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Get Hooked on a New Knitting Technique: Brioche

For a soft, squishy, and stylish knitting stitch, learn the knitting technique of brioche

Looking for a new knitting technique? Have you mastered stripes, perhaps even cables and/or lace? Maybe you haven’t, but you’re looking for a technique that offers a different kind of texture. Maybe you’re looking for something completely reversible, where there’s no “right” or “wrong” side.

If any of these describe you, you may be a perfect candidate to try brioche knitting!

What is brioche knitting? This is a technique that creates a reversible ribbed fabric (especially with two or more colors) that can be simultaneously described as “light and squishy” and “dense.” How can this be? The reason is because when you’re knitting brioche, you’re creating two distinct sides of knitting at the same time (creating the denseness) with slipped stitches and yarnovers (creating the lightness).

Three important things to know about brioche knitting. Number one, it’s best not to use a slippery yarn. Stay away from superwash wool, alpaca, and silk, for instance, because these yarns tend to lengthen in brioche knitting. 100% non-superwash wool yarn is a good one for brioche; I would suggest a firmer acrylic as well.

Number two, you’ll need larger needles than you normally would. If you are using a worsted weight yarn and would normally use a size 7 needle to knit with, you’ll want to use larger needles to cast on, at least a size 9. This will help keep your cast-on stretchy, which it will need to be for brioche.

Number three, be forewarned that brioche uses far more yarn than regular knitting. So if you’re planning a brioche hat, for instance, and you’re thinking that a single ball of your favorite yarn might be enough, think again. You might need twice as much yarn as usual. (The beautiful finished project will be worth it, but just keep this in mind.)

Getting the Hang of Brioche

Happily, as always the Internet is a treasure trove of great tutorials for brioche knitting. Read and/or watch as many of the tutorials shown below as you’d like, until you get the hang of the technique.

Here we go!

Knitting Daily Learn to Knit Brioche Stitch This Weekend: Here’s a quick and easy tutorial that gives you the opportunity to knit a simple swatch of brioche. It’ll give you an easy overview of the technique.

KnitFreedom Brioche Knitting Basic One-Color Brioche Stitch: This is almost the same as the previous tutorial, only it’s a video rather than a blog post. Like the Knitting Daily post, it’ll show you how to knit a small swatch of brioche. You may want to check out this video as well; it’ll show you how to count stitches and rows in brioche, which will help in following patterns.

Brioche Stitch website: This is an entire website completely devoted to brioche knitting! You’ll find resources to just about every possible question, problem, or issue you might have concerning brioche knitting. It’s the ultimate brioche resource.

Purl Soho Brioche Stitch: This is a tutorial that is also a pattern for a lovely scarf. This is a terrific way to get yourself immersed into brioche knitting. I love the extra-close-up photos; they really show you what your needles and yarn should look like mid-stitch.

Knitting Two Colour Brioche with the Knitting Expat: This is a terrific complementary tutorial to the one-color brioche tutorials above. I love the “pile” of knitted brioche we see at the beginning of the video; it makes me eager to dive into the tutorial and try the technique! (This is a longer tutorial; it takes over 30 minutes, so be sure you have plenty of time to focus.)

Breezy Beginner Brioche Knit Along: This is a combination brioche knitting tutorial as well as a one-day knitalong and knitting pattern. Once you’ve followed along with the tutorial and knitalong, you’ll have gotten the hang of brioche knitting and created a beautiful scarf!

Brioche Knitting Patterns

If you’ve gone through the tutorials and are ready to put them into practice, you can start with the scarf knitalong shown above. If you want to go beyond that — or if you would rather knit something other than a scarf — try one of these patterns!

Gina’s Brioche Hat and Cowl: You can make the hat; you can make the cowl; or you can make both, for a stylish set. This pattern is for two-color brioche.

Blue Steps Baby Booties: For a smaller-scale (and totally adorable) project, try these precious brioche booties! (Scroll down to “Blue Steps” and click on one of the two links below the photo for either a PDF or a Word version.)

Big Island Wrapper: If a shawl is more your style, and you have an abundance of bulky yarn that you’d love to use up, this beautiful triangular shawl may be just your thing.

Syncopation Adoration Hat: For a funky, multiple-colored brioche hat topped with a floppy pom pom, try this silly yet stylish hat.

Brioche Basic Beanie: If you’d like a brioche hat but want something a little calmer than the previous hat, try this one! Much simpler, but still stylish.

Brioche for Beginners Cowl: This pattern is pretty self-explanatory; it creates a simple yet lovely cowl that is great for knitters new to brioche.

Fluffy Brioche Baby Blanket: Brioche: Brioche is such a great fit for a baby blanket. It’s so soft and squishy, great for both baby and whoever is cuddling with baby!

Not Quite a Blizzard: a Turban Headband: This is not only a fantastic knitting pattern for anyone new to brioche, but it’s also quick and makes a wonderful instant-gratification project!

Big Brio Slouch: We’ve got a simple beanie and a silly beanie; now, let’s add an adorable slouch hat! Super chic and a great way to practice brioche. (Click “Big Brio Slouch” to access the pattern.)

Nornir: Are you ready to get bold? Try this gorgeous pattern for brioche socks. Yes, socks! (Can you just imagine how cuddly those babies would feel on the feet?)

Flower Scarf: You could knit the longer scarf in the final tutorial listed above; you could knit one of the two cowl patterns posted earlier; or, you could create this adorable and tiny scarf that’s secured with a gorgeous knitted flower.

Rodekool: One final neck-warming alternative: this lovely keyhole scarf. This is probably the trickiest brioche pattern listed here, so if you’re up to the challenge, why not give it a try? (The pattern does contain several links to tutorials and technique descriptions to help you out.)

So if you’re as intrigued with the stylings of brioche as I am, I hope these tutorials and patterns have inspired you to give this knitting technique a try!

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