In this week’s Technique Tuesday, Kelley covered the shawl setup and techniques used in Sections 1 & 2 of Andrea Mowry’s Baubles Shawl. The Baubles Shawl is not a beginner or learn-to-knit pattern as it uses advanced techniques like knitting brioche flat. However, Andrea Mowry’s patterns are not only a lot of fun to knit, but even more fun to wear!
Part 1: Getting Started With The Baubles Shawl by Andrea Mowry
Kelley is knitting Baubles with Berroco Comfort Sock – an allergen-free yarn made of 50% acrylic and 50% nylon. It’s perfect for summer knitting, or knitting for your loved ones who are allergic to wool. It’s lightweight and doesn’t have a plastic sheen like other acrylic yarns. For these sections, she’s using “Pearl” and “English Garden” colorways.
If you want to knit this shawl in a wool, we recommend our Sasquatch Tonals or Multis by Coeur d’Alene Yarns – dyed here locally in Hayden, Idaho! Tonals are perfect for this pattern because they’ll make the brioche pop.
The brioche stitch is a very squishy ribbing technique formed with yarn overs and slipped stitches. It’s a reversible stitch that when done in two colors, each side has a dominant color. The Baubles Shawl uses syncopated brioche, which means to displace or reverse the brioche pattern – knits become purls and vice versa, the foreground and background colors swap. This creates a very unique texture and look!
If you’re new to the brioche stitch, Kelley recommends starting with the Rudbeckia Hat to learn brioche in the row first. Brioche is easier to learn in the round because you don’t have to slide your work back on the needles – you just pick up the second color at the beginning of a new row. The Rudbeckia Hat is another fun Andrea Mowry pattern, and makes a great companion piece for the Baubles Shawl.
When knitting brioche with two colors, every row is worked twice. The first row is in the foreground color, the second is in the background color. While knitting brioche flat, you knit a row with the foreground color then slide the work back on the circular needles to knit the row in the background color. Then you turn your work and work the wrong side rows. In Baubles, Andrea Mowry refers to these rows as A & B. For example, the four row repeat looks like this:
Row 1A (right side) – knit row as instructed and slide back on the needles to the beginning of the row.
Row 1B (right side) – knit row as instructed and turn at the end of the row.
Row 2A (wrong side) – knit row as instructed and slide back on the needles to the beginning of the row.
Row 2B (wrong side) – knit row as instructed and turn at the end of the row.
Knitting the brioche stitch flat makes it easy to get lost when taking a break – you often have working yarn on both sides of the project. If you need to set down your project while knitting brioche, don’t stop at the beginning of a row. Kelley knits into a row so it’s easier to know what color you left off with, and on which side.
It’s also recommended that you insert a lifeline every few rows if you’re new to brioche or new to knitting brioche flat. A lifeline will make it much easier to correct mistakes while knitting the brioche stitch.
To make a right leaning brioche decrease, we start with three stitches. Remember that yarn overs are not counted as stitches when brioche knitting. To execute the "brkRsl", slip the first knit-wise, knit the second stitch, pass the first stitch over the second stitch, return the second stitch to left needle, slip the third stitch over the top of the second stitch, and pass the second stitch back to the right needle.
The “brk4st” works four increases into just one brioched stitch. To work a brioche 4-stitch increase, we go in as if to brioche knit – knit 1, YO, knit 1, YO, knit 1 – but do not remove the original knit stitch from the left needle until the final knit 1. You should have five stitches on your right needle out of the one original stitch.
The setup & stripes sections of Baubles uses “slip one with yarn in front” (Sl 1 wyif.) Kelley points out to not forget to move the yarn to the back between the first and second stitches to properly do this slip stitch. Often times knitters instead pass the yarn around the right side of the slipped stitch, turning it into a regular slipped stitch.
When it comes to adding the second color of yarn after the setup section, Kelley just simply starts knitting with the second color! No need to use a fancy join, just weave in the yarn tail later.
It’s easy to overthink the pattern when learning a new technique or knitting something complicated. Kelley’s best advice is to knit the pattern as written – don’t try to change things – and break things down by individual stitches if you have to. When we try to “correct” the pattern, oftentimes it leads to a mess instead of what was intended by the pattern designer.