Knitting Brioche, Cast-on Ideas

brioche cast on Italian tubular

At first, I was not interested in learning the brioche stitch. Most patterns I saw kind of turned me off. In fact, I considered brioche to be a bit ugly sometimes. Then again, some brioche patterns are stunning! This type of knitting can create hats that are reversible, with a different look on each side.

Here is the beginning of a hat with brioche in three colors. First I used red and white, then added some blue. If I had been able to knit this correctly, the hat could be worn with the white (gray) mostly showing, or the color side. It could have ended up being a nice hat – if I hadn’t failed so miserably at knitting it!

Brioche Hat – “Skipp” by Brooklyn Tweed

I love to knit hats and I’ve knit a few BT patterns. Hats are my favorite knitting projects because they are quick and use DPNs for only a short time. After I knit the Habitat hat in bright orange cables for my daughter, I wanted to knit more hats. Why not learn some new things while doing so? And let’s try some brioche.

My son had given me a Brooklyn Tweed gift certificate for Mother’s Day and I needed to use it. I decided to buy some patterns because my yarn stash is already large. One of the hat patterns I purchased is called “Skipp” and it’s done in brioche stitch.

The idea of creating a reversible hat appealed to me, and brioche creates a reversible fabric. Yippee… onward. But first I would have to learn a new kind of cast-on to create a nice hat edging.

Hat’s can’t be knit until a good cast-on is completed. These special cast-on directions will create a tidy edge for a brioche knit hat. As I note on this page, I did a few different cast-ons but then had lots of trouble jumping in and beginning the pattern.

#1. Rib Cabled Cast-on

The cast on for the Skipp beanie is called a Rib Cabled Cast On. It’s not that difficult to accomplish, but I needed to use two yarns held together (notes for this pattern). I can’t go into the list of all the mistakes I made because there were too many, but in general the stitches in my rounds didn’t line up at the join. There are no directions for joining in the round – and this is the problem.

brioche knitting and finding a good cast on
First of many fails….this shows that rib cable cast-on with double yarn

Hint: To learn brioche use two contrasting colors of yarn. Don’t use variegated. Make the stitches easy to tell apart by color. Also, try a pattern that calls for a heavy weight yarn. This will make that difficult cast-on progress faster!


So I decided to try again with a single yarn color and I began that looooong cast-on again. I needed two yarns, so I had to cut a length from my skein hoping it would be enough – it wasn’t – only made it to 60 stitches and needed 96.

Hint: This type of cast-on uses lots of yarn. More than a normal cast on.

Ripped out again and cut a longer length – I needed about double (if you try this, double what you’d use for a normal long-tail cast on). Got finished with that cast on, joined and began the purl using both yarns – but I was only supposed to use one… when I went to un-purl that stitch the join fell apart… I don’t even know what happened, but at that point I gave up for the day and ripped it out.

Knitting Skipp Video Reference

I found THIS VIDEO of a woman who is actually knitting the Skipp hat… at about 5:47 minutes she shows how to join the cast-on, which is to simply purl into the first stitch for the set up round. What? Could it really be this easy??

The video is not great, but at least it tells how to join after the cast on. So, I tried it – just began with a purl like she did. And my join was not really a join… I discovered this after a couple more rounds. It looked like crap. This was another waste of time. (However, if I ever get past the cast-on, this video shows the crown shaping for Skipp, which I might need.)

#2. The Italian Tubular Cast-on

In Jared Flood’s tutorial for the Italian Cast On, he says it’s perfect for brioche. He knits a small, flat brioche sample. This is a good video but there are no directions for joining in the round because it’s back and forth knitting...! So, no help there.

#3. Italian Tubular Cast-on in Two Colors

In Jared Flood’s tutorial for the Italian Tubular Cast On in Two Colors, he does a little flat swatch. This is not helpful for hat knitting.

Andrea Mowry has a tutorial for Two Color Tubular cast-on which is pretty good. She slowly (thank-you) shows and explains the cast-on and set up rows. See my examples below from following her video. Notice my circle is not joined because there were no directions for that – OF COURSE…!!! But this video is a good one.

Her video is for her “Harlow” brioche hat pattern. The cast-on and two set up rows are knit before joining in the round. If I could get to this point, join in the round, and begin brioche knitting, I think I would be okay.

The Italian tubular cast-on is not easy, in my opinion. As the stitches are put onto the needle, they are loose and if you stop or take your hand away, the stitches fall off the needle! I suggest using two colors because it’s easier to see where you are in the cast on, and in the video.

I never figured out how to do any new “brioche” cast-ons, but began the Skipp hat using a normal cast-on. Then, I kept messing up my knitting and ripped the whole thing out. I hate brioche.

So What is My Problem?

I’ll tell you where I keep getting stuck – it’s at the BOR (beginning of round). Once the cast-on is finished I can’t join correctly because the knitting of brioche requires different BOR stitches. I guess maybe adding one extra stitch to combine with a regular stitch might work. Usually I transfer the two end stitches on my needles to join in the round, but that won’t work for brioche. Am I just making this more difficult than it needs to be?

#4. Long-tail Cast-on Over Two Needles

Maybe another designer can explain all this better. So I went looking for a new pattern to try.

The free hat pattern called BriocheStarter Hat (link below) is listed as using worsted yarn. But, the cast on number is the same as Skipp’s (fingering weight) at 96 stitches. This is confusing, and must be wrong. I noticed that many knitters using worsted cast-on fewer stitches (80).

And what type of cast on does this free pattern call for? A long-tail cast on over two needles. The tutorial does not show how this cast-on looks once it’s finished. One needle gets pulled out, and I’m not sure I would like the looks of this cast on. It sounds a little odd but what do I know. My Vogue Knitting book also says to do the brioche cast-on in this manner. (Truthfully this is one I did not try myself.)

For a free pattern, this one is very well written with charted and written directions for knitting brioche. The designer does mention knitting the first couple rows flat and then to join… AGAIN…no directions for how to make that join and then begin the pattern.

Please, someone help me get my cast-on joined!

Brioche Knitting Patterns

I have not knit any of these projects, but if I ever decide to try brioche again – and get it right – I will probably try one of these.

  • Brioche Knotsbeautiful hat by Katrin Shubert, done in DK yarn in two colors.
  • Magic Brioche – also by Katrin Shubert.
  • Brioche Loop – FREE cowl pattern
  • BriocheStarter Hat – This is a FREE brioche hat pattern.
  • Gina’s Brioche Hat and Cowl – FREE pattern by Purl Soho – This pattern uses a rolled brim cast on which means after a normal cast on, simple rows of knitting are done to create the roll. The second color is added after that.

Failing at Brioche in Photos

Once I began to knit brioche, I loved it – when things were going well – but most of my knitting was a BIG FAT FAIL.

For the “hat” below I did a normal long-tail cast-on, because I gave up on the special brioche cast-ons. Although I had many mistakes – which mainly began at the beginning of each round – I kept knitting for the practice. Finally, I took photos and ripped out the project.

I will NOT be attempting to knit brioche again anytime soon, but will post this page for future reference. If you have any tips for brioche knitting, or have a favorite cast-on, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Keep Reading More Knitting Pages

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