There is hardly a knitter who doesn’t like the look and the feel of the fabric created by brioche stitch, especially two-colour brioche, because it makes the amazing brioche texture look even more magical with the fascinating colour play. BUT, there is hardly a beginner knitter who wouldn’t be intimidated to try knitting two-colour brioche.
While this stitch is not as easy as garter stitch or stockinette, it’s not really difficult – as long as we follow the steps outlined in the pattern, and understand the logic behind them.
Let’s give it a try and make a small swatch in brioche stitch worked flat.
You can watch all the steps explained below in this video tutorial, or click the number of the row to watch how to knit that row. You can also scroll to the bottom of this page to watch the embedded version of the video.
Two-coloured brioche can’t be knitted on classic straight needles. Because we will be sliding stitches to the other tip of the needle once in a while, we’ll need two double-pointed needles or a circular needle.
When it comes to yarn, feel free to choose any yarn you like in two colours that look good together. I’ll use chunky yarn in two shades of blue.
We can work in two-colour brioche on any number of stitches. An even number will have a clean pattern repeat, while an odd number will create a symmetrical look of the project. Because we are not worried about the symmetry of our swatch, we’ll start with an even number of stitches, and cast on 10 stitches.
The fabric usually looks better when we start with the darker of the two colours. So, for this swatch, I’ll use a darker shade of blue as the colour A.
Use any type of cast on you like, but make sure it’s not too stretchy. Brioche is a loose stitch in itself. It needs a firm cast-on edge to keep it together.
A few quick notes before we get started:
a) We’ll work the first and the last stitches of every row as selvedges to give the fabric nice neat edges. Despite all its awesomeness, two-colour brioche is notorious for sloppy edges. Selvedge stitches will take care of that.
b) Whenever the pattern tells us to “slip 1”, we’ll slip one stitch purlwise (insert the tip of the right needle into that stitch from right to left) with the yarn at the back of the work.
Row 1 (set up row): attach the yarn in colour B, and use it to work this row as follows:
slip 1 (selvedge), [knit 1, make a yarn over and slip 1], repeat the brackets to the last stitch, purl 1 (selvedge). Slide the work to the other end of the needle.
Row 2: with colour A, slip 1, [make a yarn over + slip 1, purl together the yarn over made in the previous row + the stitch paired with that yarn over], repeat the brackets to the last stitch, purl the last stitch. Turn your work.
Row 3: move the yarn in colour A to the back of the work, bring the yarn in colour B over the yarn in colour A, and use colour B to work this row as follows:
slip 1, [make a yarn over + slip 1, purl yarn over + stitch together], repeat the brackets to the last stitch, purl the last stitch. Slide the stitches to the other end of the needle.
Row 4: with colour A, slip 1, [knit yarn over + stitch together, make a yarn over + slip 1], repeat the brackets to the last stitch, purl the last stitch. Turn your work.
Row 5: move the yarn in colour A to the back of the work, bring the yarn in colour B over the yarn in colour A, and use colour B to work this row as follows:
slip 1, [knit yarn over + stitch together, make a yarn over + slip 1], repeat the brackets to the last stitch, purl the last stitch. Slide the stitches to the other end of the needle.
Repeat rows 2-5 to form the pattern.
THE LOGIC BEHIND IT:
a) We alternate colours in every row. If one row is worked with colour A, the next row should be worked in colour B. Because we work that way, we need to slide stitches to the other end of the needle in every other row. Otherwise, we won’t be able to work the next row with the colour we need.
b) Basically, we work in a version of the “knit 1, purl 1” ribbing, but we treat paired stitches (yarn over + stitch) as one stitch and knit or purl them together depending on the row. The “lonely stitch” (stitch without a yarn over) gets a yarn over and gets slipped.
c) If you don’t remember which colour you used to work the last row, look at the stitches on the needle. If most of the stitches are in colour A, that means that that row was worked in colour A, and you should work the next row in colour B.
WORKING WITH SEVERAL COLOURS
We can apply the same logic when we want to make our project even more colourful, like the swatch shown in the photo below.
To make a colourful brioche pattern, first, decide on the main colour of the project, The fabric usually looks better when we use one colour on one side of the work (that will be the main colour) and a few other colours on the other side of the work.
In my swatch, darker blue is the main colour (colour A) and a combination of light blue and light pink form a colourful pattern on the other side of the work.
To make this colour pattern, work as follows:
Row 1: Work with the yarn in the main colour.
Row 2: Work with the yarn in one of the additional colours.
Row 3: Work with the yarn in the main colour.
Row 4: Work with the yarn in the other additional colour.
These four rows form the pattern.
Because there are three strands in the work, we’ll have to slide stitches on the needle whenever we need to get to the strand that should be used in the next row. It does not necessarily happen in the same way as it does when we work with two colours.
Another thing that differs from the 5-row sequence we followed when we worked with two colours is the way we work each row. You have to follow the logic of brioche stitch and add a yarn over to every “lonely” stitch, and knit or purl the paired stitches (yarn over + stitch) depending on the way they present themselves. If the paired stitch looks like a knit, knit it. If it looks like a purl, purl it.
As a result, you will make a beautiful one-of-a-kind fabric that not only looks colourful on one side of the work but also features several colours peeking through on the other side of the work.
If you choose to use more than three colours, plan for a way to carry the strands up the side of the work to keep the sides of your project nice and tidy. Here is a tutorial that explains five ways to make it work. Also, prepare to untangle multiple balls of yarn every now and then.
Because we cast on stitches using colour A, the fabric will look nice if we bind off stitches with the same colour. So, when you get to a row that is supposed to be worked in colour A, use that colour to bind off all stitches in pattern (knit the knits and purl the purls).
Remember to treat the yarn over+stitch as one stitch and don’t make any yarn overs in front of the “lonely” stitches.
When working on a bigger project, use a lifeline. It could be quite hard to pick up stitches in colourful brioche if you make a mistake and have to unravel a part of the work.
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.
Dealing with Unfinished Projects
Dictionary of Knitting Symbols and Abbreviations – E-Book
Eastern (Russian) Knitting Simplified
Knitting Collection #6
Simple Socks in Any Size with Any Yarn
Top-Down Hat in Any Size with Any Yarn