Fisherman’s Brioche (Or, Sneaky Tips & Tricks)

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in Knitting | 4 comments

I started this cowl six months ago, paused to write a book on crochet, picked it up again, discovered that it had turned into a tangled disaster, spent hours detangling it, worked halfway through it, decided I didn’t like the edging (the stitches should have been slipped, not knit) ripped it allllll the way back, kept going, and finally finished it.

It’s a delightful, thick, squishy infinity cowl, worked in fisherman’s rib. I like it. It was totally worth it. I’ll offer it as a free pattern as soon as I take some decent pictures of it, so stay tuned!

But in the meantime, a question for the ages: what is the difference between fisherman’s rib and brioche?



Fisherman’s Rib is worked as follows:

*P1, k into the stitch below, repeat from * across, for every row.

To knit into the stitch below, insert your right-hand needle from front to back into the middle of the stitch you worked on the previous round. Wrap your yarn as you normally would and pull it through, slipping the stitch off of your left-hand needle—don’t worry, nothing terrible will happen! The yarn will lie doubled, as if two stitches had been knit together.

This is what it looks like.




Brioche is worked as follows:

Set-up: *Yo,  slip one with yarn in front, k1, repeat from * to end of row.

*Yo, slip one with yarn in front, k2tog, repeat from * to end of row.

Every k2tog will knit a stitch together with a yarnover, which feels a little weird if you’re not a lace knitter, but otherwise this is fairly simple work.

This is what it looks like.



As you can see, they’re basically identical. It’s a different way of achieving the same result, so that every stitch is knit with an extra drape of yarn around it. Both stitches create that deep, squishy fabric. I don’t even really have a preference for one or the other, except that it’s kind of fun to knit into the stitch below, since that feel so unorthodox and crazy. Other than that, it’s essentially the same knitting experience. But if you find one or the other to be completely befuddling, know that there is another way to achieve the same result.

Which brings me to a debate I have in my head all the time. What is the difference between ssk and k2togtbl?



Slip-slip-knit. Slip 2 sts knitwise. Then slip the tip of left needle into the front of the slipped stitches, and knit them together. 1 stitch decreased. This is what it looks like.

I have seen that instruction a thousand thousand times, I’ve included it in almost every pattern I’ve ever written, and I think I’ve worked it exactly once. Instead, I do this:



Knit 2 stitches together through the back loop. Insert your needle through the back loop of the next 2 stitches, and knit them together. 1 stitch decreased. This is what it looks like.

If there’s a difference, I can’t tell what it is. K2togtbl is so much more efficient, but for whatever reason, it’s hardly ever written into a pattern, and I have contributed to that sad state affairs for the sake of, um, being sheeplike. (Is it because there are fewer letters for us to type with ssk?)



So just know that I never, ever work an ssk, and you should feel free to k2togtbl all you want. It’ll be ANARCHY.



*Useful youtube links for brioche, and for fisherman’s rib.


  1. Doesn’t k2togtbl make the stitch twist?

    • It does–but so does ssk! That’s how you get the stitch slanting the way you want it to, right? Or am I totally doing ssk wrong (absolutely a possibility)

      • For me, the legs of the front stitch cross on k2togtbl, but not for ssk. Here’s and explanation with links to knitwitch videos

        • Aha!!

          Well, I’m gonna confess–this will change my habits not at all. I can sort of see it if I squint…and that’s not enough to make me slip stitches when I don’t have to. BUT I’m extremely relieved to see that there is a difference, and it wasn’t just that whole world had gone mad!

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