Learning Brioche

I’m no expert ! But I am slightly addicted to knitting Brioche and I want to share what I know with you. The word “brioche” sounds a little scary; it’s a knitting technique that seems new (it’s not), consists of new terminology (yikes - it’s only knits and purls), and produces some really fancy results that seem beyond your abilities.

What’s the trick to learning?

Start with the easy stuff. Just use 1 colour and either knit flat or knit in the round (whichever you prefer). The images show what can be produced just doing 1 colour brioche. Nice squidgy hats, scarves and head warmers. You’ll get used to the Brioche knit stitches, see how easy they are, see how you can knit this stitch whilst watching the tv.

What is it?

What is Brioche Knitting?  Brioche knitting is a distinctive knitted ribbing technique that is recognisable by its heightened, doughy texture. The fabric is achieved by alternating columns of slipped stitches with yarnovers (SL1YO's) and knit stitches (BRK's) (or purl stitches, but we’ll get to that later).

Apparently the earliest Brioche patterns were written in the mid-1800s England for cushions and footstools that very much resembled the puffs of brioche pastry most of us are familiar with. The cushions used the brioche stitch that we still use today; however, throughout time we’ve experimented with our knitting to be able to make more than just pillows and cushions with the stitch.

I believe the best way to learn Brioche stitch (and all knitting techniques!) is to knit a swatch before diving in with a pattern. I certainly wish I had done that. It took me a week of constantly ripping out my work before I could complete my 1st Broche scarf (It did include increases and decreases though). So here's the swatch.

Swatch Instructions-

Cast on 16 stitches (or any number of stitches as long as its an even number) with your preferred method.

To establish the pattern, first complete a Setup Row:

Setup Row: *SL1YO, K1 ; repeat from  * to end       (SL1YO is explained below)

Note: The first and last stitch of each row is a selvedge stitch. Since brioche knit fabric is highly elastic, this selvedge will help stabilise your swatch and create neat edges.

Then proceed with Row 1:

Row 1:  *SL1YO, BRK1; repeat from  * to end      (BRK is explained below)

Repeat Row 1 until your swatch reaches your desired length. Cast off loosely in K1, P1 rib, working all slipped stitches together with their YO’s.

Happy and ready to start making something useful? start with the Simple Brioche Headband free pattern by clicking on the button below.  You'll need to familarise yourself with 2 new knitting abbreviations SL1YO and BRK before you start , (ie work the swatch above)   Once you've mastered the headband, why not knit a matching scarf.


Slip 1 Yarn Over - This isn’t your typical SL1YO that you’d see in a lace pattern. 

  • Hold the working yarn in front.
  • Slip the next stitch purlwise. 
  • As you’re slipping the stitch from the left needle to the right needle, wrap the yarn over the needle and to the back. 


Brioche Knit - This stitch is kind of like a k2tog, and it’s super easy!

  • make sure working yarn is to the back of the work. 
  • Insert the needle knitwise into the next stitch and the yarn over, as if to knit. 
  • Knit the stitch and yarn over together. 

Shawled sts & Counting Brioche sts

In brioche knitting, a shawled stitch (the shawl is the yarn over the knit stitch)  is considered ONE stitch. This is very important. The yarn over is not counted separately. in this example When you count 5 stitches, you will actually have 8 loops of yarn on the needle.

1 Colour Brioche

2 Colour Brioche

Inc's & Dec's

Want to learn more?

Want to practice more?  Click on the buttons or images above to delve in to Brioche Knitting further. I have a number of patterns where you can try out 1 or 2 coloured Brioche knitting on straight needles or working in the round.  Video Tutorials are available for the not so complicated increases and decreases that create the pretty patterns within the knitting.