Recently I was able to attend Andrea Mowry’s Brioche Bookcamp at Harrisville Designs and learn how to become a more confident brioche knitter!
What is Brioche?
According to Wikipedia, Brioche knitting is a family of knitting patterns involving tucked stitches, i.e., yarn overs that are knitted together with a slipped stitch from the previous row. It takes two “passes” to complete a single row, since only half the stitches are knitted each time. The other half are slipped. For this reason, it takes more conscious effort to be able to count rows and stitches and measure gauge.
My First Project
I had started a brioche scarf pattern a few years back, and posted a photo of my progress on Instagram. The project was going well as long as I painstakingly kept track of where I was in the process. If I lost my place, or made a mistake, it felt impossible to unknit and get back on track. This photo is when things were still going well…
At some point I was interruped and unable to find my place again – and I’m not a new knitter! I’ve always considered myself skilled at unknitting and fixing mistakes, but I couldn’t get back on track with the pattern.
So I ripped it out and decided Brioche probably wasn’t for me.
However, I kept seeing patterns I wanted to try. And when Harrisville sent out their newsletter with the course announcement, I signed right up!
Harrisville is located in a quintessential spot in New Hampshire. Not only do I love their yarns, especially Highland and Peace Fleece, but because it’s a water-powered mill, there is a tunnel of water that flows underneath the shop and the sound is so soothing! (These photos are from a few years ago on a cloudy day).
You can learn more about the history of Harrisville on their website and someday I hope to get a tour of their mill and see how the yarn is made.
Andrea’s Brioche Sampler
In Andrea’s class I made the sampler below (finished it at home). Andrea has been teaching brioche for at least five years and it shows. She helped us all understand the conceptual framework of the brioche stitch by explaining the process in terms of couples and siblings. In one row you are creating the couple and in the next row you are “brioche knitting” or “brioche purling” them together.
Her instructions are precise, she is kind and funny, and she demonstrates each technique in both English and Continental. She also explains why it’s easier to learn two-color brioche because you can keep track of your yarn-overs (they are the last color you used). Tips like these are helpful if you make a mistake, or get distracted, so you can tell where you are and get back on track if needed.
One of the most helpful things Andrea did was to come around the room repeatedly to make sure we understood each skill we were working on, including setup, increases, decreases, how to tell which side you are on, A or B. She said she prefers teaching in person as there is no replacement for being together and demonstrating live, answering our questions, checking our progress, and I agree that this was a super helpful (and fun) way to learn!
Before the class, I had downloaded Andrea’s “Old Port” knitting pattern. I purchased it on Ravelry, but you can also buy directly from her website. I subscribe to her newsletter as well. She has a question and answer YouTube series she is doing now that is really enjoyable to watch and I’ve learned more helpful knitting tips and tricks that way.
For Brioche, she has an entire YouTube playlist! So check it out…
Laura came with me to the class and I forgot to take a selfie of us. I did take one of myself with Andrea’s beautiful shawls in the background!
If you have any brioche tips or projects to share, let me know, I’d love to see them. Feel free to leave a comment below! Or if you have a Brioche question, I will try to answer it if I can.
Thanks for reading!