Try the King Charles Brocade Stitch: a Lovely Pattern with a Hair-Raising History

Looking for an elegant textured stitch? Look no further than the lovely King Charles Brocade stitch

The King Charles Brocade stitch has such an elegant name that one might be horrified to learn of its origin.

King Charles I of England has the rather dubious distinction in the nation’s history of being the only king to be executed for treason. On the day of his beheading, he wore a blue vest with a brocade of diamonds stitched into it.

That diamond brocade pattern is replicated in the stitch we’ll learn today.

So! Who’s ready to knit? 😆

What You’ll Want to Know Before You Begin

Executions and beheadings play absolutely no role in the construction of the King Charles Brocade… so have no fear about carrying on!

Did you know that “brocade” is a word meaning “raised stitches on a flat background”? (I did not–I always thought “brocade” was just an elegant word for “fancy fabric.” Fashion is not my strong point…)

The King Charles Brocade produces a lovely, elegant series of criss-crossing diamonds. I recommend using this lovely stitch pattern with solid-colored yarn, as the diamonds may get lost in a variegated yarn.

(Stripes can work if you change colors when the diamonds are completed.)

It’s a very simple stitch–no yarnovers, no decreasing or increasing, no twisting. Just the simplest sets of knits and purls. I wouldn’t call it the easiest pattern to memorize; however, it is very easy to follow.

Instructions for the King Charles Brocade Stitch

Abbreviations used:

RS: Right side

K: Knit

P: Purl

Cast on any multiple of 12 plus 1.
For example, 25 (12 x 2 = 24 + 1 = 25) or 37 (12 x 3 = 36 + 1 = 37). You could also add 6 for border stitches (3 on each side). This would mean casting on 31, 43, and so on.

Row 1 (RS): K1, *P1, K9, P1, K1; repeat from * to end of row.

Row 2: K1, *P1, K1, P7, K1, P1, K1; repeat from * to end of row.

Row 3: K1, *P1, K1, P1, K5, (P1, K1) twice; repeat from * to end of row.

Row 4: P1, *(P1, K1) twice, P3, K1, P1, K1, P2; repeat from * to end of row.

Row 5: K1, *K2, (P1, K1) 3 times, P1, K3; repeat from * to end of row.

Row 6: P1, *P3, (K1, P1) twice, K1, P4; repeat from * to end of row.

Row 7: K1, *K4, P1, K1, P1, K5; repeat from * to end of row.

Row 8: Repeat Row 6.

Row 9: Repeat Row 5.

Row 10: Repeat Row 4.

Row 11: Repeat Row 3.

Row 12: Repeat Row 2.

Repeat these 12 rows until your work is as long as you wish.

This is an excellent stitch to use (easily) for dishcloths and washcloths, afghan squares, entire afghans, and scarves. You can also use them for circular knitting as well!

Below you’ll find a few free knitting patterns that use the King Charles Brocade stitch.

Patterns Featuring the King Charles Brocade Stitch

Bulky King Charles Brocade Hat Pattern: One nice thing about knitting this stitch in the round is that it becomes a bit more instinctive. You’ll see the flat knitted sections and the textured diamond sections increase and decrease as you knit, which makes the pattern easier to follow.

Bulky King Charles Brocade hat - Jamie Johnston
Bulky King Charles Brocade Hat
Photo: Jamie Johnston

And with this pattern in particular, it knits up more quickly thanks to the bulky yarn!

King Charles Brocade Cowl: While this knitting pattern is knitted flat, because it closes with buttons, you’ll be creating buttonholes (for an added bit of fun!). It creates a beautiful, elegant look in a cowl that would make a marvelous gift.

King Brocade Cowl - Knotions Magazine
King Charles Brocade Cowl
Photo: Knotions Magazine

King Charles Brocade Gansey: This beautiful sweater features its lovely King Charles Brocade stitch across the yoke in the front. I love the shape of this sweater; it’s not as boxy as so many handknitted sweater patterns often are.

So are you ready for the King Charles Brocade Stitch? Enjoy it — and know that your knitting will remain free of beheadings and executions.

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