Briochepira Cowl was born one day this summer when I was looking at the pile of handspun yarn in my craft studio. "Those colors would go really nicely together. What should I knit with them?" My mind immediately went to Inspira Cowl, a free pattern on Ravelry (seizure warning) that's been around since 2011.
Inspira Cowl is made with corrugated ribbing which creates a pretty un-stretchy fabric. Besides, I wanted the cowl to look as pretty on the inside as it does on the outside. Regular two-color brioche is based on 1x1 ribbing... but is there an equivalent for 2x2 rib? A quick pop over to Nancy Marchant's website quickly revealed the answer: double brioche. The double brioche stitch makes the cowl extra squishy and comfortable to wear.
If you're familiar with regular two-color brioche, double brioche is really not that difficult. It's literally just doing every stitch twice in a row. I do recommend, though, that you familiarize yourself with regular brioche before venturing onto double brioche.
The double sl1yo in particular caused some confusion — both for me and my beta testers. A double sl1yo (or sl2yo) is two separate slipped stitches, each with its own yarnover. When purled into on the following round, the two yarnovers turn into a double-length bar that spans the two stitches in the brioche purl columns.
If you're a Continental knitter (like I am), it's easier, faster, and more convenient to do the brioche slip in the opposite order: yo, sl1. (It's also easier to work into on the following round.) Here's a great demonstration of Continental-style brioche knitting.
If you're an English-style knitter, the sl2yo can be a little awkward to execute. You might find this tutorial useful but beware that it demonstrates the double brioche slips with only one yarnover for two slipped stitches.
Another question that popped up during the beta test: how does it look on the wrong side? Like regular two-color brioche, the wrong side of double brioche looks the same as the right side, only with the colors inverted. As one beta tester remarked: "I always think of brioche having a right side... and another right side." Very true!
This makes Briochepira Cowl reversible in the sense that it looks nice — although not exactly the same — on both sides. In addition, the cast-on and bind-off edges were designed to match each other so you can wear your cowl any which way. Upside down or wrong side out — it'll always look great!
The pattern is written for three different yarn weights: fingering, sport, and worsted. But you could use pretty much any weight! Example stitch counts and repeats are given for each three yarn weights but the cowl can be infinitely customized for any yarn, size, and fit — just cast on a number of stitches divisible by four. To knit the cowl you need approx. 200–300 m (or 220–330 yd) of each of the two colors.
The yarns I used for the sample were both handspun roughly in sport weight. Briochepira Cowl is a great pattern for those special handspun skeins but commercially or hand-dyed yarns work equally well. Long color repeats, gradients, or ombre yarns are ideal!
It's a great idea to pick two contrasting, yet coordinating colors that play off of each other. Make sure you can tell the two colors apart, though. It's really tricky to knit two-color brioche when you can't tell which yarn is which. (Ask me how I know.)
Briochepira Cowl was in an open beta test in my Mighty Networks community for the month of July 2021 and it's now been released to the public. Because it's based on a free pattern, I don't feel comfortable charging for it. Therefore, Briochepira Cowl is forever free! You can download it in my Payhip or LoveCrafts pattern shops.
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