Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Brioche Cables

One of the members of my knitgroup showed us a really nice reversible cabled scarf, it was done in brioche. I wanted immediately to try this technique!

I started with the idea of a two-colour brioche cabled scarf, but soon got tangled up in the edge stitches. So to simplify matters a bit I decided to do a cowl, in the round. This eliminates edge stitches and also makes the 2-colour brioche easier (you don't have to slide the work back and forth on the needles).

Two-colour brioche is not hard to do in the round. I use the "knit 1 below" method, which I find really is much easier especially for cabled work. You don't have to worry about the yarn-over loops, so you can cable without a cable needle.

The basic 2-colour brioche stitch in the round is covered here. If you want to add cables to this, it's actually not that hard! Use any basic cable pattern, but think of the stitches as coming in inseperable pairs. So your stitch count doubles: a normal 4-stitch cable becomes an 8-stitch cable - half the sts are colour A and the other half, colour B. The resulting fabric is really thick (thicker even than regular cables), so use DK yarn at most, and to give lots of drape, you might want to upsize the needles. The rows, also, come in pairs of opposite colour; you always cable on the "knit" row in one colour and it's coupled with a fiddly "purl" row in the opposite colour. If a non-brioche cable pattern calls for cables every 4th row (ie. 3 rows plain knitting between each cable row), then in brioche you'd be knitting 3 pairs of rows between the "cable+fiddly purl row" pair.

Here's a recipe for a pretty simple cowl. In this pattern, the cable columns twist in opposite directions, and there is no space between them. In two high-contrast yarns, this gives a roiling or flame-like appearance. The cables are 8 sts wide (4 sts of each colour). The twisting or cabling happens on staggered rows for the two directions. To avoid having 2 colums of cables twisting in the same direction, next to each other, knit with a multiple of 16 sts (alternating colours A and B).

[brioche cabled cowl]

cast on: multiple of 16 using 2-colour long-tail cast on (sounds fancy, but just means alternate the colours!), join in round.
Note 1: multiple of 16 means: the TOTAL number of sts cast on is a multiple of 16.  Half in one colour, half in the other!
Note 2:  The "italian cast on" is great for brioche, for flat knitting, but a pain in the round because it's impossible to keep it from twisting. I tried it and ditched it. Another nice cast-on might be the invisible cast on, in alternating colours...that one's more complicated though.



Here we go:

setup row 0: K1 P1 in colour A
setup row 1: P1 P1B in colour B (P1B in purl stitches from row 0)
row 2: K1B K1 in colour A
row 3: P1 P1B in colour B

Repeat rows (2,3) until you see 4 colour A "V"'s on one side and 4 colour B ones on the other side (for a total of 8 rows). Note: I wind the colours around each other in a consistent manner when I switch them at the beginning of a new row.

--- %%% repeat section %%% ---

The next colour A row is a cable row:
* 4 onto cable needle, hold in front, continue next 4 sts in [K1B K1] pattern, then 4 sts in same pattern from cable needle. 8 sts in [K1B K1]. *
Repeat between the * 's until the row is done.

Next row in colour B, [P1 P1B] all 'round. This is a bit fiddly on the cabled bits, but persevere!

Repeat rows (2, 3) from above, 3 times, for a total of 6 rows.

Next colour A row is a cable row again.
* 8 sts in [K1B K1] pattern, 4 onto cable needle, hold behind, continue next 4 sts in [K1B K1] pattern, then 4 sts in same pattern from cable needle. *
repeat btwn * 's until row done.

Next row in colour B, [P1 P1B] all 'round.

Repeat rows (2, 3) from above, 3 times, for a total of 6 rows.

--- %%% repeat section %%% ---

Repeat between "--- %%% repeat section %%% ---" until your cowl is long enough. You'll notice that you're always cabling on a "knit" row, using colour A, and that it's just like regular cabling.

As a cast off, I just used the simple "pass one over" bind-off in alternating colours, but there are lots of other alternatives. The Italian cast-off is a (more complicated) nice one that nicely matches the invisible cast-on. 

[brioche cabled cowl, reverse side]

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