A step by step tutorial on how to do a centered double decrease when knitting the brioche stitch – without a cable needle & the standard method
Are you working on a pattern in the brioche stitch and the pattern says br4st dec and you got no clue what it means? Well, then you came to the right place. Because in this tutorial I’ll not only show you how to knit the centered double decrease for the brioche stitch. I’ll also show you a very smart alternative way to knit it.
Br4st dec stands for brioche 4 st decrease. I’m not sure who or why that acronym was created but I’m pretty sure it had more than one generation of knitters confused. Basically, you are decreasing 3 double stitches and 2 single stitches so it looks like three ridges are converging into one.
The traditional way to knit it involves a lot of slipping stitches around and using a cable needle. That’s both incredibly time consuming and annoying. So, I sat down and developed a second way to knit it (scroll all the way down) so you can knit the br4st dec without a cable needle. The only drawback is that you have to knit it across two rows.
I’ll show you the basic brioche double decrease first but I do have to mention that both are very advanced techniques probably not all that suitable for beginners. You might consider using the regular right- and left-leaning brioche decreases instead.
Either way, let’s dive right into it!
Note: Don’t miss my tutorial on how to increase the Brioche stitch
- Step 1: Knit up to a double stitch (brioche knit/brk) and slip it and the next single stitch knitwise with the yarn in the back. (careful here, after too much brioche knitting your brain might automatically bring it to the front).
- Step 2: Slip the next double stitch onto a cable needle.
- Step 3: Knit one stitch.
- Step 4: Pass the second stitch on the right needle over the one you just knit.
- Step 5: Slip the remaining stitch from your right needle back to the left needle.
- Step 6: Pass the double stitch to the left over of the stitch you just slipped.
- Step 7: Slip the remaining stitch back to the right needle.
- Step 8: And slip the first double-stitch right next to it over it as well.
- Step 9: Slip the remaining stitch from the cable needle back to the left needle.
- Step 10: Slip the first stitch on the right needle back to the left needle.
- Step 11: Pass the double stitch from the cable needle over the one you just slipped.
- Step 12: Slip the last remaining stitch to the right needle to finish your centered double decrease for the brioche stitch (br4st dec).
Instead of steps 9 and 10, you can also slip one stitch from the right needle onto the cable needle and work step 11 on the cable needle. I personally feel this tends to loosen up the already loose stitch even further and it's a bit awkward.
All in all, I recommend you to go slowly through all these motions. Maybe even write them down on a small card and put it in your project bag, as it's really easy to get confused.
But what you are basically doing is putting the middle ridge on a cable needle and then you are stacking loops around a single knit stitch. A bit like throwing loops around a stick and adding the stitches from the CN last so you only see those from the front. If you look very closely, there is one knit stitch and it has 7 loops around it.
Norman’s ALTERNATIVE Brioche Double decrease without A CABLE NEEDLES
So, using the cable needle is quite annoying. If you find it too complicated or time-consuming, then I propose to stagger the double decrease across two rows. The results will be almost identical but may feel a bit unusual as you start on the wrong side where you usually don’t do a lot when knitting the brioche stitch.
Step 1: Knit up until a position where you have a single stitch and purl it together with the following brioche stitch. So, it’s actually a basic p3tog. If you want your neat ridges in color A then you should be knitting in color b and a row where you k2tog all other brioche stitches.
Step 2: Slip one stitch with yarn in front.
Step 3: Purl the next three stitches together through the back loop. Important: Before, you need to bring the second stitch to the front. So, secure the top of the yarn over with one finger (middle or index finger) and then simply slip the middle stitch to the right needle and slip it back. This will make the decrease look a bit neater from the wrong side (you can skip this step if you don’t mind).
Step 4: Continue in pattern until you reach the start of three remaining decrease stitches on the right side. Slip two stitches knitwise at the same time.
Step 5: Knit one stitch.
Step 6: Pass the two slipped stitches over the one you just knit.
As you can see this version is a lot faster to knit (it only involves half of the steps) and I even believe it results in a much neater decrease. The only a bit more difficult part is the p3tog tbl. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend knitting such a stitch. But as one of the three stitches is a loose yarnover it’s actually reasonably easy to knit.
If you take a look at the above swatch, then I’m sure you can see how the decreases look very very similar. But because you stagger it across two rows, it’s a lot smoother. Also, it doesn’t leave such a big bump behind. In the standard version, there are 7 loops of yarn wrapped around one central knit stitch and that looks a bit bulky in profile.
Depending on your tension, you will always see a bit of the second yarn peeking through. The big difference is in the way this increase appears from the back. If you don’t rearrange the stitches before you p3tog tbl (step 3), then the point where the ridges converge won’t look all that pretty – especially if you are knitting in an unforgiving cotton yarn as I do (which I use precisely so the differences are not hidden behind some lovely fuzz.)
So, for a pattern where you really want to use both sides, I’m not sure this alternative version is the better option. The standard double brioche decrease isn’t exactly all that pretty on the wrong side (that one really elongated stitch does look weird) but it’s a bit better.
Personally, I don’t think the two-colored brioche with a lot of decreases actually is reversible. The one side always looks a bit weird. And in one color, I think the alternative version actually looks a bit smarter. But I leave it up to you.
If you prefer the look of the traditional method, but still don’t want to use a cable needle, then I urge you to read my guide to knitting cables without a cable needle. Because you can use the same technique to prepare for this technique.
In this case, you would have to change step 2 (where you slip the stitches to CN) to inserting your right needle into the back of the three stitches after the central double stitch. Press your thumb against the central stitch, and pull your left needle out of the first 5 stitches. And then, immediately pick up the free-floating central brioche stitch and slip back 3.
And then continue with step 3 but obviously skip the last steps where you slip stitches around. You won’t need that. It does remain a very viable option for experienced knitters. It’s a bit risky as those yarnovers will slip away so easily. (Watch the video where I show this technique as well)