Bart & Francis – Brioche Knitting

I was certain that I had posted a “casting on” photo, or at least a WIP photo, but I may have only thought I did.

Here is another Nancy Marchant project, Bart & Francis, published in Knitting Fresh Brioche: Creating Two-Color Twists & Turns, available from Amazon.

Continuing as before, I selected a pattern that would use an entire skein of Lion Shawl in a Ball yarn, this time in color Cleansing Quartz, along with the companion Knitpicks Stroll Fingering in color Black.

Also, continuing as before, it took multiple tries to get the hang of the pattern.  I wish I could figure out what my problem is with these patterns – It’s like that “Magic Eye” picture – it makes no sense until, suddenly, it does, and then it’s a great project and lots of fun.

Completed Project – Champagne Bubbles

I wasn’t sure about the lace version of a Nancy Marchant pattern, but I decided that I was ready to try.

Champagne Bubbles is published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday, 2014 (available as a digital magazine).  Again, using Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball, in color Peaceful Earth, with the contrast color of Knit Picks Palette in color Camel Heather.

I intended this to be a light and casual wrap, and I believe that is how it turned out.  Very enjoyable project, and now that I’ve knit several of these, I can follow the pattern and fix stitches that are missed.

Note on the picture with two side-by-side projects.  The one on the right is not blocked – same yardage as the one on the left.  What a difference a little warm water and stretching can make!

Diagonal Herringbone Scarf

I wanted an easy project, with an easy-to-memorize pattern, that I could pick up and set down without fear of losing my place, and which would be transportable.

While I didn’t find quite what I was looking for in my usual places (my digital library, Ravelry, Pinterest), I did find some things that seemed close.

Meanwhile, I had time for a visit to my favorite LYS, River Knits, where I enjoy spending time between meetings when I am in downtown Lafayette (Indiana).  I picked up two balls of Berroco Millefiori, in color 7891 “Terra.”  This is a nice variegated yarn in a bulky (#4) size.  The color patterns looked nice, but would not show up well in a fussy pattern (lacy or otherwise).  I found a herringbone stitch that I liked, but thought that it would look too plain for the nice yarn.  I decided to make it a diagonal herringbone, and it turned out just like I wanted.

Pattern is easy:  Cast on 35 stitches (or any odd number).

  • Row 1 – Knit through front and back of first two stitches (increase 2), *Slip 1, Knit 1, pass slipped stitch over knitted stitch and knit slipped stitch.  Repeat from * to last 4 stitches, knit 2 together, knit 2 together (decrease 2).
  • Row 2 – Purl 2, Knit 1, *Purl 2 together, then purl through 2nd stitch before dropping off needle.  Repeat from * to end.
  • Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until you have just enough yarn left to bind off.  I used two skeins of the Millefiori, which was perfect for this project.

I think the herringbone stitch and diagonal format worked well with this yarn, and I really enjoyed this project. The resulting fabric is soft but sturdy and will make a nice warm gift.

Latest Brioche Adventure: Champagne Bubbles Brioche Lace Scarf

Champagne Bubbles is another pattern from Nancy Marchant, this time published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2014 (available as a digital purchase).

I’ve looked at brioche patterns by other designers, but Nancy Marchant’s pattern format is the easiest to read.  I’ve noted in earlier posts that it seems to take me a while to get the hang of a particular brioche pattern – though it shouldn’t, since for every four knitted rows, there is only one “pattern” row – the rest all are knitted (or purled) in a standard manner.  Other patterns I’ve read have detailed every row as a “row,” rather than 2-sets-of-2 or a set of 4, which (IMHO) makes them far more difficult to read.

In the case of Nancy Marchant’s patterns (at least as far as I’ve knit them), once I get the hang of the major pattern, I can easily memorize the format and knit more quickly and confidently.

That is, “once I get the hang of it.”  As usual, it took me no fewer than 6 attempts to “get the hang” of this pattern.

This is my first attempt (and a rare version of Nancy’s patterns) to incorporate lace.  It took a while to be able to “read” the double-yarn-overs on the 2-of-4 row and knit (or purl, or slip) properly.

Even though Nancy Marchant’s brioche patterns take time to read, understand, and properly execute, they make beautiful projects, and the unique light and fluffy fabric is wonderfully inviting to the touch.

Yarn:  I’m still enjoying my “Shawl in a Ball” binge, this time with color Peaceful Earth.  I’m augmenting the pattern with a second color from Knit Picks Palette in color Camel Heather.

One twist:  I purchased the downloaded pattern via the Vogue Knitting App, and haven’t been inclined to try to figure out how to print out the pattern onto paper, so I’m only using a digital version.  Since the pattern (now that I’ve started over several times) is fairly easy, I’m OK with not having a paper pattern.

Now, if I could just find time to do more than one round of four at a time!

 

Completed Project: Hidden Hearts Socks

This project dates back to August (see post), and was a “learning” project as much as a sock project.

Things learned:

Turkish Cast-on with one Circular Needle – my new favorite toe-up sock cast-on method.

Knitting on Circular Needles (instead of DPNs) – Also my new favorite technique.  While the cable for the circular needle sometimes gets in the way, this technique is much safer and more stable for me than trying to manage DPNs.

Project Progress by the Gram – as a toe-up sock, with a yarn that was enough for two socks in one skein (Berroco Comfort Sock Yarn), it was an interesting experiment to knit “half the yarn” and then start the next sock.

That mostly worked – I ran out of yarn right at the ribbing of the second sock and had to find something that would coordinate and complete the project.  I considered unraveling half of the ribbing for the first sock, but discarded that idea as being unnecessarily complicated.  As it happens, I kind of like the result – the scrap yarn I used coordinated perfectly, and almost seems intentional.

There was a lot of yarn.  This is a knee sock!

Something else that worked out unexpectedly – the yarn pattern matched up perfectly in the sock.  That made my day.

All in all – a thoroughly enjoyable (if slow to completion) project, and I learned several new techniques that will have a permanent place in my knitting repertoire.

Detail of sock pattern
Sock with “alternate” band. Second sock is laid out, below

 

Casting On – Skyp Socks

I’ve made Simple Skyp Socks  (free Ravelry download) several times; it’s an easy pattern that is suitable for males, looks nice, and is adaptable to any foot size.

The current project is for a special male in my life; I hope it warms his toes.

Yarn is On Your Toes by Kertzer in color Camouflage.  The yarn company seems to be out of business, and the yarn is only available through second-party sources (eBay and the like).  Too bad – I like the wide color bands and the yarn is treated with Aloe Vera for additional softness and warmth.  I purchased this skein a few years ago from my favorite LYS:  River Knits.

I only purchased one skein (400 yds), so I hope I have enough for a man’s sock.

Icicle

I’ve enjoyed learning the Brioche style of knitting, though it seems to take a LOT longer than traditional knitting to get the same amount of fabric.  Only “seems” because you are actually using twice the yarn, and it’s making a much loftier fabric than with conventional knitting.

Meet Icicle, by Nancy Marchant, from the book, “Knitting Fresh Brioche.”  Once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it.  It’s not exactly “mindless knitting” – you need to pay attention to what you are doing, but it is enjoyable knitting.

Practice is really the key to this style of knitting.  It has a rhythm and pace that is completely different from conventional knitting.

Yarn is important – almost in the double-knitting sense.  In fact, Brioche is a sort of double-knitting, in that you are knitting four passes (two right-side, two wrong-side) for each completed “row.”   A bulky yarn will make a bulky fabric and be harder to knit.

I used KnitPicks Stroll Fingering in colors Black and Dove Heather.  This is a sock-weight yarn that worked well enough, but might have been slightly too fuzzy for the project (and it’s not a “fuzzy” yarn).

Even after I felt comfortable with the style (and had memorized the 20-row pattern), I still managed to get off on the stitch count with frustrating regularity.  I could usually find and fix my error within the row, but I kept getting off on the last stitches of the first row in the four-row set.  I expect it was due to inattention, but sometimes, I could not “see” where the extra stitch was added (or removed).  

I take back my previous recommendation about using a size larger needle.  That was inexperience talking, and by the time I got half-way through the yarn, I wished I had used a small needle.  I think it would have made a neater finished project.

Using two skeins of each color (or 100 grams of each color, or 460 yards of each color), the final project was 10″ x 80″ – a nice length for a generous scarf.

I have a recipient in mind for this scarf – it suits his sense of style and coloring.  Since I’m still a novice at this – and the project has some flaws – I’m hesitant about giving it to him.  He’s a very stylish person, and this might be a bit too “home-spun” for him.  Maybe he’ll start a trend.