How to decrease the brioche stitch

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.

a swatch with simple brioche decreases - two left-leaning ones to the left and two right-leaning decreases on the right side

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.

Instructions for the right-leaning brioche decrease

close-up of a swatch with left- and right-leaning brioche stitch decreases

I'll start with the step-by-step instructions on how to knit the right-slanting decrease first. You'll find tons of different abbreviations for it. I've seen bk3tog (brioche knit 3 together) or brRsl dec (brioche right slanting decrease), to name just a few. I personally feel that Brioche k2tog might actually be the most appealing term.

Not because it describes how you are knitting it. Instead, it describes what you are trying to achieve here. You want to decrease two ribs (i.e. knit stitches) in a way the left one comes out on top, just like when you knit two together.

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute

Instructions

  1. 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).

    slipping a double stitch knitwise to start the right-slanting brioche decrease
  2. Step: Knit the next stitch.

    knit one stitch for the right-leaning brioche decrease
  3. Step: Pass the slipped double stitch over the one you just knit.

    passing a double stitch over the one you just slipped
  4. Step: Slip the resulting stitch back to the left needle purlwise.

    slipping the resulting stitch back to the right needle
  5. Step: Now pass the double stitch on the left over the first stitch.

    passing another double stitch over the first stitch
  6. Step: Slip the remaining stitch to your right needle purlwise.

    slipping the resulting right-leaning brioche stitch back to the right needle

Notes

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.

slipping a brioche stitch knitwise

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.

knitting three stitches together for the left-leaning brioche decrease

Step 3: Now pass the double-stitch you slipped in step one over the three stitches you knit together.

passing a double stitch over to finish the left-leaning decrease

And you are done already and will have your left-slanting brioche decrease on your right needle.

the resulting left-leaning brioche decrease on the needles

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

a swatch with a BR4ST DEC centered double decrease for the brioche stitch and an alternative version

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.

Always. That’s how to decrease the brioche stitch. Feel free to ask your questions in the comments below

how to decrease the brioche stitch

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