Brioche is a different animal than other knitting, and a good brioche project always starts with a yarn that complements those beautiful, squishy brioche stitches.
We don't believe in strict rules when it comes to knitting. In fact, breaking the rules often results in wonderful, unexpected results. However, if you're knitting brioche for the first time or you've been disappointed with how your brioche turned out in the past, you might want to rethink your yarn choice.
Next time you're planning a brioche project, look for these characteristics in your yarn.
Photo via Bluprint member Nona Pearl Creations
1. Good stitch definition
A yarn with good stitch definition means that every twist, every color change and every individual stitch stands out. Do you see how it's clear where one stitch ends and another begins in the Regal Brioche Fingerless Gloves pictured above? That's a sign of good stitch definition.
When you're looking for a yarn that has good stitch definition, look for a yarn that is plied and has a nice twist in it. If you want to dig deeper, check out our post stitch definition .
Grab a strand of yarn, then pull on it. Did it move when you let go? If it sprung back into place, then it has good elasticity. If you pulled on it and nothing really happened, then it probably doesn't have good elasticity.
There are a couple of reasons that you want to use a springy yarn with good elasticity:
- Brioche is a thicker knit that's designed with a lot of structure. If we use a yarn that doesn't spring back into place, that structure can quickly become muddy.
- Stitches shift without springing back into place, and that not only takes away from the way the stitches look, but it also affects how brioche accessories or garments fit. A sweater that's 25" long, for example, could quickly become a knee-length dress if the yarn doesn't have enough elasticity.
The fiber known for having the best elasticity is wool. If you're knitting brioche, consider a wool or wool blend, and be sure you test its elasticity before you commit. (More on testing elasticity later!)
If you're knitting two-color brioche, you'll also want to think about how the colors work together.
Photo via Bluprint member Oneday Designs's Pattern Store
If you're knitting two-color brioche and really want to show the difference between the two colors, be sure to choose colors that contrast each other. The Heartland Brioche Cowl you see above, for instance, uses a dark color and light color to really show off those faux cables.
Photo via Bluprint member Bobbin Hobnobbin
If you want a color contrast that's a little less bold, though, you can go for colors like the ones in the Oudtshoorn Brioche Cowl above. Similar colors working together — a purple and dark blue, for example — can create a beautiful palette that's just as interesting as contrasting colors.
Photo via Bluprint member Knitting Emporium
Variegated and hand-dyed yarn
When you're thinking about color, don't forget about hand-dyed and variegated yarns. Check out the Abutilon Brioche Stitch Cowl pictured above and you'll see how well a variegated yarn pairs with a solid yarn in two-color brioche.
How to test your yarn
Like with any project prep, you'll want to swatch your yarn to see how it behaves. When you swatch, make sure you get gauge when knitting brioche.
Check, too, for drape. When you pull on the swatch, does it spring back into place? Or does it just kind of stretch out and stay there? For brioche, we want a yarn that's going to bounce right back. The goal is to make sure the brioche holds it shape no matter what.