expert in Brioche knitting found the name referred to a cushion popular in England in the 1800s.The ribbed fabric makes the pillows like the soft French bread. Brioche means raised.
What Is Brioche Knitting Used For? Scarves, shawls, sweaters, pullovers, cardigans, and other garments.
Brioche Stitch Variations
Here are common variations: Slanting Brioche, Half Brioche, Pearl Brioche, Stockinette Brioche, Flat Brioche, Moss Brioche, Honeycomb Brioche, Crossed Brioche, Double Brioche, and Brioche Rib.
Brioche Knitting History
In the 1300s, Europe was in turmoil after the Black Death. Craftspeople in need of work couldn’t afford wool. Textile production dropped by 50% across Europe.
It’s thought to be created in 13th-century France among textile workers who couldn’t afford wool. It used less expensive worsted yarns. It originates as a scarf pattern from France, and it created a warm, airy fabric with no wrong/right sides.
How Do You Start Brioche Knitting?
Follow these steps.
Which Yarn Should You Use? Any. Using two yarns? Use two colors: a light color for the background, and a dark color for the foreground.
Which Knitting Needles Should You Use? Straight or circular knitting needles. Go down a needle sizes, as this creates a neater stitch pattern.
How Do You Cast On Brioche Stitch?
Use a method with a tight edge. A loose cast on won’t look nice. You need to keep the stitches contained. Cast on an even number of stitches.
How To Knit The Brioche Stitch
To create your first brioche fabric, stitches are slipped as if to purl with the yarn at the back of the work.
- Row 1
- *Yarn over, slip 1, knit 1. Repeat from *.
- Row 2
- *Yarn over, slip 1, knit two together. Repeat from *.
The first row is a starter row. For the rest, repeat the second row until your desired length. There are slipped stitches and yarn overs. Take it slow.
- A single stitch has a yarn over added
- A knit stitch with its yarn over is knitted together
Note: Yarnovers aren’t included in the stitch count.
Here’s an excellent video tutorial by 10rowsaday on Youtube.
How Do You Cast Off Brioche Stitch?
- Knit a stitch as usual
- Knit the next stitch
- Continue until there’s one left on your right needle
- Pull both loops through together the working yarn without twisting them around each other
- Cut the yarn, leaving about a six-inch tail
Don’t bind off too tightly! Blocking brioche knitted fabric is essential.
Brioche Abbreviations & Terms
- BRK: Brioche Knit Stitch
- BRP: Brioche Purl Stitch
- Yf = Yarn Forward
- Sl1 = Slip 1
- YO = Yarn Over
- Yf-Sl1-YO = Yarn Forward, Slip 1, Yarn Over
What Is Two-Color Brioche?
Two-color brioche is knitting with two colors. It has a ribbed texture, but with the ribs in the two colors.
How to Knit a Two-Color Brioche Knit Stitch
Here’s a tutorial by sosuknits on Youtube.
When knitting with two colors in the brioche technique:
- Start with a setup row
- A pattern of two alternating rows
- In the alternating rows, the brioche purl isn’t purled
- Yarn over
- Slip stitch purlwise, (yo, sl P1)
- For the knit stitches, knit the yo
- Snd sl P1 together (k2tog)
How To Cast Off In Two-Color Brioche Stitches
- Knit one stitch in your foreground color as usual.
- You’ll have two loops on your right needle with background stitches behind it.
- Put the left needle into the front loop of the first stitch without knitting it. (You want to hold onto its back-loop).
- Knit the background stitches off the left needle together.
- Pull both loops through the working yarn like normal knitted stitches until they’re free from each other.
How Do You Knit Brioche In The Round?
Here is an excellent video tutorial on how to knit the brioche method in the round by The Unapologetic Knitter on Youtube.
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FAQS About Brioche Knitting
How Do You Knit Half Brioche Stitch?
Here’s a good video tutorial by IKnitWithCatFur on Youtube.
What Does Brk1 Mean In Knitting?
It means brioche knit 1. Knit the stitch slipped in the previous row together with its yarnover. It wasn’t counted as a separate stitch on the previous row, no decrease is made.
How Do You Brioche Knit Continental?
Here is a video tutorial on how to knit brioche in continental knitting by Mimi Kezer.
How Do You Knit A Honeycomb Brioche Stitch?
- Purl your first stitch.
- Insert your right needle through the loop below the next stitch, wrap yarn, and complete as a normal purl stitch.
- Repeat those two steps to finish out row 1
- Insert your right needle into the row below
- Complete it as a regular knit stitch.
- Knit the next one.
- Repeat those steps to the end of the row.
How Do You Count Brioche Rows?
Count the knit stitches going up a knit column on the RS. Knitting patterns sometimes say “10 rows.” When they’re worked back-and-forth ten times, only one row counted for every two columns knitted. That makes five workable ‘rows.’
How Do You Read Brioche?
As most patterns are too complicated to do with a written design, you need charts.
How Do You Decrease A Brioche Stitch?
Here’s a tutorial by JenACKnitwear on Youtube.
Brioche Stitch Vs Mock Fisherman’s Rib
The brioche technique has a purl stitch in the background. Fishermans Rib only uses knit stitches pulled tight to create an alternating pattern of knits and purls. It creates more texture than Brioche does. Also, the brioche method uses a unique set of stitches with a yarnover on top of the slipped stitch.
Knitting Brioche is a technique perfect for knitters wanting to create reversible patterns. Hope you enjoy learning it! For the lowdown on top knitting books on the topic, see my roundup here. Want to discover something else? See my article on the arm knitting method, or the double knitting technique.