How to knit the Brioche Stitch

A step-by-step tutorial on Brioche Stitch knitting for beginners – in one color, two colors, or in the round.

The Brioche Stitch is one of my all-time favorite stitches. It’s fun and easy to knit. Plus, it creates a very voluminous and cuddly fabric perfect for scarves and other things to keep you warm in winter.

Before you start with this stitch, you should be familiar with casting on and casting off, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, knitting two together, yarn over, and slipping a stitch (you’ll find all the tutorials in my free knitting school). This sounds complicated, but trust me, it isn’t!

a swatch knit in the brioche stitch pattern

There are many amazing variations of the Brioche Stitch (I will show you the three most important ones in this tutorial). They all have one thing in common: They are all a combination of a slipped stitch and a yarn over. This double stitch is subsequently knitted together on the return row.

I am not sure why exactly it is called “brioche stitch”. But probably because the fluffiness reminded the creator of the equally fluffy French brioche dinner rolls. The best part: After one preparational row, it’s a one-row repeat pattern, so you really don’t need big charts or a good memory.

The brioche stitch. A close up of the front of a green scarf knitted in the brioche stitch
Close-up of the brioche stitch

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Instructions: How to knit the brioche stitch

a brioche stitch edge as shown on a swatch

Step-by-step instructions for knitting the brioche stitch with an even number of stitches. Everything you need to know to master this easy 2-stitch repeat.

CO even number of stitches
R1: Sl1p wyib, *k1, sl1p wyif, yo*, k1
R2: Sl1p wyif, *k2tog, sl1p wyif, yo*, p1
R3: Sl1p wyib, *k2tog, sl1p wyif, yo*, k1tbl
Repeat rows 2+3

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Cast on an even number of stitches as you like. Since the brioche stitch is very stretchy, I recommend casting on around two needles instead of just one.

    casting on an even number of stitches
  2. You need to knit one preparation row. Start by slipping the first stitch purlwise with yarn held in back.

    starting the row by slipping one stitch purlwise with yarn held in back
  3. Knit the second stitch.

    knitting the second stitch
  4. Slip the next stitch purlwise with yarn held in front.

    slipping one stitch purlwise with yarn held in front
  5. Then add a yarn over on top/after of the slipped stitch.

    adding a yarnover on top of the slipped stitch
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until the end of the row. Then knit the last stitch through the back loop.

    knitting the last stitch through back loop
  7. In the second row, you start with the real brioche repeat. Slip the first stitch purlwise with yarn held in front. This is your selvage stitch for the wrong side.

    slipping the first stitch purlwise with yarn in front
  8. Next, knit the double stitch together. This double stitch consists of your yarn over and the stitch you've slipped. Some tutorials with call this action a brioche knit (brk).

    knitting the double stitch together
  9. Slip the next stitch purlwise with yarn held in front.

    slipping one stitch purlwise with yarn in front
  10. Add a yarn over on top of that slipped stitch.

    adding a yarnover after the slipped stitch
  11. Repeat steps 8-10 until the end of the row, then purl the last stitch.

    purling the last stitch of the row
  12. Slip the first stitch of the third row with yarn held in back, and then continue the same repeat: R3: sl1p wyib *k2tog, sl1p wyif & yo*, ktbl

    It helps if you read your knitting. Basically all you have to do is knitting the double stitches together and slipping all the "single" stitches while adding a yarn over.
    following the same repeat for row 4
  13. Repeat these last two rows over and over again for the brioche stitch.
    R4: sl1p wyif *k2tog, sl1p wyif & yo*, p1

    repeating these steps for the brioche stitch


Notes

If you want to knit this extra fast, you can work the yarn over and the slip stitch at the same time. Simply bring the yarn to the front of the work and then slip the stitch. Now bring the yarn to the back again and you'll have two loops on your right needle.

Another thing you should be aware of is that it takes a couple of rows (8-10) for the pattern to really show. So, don't worry if your work looks somewhat weird after the third row. That's normal.

the brioche stitch after knitting four rows

Also kindly consider two things:

  • You will need about 30-40% more wool than for a regular work of the same size.
  • You are basically working increases in the first row through the yarn overs. Your work will be significantly bigger than a similar piece in stockinette stitch with the same number of cast-on stitches.

Brioche Stitch with an uneven number of stitches

You can also knit this pattern with an uneven number of stitches, in this case, you have a 2-row repeat like this.

  • Row 1: SL1p wyib, *sl1p wyf, yo, k2tog*, sl1p wyif, yo k1tbl
  • Row 2: SL1p wyif, *k2tog, sl1p wyif, yo *, k2tog, p1

Repeat those two rows until the end of your work. In reality, you just have to k2tog all double stitches and yo&sl1p all single stitches. So, it’s not a big difference really.

How to knit Brioche Stitch into the row below

Instead of the yarnovers, you can also knit the brioche stitches into the row below. This method is often called the fisherman’s rib stitch and some knitters find it a bit easier to knit.

Here’s the repeat

  • Cast on an uneven number of stitches
  • Preparation: Sl1p wyif, *p1, k1*, p2
  • Row 1: SL1p wyib, *k1 below, p1*, k1 below, k1
  • Row 2: SL1p wyif, *p1, k1 below*, p2

Repeat row 2+3 until the end.

This will often look a bit wonky before you stretch it out because the stitches that you unravel as you knit below need to settle into the fabric first.

Brioche Stitch edge

A little knitting work in brioche stitch with a very special and round brioche stitch edge
The brioche stitch edge

Let’s talk about the brioche stitch edge.

The regular garter stitch edge does not harmonize all that well with the brioche stitch. That’s why I recommend adding a proper 3-stitch selvage for projects like scarfs where you don’t sew the edges together. Here’s how you knit a brioche stitch edge:

  • Even-numbered rows: k1, sl1pwiyf, k1 (on both sides)
  • Odd-numbered rows: sl1pwiyf, k1, sl1pwiyf(on both sides)

After the second row, you can basically knit them as they appear where you knit every knit stitch and you slip every purl stitch with the yarn in front. This gives a very neat & round edge in double stockinette stitch.

How to increase and decrease Brioche stitch

a swatch with different brioche stitch increases

It’s fairly easy to work an increase with a brioche stitch pattern. All you have to remember is that you can only increase the knit stitches.

  • So, knit until you reach one of the double stitches you would normally k2tog.
  • Knit through the double stitch like you normally would but DON’T slip it off your needle yet.
  • Instead, yarn over once and then knit 1 again into the same stitch. Done.
  • Now you have another brioche stitch combination for the next row. You only have to take care that you cannot k2tog the middle stitch yet. Simply knit it

Note: If you are knitting into the row below, you work it the same way (so knitting the row below twice with a yarn over in between). The only difference is that on the return row, you have to knit the yarn over as a regular knit stitch (there is no row below, obviously).

Here’s a more detailed tutorial on how to increase the brioche stitch that also covers increasing in the round and in two colors.

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

The decreases are a bit more complicated as you have to think in left- and right-leaning variations. But if you knit them in two colors, you can achieve some pretty fantastic effects. Here’s everything you need to know about how to knit the basic brioche decrease.

If you are daring enough, you can even try to create the brioche double decrease (br4st dec) for some even more stunning structures that will behave almost like the cable stitch.

Half Brioche Stitch

The right side of a half brioche stitch knitting work

A very interesting variation is the half brioche stitch. It’s less bulky than the “full” brioche stitch. Basically, it boils down to only knitting one row in the brioche stitch and in the return row you knit all stitches as they appear:

  • Row 1: K1, *sl1p, yo, k1*, k1
  • Row 2: P1, *p1, K2tog*, p1

There’s an easy way to memorize the return stitch; Purl all single stitches and knit all double stitches. In the next row, yarn over all purl stitches and knit all knit stitches.

Right and wrong side of a half brioche stitch knitting work

The half brioche stitch has two different sides. I personally think they are both pretty, so I wouldn’t call it a wrong and a right side. But you might have to decide which side will be the front of your work. A standard stockinette selvage works fine with this stitch (so k1 in the first row and p1 on the return row).

Read my full tutorial on how to knit the half-brioche stitch here.

2 Color Brioche Stitch

A little knitting sample for a two-colored brioche stitch

Another variation you really should try once is the 2 color brioche. I know, 2 colors might sound scary for a beginner, but there’s no need to be afraid!

Why? Your work will show a different (dominant) color from each side and you actually don’t have to knit with two colors at once. Instead, you work each row twice (but each time in a different color). It’s really easy.

Note: You will need double-pointed needles for the 2-color brioche stitch. Circular needles work as well, but it’s bit more complicated as you will have to slide the work back and forth between the two ends all the time.

Here’s how to do the 2 colored brioche stitch:

Cast on an uneven number of stitches in yarn A.

Now, slide the work back to the other end of your needles and start with yarn B on the first stitch.

  • Row 1 (yarn B): P1, *yo & sl1p, p1*, p1
  • Row 2 (yarn A): K1, *p2tog, yo & sl1p*, k1
    (slide the work to the other end)
  • Row 3 (yarn B): P1, *yo & sl1p, p2tog*, p1
  • Row 4: (yarn A): K1, *k2tog, yo & sl1p*, k1
    (slide the work to the other end)
  • Row 5: (yarn B): P1,*yo & sl1p, k2tog*,p1
  • … and so on

Basically, you work all the stitches as they appear. Only the first two rows are a bit tricky as it’s still a bit hard to see the difference between a purl and a knit double stitch. But once the ribs are fully formed, it’s incredibly easy.

Brioche Stitch bind-off

You can bind off the brioche stitch with the regular bind-off. Just remember two things:

  • cast off the stitches as they appear, meaning purl cast off every purl stitch and knit cast off every knit stitch
  • try to cast off as loosely as possible (so stretch out those loops before you slip them off).

If you are struggling with this, simply take a needle 1 or 2 sizes bigger for the bind-off.

Brioche stitch edge

a brioche stitch edge as shown on a swatch

It’s also possible to knit a 3-stitch brioche stitch selvage.

  • Row 1 (setup): Sl1pwyif, yo…
  • Row 2: Sl1pwyif, yo, …, p2tog
  • Row 3: Sl1pwyif, yo, …, k2tog
  • Repeat rows 2+3

It creates quite the fluffy and neat little selvage. So, definitely an option you need to consider. Read my full tutorial on the best edge stitches here.

Fixing a mistake in brioche knitting

fixing mistake in brioche knitting using cotton yarn and a crochet hook on a table

What happens when you drop a stitch? Do you need to unravel? Actually you don’t. You can easily pick up such a mistake with a crochet hook and “ladder” up. It’s a bit more difficult than in normal flat knitting but entirely doable.

>> Here’s how to fix brioche mistakes

So, That’s how you knit the brioche stitch. Feel free to comment if you are still struggling with this stitch!

how to knit the brioche stitch

18 thoughts on “How to knit the Brioche Stitch”

  1. Hi, Norman,
    I’m starting to knit a shawl with the brioche stitch. Your tutorials are excellent, thank you! However, I still don’t understand your 3-stitch brioche stitch selvage, i.e. I don’t understand how to knit a Sl1pwyif. Please, could you explain more detailed? Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • you slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front. Bring the working yarn to the front of your work, then enter the next stitch from right to left (as if to purl, hence purlwise) and slip it to the right needle without knitting.

      Reply
  2. Hi Norman,

    I have stumbled upon your site only recently, looking for finger gloves patterns, and I have been using it as my favourite reference ever since. I love it how you systematically explain every step of the knitting process. I’ve shared this site with the other members of a knitting circle and they loved it too. Keep up the great work!

    I’ve only heard of brioche knitting a couple of months ago, but I’ve been in love with it ever since. I can’t seem to be able to knit anything else.

    What I’ve been unsucessfully looking for is a way to knit an i-cord selvedge with a two-colour brioche stitch. Could you help me out?

    I love i-cord selvedges (I’ve first heard of them on your site – huge thanks!) because they make for a fully reversible final product.

    For single-colour I use this pattern, but I can’t seem to make it work with two-colour:
    RS: slip one with yarn in back, purl one with yarn in front, knit one … knit one, purl one with yarn in front, purl one
    WS: slip one with yarn in back, knit one, purl one with yarn in front … purl one with yarn in front, knit one, purl one

    Reply
    • There is no easy solution here because that slipping doesn’t work when you mix two colors. You could try to knit it in one color (kind of like Intarsia). Other than that, I’d have to really do some tests and I’m currently too busy.
      But I’ll keep it in the back of my mind, danielle.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the great idea and the quick reply! Makes sense – I could treat the second colour and the i-cord edges as three “separate” intarsia pieces and hide the crossed threads within the i-cord.

        Reply
  3. How do I pick up the loops — all of them — when I have mad3 a mistake. I saw a video once that showed how, but I can’t find it now.

    Reply
  4. I made a sweater (Eden) in brioche with linen. I washed it and it got bigger, especially in front where it overlaps and ties on one side. Can I block it to shape it back?

    Reply
    • hm..very doubtful. Some people will say they washed it at higher temperatures to shrink it..but that can be very dangerous.

      Reply
  5. Norman – thank you for introducing me to knitting! I’ve been knitting near daily for about a month now and have made some great coasters and mug cozies. Your tutorials are comprehensive and educational, and the videos are high-quality – you clearly take a lot of time to teach us.

    I’m stumped on one part of this pattern (I’m following the step-by-step basic brioche directions at the top of this post).

    Step 2 says “K1, *yarn over purlwise, slip 1 purlwise, k1*, K1” so at the end of the preparation row, there are 2 knit stitches after the YO and SL1P

    Step 3 says to knit one stitch then knit the YO and SL1P together, but there’s another stitch before I get to those, so am I supposed to knit twice before k2tog the YO and SL1P from the prior row?

    Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    • there was a mistake there in the instructions, yes. I fixed things and added a video to clear up any remaining confusion. Thank you for reading my article so diligent.

      Reply
  6. Norman, your explanations and videos are so clear, but I’m still struggling to join the front and back of my garment to carry on knitting in the round. I lose the pattern at the joins! please show me how to get this right

    Reply
  7. I have been avoiding brioche for years because I never quite understood it. This is the best explanation! Your pictures are so helpful and your descriptions are perfect. Thank you!!!

    Reply

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