April KALFH #2: Deco Mug Mat

Oooh doggie I'm excited about today's project! I really enjoy brioche but haven't had a chance to play with it in quite some time. But the time has come and I got to work up this adorable mug mat in just hours! My fingers are itching to get some more brioche on my needles! 

Deco Mug Mat by Lesley Anne Robinson

That's Brioche, Baby!

Brioche is lauded as a "scary" technique, or something that a noob knitter can't do. WRONG! (in my opinion). Sure, it's maybe not the first thing you should try when you pick up knitting needles for the first time, but like any skill, if you practice, you will overcome! And this lovely little mug mat is just the ticket for learning brioche! 

I actually believe that 2-color brioche is easier to learn than one color because you can see what the columns are doing. When the RS is facing, your brk (brioche knit) stitches will look like V's, just like standard knitting (the brown yarn in the above photo), and your brp (brioche purl) stitches will look kind of like W's - or really wide V's with a purl bump in the middle (the variegated yarn in the above photo). 

Basic Brioche Stitches:

  • brk - brioche knit (read as: ‘bark’): knit the stitch together with its wrap.
  • brp - brioche purl (read as: ‘burp’): purl the stitch together with its wrap.
  • sl1yo - slip 1 with yarn in front, yarn over: this combination of actions is what creates the wrapped stitch, which is the basis of brioche.
    • Sl1yo after a brk or knit stitch: bring working yarn to the front between the needles, slip next stitch purlwise, then move the working yarn over the RH needle and the slipped stitch to the back, as if to yarn over; the working yarn is now in position to brk (or knit) the next stitch.
    • Sl1yo after a brp or purl stitch: leaving the working yarn in the front, slip next stitch purlwise, then move the working yarn over the RH needle and the slipped stitch and around to the front of the work between the needles, as if to yarn over; the working yarn is now in position to brp (or purl) the next stitch.

Video Support!

I have a slew of How to Brioche videos on YouTube. Please be kind. They were made a few years ago and were the first videos I ever made. I may have used the wrong word here or there but for the most part, you should find them quite helpful. Here is a full list of videos for each of the skills used in this project:

Tips and Tricks for the project

Brioche in general

Brioche is simply a combination of slipped stitches and YO's worked simultaneously. The three tips I tell people are as follows:

  1. If you see an unwrapped stitch, give it a wrap.
  2. If you see a wrapped stitch, take away the wrap (by knitting or purling the stitch and it's wrap together). 
  3. When working the slipped stitch and YO simultaneously, the working yarn should always be in the front. So If you're knitting, bring the working yarn to the front before slipping a stitch. If you're purling, lucky you, the working yarn is already in front! 

The Cast On

This pattern begins with a Super Stretchy Slipknot cast-on. There is a link right in the pattern to video support which is awesome. I, however, chose to do a German Twisted Cast-On instead since I know my tension is loose enough. I recommend trying both techniques and choosing the one that suits you best. 

The reason I chose the German Twisted is because I know that MY brioche tension is super floopy. Yep - floopy. It's just far looser than I like so the German Twisted, while stretchy, gives me a bit of control over that bottom edge by being a nice structured cast-on. 

If you're unfamiliar with the German Twisted Cast on, here is a video tutorial to get you going: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_FbiKdetFk

Needle Size

I also changed needle sizes. I know that my gauge in brioche is quite loose so I worked the project on a US 6 instead of a US 7. 

Row 5 MS CC

Row 5 using the Counter Color (i.e.: the row that we work brp's) is the first time we encounter processing stitches after an increase. As you come to the 3 stitches created on the previous row, worked as brkyobrk, process these 3 sts as (sl1yo, p1, sl1yo). You will process brkyobrk's this way on all CC rows.  

Weaving in those pesky ends!

Ugh... I LOATHE having to weave in ends, but it's all part of the knitting game, isn't it? But guess what? Weaving in ends on brioche is the EASIEST. For serious - I wish weaving in ends on all other knit fabrics was this easy. 

I've got a quick video on weaving in ends so that your fabric will look tidy on each side.  Just remember: weave in the CC with the RS facing; weave in the MC with the WS facing. 

Video tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah3u0p6rdRg


I wet block all of my brioche - I feel that it gives the project the best chance to smooth out an inconsistencies in the fabric. Just be aware that brioche, when wet, looks CA-RAZY! It stretches out a ton and you'll feel like your work is ruined. But fear not, my brioche-y friends. As the fabric dries and the yarn shrinks back up, your project will be bouncy and delightful. I soaked my mug mat, squeezed the water out (without wringing or twisting it) and laid it flat to dry - without pins! I feel that this gives the fabric the best chance of snugging back up to its original shape. 

If you like to pin things out, go for it! Lesley has a wonderful pictorial in the pattern to show you how to pin out the project. And that's why we love Lesley! 

Keep in touch!

Thanks for knitting along with us on this project! If you're on social media, feel free to tag #unapologeticknitter (or use @notsorryknitter on IG) so I can see your amazing creations! I can't wait to KALFH with you! 

February KALFH #3: Hashtag Cowl

One of my first forays into colorwork was a mosaic knitting project - so it's fitting that I now get to share a mosaic project with you! And although this pattern wasn't specifically written for either gender, I think this cowl looks beautiful on both a man and a woman. 'Course, I'm probably slightly biased since this sexy man is my hubby.

Hashtag Cowl by Cheryl Faust

Mosaic what?

So Mosaic Knitting is also known as Slip Stitch knitting. It's always with two colors and can be worked flat or in the round (though I more often see ITR than flat). But what's really fun about this type of knitting is that only one color is worked on any given round so there's no floats to catch and carry. All the color changes are done at the beginning of the round. 

Is it hard?

Nope, not at all. In fact, if you've ever done any stranded colorwork, you're going to find this laughably easy! Here's a really great overview video about the technique of mosaic knitting in general. It talks about how to read charts and how the colorwork is created when only 1 color is worked on any given row: http://tinyurl.com/gt5pnky

It's all about the chart!

The best part about Mosaic knitting is the charting - it's so visual. The colors in the chart very clearly show what your work should look like so there's no guessing if you've made a mistake. Essentially, every second row is a repeat of the first (at least in the case of this design) - the only difference is that rather than knitting, you'll be purling, to create the ultra-cushy garter stitch fabric. 

Tips on the cowl

This is an incredibly well-written pattern with links to helpful tutorials and notes that take all the guesswork out. I just have a few little tips to help you work your way through the project: 

  • You'll only need to work the Jogless stripe technique when you change colors in the ribbing at the beginning and end of the project! You won't need to do it anywhere else in the pattern.
  • At each color change as you work through the chart, cross your yarns inside the cowl in the same direction each time! This will catch the yarn so you don't have to cut at each color change, and locks the  yarns in place so you don't have loose-y goose-y yarns inside the cowl to catch earrings on (the worst!)
  • On the even rounds (the purl rounds) when working the colorwork chart, remember to move the working yarn to the back when you slip stitches to avoid running threads on the front of your work.
  • Each even round is worked exactly the same as the odd round before it - just purled! So you only have to count sttiches on the odd numbered rounds. 

Wrapping it all up! 

And that's all there is to it! Once the chart repeats are complete, you work the same ribbing that you started the project with. Easy peasy, right?!

To block the cowl, I recommend using the steam method. Wet blocking is a great option but in my soggy part of the country, with the cushiness of the fabric, it just takes far too long to dry for my impatient self. So! To avoid creases where the cowl folds, I recommend using either old paper towel or wrapping paper tubes, or, in a pinch, SOCKS! When you steam the edges, if you have a rounded object inside, you won't get a crease so that the cowl hands nice and drapey when you wear it. 

If you're unfamiliar with steam blocking, here's a little video from Very Pink Knits. She's demonstrating on a flat piece of work, but it'll give you a sense of how to hold the iron - don't touch it to the yarn: http://tinyurl.com/j9ky75a

Keep in touch!

Thanks for knitting along with us on this project! If you're on social media, feel free to tag #unapologeticknitter (or use @notsorryknitter on IG) so I can see your amazing creations! I can't wait to KALFH with you!