If you’ve ever read a lace chart, you know how crazy charts can get! Much of brioche knitting also relies on charts, and if you’re reading a brioche chart for the first time you might find that it’s a little different than a lace chart.
Here’s what you need to know before you begin a brioche chart, whether you’re reading a chart for the first time or just taking your first dip into brioche charts.
Brioche symbols and abbreviations
Brioche symbols are different than symbols you’re probably accustomed to with lace knitting or colorwork charts. Check out the key above. Knit and purl probably look familiar to you, but the other stitches? Not so much.
That’s because the last six stitches of the key are special to brioche knitting. Don’t let that sl1yo fool you, either. This is a brioche sl1yo, so it’s not the same as the “slip 1 yarn over” from your usual knitting.
Check out all the abbreviations and symbols before you get started and make sure you’re familiar with what they are before you start knitting.
Row and Round Numbers
In brioche, one round or row is equal to two rounds or rows on the chart. In other words, each row or round will have two different lines, like in the example above: 1a, 1b; 2a, 2b; etc. The first row or round shown (a) will be your first pass across, while the next row or round (b) will be your second pass across.
Just like with lace or colorwork charts, the direction you move when reading the chart is different depending on whether you’re knitting flat or in the round. Just to make things more interesting, it also depends on whether you’re knitting with one color or two colors.
For knitting in the round, every row is read right to left. That’s because the right side of the work is always facing you. So when you finish Round 1a, you will already be back at the beginning of the round and ready for Round 1b.
For knitting flat, though, the chart is read from right to left for Row a, then left to right for Row b. It makes sense, if you think about it, because when you turn your work and the wrong side is facing you, you’re actually working from the end of Row a, rather than the beginning.
For knitting in the round, two-color charts are read from right to left, just like with one-color brioche charts.
However, things change with knitting flat with two colors. The first two Row a and Row b rounds are read from right to left. That’s because you’re going to have the right side of the work facing you as you work the first pass (a) and the second pass (b). Only then do you turn your work, and then you’ll read the chart from left to right for the next Row a and Row b.
In other words, when the right side of the work is facing you, read from right to left. When the wrong side is facing you, read from left to right.
If you don’t think you can remember this, don’t worry! Often designers label the rows on the side where you’re supposed to begin to make it easier for you. In the example below excerpted from Mercedes Tarasovich’s Brioche Knitting Made Easy class, the chart is worked in the round so the round numbers are all listed on the right side of the chart to show you that you’re reading from right to left.
But in this example from Nancy Marchant’s Brioche Knitting: Exploring Color & Texture, the chart is worked flat in rows, so the rows are numbered on different sides of the chart to show you where to begin.
Before you start your brioche project, read the pattern entirely and make sure you know what direction you’re moving in, plus all the symbols and abbreviations. This small extra step will certainly save you a headache later.
Have you ever worked from a brioche chart before? Did you find it similar to a lace or colorwork chart? Let’s talk brioche charts in the comments!