Of course I'd heard of Brioche, but I'd never used the technique myself. Frankly, I was always a little afraid of it. But once I sat down with the book and spent a little time fiddling around, I got the hang of things pretty quickly. And the fabric it produces was super squishy and yummy. Now I'm just trying to decide which project to cast on first.
We're featured in a couple of patterns in the book. First up is the Basic Brioche Scarf. Clearly, this would be a great starting point, but I often jump in with both feet rather than start at the beginning.
This is shown in 55ns Butterscotch Shepherd Worsted. Only two skeins for this warmer.
Next up is the Basic Brioche Cowl. This is your single skein go-to project. Again, Shepherd Worsted in 56ns Fjord.
I know they say these are "basic", but I have to disagree. They look anything but basic, even though they are simple to create. Either one of these would be a great way to dip your toes into this killer technique.
I thought it would be fun to do a little Q&A with Mercedes. I've known her for a long time and wanted to pick her brain about how she ended up becoming the Brioche Queen.
Chris (my husband) and I have three furry roommates these days: Leelu, a boxer/pit mix; Midget, our b&w 17 year old diabetic doyenne of a cat; and Barnum, a year-old long-haired tuxedo cat. Barnum drives Midget nuts, Leelu acts like she doesn't know the cats are really there.
* You've been doing lots of brioche lately. Tell me what it is about brioche that has so captured yourimagination.
I first discovered brioche knitting when Interweave Knits published an article by Nancy Marchant about two color brioche. Two-color brioche is graphic and visually stunning; it's what draws many knitters to learn the technique. Once I learned the basics, I put it aside for a long time as other responsibilities took precedent, until Nancy published an entire book about the brioche stitch several years later. I started swatching brioche again, playing with different yarns and color combinations, and was completely hooked at that point. The range of texture and color effects is just mind-boggling, and the finished fabric feels so satisfyingly squishy and lush.
* Creatively, what was the most challenging project for you in the book? Why?
Most of the projects presented a few technical challenges here and there, but the most challenging by far were the Cabled Funnelneck and its companion piece, the Men's Cabled Crewneck. Both sweaters are knit entirely in brioche, where most other garments in the book only use brioche for part of a project, paired with other simpler stitches. Working both sweaters from hem to neck in brioche stitch, along with the cabled brioche panels that decorate the sweater fronts, took a lot of patience and attention to detail, but I think the finished pieces were totally worth the extra effort.
* Do you have a favorite?
So hard to pick! They're all my babies, in a way. I am itching to cast on and knit myself both the Leaf-motif Raglan and the Reversible Infinity Scarf. The book samples are tempting, but knowing me, if I wore one I'd spill coffee on it!
*Is there such a thing as a typical day in your design life?
Ha! No, pretty much never. Some days are frantic knitting, some days are all email, some are a ton of math. Most days I fit in an assortment of tasks that suit whatever my energy level and focus are on that day. I try to avoid working weekends, but sometimes have to in order to meet deadlines.
* Where do you go for inspiration? Is there somewhere special that helps you get past the inevitable creativity blocks?
Usually if I'm really stuck, I try to walk away from the problem and focus on something else for a while, often non-knitting related. I'll goof off on Pinterest, doodle, paint, read (I'm on a poetry kick lately), clean the apartment, anything to let me brain wander off-task for a bit. Usually my better ideas come to me when I'm not looking for them, so I keep a notebook or sketchbook with me all the time, and snap photos of unlikely things with my phone that germinate into new ideas.
*You've owned a yarn shop, hand-dyed yarn and now you're a world class designer. What's up next?
More design! I have a bunch of ideas percolating for both brioche and regular knitting projects. Also, more teaching, mainly brioche knitting classes at yarn shops and events like Interweave Yarn Fest in Colorado this April. I love seeing the "a-ha moments" when my students begin to really understand brioche knitting,and their enthusiasm keeps things fresh for me when teaching familiar material.
Let's make things a little more interesting. Besides being a fabulous type of knitting, brioche is also a lovely French pastry. Leave a message telling us what your go-to French nosh is by Friday at noon CDT and we'll play the random number game.