Weird Wool Wednesday: reading the Sock Madness brioche pattern.

The pattern is Checkbox Socks by Rachel Leggett. It has brioche stitch and a fleegle-heel.

I’m a cheerleader in the competition and I’m making little drawings here and there to spread some cheer. People love it and I love that they love it 🙂
Somebody even gave me a pattern from my wish list, just to show their appreciation!!

For people who finished this round’s sock there’s a bonus pattern: Firedrake by Sarah Wartofsky

This one has intarsia in the round! Sock Madness sure wants to introduce new techniques to its knitters. It’s a great incentive and group to make you indeed venture into these techniques.

I made this drawing for the designer, Sorabird:

In Japanese ink and brush. (sumi-e)


Finished: Spring Brioche Shawl!

It’s lovely and large. Sits around the shoulders really well and nice and warm in the neck.
The brioche is really comfortable: squishy and warm but not so warm or thick as double knit fabric.

I’ll be making a shawl pin from hammered aluminium to keep the fronts together.

The collar collapses more than I anticipated, I have to fold it down a bit. Extra warmth.

I planned to end the fronts with a unifying icord but in the end I just couldn’t muster the will.
I now take full advantage of having made sure I had a nice edging during knitting. The striped parts have light green edges that are neat.

I used up 320 grams of Wollmeise. The skeins come in 150 grams, officially, but they are always overdimensioned. I still have 7 grams of the light green left and 13 of the dark green.

My Spring Shawl is finished, Summer is now officially here!

The plants to the right of the tree stump are indigo plants. For dyeing! A new adventure for later this year. Summer runs until November I’ve heard.

Progress on Spring Brioche shawl.

I finished the long strip of light green. I used about 95 grams of the Wollmeise (which is a 150 grams skein). Its dimensions are 90 cm x 13 cm but it stretches to much more than that.

Now I’ve started attaching a two colour brioche strip on the top. It was VERY fiddly to get it started. But I’m on the way now.

Final studies for Spring Brioche Shawl and cast on.

Last weekend, as I was running out the door to go to that cat/wool party, I grabbed my silly little suitcase:

It looks terribly childish, especially next to the red Deer&Doe dress I was wearing, but I realized at the very last second that it contained what I wanted to study in the two hour train trip:

My swatch for the Spring Brioche Shawl! The one I’ve been harping on about for months now.

Luckily, one of my knitter friends travelled on the same train as I and she agreed to sit next to all my childishness and we had a little study group going on. Showing and explaining my swatches made it easy to see what I like and what not. Even though my swatches always look messy and unorganized my friend could see every little change and its significance. A knitter friend is a wonderful gift! She advised me to stick to what I like and not try to force things that do not work.
When I got of the train I was ready for the final stretch.

So last Wednesday I put my suitcase on the table and made a thorough study of all the Brioche colour work that I would actually consider for this shawl:

(I once read this marvellous insult: “I neither have the time nor the crayons to explain it to you.” This is pretty much how I feel treated when the cat “helps” me like this. She has no regard for my work. Nor for my crayons.)

A clear plan emerged. The shawl is going to start out with a wide strip that’s knitted sideways. It will feature diamond shapes through travelling stitches all in one colour. At the top it will have two coloured brioche in stockinette stitch stripes (they are so neat!). Later on stitches will be picked up at one long side for a neck detail in the dark colour and at the other long side for an interesting edge in two colours. (We’re thinking stockinette stitched stripes again because they are so crisp but we have to consider curling too.)
I started the final swatch:

It’s at the bottom of the picture. The light green part has diamond shaped details by ways of travelling stitches. This was going to be the Art Deco part of the shawl, after all.
The two coloured part has stockinette stripes in it.

At the top is the long thin part you’ve seen before, in which I studied various two colour brioche combinations and searched for the right needle size.

But the travelling stitches… they don’t look nice. In fact they look horrible.
I played around a bit more, trying various variables, to get them better. I failed.
But now I don’t think it’s possible to make angular lines with travelling stitches on brioche, at all. They are all more flowing and round than angular. (And I cannot get the travelling stitches to be consistent in tension anyway).

On Ravelry this is the only project I’ve found that looks decently angular and is in travelling stitches, and with all the reclining on the couch I’ve been doing I think I’ve seen every brioche/fishermen’s rib project out there.

Celtish by Joshua Carlson a.k.a. The Bearded Knitter
Wonderful scarf and a free pattern too! But still quite flowy, more “Celtic” than “Art Deco”.

So I switched tactics. Travelling stitches were out. All those beautiful shawls that had inspired me to start this project had to be put out of my mind. I had to go another way. Fly free, mind, fly free.

One avenue that Brioche offers is to use the characteristic striped texture it possesses to make diamond shapes. Make lines with increases and decreases. Use lines to define shapes.
I studied a few examples on Ravelry. The best one is Windmolen jacket by Nancy Merchant:

But I didn’t have the book with me in the city so I couldn’t study it in detail. I tried a bit on my own in the swatch but I quickly saw I couldn’t make it work.

Another thing in the swatch that bugged me was the amount of stripes going on at the left. I don’t need 7 dark stripes. I’m reluctant towards stripes to begin with.
So I bound off a few of the stripes, to see how 5 dark stripes would look. Better. Much better. Pretty soon I bound off all of them, so I could focus on the light green part and study shaping through increasing and decreasing.

That was disastrous. Conclusion: I can’t make diamond shapes that way. And I don’t want to wait till the weekend to study Windmolen Jacket. And this is just another swatch.

So I changed course once more and “settled” for just textured stripes to hint at Art Deco. No diamond shapes this time. Only stripes. And not coloured stripes either, no, just the stripey texture Brioche has all on its own. Especially knit on a small needle and in good round yarn (hello Wollmeise) it can look very crisp.
Design plan: monocoloured stripes and a few multicoloured details…

Looking once more at the Brioche patterns I favourited on Ravelry and the sketches I made on my notepad I decided upon three stitch combinations I wanted to use in this sideways panel:

  1. a small band of two coloured stockinette stripes. Only 5 dark ones. (remember edge stitch)
  2. a slightly wider band with dark leaflike shapes on light background, all done with increases and decreases
  3. a wide band in only light green that has stripes feathering out. (remember edge stitch)

On paper I sketched the final decisions, determined that the increases would make a nice beginning and decided on the final number for cast on.
Then I ripped out all the swatches I’d made. Wound the yarn into balls again and casted on for the real thing:

Beginning of my shawl.

That’s the solid part on the right, with the increases fanning out and the yarn ends laying in the way. In the middle is the colour work, there are already two dark leaves finished and I already messed up how decreases must be done (change around the colour sequence to avoid light green lines in a dark green detail) and the leaves sport between them a rather pronounced light green column of burp-stitches. At the left is the stockinette stitch stripe part. There are 5 dark stripes there and only in the last 4 rows I realized that one light green column ought to be burps not knits.

This is as far as I got with this version of Spring Brioche Shawl.

Apart from the faults I mentioned above the main problem is the combination of a solid part with a two coloured part. Because of how Brioche works I had to work the solid part twice as many times as the coloured part. In between I had to twirl the yarns around each other to anchor the light part to the other part. And I had to push stitches around on needles all the time to work one part on one colour while the other colour was waiting half way the needle. It was driving me nuts. But I was probably willing to put up with it, even as the shawl would grow much wider, if the bridge between the two coloured and mono coloured part hadn’t looked so awful. It looks like I knotted each row together. While wearing mittens. Thrummed mittens.

 Family Thrummed Mittens by Catherine Vardy

I put it in its suitcase for the night.

The next day I looked at it with fresh eyes. And I knew what had to be done: the solid colour has to be worked separate from the two coloured part. This means working a wide sideways strip in one colour, then pick up stitches at the long side and then work a second, two coloured, strip alongside it. This strip will have the “leaves” and the five (or three?) dark green bands.
(Adding a sideways knitted strip to any piece of knitwear is usually a thing I avoid but in this case it’s really the best thing to do.)
After that pick up stitches once again for neck detail and edging all around.

So here we are. Spring Brioche Shawl has started! This is two days of knitting:

A sideways knit band of Brioche increasing. Brioche is so stripey already that it doesn’t need anything else, less is indeed more. The top side is smaller than the bottom side. But overall it’s not deep/high at all, not even 15 cm. This doesn’t feel wide enough but I don’t know how Wollmeise brioche will behave when finished. Will it stretch? Will it bounce back?

Needles are small: 2 mm. The yarn is Wollmeise Twin which is a tightly spun, round yarn, and the colourway is Zarte Knopse. To be combined with Spinaci.

I really like how crisp the brioche looks on 2 mm needles! I like the feel of the fabric. For now it’s very bouncy. I already suspect I won’t have enough yarn for the shawl I have planned, this is knitting up yarn so fast. But I won’t mind buying more. It’s a good thing this is a repeatable colourway. But will a 600 grams shawl be usable?

When I’m buying more, I wouldn’t mind buying some extra for a pullover in Wollmeise Brioche either, mind. Probably in Lace since that’s a little bit smaller in gauge. The ease would be amazing. A fitted look without the need for not-breathing. Excellent.

But that’s for later, today I’m knitting my brioche shawl and as we’re travelling between city and cabin a few times I’m working from a little suitcase. I feel so organized!

(Suitcases also works to keep the yarn snobby cat Poekie out of my project)

More swatching in two toned brioche

I completed the leafs on the end of the previous swatch and was decidedly not satisfied with the loose, messy look of my Brioche stitch. So I went down a couple of sizes and started knitting in 2mm needles instead of 2,75mm. I would have preferred 2,25 mm but I didn’t bring that one to the city. Here’s the result in light green:

I like this fabric! This is the organized look I’m looking for. Crisp. I love the solid colour too.

I tried a bit of two coloured stockinette stitch brioche but in my Double Dutch Technique it drew in quite a bit.
So I left it at that and proceeded to single rows of colours to try and play with slipped stitches:

The slipped stitches were alright, especially when I figured out how to increase properly. The increase on the top left a big hole and that’s why I learned to increase in the stitch below and use both loops of that stitch, not one.

I strongly dislike the resulting colour of this part of the swatch though. One row one colour meshes the colours too close together, it gives too much of a speckled fabric. The slipped stitches/traveling stitches do not stand out enough.

Then I thought about stockinette stitch without the Double Dutch technique. Just the old fashioned way: do one row in one colour, slide the fabric across to the beginning of the needle and do the row again with the other colour. Turn work and repeat.
So that’s what I did. I liked the fabric it yielded so I decided to try the slipped, travelling stitches again. I aimed for diagonals:

The travelling stitch stands out, especially the lighter one.

But knitting like this shows my current concentration problems, with all the slipping the knit stitches back and remembering which colour to use next and guiding the travelling stitches around. That’s why you see a big hole where my travelling stitch came together with a k2tog while at the same time I cabled the same column behind the green slipped stitch line…
I also sometime forget to keep the YO properly at the back. And tension is all over the place. What can I say, my knitting shows my level of concentration abilities. And as I’m having a health set back it shows. But I’m not in full blown ME brain fog, luckily.

Tired from all this fiddling about I was curious about stripes that are not one but two rows high. And if slipped stitches can travel over them:

They can. But it’s not very pretty. I didn’t even try to make them travel diagonally. Brain says no.

So I ended with a few rows of just striped fabric, so I didn’t have to think too hard. Tension problems cleared up significantly. Thank you, brain.

Having found a good way to make horizontal stripes I wondered about vertical ones. To play them off each other.

Stockinette Stitch Brioche gives strong vertical stripes. So I ended the swatching session with the brilliant thought of doing stockinette stitch brioche but with alternate k and p stitches in stead of all k stitches. And in the regular non-double-dutch technique that gives me an even knit fabric:

Right.  I just re-unvented two colour brioche stitch. sigh

It is the kind of fabric I like. And the kind of stripeyness I like. And I know this is the kind of stitch that does well with cabled patterns as I previously knit in Frost on Leaves and Proizd hat. And I love the solid coloured block this swatch started with. And I’ve noticed some fun things to do when transitioning from one kind of stitch to another. So I have plenty to think about now and hopefully the next think will be a small mock up of the shawl I want to knit.

I’ll leave you with a look at the backside, as shown on my favourite model:

swatching for Green Brioche stylish leafy wrap shawl thingie

I’ve been swatching.
Trying out different kinds of Brioche stitches so I can make that Wollmeise Slipped Stitches Shawl I had in my mind in Brioche.

I started off in stockinette stitch brioche, a stitch I did not know existed. You just knit all the stitches in k from the right side. It’s so evident that I feel a bit silly for not having thought of it myself. Discovering it freed up my mind to play around with brioche.

So that’s what I started with, at the bottom. It does have a tendency to curl so it would have to feature in a section that has a border that counters that tendency. Love the crispy look!

Then I tried different kinds of increasings to create leaf patterns. I taught me to think about what kind of increase stitches to chose. And think about how the shape expands over neighbouring columns: cable or k2tog/ssk?

Thirdly I noticed that the stripey background of the st. st. brioche needs to be colour treated so that the contour of the leaf gets more pronounced. Frost on Leaves hat shows a good example, where the light green vertical stripes stop before the light green leaf shape feathers out.
She knits a k st together with a p stitch. One could also just alternate the colour and put a k st in the p st colour, this would leave the tip of the column vertical.

Frost on Leaves, pattern by Midori Hirose

I did a bit of regular brioche to gather my thoughts about these things and play with my tension so leading yarn and following yarn would have the same, creating true Brioche instead of that bulging white “coral” I made in my hat/cowl/mitts.

Then I played a bit with gathering stitches, to learn about how I could fill in the leaf shapes:

From right to left: slip stitch brioche (only on the right sight/blue yarn); Double Knitting (DK); stranded knitting (

The stranded knitting really draws in! And the DK too. I will need to compensate for that in stitch numbers if I chose one of these for the leaf interior.

The slipped knits bring nothing interesting to the table. I was hoping to use the elaborate line elements slipped stitches form on regular knitting ( or garter) but that’s not going to work here.

Elaborate lines in slipped stitches on regular knitting (could be or garter):

This is pattern Summer Travels by Cindy Garland

Above the gathering stitches I went into regular brioche once more. Changing the colours (called syncopating, where blue stitches get white on top of them and vice versa). I did so because in regular knitting slipped stitch patterns need horizontal stripes to work and I was thinking to try this in Brioche.
But fiddling around the colours and the yarns around like this was too much for my brain. On the right you see some …thing… where I lost the plot and also alternated k and p stitches.

Alternating k and p stitches on top of each other is a good way to Brioche. Nancy Marchant shows multiple variations over on
For example Moss Brioche Stitch:

But I don’t want that. My Brioche knitting always looks a bit sloppy. Even with these round yarns (and the Wollmeise yarns are beautiful round too).
To be honest, “sloppy” is not what I want from my Wollmeise shawl. I want crisp. Clear lines. Clear blocks.

But I also want to knit the shawl now. And my shoulder does not tolerate regular knitting, it has to be Brioche. (the stress with the cat has made me hunch over and hurt my shoulder a couple of times. Recovery has been set back a bit.)

So I’m going to compensate on the crips outlook of the shawl but not too much: st. st. brioche it is. And if I don’t like the shawl in a couple of months I can always frog it and reuse the yarn.

The last leg of the swatch:

Stockinette Stitch Brioche and three ways of making the stems of the leafs. From right to left: 2 st DK, 1/2/3 st stranded and 2 stitches cabling with the white stranding behind.

I had thought the stranded knitting would draw in, making the blue stitches bulge up. Almost like an i-cord. But it doesn’t (because the rest of the fabric is so loose, the white brioche stitches have yarn to spare to share with the back of the stranded stitches?).

The cabled stem looks promising. I would love to have it more distinct from the background though. Perhaps 2×2 st cable?

I also remembered to put in a white stitch before starting a blue stem in a blue column. I had to think about how that one blue stitch transfers into the multiple blue stitches needed for a stem.
If I go for a 2×2 cabled stem I’ll need to make 4 stitches out of 1 and I don’t know a pretty way to do that of the top of my head. There probably needs to be another swatch…

At the top I killed off the middle stem and made the other two into leafs. I paid attention to the neighbouring columns, switched colours around so the leaf contours would not cross blue columns.

I played around with ways of increasing, differing the rows in which the increases are from the rows in which the cable/k2tog is that makes the contour feather out.

And I remembered in time that I wanted to make the leafs a different colour from the contour, just like the leafs in Catkin:

The right leaf is done in DK, the white leaf is stranded.
The good thing about double knitting is that it’s reversible, just like Brioche is. You’ll get two shawls for the effort of one!

But then I couldn’t do the st. st. brioche…. or I could just accept the way the back of brioche looks.
But then I need to think of another stem because the cabled stem doesn’t turn up on the back…
It seems I need to make another swatch. And I ran out of white yarn. And I need a good name for this shawl… any ideas?

finished: Brioche mitts

58 grams together, on needles 2,75 mm

They are not the same. I couldn’t concentrate, I’m so worried about Lillepoes.

(she’s out of immediate danger now, she should be well enough to endure a rhinoscope tomorrow. If we find a facility that’ll take her.) (She did wash her own face today, she clearly felt more like a cat again 🙂 )

My mitts look like they’ve been made by a drunk spider:

Brioche cowl finished and mitts in progress.

With all that laying on the couch the last couple of days I finished the Brioche cowl. And have one mitt nearly finished:

These too I prefer to wear it inside out:

It’s so much more cushy this way. It has to do with the way I knit Brioche. The Double Dutch technique takes more yarn for the colour that’s on the inside, making the stitches more pronounced. And more squishy.

Another thing with this difference in tension between the two yarns is that it gets some curl tendency. It curls to the outside, again because the inside has looser stitches:

Here I positioned the mitt with the right side out on top of the cowl that has the inside out. You can see the difference in how tight the knit stitches are.

On my next project I’m going to remedy this difference in tension because I like the rich, luxurious feel of proper Brioche. It will be a case of loosening up the tension in my Eastern Combined way of picking up the yarn over my left finger.

But it’s nice to use the discovered difference as a feature in this project.

Btw, I’m not the only one resting on the couch these days: Lillepoes has a fever. Poor kittems! She’s been laying on the couch, under layers of wool. She’s been sneezing and grew more and more lethargic over the weekend. Had me properly spooked!

Yesterday she had to endure an anaesthetic while the vet checked her airways. We were sure she had inhaled a piece of grass or hair or something. But he couldn’t find anything.

So now we think it’s a bacteria. Here are some knitted ones:

a free pattern by Beth Skwarecki.

A bacterial infection would be logical because we’ve been suppressing her immune system with prednison for the last two weeks. Because she was licking like mad at her tail for the last few months. Licking it bald, because it itched so much. Because she’s grown allergic to something and we could not determine what in those months.

An unfortunate but logical course of events.

The good news today is that the anti-biotics are working. She’s already purring again.

The other good news is that we now know for certain the licking is caused by an allergy and not by mental stress. I was worried and felt guilty because I’m always dragging her from her beloved cabin to the city and back and I know she doesn’t like that. I do my best to cuddle her and play with here and take her for little walks while we’re in the city. But it’s never enough of course.

But since the prednison works it’s far more likely it’s an allergy than stress. We cannot guess what’s causing the allergic reaction. In the last few months we excluded the main treatable culprits (fleas, worms, food, dust mites) and now there are so many other possibilities. It may even be something she’s known all her life that built up and has now passed the threshold. We hope this course of cortisol (which we are stopping now -slowly- because the anti-biotics need her immune system in full swing to get rid of the bug) has helped her out of a viscious circle of reacting.

The itching may return in a couple of months and the vet proposes we then suppress it again. But will it make her susceptible to bacteria again, I wonder? I don’t want to see the kitty sick again, it was not nice. Not nice at all.

But this morning she turned the corner. Here she is while I’m typing this:

Finished: Brioche Hat

I’m really pleased how the brim turned out. With the changing of the colours.

The only thing is that with all the brioche going on I forgot to do the shaping to make it into a Frileuse hat. Now it’s just a straight forward hat.

But with a nice random pattern on it, reminiscent of patterns in nature.

It took 50 grams of sock weight on needles 2,75 mm.
Because I worked Double Dutch technique with the white as the “trailing” yarn it took 30 grams of white and only 20 grams of the sparkling blue.
The yarn on my right finger takes 50% more length than the one on my left finger. This is because the one on the left never does a yarn over, it just gets picked up. It’s the other one that moves back and forth and over the needle all the time.

Bind off was a Kitcheners stitch on Brioche stitch. I did it on one needle because I live dangerously. Take about 3 times the length of the row before cutting the yarn and threading it on a needle. I choose to bind off with the white yarn so the blue lines reside more.

I’ll be making a matching cowl and wristwarmers.

Finding my way to the brim of Frileuse Brioche Hat

Yesterday I had thought up a nice detail for the hat: a row of leaves all ending at the same row. Progressing into a brim in reversed double coloured Brioche stitch.

Changing the pace of the colours would make a nice ending to a leave and if I were to wear the hat with the brim turned up it would show the same colours as the cap.
So I spend all day knitting this:

At the bottom the leaves all end at the same row and their tips flow into a column of white knit stitches. The blue is now the purl column.

But this idea had altered the shape of the hat in a negative way. It was now weird and bulky at the leaves and they didn’t show up too well because they had so much ease.
Below the leaves it turned out that the brim would be too tight. (I had not increases to enough stitches at the crown.)

So: ripripripriprip

away with all those hours and hours of knitting! All episodes of Father Brown and Homeland Security that we’d watched on the couch in the cabin, covered in wool and cats, to celebrate our weekend. All gone.

(which is just as well because Homeland Security really is a dreadful series. It’s badly written, it’s full of cheap emotional tv drama and generalizing oversimplifying bwurk.
If you want to read an intelligent view on violence in name of Islam I applaud this Reddit poster who is an Arab Muslim himself and really went out on a limb to give some context to us, people who come from countries whose history is saturated with Christianity. His post gave me lots to think about. I think it’s actually the high light of this month to me.)

The hat I ripped back to the part were I could change two prongs of a leave into an increase.

So today I spend knitting it better. Hours and hours. Various pisodes of Elementary and Longmire saw me increasing, inserting new leaves in prongs of previous leaves, trying it on, guessing its circumference.

And this is where I am now, not quite as far as where I was yesterday evening but with more stitches on the needles:

I’ve already finished up some of the leaves and am gradually introducing that idea of changing the colours so the brim will have opposite colours. It’s quite fiddly, two colour Brioche that changes colours every now and then. But I’ve found a rythm.

To conclude this post I want to show (off) how I close a leave.
Normally in this Brioche each blue stitch has a white yarn over wrapped around it. Where I to knit three stitches together in a regular way those white YO would show in the resulting stitch.

But now I rearrange the 5 yarn loops on my needle that make up for three stitches in a way that the two blue loops will show up at the front and the three white ones at the back.

I’ve done so in both the leaves where the blue line continues and in the leaves where the leaves “stop” and the gathering stitch is a white one.
Here’s a close up of both such leaves: