Posted 26 Mar 2018 by JC

tl;dr now handles brioche stitch patterns, via the brSl abbreviation and the brSl and brSl symbols.

The full story

Brioche stitch patterns are notoriously difficult to chart. Part of the problem is that each stitch in a typical brioche pattern is essentially worked over two rows. Showing exactly what happens to each stitch over the course of those two rows tends to result in cluttered charts that don’t reflect the “gestalt” of the pattern. You get to see every little twig and branch of every tree, but the forest gets lost.

And so in adding support for brioche stitch patterns to, my primary goal was to find symbols that would result in clear, expressive, easy-to-read stitch maps – that is, to keep the stitch maps as simple as possible, so that the patterns could shine as brightly as possible.

Curiously, after a good deal of trial and error (oh, so much error!), the solution turned out to be a pair of symbols:

  • brSlbrSl
  • brSlbrSl

Both mean precisely the same thing: “brioche slip,” that is, slip a stitch purlwise and yarn over at the same time. This results in two loops that need to be treated as a single stitch on the following row.

Naturally, you may be wondering why two symbols are necessary – in particular, two symbols that look an awful lot like those for knit and purl. Here’s the thing: when you enter brSl as part of your stitch pattern’s knitspeak, will figure out automatically whether it should display brSl or brSl, depending on how the stitch is worked on the following row. If the stitch is knit on the following row, will display brSl. If it’s purled, the site will display brSl. In this way, you’ll get k symbols stacked on top of brSl, and p symbols stacked on top of brSl.

And this stacking is the key to clear and expressive stitch maps. It’s what lets the ribbed nature of many brioche patterns to shine. Let’s look at a few examples.

S-Twist is one of the first patterns in Knitting Fresh Brioche by Nancy Marchant. It’s also one of the simplest. At a glance, you can see that on most rows you’re just maintaining plain brioche rib. It’s only on row 3 that you create the actual S-Twist pattern via increases and decreases.


Fanny and Feathery – also from Knitting Fresh Brioche – is somewhat more dramatic. Check out those 1-to-9 increases!

Fanny and Feathery

This pattern is new. It’s a brioche version of Thistles. I haven’t tried knitting it yet, but it looks promising. And I am tempted to create brioche versions of other lace patterns.

Thistles, brioche version

Given my apparent fondness for Knitting Fresh Brioche, you may also be wondering why the abbreviation for brSl and brSl is brSl, and not the more common sl1yo. In a nutshell: it’s a limitation of the knitspeak parser at The way it processes knitspeak, it wouldn’t be able to distinguish between sl1yo and sl1, yo. And so a new abbreviation became necessary. I hope you don’t mind.

I also hope you’ll give these new symbols a try. Map some of your favorite brioche patterns (or make up new ones!). And, as always, if you encounter any weirdness with this new feature at, please let me know!

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