Friday, October 17, 2014

Brioche Chic - Book Review and Giveaway!

Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark is practically my best friend. She doesn't know it yet, but she is. 

Why? I'll explain shortly, but first, let's talk about her amazing new book:

First I feel the need to discuss just how easy this book makes brioche knitting. Brioche Chic taught me how to brioche knit in 20 minutes. 


I should probably back up and say that technically 3 years ago I took a brioche knitting class and while I walked away with a swatch that looked like brioche, I had no idea what I'd just done and had no idea how I'd just done it. I truly had no business being in that classroom as I could barely sort out a right increase from a left, and knew only one cast-on and one bind-off technique. So technically it doesn't count... in my books. 

But this beautiful book had me knitting away happily, feeling like a total rockstar, in 20 minutes. It might have even been 10 minutes. There might have been a glass of wine involved so who is really watching the clock when that happens? AMIRIGHT?

Ok, for serious, I opened the book, had some yarn and needles on hand and just... brioche'd. The begining of the book walks through the Brioche Basics and features the perfect set (in my opinion) of diagrams to accompany the descriptions of how to create the structure of bricohe.

Turn a couple of pages to the Knitting Brioche section and you'll find directions for working one-color brioche rib. In the flat AND in the round. 

So I did. And after brioche knitting 5 rows or so I felt ready to tackle increases. And then more increases. And then DECREASES! It was so exciting. I did all of this while I watched the Hubband cook. 

Want proof? 

I cast on 16 sts, worked my setup round and then boom! I was off to the races. 

Obviously my tension needs a bit of work to get the increases and decreases evened out but for my first crack at it, I think the proof is there that this book is worth every penny.

Well, I wasn't satisfied with a one-color swatch anymore. So as I continued through the Brioche Basics portion of the book, I arrived at Two-Color Brioche. And not just two-color brioche but two- color brioche with CABLES (technically faux-cables but for realsies - it's so cool). I decided to try my hand at that. 

And while I was at it, I tried a new-to-me cast-on, the Italian Tubular Cast-On which is also thoughtfully diagramed out in the Cast-Ons and Bind-Offs for Brioche section. Here's what I ended up with:

I had a few mis-steps the first time I tackled this two-color swatch: the first go-round I forgot that I had to brp instead of brk with the second color (read: "I had to burp instead of bark"- *giggle*). The next time, I tried brp'ing and brk'ing on the wrong sides. But the third try I sorted it all out in my head and from there on out was happily knitting along, all the while thinking "I'm a rockstar, I'm a rockstar, look at me goooooo!". Surely you have a knitting mantra? No? Well, you should get one. 

Once I finished these swatches I started to consider HOW to apply brioche to things other than these beautifully squishy, light-as-air swatches. This was such a different feeling from the first time I tried brioche (you know, the time that technically doesn't count?) - I was excited to see how it was applied to modern designs. I think the main reason I felt so differently from my class-that-does-not-count, was because I could see the patterns in the stitches, and how they would work for shaping. Again, I have to chalk all of this up to the Brioche Basics section. And that's only the first chapter of this amazing book. 

I was so inspired by the ease with which I created these swatches after "not really" having tried brioche before that I pored through the rest of the book and started marking off all the projects that I will be making in the near future. In no particular order, here are some of my absolute favorites:

Beautiful in its simplicity and found in the Basic Brioche chapter, this cowl would be divine in just about any colorway and will be a great beginners project. 

This beauty looks like a total "grab and go" sweater to me. Found in the Brioche with a Twist section, it couldn't be more cozy. Featuring a garter stitch foundation, it's dolman style so there's no sleeves to sew on. And the cuffs? Come. On!

Also found in the Bricohe with a Twist section, this sweater has the perfect amount of embellishment to it - the brioche sleeves seam beautifully up the raglan shaping and the little leaf motif on the hip? Perfection! 

The Hubbs is a total geek for vests and I think he'd look dreamy in this creation. Located in the Colorful Brioche section of the book this vest features a syncopated brioche stripe that looks far more complex than it probably actually is, making it perfectly accessible to any brioche fanatic. 

And last but not least: 
My swatch above looks surprisingly like the colorwork on this beautiful sweater in the Colorful Brioche section - I'm practically done making it already! Or not so much, but a girl can dream!

So what do you think? Are you DYING to get your hands on this book?

I did promise a giveaway. And we're gonna do one. But first I have to talk about why Mercedes and I are besties. Obvi, 'cuz she knits. And is super adorable. And someone once thought I WAS HER!!! 

Total geek out moment: I was at the 2013 Interweave Knitting Lab in San Mateo wearing Mercedes' Emmanuelle Sweater  and as I was walking up the stairs, another young knitter stopped me and was like "Oh my gosh - YOU'RE Mercedes!". 

I think my jaw actually dropped. Little ol' me mistaken for a top-notch designer like Mercedes?! 

Best mistaken-identity moment. Ever. 

Also the Emmanuelle Sweater was my first intarsia work and my first finished sweater that actually fit. So... there ya go. Besties at heart.

But enough about me. 

GIVEAWAY TIME!  This book is amazing and would not only be an excellent Christmas gift for a knitter, it would do wonders on YOUR knitting inspiration shelf. I'm going to give away one copy of this amazing book to one lucky, randomly chosen winner on Thursday, October 23rd!

Since I'm a total Instagram-aholic we're going to base our drawing on Instagram. To enter, visit the Brioche Chic page on Ravelry, snag a screen shot of your favorite design in the book, and post it to Instagram, being sure to tag me, @socalmeaghan, and using #briochechicgiveaway. 

Post your favorite pattern image by 11:59 PST on Wednesday, October 22nd for a chance to be entered. I will announce the winner here on my blog on Thursday, October 23rd.

Please note: this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only. Once the winner is announced, I will contact you via direct message on Instagram to get your mailing address - please don't post your address publicly! 

If you aren't the lucky winner - you can get your very own copy of this amazing book: Brioche Chic. And what's more? If you're a Kindle user you can get a digital copy of this book too! Who doesn't love an e-book?

Happy knitting! 

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