Brioche isn’t just a type of bread you know…

I love Brioche, especially the chocolate kind….but this post isn’t about the bread brioche, its about the knitting brioche!

Brioche knitting is a kind of one or two (or more?) colour knitting technique which uses yarn-overs to create a thick textured, multi-coloured fabric.

Like this fabulously intricate shawl (“Sizzle Pop“) by Lesley Anne Robinson


Or this beautiful scarf (“Brioche Basix: Scarf“) by Susanne Sommer (this one is DEFINITELY going in my queue for when I’m better at this Brioche thing!)


Or this beautiful Cowl (“Stitch Block Cowl“) by Purl Soho (I love all of their patterns…also going in the queue!!)


I decided that I should probably “walk before I run” and opted instead for something that used a simple “Brioche-rib” pattern.

After some more Ravelling (yes that is a word, its the opposite of “unravelling”, which i do if I don’t have time for knitting or crochet!)….I found this beautiful bandana cowl by Lavanya Patricella and decided that this was the one for me.


Now, like most knitters and crocheters, I have a fairly large stash of yarn.  I was certain that I could find the perfect yarn to make this in, without going to the shops!!

The first yarn I found was this beautiful Malabrigo Arroyo yarn that I’ve been waiting for the perfect project for.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find the right yarn to go with it in my stash.  It’s “sport” weight, which isn’t a yarn weight I use an awful lot.  This one can be re-stashed for another project.


The pattern calls for fingering-weight yarn.  I remembered that I had this amazing yarn from “All Wool that Ends Wool“.  I think this colour-way is “its getting warmer”.


I also have some dark Cascade Heritage yarn left over from my “Random Stripe Cardigan”.  I think they go together well!


So, now my yarn was chosen all I needed to do now was to learn how to brioche knit.  Simple right?? (can you tell I sometimes have my priorities totally wrong! ha! 🙂 )

I hopped over onto Craftsy because I’d seen a class on brioche knitting on there.  Who’da thunk it….It turns out that Brioche knitting (the simple rib kind anyway) is actually pretty simple!

Basically, you slip and stitch and then knit a stitch (that’s the same as knitting normally).  The “Magic” comes in how you make little yarn-overs each time you slip a stitch, by doing something you are taught NEVER to do when knitting.  You move the yarn to the front before you slip a stitch, then knit with the yarn from the front (not the back).  Thereby creating a yarnover.  Next time you come to that stitch you’ll knit the yarnover together with the slipped stitch to create the rib pattern.

Hard to describe but surprisingly easy to do…as long as you get into the rhythm!  I’ve spent the last few hours muttering “front, slip, knit, front, slip, knit” and I think I’m getting there.

The class I was following suggested knitting a one-colour brioche swatch first….I SO wanted to get stuck in with the two colours but I was good and knit a swatch.

Here it is!  Its not perfect but I did some Brioche Knitting, some Brioche Purling, some Brioche Increases and then some Brioche Decreases! 🙂 (and some “brioche mistakes”)


So…ready for colour? Lets go!

Oh, this is MUCH more tricky! especially when you go wrong!

The principles are the same, but now it seems that you have to work across the row in one colour, slide the work back to the other end and across the row in the second colour before you turn.  You also need to remember whether you are knitting or purling…! My tiny little brain was struggling to remember all this stuff!

Here is a very small swatch that I managed to make before going wrong and not being able to work out how to “pick it back up” again.


I know from when I was learning to knit that fixing mistakes is actually the best way to learn…however I ran out of patience….

SO…I got the pattern out and spotted that, because it was knit “in the round” not “flat”, it was actually simpler than the swatch I was making.  In the Round you can complete a knit round with one colour, then a purl round with another colour.  I figured that I’d got knitting and purling NAILED! (ish!) that I’d start on the real thing….

Here it is so far  after only a few rows (you may have spotted it at the top too!)…I have to say that I am in love with the way the colours are going together!


It is worth noting that the pattern gets a bit more complicated later on, when you have to start knitting “flat” to create the bandana point, but I figure that I’ve got 88 rows of practice before that point! 🙂

What can possibly go wrong??

Wish me luck! 🙂



UPDATE: I’ve now finished this fantastic cowl.  You can see the finished thing here! My First Brioche Cowl is finished, just in time!

I’ve also started another brioche project, this fantastic shawl “Briochealicious” by by Andrea Mowry


22 Responses

  1. M-R

    You WILL fall into the rhythm of this – and I hoe, faster than I did. But I’m fine with it, now; and I find Nancy Marchant;s design heavenly. I have my own mnemonic for this: I DO say “burp” for BRP, but I DON’T say “bark” fro BRK – I say “break” instead. Burp and break. Then my mnemonic is thus:
    “Advance, slip, break” (step forward, slip, break your ankle)
    “Burp, slip, Away” (burp, slip away in shame)
    All that’s required is to kow that >aa<way' are the words representing the YO.
    It's notas complex as it ight seem; but then, everyone has her own mnemonic, I imagine.

  2. I’m currently knitting Lemon Difficult, a brioche shawl. I had a hard time getting the rhythm but once I did it was easy. Yours looks great! I love the yarn you’re using:)

  3. M-R

    I owe you two apologies: first for being sufficiently egotistical as to bang on about my own methods; and second for all that weird stuff with my laptop ! I have NO IDEA what happened; but I believe I might have simply hit a combo of keys that set off some Microsoft strangeness. Whatever it was, the damned thing took on a life of its own before I shut it down.
    I do hope you persevere with brioche – it’s incredibly satisfying, not to say beautiful ! 🙂

  4. Looks amazing Jo! Brioche knitting is definitely on my list too! It’s great to read you before I take the plunge though 😀

  5. Joyce

    I’ve looked at Brioche, admired it, watched a Craftsy class and YouTube demos. Your amusing post has inspired me; now, what yarn should I use. Stash hunting here I come.

  6. Kim farnham

    I am totally impressed. Thinking I may look into this, as I have all kinds of yarn and no clue what to do with them.

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