Brioche Besottedness: Dotty Wrist Warmers
I am absolutely and utterly besotted with brioche knitting. It creates a fabric unlike any other: squishy and drapey, warm and wonderful. Here I offer one variation and a few tips to turn up the brioche love and draw in any resisters out there.
Working with one color.
Nancy Marchant’s designs for MDK Field Guide No. 21: Brioche call for two colors, but did you know you can also work them with one? I think single-color brioche is wildly underappreciated; it produces the same deliciously warm and squishy fabric, but more subtle in appearance.
At first glance, it just looks like a slightly relaxed ribbing. I like how it shifts the focus of what you see, letting the texture shine.
Dotty Wrist Warmer in MDK Atlas Seaglass.
Just follow the pattern for the Dotty Wrist Warmers as written, but ignore the instructions about changing color. That is, work all rounds with color A. (This variation works for the Cushiest Cowl too!)
You can see in the sample above that I knit straight columns of brioche ribbing, but you can add the garter stitch patterns on pages 28–30 of the Field Guide for extra textural interest if you like. Just knit all the rounds with one color instead of alternating. No joining a second ball of yarn! (Yes, that makes the Dotty Wrist Warmers a one-skein wonder for anyone wanting to try out Atlas for the first time.)
The tricksy bit at the end of a needle.
The pattern materials list specifies DPNs, but you can work Dotty Wrist Warmers on other types of needles for small circumferences in the round: magic loop, 2 circulars, the newer flexible DPNs, or even sock-length shortie circulars.
If you chose DPNs, there’s something that happens at the end of each needle: you’ll hit a point when there’s a sl1yo either at the end of one needle, or at the start of the next, and there is a bit of a risk that you could inadvertently lose the yarnover loop, or end up with an extra loop from getting the yarnover wrapped up around one of the needle tips.
When dividing the stitches across your DPNs, always make sure you have an even number of stitches on each needle, so you end the needle with the brp column.
Therefore, working a “brk” round, the last stitch of a needle is the sl1yo. Before you work the brk at the start of the next needle, check to make sure that the yarnover is draped over that last stitch. On DPNs, it will be draped over the needle:
And when working a “brp” round, the first stitch of a needle is the sl1yo. When starting a needle, hold the working/empty needle in front of your work, pointing to the left. Bring the yarn under that needle and up to the front, and then you’re ready to slip the stitch and complete the sl1yo as normal.
And here is how the maneuvers above look on magic loop:
Left: the last stitch of the brk round is draped over the cord; Right:the start of a brp round.
The tricksy bit at the end of a round.
The transition between the end of A and B rounds can be a bit tricky: you end the A round with a sl1yo, and then start the B round with another sl1yo. To make sure you don’t lose one of the yarnovers, a little caution is needed.
When you finish the A round, check to make sure that the yarn is draped over the last stitch of the round. Let it hang down in front. Then hold the empty working needle in front of the yarn, pointing to the left. Bring the working yarn up, in front of the needle. Then you’re ready to slip the first stitch, as normal.
On Magic Loop
When transitioning between B and A rounds, there are no slips to contend with! Phew! But you do still need to be a little bit careful about the working yarn, so it’s less fussy.
As with any design worked in the round, before you work the first stitch of the round, check to make sure your working yarn is coming straight off the base of the last stitch of the round. You want to be sure it’s not wrapped around a needle tip or cord. Reposition it if you need to. And if you do find on the following round that there’s an extra loop of yarn caught on the needle, just drop it.
It’s all about making sure the yarn is where you need it to be for the next stitch. It’s a check we often do when knitting, but the more experienced you are, the less aware you are that you’re doing it!
Oddly enough, when I teach brioche knitting classes, I often find that it’s the newest knitters who do best at first, because they’re still at the stage where they are moving slowly and deliberately and checking their yarn and stitches frequently.
So here is my best bit of brioche advice: slow down! Move deliberately and mindfully, and you’ll soon get the hang of it. And the love.
Editor’s Note: Kate’s classic Friday Morning Brioche Shawl is a great pattern for those of you curious about knitting brioche flat—and it would be stunningly cushy in Atlas.