Brioche stitch has to be one of my all-time favorite knitted fabrics. I love it for both its tactile qualities and its structural interest. When you look closely at Brioche fabric (also called “Fisherman’s Rib”, or “Cardigan” by machine knitters) you’ll notice that there are actually two interlocking layers of fabric. (Stretch a piece of it over an illuminated lampshade to get a great view of what I mean.)

Blocked Brioche fabric also has a pillowy “squish factor” that is unmatched by many other knitted fabrics; this is a result of the fabric’s mesh-like composition. The gauge of the stitch is quite different from stockinette or ribbed fabrics, with a much shallower row height and a broader stitch width. Knitters often need to use a needle two to three sizes smaller than they normally would when working with a given yarn weight to achieve the proper fabric density.

The Oshima design sprang out of my desire to use Brioche stitch to accentuate the beautiful shoulder details of a fully-fashioned pullover. The chiseled knit columns highlight the stitch pathways as they shape this part of the upper body.

The soft spongey nature of the stitch pattern also inspired me to think about design details that would amp up the comfort factor to achieve the perfect “knockaround” sweater for fall and winter. A tiny hint of waist shaping and a slim upper sleeve keep the slouchy fit from swallowing up the wearer. The brioche cowl neck – which is picked up and worked directly from the pullover’s crew neckline – along with the turned-back ribbed cuffs on the sleeves add both drama and a sense of coziness to the design.

Though some of these details create a more memorable silhouette, I know they may not be for everyone, so I liked the idea that customization would be easy. If you don’t like wearing cowl necks, try subbing a simple ribbed band when finishing the neckline. Or, work the sleeve cuffs to half the instructed length to achieve a standard (non-doubled) cuff. These types of modifications can produce a more classic, understated look while still featuring the strong graphic elements of the yoke shaping. It’s always nice to have options.