How to Knit a Two-Color Brioche Stitch

How to Work 2-Color Brioche Knitting
Mollie Johanson
Overview
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Brioche stitch is a fun way to add color and texture to a knitting project. It's super warm and springy, and lots of fun to knit, too. After knitting a few basic projects in a single color, you might be ready to move on to something a little more challenging. That's when two-color brioche comes in.

What Is Two-Color Brioche?

Two-color brioche has the ribbed texture of regular brioche stitch, but the knit ribs on each side are in color—opposite colors. The resulting inverse-color fabric is perfect for scarves, hats, hot pads, or anything that you want to give a different look and a lot of warmth.

This tutorial shows how to knit two-color brioche stitch with a selvage edge over any odd number of stitches. It begins with two setup rows, one for each color.

  • Each of the two rows in two-color brioche is worked twice, once in each color—four steps to repeat.
  • This method requires a circular needle or double-pointed needles so you can work the row again without turning the work.

In her book Knitting Brioche: The Essential Guide to the Brioche Stitch, Nancy Marchant outlines this method, among many others. It's a helpful resource for exploring the mysteries of brioche.

Abbreviations

  • k = knit
  • k2tog = knit two stitches together as one
  • p = purl
  • p2tog = purl two stitches together as one
  • rep = repeat
  • RS = right side; the public side of the work
  • sl = slip
  • st(s) = stitch(es)
  • WS = wrong side; the inside of the work
  • yb = yarn back; bring the working yarn between the needles to the back
  • yf = yarn forward; bring the working yarn between the needles to the front
  • yo = yarn over

Notes

This tutorial uses a dark color (A) and a light color (B) to make it easier to see the stitches of the fabric. Each yarn over plus slipped stitch counts as one stitch, not two. The yarn over and worked together on the next row. Brioche fabric expands horizontally, so be sure to cast on loosely.

There are two special abbreviations for brioche knitting, sl1yof and yfsl1yo. They are simply a shorthand way to describe the moves necessary to create the yarn over/slipped stitch combination between different types of stitches. If you are still a newer knitter, you may want to refresh yourself on working yarn overs between different types of stitches first.

sl1yof = with the yarn at the front of the work, slip the next stitch as if to purl; take the yarn over the needle and stitch to the back, then between the needles in preparation for purling.

yfsl1yo = bring the yarn between the needles to the front, slip the next stitch as if to purl; take the yarn over the needle to the back of the work in preparation for knitting.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • US 7 (4.5 mm) double-pointed or circular knitting needles

Materials

  • Smooth worsted weight yarn in two light or bright colors, A and B

Instructions

  1. Cast On and Foundation Row (A)

    With A, loosely cast on 15 sts, or any odd number of stitches. You will be alternating p1 with a slip 1, yo, yf (sl1yof) across the row.

    • *p1, sl1yof; rep from * to last stitch, p1.
    • Without turning the work, slide the stitches to the other side of the needle.

    Every other stitch is now a yarn over/slipped stitch pair.

    2-Color Brioche Setup Row in Color A
    Mollie Johanson
  2. Foundation Row (B)

    B is joined at the end of the needles opposite A by leaving a tail of yarn hanging at the front of work after slipping the first stitch.

    • sl1, leaving tail at front of work, bring working yarn to back between needles, *k1 with its yarn over (as when k2tog shown below), yfsl1yo; rep from * to last 2 sts, k1 with its yo, yf, sl1.
    • Turn the work.

    The B yarn overs should end up on top of the A slipped stitches. Both of your working yarns are now at the same end.

    2-Color Brioche Setup Row in Color B
    Mollie Johanson
  3. Row 1 (A)

    When the yarns are on the same end, the next row will be worked with A; when the yarns are on opposite ends, slide the stitches to the end with B to work the next row with it. Ignore B as you begin working with A.

    • With A, k1, *yfsl1yo, k1 with its yarn over; rep from * to last 2 sts, yfsl1yo, k1.
    • Without turning the work, slide the stitches to the other side of the needle.
    2-Color Brioche Row One in Color A
    Mollie Johanson
  4. Row 1 (B)

    When there's one yarn at each end of your work, it's time to work a second Row 1 with color B.

    • With B, sl 1, yf, *p1 with its yarn over, sl1yof, rep from * to last 2 sts, p1 with its yarn over, yb, slip last stitch.
    • Turn the work. 
    2-Color Brioche Row One in Color B
    Mollie Johanson
  5. Row 2 (A)

    Both yarns should be on the same side again, at the front of the work.

    • With A, p1, *sl1yof, p1 together with its yarn over; rep from * to last 2 sts, sl1yof, p1.
    • Without turning the work, slide the stitches to the other side of the needle.
    2-Color Brioche Row Two in Color A
    Mollie Johanson
  6. Row 2 (B)

    After the slide, you should be on the end of the needle where B is waiting, hanging to the front of the work.

    • With B, s1, yb, *k1with its yarn over, yfsl1yo; rep from * to last 2 sts, k1 with its yarn over, yf, slip the last stitch.
    • Turn the work. 
    2-Color Brioche Row Two in Color B
    Mollie Johanson
  7. Continuing

    Repeat the last four steps (steps 3 through 6) for two-color brioche pattern.

    It may seem awkward and hard to remember where you are at first; it helps to keep these instructions handy for reference. As with most stitch patterns, with time and practice, you'll get the hang of it and won't even have think about it, let alone look at directions.

    2-Color Brioche Sample on Color B Side
    Mollie Johanson