Brioche is a rebel — it follows different rules than most other knitting techniques. When you try brioche knitting for the first time, you might have to throw some of your usual knitting know-how out the window temporarily to adjust to this beautiful, textured technique.
Want to give brioche a try for the first time? You need to know these tips!
1. Don’t rely on the yarn label to choose a needle size.
Usually the yarn label will give you an idea of what size needle you should use with the yarn, but that’s not the case with brioche.
You’ll want to use a smaller needle than the one on the yarn label — maybe even a needle two or three sizes down, depending on your knitting tension. Swatch to make sure the stitches are close together and are not creating a fabric that’s too open or loose in gauge.
2. Use a sticky yarn with elasticity.
Brioche results in a cushiony, squishy texture that springs back when you tug on it. Because of that, springy fibers like wool or wool blends are the best fibers to use. Cloudborn Highland Worsted, for example, is 100 percent Peruvian highland wool so it’s a great choice for brioche knitting.
While superwash wool might have elasticity, it doesn’t stick to itself like wool does, so try to find a non-superwash wool or wool blend for your project.
Stay away from slippery yarns that have a lot of drape, like cotton. Those fibers will pull, resulting in brioche that hangs and doesn’t retain its shape.
3. Try two-color brioche if one color is too difficult.
In your usual knitting, adding another color is a bit trickier. But in two-color brioche, it’s actually easier to read your knitting and know which stitch is which. For example, in two-color brioche rib, a sl1yo stitch has one strand of each color you’re using, so it’s super easy to identify it.
If you’re feeling confused by one-color brioche but have an idea of the basic stitches, try with two colors and see if it’s simpler.
4. Count visible stitches to figure out gauge.
Brioche knitting rows and rounds are labeled a little differently than your usual knitting. Row 1, for example, is broken into two parts: Row 1a and Row 1b.
This can get tricky when you’re counting rows or rounds for gauge. Instead of counting Row 1a and Row 1b as two rows, just count the visible stitches that you can see going up and down the swatch. This will give you the accurate number for your gauge.
5. Be prepared to use a lot more yarn than usual.
Using stockinette stitch, you might be able to knit mittens with less than 100 yards of yarn But brioche is a full, squishy fabric so it uses sometimes twice the amount of yarn.
If you plan to substitute brioche rib for regular rib, for instance, be sure to plan for more yarn.
6. Sharp needle tips are your BFF.
Because you’re dealing with a lot of yarn overs and slipped stitches, sharper needle tips are a great choice.
7. Avoid closed-ring stitch markers.
If you’re using stitch markers in your brioche, go for locking stitch markers like the Clover locking stitch markers pictured above. These stitches lock right into the stitch and can easily be moved. Closed-ring markers that sit on the needle will slip between sl1yo stitches, causing you to lose your marked place.
8. Use a loose cast-on and bind-off.
Because brioche has a lot of elasticity, you’ll want edges that also have that same springiness. Try casting on and binding off using a needle that’s one size larger than the needle you’re using for the project. When you’re casting on, the long tail cast-on is a great choice for an elastic edging.
9. Remember, Sl1yo counts as ONE stitch.
This is possibly one of the most important things to remember as you’re working your brioche knitting project. A sl1yo (slip 1 yarn over) consists of (you guessed it!) a slipped stitch and a yarn over that work together. When you count stitches or work that stitch, the slipped stitch and yarn over count as one stitch, even though it looks like two on the needle.