The idea for this design came about a year and a half ago, when I was working on another sweater with a brioche ribbing detail. I was a few rows into the brioche section when I felt the need to add some patterning to that design (I’m pretty sure I was inspired by photos of amazing brioche shawls on Instagram). It was way to late in the process to change that design, so I tucked the idea away to be explored later. When the opportunity to submit a sweater for Fall 2017 issue of Twist Collective came long, I immediately thought back to that seed of an idea from a year ago. Here is my sketch:
This was the first time I would attempt to design a brioche motif, so I went straight to my favorite brioche book, Knitting Fresh Brioche by Nancy Marchant. I highly recommend this book, by the way. It not only covers the basic stitches, but also includes information on increasing and decreasing, reading charts, fixing mistakes, and lots of brioche stitch patterns. It took me a few tries to get the flower motif just right, here is my initial swatch (left) and the final motif (right):
I chose to use straight single color brioche for the cuffs and bottom edging so knitters new to the technique could start with the easier stitch and get some practice before moving on to the 2-color brioche with shaping increases and decreases. I wanted to keep the body simple so the yoke would really be the focus of the sweater.
When you are working brioche, yarn choice is important. One that is slippery or heavy might stretch too much, a toothy or wooly yarn is best. The bloom and halo of Hikoo Kenzie look beautiful in brioche, especially after you block it - this is one of those yarns where the stitches really even out after blocking.
One last thing - fixing mistakes and dropped stitches can be intimidating in brioche knitting, but it really isn't so hard. There are great resources available that walk you through picking up dropped stitches or fixing missed yarn overs (see my gush about Nancy Marchant's book above). If the mistake is a wrong leaning decrease, try fixing it with duplicate stitch - this is much easier than tinking 20 rows of brioche (I know this from experience).