A step by step tutorial on decreasing the brioche stitch: Instructions for the left- and right-leaning version.
In my previous two posts, I talked about increasing the Brioche stitch and you’ll also find a very detailed post about knitting this versatile stitch pattern. But it probably goes without saying that for shaping a garment that isn’t enough. So, I’m sure you are already wondering how to decrease the brioche stitch, right?
After all, it’s only when combining increases with decreases, you can achieve these elaborate cabled patterns the Brioche stitch is so famous for. You might have already tried and k2tog or an SSK, but that most likely didn’t get you very far.
And here’s why. I said it before and I say it again: You are knitting double. But through some ingenious trick (the slipping with yarn in front) you don’t need two needles and get away with knitting it on one needle (watch the video to really understand what I mean). As a result, you need to decrease the front and the back ribs at the same time to make it work.
Unlike the standard increases, the Brioche decreases have a lean. So, I’ll show you a left- and right-leaning version first, and then we’ll have look at the centered decrease.
So, let’s dive right into it, eh?
Note: Be aware that these decreases also work for the half-brioche stitch.
- Step: For a right-leaning brioche decrease, start by knitting up to a double-stitch (a yarnover with a slipped knit stitch; often also called a brioche knit) and slip this double stitch knitwise (make sure you don't accidentally drop the yarn over).
- Step: Knit the next stitch.
- Step: Pass the slipped double stitch over the one you just knit.
- Step: Slip the resulting stitch back to the left needle purlwise.
- Step: Now pass the double stitch on the left over the first stitch.
- Step: Slip the remaining stitch to your right needle purlwise.
I know, the passing over might feel a bit unusual at first. Do remember, however, that knitting one stitch and passing the next stitch over will give you exactly the same result as a k2tog.
Think of it as pulling a loop through two rings. Instead, you can just pull the loop through one ring and then throw the second ring over the loop afterward. But once you have three (like in this case) or even four loops, the passing gets much easier than going through all stitches at the same time.
Also, these instructions are exactly the same - no matter if you are knitting the brioche stitch in one color, two colors or in the round.
Left-Leaning Brioche Decrease
And here’s how you need to adjust this for a left leaning-decrease. You’ll find brLsl dec (brioche left-slanting decrease) or bsk2p (brioche slip knit 2 pass) in some patterns. Or simply call it Brioche SSK because that’s essentially what it boils down to.
Step 1: Slip the first double stitch (brioche knit) consisting of a yarn over and a slipped stitch as if to knit.
Step 2: Knit the next stitch (appears like a purl stitch) and the following double stitch (so 3 stitches in total) together. So, more or less a regular k3tog.
Step 3: Now pass the double-stitch you slipped in step one over the three stitches you knit together.
And you are done already and will have your left-slanting brioche decrease on your right needle.
Note: Unlike with the brioche increases, there is no special way you need to handle the decrease on the return row. They will both result in a single knit stitch that you can yarnover slip1 following your standard repeat.
Brioche centered double decrease / br4stdec
You can also decrease a brioche stitch in a way so it appears three ridges converge into one. This decrease is sometimes also called br4st dec. That’s because you are reducing your repeat by 4 brioche stitches. Again, I feel this is a bit of weird terminology that’s bound to confuse beginners.
Still, this is a very complicated decrease because, counting the yarn overs, there are altogether 8 stitches involved. And for the standard method, you even need a cable needle to make it work.
As it’s a bit more difficult to knit it, I wrote a separate tutorial on how to br4st dec here.
The true magic will happen when you combine the increases with decreases a couple of rows later. That way, you maintain the same stitch count (= width of your project) but you will be able to add intricate cable structures. Just like a Celtic knot or similar very advanced cable patterns.