Brioche ribbing fabric has a beautiful drape and can create stunning color effects when utilizing two colors.
The history of the brioche knit stitch is a little obscure, but a description of it appears as early as the mid-19th century in The Handbook of Needlework written by Francis Lambert in 1846. In this edition of her work, Miss Lambert details the technique of working brioche knitting and says that it is good to use for “sleeves, comforters, petticoats, night socks, linings for foot baskets, quilts, cradle covers and various other purposes.”
Miss Lambert then details how to knit “A Brioche” which is a puffed, stuffed tufted pillow of about 8 inches across and a few inches high and resembles “the well known french cake of that kind.”
Brioche is a lovely ribbed pattern. The best way to start knitting Brioche is to knit with just one color, so you can get used to it before you introduce a second color. If you need help reading the patterns in this blog post, please see our posts How to Read a Knitting Pattern and Understanding Knitting Abbreviations.
After a few rows, the rib will emerge:
After you feel comfortable using one color to create the Brioche rib, you can add a second color. You will also be working across the same side of your work twice. In my example I’ve chosen Red Heart Soft in Turquoise and Red Heart Soft Baby Steps in Lavender and size 9 needles.
Two-Color Brioche stitch is worked back and forth in rows on a circular needle. One color will be worked for 1 row. Do not turn your work, but push stitches to opposite end of needle so that they are ready to work in same direction again with second color. Work second color for 1 row with same side showing. Then work is turned and first color is worked, then second color without turning work in between rows along wrong side.
You will work in a repeat of 4 rows. Rows 1 and 4 should feel very comfortable to you, after your practice with brioche in a single color. Rows 2 and 3 are new and it may take some time before you a as comfortable with them. Thankfully the repeat is short and therefore, easy to memorize.
Row 1 (Right Side): With A, k1, [k2tog, yo, slip 1] across to last st, k1. Do Not Turn. Push stitches to opposite side.
Row 2 (Right Side): With B, k1, bring yarn to front, [slip 1, yo, p2tog] across to last st, k1. Turn.
Row 3 (Wrong Side): With A, k1, bring yarn to front [slip 1, yo, p2tog] across to last st, k1. Do Not Turn. Push stitches to opposite end of needle.
Row 4 (Wrong Side): With B, k1, [k2tog, yo, slip 1] across to last st, k1. Turn.
Congratulations! You’ve mastered knitting Brioche with two colors!
Here is what each side will look like after you have completed all 4 Rows.
After a few more times of working the 4 rows, the color pattern will be more visible. Now you’re ready to try the Fantastic Brioche Scarf pattern.
As I mentioned at the top of the post, there is another way to achieve this two color ribbed stitch. The second technique is usually called the Fisherman’s Rib.
Fisherman’s rib is a simple 2 round repeat, as follows:
Round 1: With A, [K1B, p1] around.
Round 2: With B, [k1, P1B] around.
Only one color is used along each row but colors are changed every row. You will always work the same stitches with the same color, so once you get used to which color you use on the purl rounds and which is used for the knit row, this technique becomes a real breeze.
HINT: The color that you purl will become the inside when working in the round.
It may seem a little odd to knit the entire brim by knitting or purling into the row below, but that is where the magic happens, as this allows only one color to appear on each side of your work.
To K1B, knit in center of stitch below stitch on left hand needle, allowing stitch on left hand needle to fall behind work. Here is what it should look like when you K1B:
To P1B, purl below bar of stitch below stitch on left hand needle, allowing stitch on left hand needle to fall behind the work. This is what it should look like as you P1B.
This pattern utilizes the Fisherman’s Rib technique for the brim of the hat, because of the way it is constructed it is completely reversible!
Horizon Brioche Cowl