I have been knitting for over 40 years now, and I am still humbled by how little I know about the craft.
This challenge of the last few days all started by an SOS from a blogger friend (www.riverrim.blogspot.com) She was trying to make the Brioche Gaiter in the Fall 2003 Interweave Knits.
At first I thought her questions were about how to do a yarn over as the first stitch of a row. Very good question actually, it is not all that easy to do until you find a way to hold the needles and wrap the yarn over the right hand needle, in one smooth motion.
Then I get some more questions from her, and I decided I best get the pattern for the gaiter out and try this myself, to just see what was going on. I have about six rows done and I am still perplexed myself.
I have the actual brioche stitch figured out, thanks to two of my knitting books. The absolute best description of how to do the stitch was in Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns. Her verbal explanation was limited and only slightly helpful, but a clear picture of just where the yarn was traveling while doing the stitch, helped me finally figure out how to knit it.
***actually quoting the book now, thank you Mary Thomas***
The success of any Brioche Pattern depends on the correct order in which the stitch and Over (K2tog) are knitted (or purled together) "Over, S1, K2tog" The Over passes in front of the slipped stitch and then over the needle. In the next row the 2 stitches which are knitted together are the over and the slipped stitch. The Over at the beginning of the row is made as before a Knit Decrease, as the intervening Slip stitch is a (sic) auxiliary Motif, so it is slipped purlwise according to Pattern Principle. The pattern consists of these 3 units which are repeated in every row, so the fabric is alike on both sides.
She then goes on to say that there is always a prep row, which is the back side, and consists of casting on a number of stitches divisable by 2 and then first row: *Yarn forward, S1 (purlwise), K1* repeat between *'s until end.
Her second row is *Over, S1 (purlwise), K2 tog * repeat until end.
She then states that you repeat this second row until the desired length.
Her picture of the finished fabric looks exactly like the gaiter knitted and photographed in Interweave Knits. It looks like a ribbing but is not.
Here are the problems I am still experiencing with both her pattern and Interweave Knits.
1) Mary Thomas states that you repeat row two endless for the length. This row has you always slipping the stitch purlwise. However she has charted the pattern also, and in her charting, one row is shown slipping the stitch purlwise and the next row shows it being slipped knitwise.
2)Mary Thomas's pattern is using straight needles and knitting back and forth with a front and back side. The Interweave Knit pattern is on circulars. Yet their pattern calls for two rows, one with a P2tog and one with a K2tog. Their pattern slips everything purlwise, but alternates the 2tog stitches.
So I am at the point now, I am going to undo what I have knitted so far, because it is very clear that what I am getting does not look like ribbing. It does not look like either the finished fabric in Mary Thomas's book, or the gaiter in Interweave Knits.
Here is how I actually move the yarn while doing the 3 stitch steps of the Brioche stitch: (you have just knit a stitch and the yarn is in the back) Bring yarn forward put right hand needle under next stitch on left hand needle as if to purl, slip that stitch to right hand needle, put right hand needle tip in next two stitches on left hand needle as if to knit, and knit these together. This knit together, will take the yarn that has been in the front,over the slipped stitch on the right hand needle, causint a yarn over. The yarn ends up in the back.
Unfortuanately just repeating the above, does not put the K2tog stitch in line to be the slipped stitch on the next row, as Mary Thomas says it should. And just repeating the above row in an endless loop around the circular needle, does not seem to be giving me the ribbing look.
So now I am out of time and have to leave for work. The challenge will have to wait until tonight. I plan to rip all I have messed with so far, and start again, following Interweave Knits pattern exactly. I did check their website and no errata is listed for this pattern, so I am expecting that now that I have actually figured out the yarn over part of this stitch, I can get it to work.