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BRIOCHE: THE SQUISHIEST OF ALL KNITS

If you're new to knitting brioche, there's one very significant thing to know: it’s super squishy and creates a soft fabric. When I did my first little bit of brioche knitting, I was surprised by how loose and soft the fabric felt while knitting, especially compared to stockinette stitches.


Brioche has been around for a long time (in her research, Nancy Marchant found that the name has been in use since the 1800s), and there are different ways to knit brioche. Mainly, you can knit brioche flat or in the round, using one or two colors per row/round.


In the simplest terms, brioche is a variation of 1 by 1 rib. To create the characteristic look and feel, there are yarnovers incorporated into the stitches. That means there'll be more yarn in your stitches, creating a thicker but somehow still airier fabric.


Because every other stitch only gets slipped (with the aforementioned yarnover), every row is actually created by knitting two rows. I know this sounds weird and complicated, but it's really simple. Just give it a go!



The basics of brioche knitting

Here are some great resources and patterns to get started with brioche knitting:


Firstly, check out Sosu Knits’ photo and video tutorials in both English and Continental knitting styles.


Purl Soho also has interesting resources, including an explanation with photos of how to fix mistakes in brioche knitting.


The best way to learn the mechanics of brioche is to knit many swatches.




Brioche knitting patterns

When you feel confident enough to tackle a simple project, we suggest Katarina Linnhagen's Expresso Scarf. It's an easy and quick project which won't take too long to complete.


Then, you can try the Niefling Hat by Carissa Browning.


on the left, woman wearing a pink shirt and a grey scarf; on the right, two  knitted hats, one is purple and the other is grey with colorful speckles
© Katarina Linnhagen | © Carissa Browning

Once you get the hang of the brioche stitch, you'll see that there are endless possibilities to create patterns by using increases and decreases in a clever way, especially when working two-color brioche.


Some patterns that come to mind are Brioche O’Clock by Julie Knits in Paris and Sizzle Pop! by Lesley Anne Robinson.


on the left, a woman smiles and wears a yellow shawl; on the right a woman wears a purple shawl
© Julie Knits in Paris | © Lesley Anne Robinson

Brioche is such a versatile way of creating fabric, and it’s also perfect for knitting sweaters. You can do simple one-color projects or two-color projects with varying degrees of complexity.


We suggest checking out Meret Bützberger’s St Moritz Sweater and Joji Locatelli’s Newspaper Pullover.


on the left, woman wears beige and brown hat and sweater; on the right woman wears a black and white sweater
© Meret Bützberger | © Joji Locatelli

If you want to learn more about other types of colorwork, check out our articles about mosaic vs stranded knitting and double knitting.

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