Twists in Brioche: A Squishy Cable Tutorial

You know how to sl1yo, brk, and brp, and now you're ready to take your brioche knitting to the next level. Why not put some pretty twists into your project?

Brioche cabling is somewhat similar to regular cabling because we'll use a cable needle to change the order of the stitches. However, brioche knitting is a little trickier since it involves slipped stitches and yarn overs.

The way the cables look is also similar to regular cables; however, the fabric it produces is much thicker and squishier. Brioche cables are also great because they're reversible, making both sides of projects like scarves look like the right side.

There are dozens of cable variations to choose from, but for this tutorial we'll swatch a right-cross cable that uses four stitches. (We'll talk more about cable variations at the end of the tutorial so you can experiment on your own!)

One-Color Flat 2/2 Right-Cross Brioche Cable (2/2 RBC)

A cable can be incorporated into any brioche pattern. For this tutorial, I'm working a cable row over basic brioche rib worked flat and in one color with a selvedge stitch on each end of the swatch. Here's the pattern we'll follow:

Cast on a multiple of 6 stitches, plus 2 stitches for the selvedge.
Set-up row: K1, *k1, sl1yo; repeat from * to the last st, k1.
Row 1: K1, *brk1, sl1yo; repeat from * to the last st, k1.
Rows 2-5: Repeat Row 1.
Row 6 (cable row): K1, *brk1, sl1yo, slip the next 2 stitches to the cable needle, hold the needle to the back of the work, brk1, sl1yo. Working 2 stitches from the cable needle, brk1, sl1yo; repeat from * across the row to the last stitch, k1.

Brioche Cable Tutorial

Because this tutorial is focused on cabling, we're going to breeze over the basics of sl1yo and brk. You should be familiar with these stitches before you try the cable.

1. Cast on an even number of stitches.

2. Work the set-up row: K1, *k1, sl1yo; repeat from * to the last st, k1.

3. Work row 1: K1, *brk1, sl1yo; repeat from * to the last st, k1.

4. Repeat row 1 four times for a total of five rows, plus the set-up row.

Tip: If you stop mid-row and can't remember what to do next, keep this in mind: If the next stitch on your needle looks like a purl stitch, then you need to sl1yo. If the next stitch you're going to work looks like a knit stitch, then you need to brk1.

5. Now let's cable! Knit the first stitch for the selvedge edge, then brk1, sl1yo.

6. Slip the next two stitches to the cable needle. Remember that a sl1yo counts as one stitch, so it will look like you're slipping three stitches to the cable needle.

7. Hold the cable needle to the back of the work.

8. Bring the working yarn to the back of the work, pulling so that it closes up the gap between the last stitch and the cable needle. Look out for that last sl1yo on the right needle; make sure you keep in in place as you move things around.

9. While the cable needle dangles in back, work brk1, sl1yo on the next two stitches on the needle.

10. Grab the cable needle, then work brk1, sl1yo from the cable needle.

11. Repeat steps 5-10 across the row until you reach the last stitch. Knit the last stitch.

You may not be able to clearly see the twist at first, but after you work a few more rows it will be more visible.

Tip: On the rows after a cable row, the cross of the cable might cause some yarn overs to separate more from the stitch they're supposed to be paired with. When you make a brk1, just make sure you're picking up both parts of the sl1yo.

Continue to repeat rows 1-6 to create more and more cables!

Cable Variations

This 2/2 right-cross cable is just one of many different brioche cables. If you want to experiment with other cables, try these variations:

  • If you want your cable to cross left instead of write, hold the cable needle to the front instead of the back.
  • You can also change up the number of stitches in the twist. This cable uses 4 stitches to create a narrow cable, but you can increase the number of stitches you slip onto the cable to make the cable wider. Just be sure to also adjust the number of stitches you work after you transfer stitches to the cable needle. For example, if you want cable that uses 8 stitches, transfer 4 stitches to the cable needle, work the next 4 stitches on the needle, then work the 4 stitches from the cable needle.
  • If you want more space between cables, you can add in an extra pair of "brk1, sl1yo" between cables. Just be sure to adjust the multiple when you cast on. For example, if you want two pairs of stitches between 2/2 cables, you'll need a multiple of 8 instead of a multiple of 6.
  • Brioche cables look amazing in two-color brioche, too!

Have you ever tried brioche cables? Do you like them better than your usual knitted cables? Let's talk cables in the comments!

January 10, 2018
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Twists in Brioche: A Squishy Cable Tutorial