A step by step tutorial on the basic way for increasing brioche stitches in one or two colors, or in the round.
I love the Brioche stitch. It’s seriously one of my favorite knitting stitch patterns ever. It turns every yarn into a luxuriously soft fabric with an easy two stitch repeat. But there is one question that pops up among beginners quite often: How do you increase the brioche stitch?
Maybe you’ve tried and noticed that using typical knitting increases just don’t work properly. And this is where a lot of books and websites turn brioche knitting into science using tons of abbreviations and lingo when I actually believe it is perfectly suitable for beginners.
There is only one thing you need to know: Brioche stitches are actually a form of double knitting. It’s probably better to call it a double 1×1 rib pattern – like a natural evolution of the double stockinette stitch. And that’s why you can only increase with double increases.
When paired with a decrease, the resulting fabric actually looks a lot like cables and there are tons of fun knitting patterns that make use of it.
Let’s dive right into it, eh?
- Step: Knit up to the position you want to place the increase. Specifically to a place where you normally would k2tog a [yarn over, slip one] combination of the previous round. Knit it together like you normally would. But don't drop the stitch yet and keep it on the left needle instead.
- Step: Do a yarn over.
- Step: Knit a k2tog into the double stitch one more time. Now you can drop the stitch off the needles
- Step: Continue knitting until you reach the beginning of these three stitches in the return row. Knit a yarn over slip 1 purlwise (yosl1p) into the first of the three stitches as normal.
- Step: Now, normally, you would brioche knit together the next stitch, but in this case, you only have to knit this stitch because you don't have a paired yarn over yet.
- Step: Continue knitting the regular repeat. So, another yosl1p.
If you are afraid of missing the place where the increase starts on the return row, you may consider placing a stitch marker right after it. This can be helpful if you are knitting a pattern with a lot of increases.
You should also know that this is a centered increase. It's neither left- nor right-leaning. You can use it wherever you want and you don't have to pay attention (unlike with brioche decreases). It will always appear like one rib symmetrically branches out into two.
One thing you need to be aware of is the fact that this is not exactly a reversible increase. It WILL look a bit differently on the other side. It will look clean and neat but different. Here, two of the purl ridges will appear to be branching out. You will have to plan your increases in a way that they all are knit from the same side, otherwise, it may look a bit weird.
Doing a double increase
You can use the very same technique to increase by more than 2 stitches. You can also let one rib branch out into three ribs. That’s actually the very same technique with two slight modifications.
Step 1: Knit a regular brioche stitch increase but don’t drop the yarn.
Step 2: Do another yarn over and knit into the double stitch a third time, then drop it off the left needle.
Step 3: On the return row, you only have to knit the second and fourth stitch of the 5 increased stitches you created.
Theoretically speaking, you could even increase further. Do know, however, that two things will happen when you are knitting a double brioche increase (it’s actually a quadruple increase).
- You will stretch out the initial stitch quite a bit and this will create a little eyelet
- The resulting fabric will bulge out a tiny bit. As the brioche stitch is very elastic, you will usually not notice it. Still, you are essentially creating a little bobble here.
Note: Here’s a post about the corresponding brioche double decrease.
Two colored brioche increase
You can also increase a two-colored brioche stitch in a very similar manner. There’s virtually no difference in the first row. You only need to adjust the “return row”, or rather the way you knit across in the second color.
This increase only works on a right-side row in the dominant color.
Step 1: Knit a k2tog, yo, k2tog into the same double stitch (where you did a yosl1p in the previous round in the second color) and continue knitting until the end of the row.
Step 2: When you knit across in the second color, knit [yosl1p, purl 1, yosl1p] across those three stitches.
As I already said, the basic brioche increase is not exactly reversible. When you knit in one color, it’s not all that noticeable. In two colors, it’s a different story.
You are adding two knit stitches in the dominant color with this increase. This creates purl stitches for the second color and they will be off-set by one row. It will “destroy” the cabled charm of the brioche stitch and essentially means you have to think in terms of wrong-side and right-side when planning out your pattern.
The Brioche increase in the round
The brioche stitch can easily be knit in the round as well. Experienced knitters might already know that the is no difference between the repeat for a two-colored brioche and knitting it in the round (except you may or may not be using two colors).
So, if you want to increase a brioche stitch in the round, you have to do exactly the same steps. And just like before, you can only do the increase in a round with k2togs.
Step 1: Knit a k2tog, yo, k2tog into one double stitch.
Step 2: Sl1pyo, purl, sl1pyo
It’s really that simple.
Theoretically speaking, you could also work this increase in a p2tog round by doing a p2tog, yo, p2tog into the same double stitch. But then you wouldn’t get the neat optical illusion of one of the knit stitch ridges branching out. So, probably just an academic thought experiment.