Charting Brioche and Fisherman’s Rib Patterns – a guest post by Kate Atherley

Brioche (and related) pattern stitches are enormously popular at the moment. They create wonderful textured fabrics, with lots of drape and visual interest. They’re terrific ways to use up busy variegated yarns, too – two-colour brioche is my absolute favourite application for an outrageously variegated yarn.

Photo of Kate Atherley wearing a brioche cowl in black and variegated yarn. She stands in front of a graffiti-ed wall and is smiling and wearing glasses.

These type of stitch patterns – also sometimes known as “tuck” stitches – can be a little complicated to work, because the basic stitches are fundamentally different than what we’re traditionally used to. And, too, because – just for fun – there are a couple of different ways to work them.

I must be honest: if you’ve not worked these types of stitches before, this column likely won’t make a bit of sense to you. If you want a good lesson, visit: https://www.interweave.com/article/knitting/brioche-stitch-mercedes/

I teach brioche knitting classes on a fairly regular basis, and I find that there’s a second challenge – sometimes even bigger than that of working the stitches: reading the instructions.

There are a couple of issues with the instructions for brioche types of patterns: they use existing terms to mean different things, and then there are new terms to mean things we (think we) know. Adding to that is the issue that there’s a couple of different versions of the terminology in use.

And there’s also the wonderful complication that you can achieve exactly the same effect using an entirely different technique, too: Fisherman’s Rib stitches, created by working into the stitch below the one on the needle.

It’s all a bit of a mess, and it can be a huge barrier to learning.

But these issues are handily mitigated by the use of charts – you can avoid entirely confusing and inconsistent terminology. And Stitchmastery has symbols available:

The Brioche symbols are in their own category in the palette:

screenshot of Stitchmastery stitch palette showing brioche stitches

Note, as I mentioned above, the terminology can vary. What’s listed as “yf sl1yo” in the key is sometimes know to as “yos” or “slyo” – that’s easily modified in the key if you want, just edit the stitch descriptions.

The Fisherman’s Rib symbols are in the Basic Stitches drawer in the palette:

Screengrab of Stitchmastery stitch palette showing brioche stitches with two stitches circled in red

You’ll notice that the symbols for knit one below (k1b) and purl one below (p1b) are the same as for brioche knit (brk) and brioche purl (brp). The end result of the two stitches is the same, so that’s not unreasonable.

There are only the two, as the increases and decreases are worked somewhat differently, and there aren’t necessarily standards for those. You can use some of the standard decrease symbols for those, changing the key text, or create your own.

Worked flat on an even number of stitches, Fisherman’s Rib is charted like this:

screenshot of knitting pattern and key for Fisherman's Rib knit flat

In written instructions, it’s like this:

All rows: (K1b, k1) across.

If you’re familiar with Brioche but haven’t tried Fisherman’s Rib, I recommend you give it a go. You might find it rather surprising. Many find this method easier!

Worked in the round on an even number of stitches, Fisherman’s Rib is charted like this:

screenshot of knitting chart and key showing how to knit Fisherman's Rib in the round

Worked flat on an even number of stitches, standard single-colour brioche rib is charted like this:

screenshot of knitting chart and key for knitting single colour brioche flat

Worked in the round on an even number of stitches, standard single-colour brioche rib is charted like this:

Screenshot showing knitting chart and key for knitting single colour brioche in the round

Two Colour Brioche
Where the charts get more interesting is when you’re working with two colours, as they’re worked in the method of a Mosaic/Slipped Stitch pattern. If you haven’t already, I suggest you read my previous column to get an understanding of that: https://www.stitchmastery.com/charting-slipped-stitch-colourwork-patterns-a-guest-post-by-kate-atherley/

Two-colour brioche is like a corrugated ribbing: one column is worked in one yarn/colour, the other column is worked in the other.

It requires two passes: in the first pass, you use the first colour, working every other stitch, and slipping the unworked ones. Then you return to the beginning and then use the second colour, working the stitches that were slipped on the previous pass, and slipping the stitches that have already been worked.

In the round, this is entirely straightforward: you work around in the first colour, then when you get to the end of the round, drop the first colour and pick up the second, then work the second pass to fill in the missed stitches.

When creating charts for this situation, the In the Round setting is all you need.

Screenshot showing chart and key for knitting two-colour brioche in the round

Note: this chart shows the basic repeat. A setup round might be worked.

Worked flat, two colour brioche requires two things: a circular needle, or long DPNS so that you can slide back to the beginning of a row to work the second pass in the same direction; and a chart with a different configuration of numbers. This is where the Mosiac setting comes into its own. It sets up a chart with 2 rows in each direction, 2 RS rows, 2 WS rows, etc.

screenshot showing chart and key for knitting two-colour brioche flat

Note: this chart shows the basic repeat. Setup rows(s) might be worked.

It’s true that there any many ways to write out these types of stitch patterns, but no matter how you are working your brioche patterns, Stitchmastery can help you chart them!

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