I’ve used the Half Brioche (HB) stitch on 2 large projects. I love this stitch because it produces a lofty, squishy fabric that has quite a lot of stretch to it. Recently, I was asked if I thought this stitch pattern would create a fabric that biases or slants. I thought about my past projects using HB stitch and did not recall any biasing in my fabric. After a bit more research, examination of past projects and swatches, and knitting up a new test swatch, I’ve come to the conclusion that the HB stitch produces little to no biasing effect. At most, the column of stitches in DH’s sweater leaned up to one half of a stitch to the right in some spots (measured over a 6″ tall area), which I noticed only with the help of a straight edge. However, as with any knitting project, there are many factors which may cause some biasing when using the HB stitch. Here are some things to consider.
1. Yarn. Some yarns are over twisted during manufacturing which may cause the resulting fabric to bias or torque. Single ply yarns also have a tendency to produce a biased fabric because the yarn is unbalanced. Yarn with multiple plies helps to balance out the torquing effect because each ply is twisted in the opposite direction when plied together. If your fabric is slanted, it may be the result of over twisted or unbalanced yarn.
2. Method of knitting. There are a handful of knitting methods I know of, but the 2 most common are English (throwing the yarn using your right hand) and Continental (picking the yarn from the left hand). One method vs. another may possibly add additional twist to the yarn, especially when moving the working yarn from the back to front of the work.
I find the HB stitch very easy to execute using the Continental knitting style. The working yarn is coming from your left hand. To make a YO/slipped stitch combo, simply hold the working yarn to the back of the work and dip the RH needle behind the working yarn and into the next stitch on the LH needle purlwise, slipping the stitch off the LH needle. The working yarn hasn’t changed positions. You’ve just done the YO and slipped the stitch simultaneously. Yesssssss…
3. Executing a YO. Try not to work the YO in the counter direction (unless dictated by your pattern) or your YO will be mounted in the opposite direction on the needle. This will create a twisted stitch when you work it on the subsequent round. This could also cause your fabric to bias.
4. Knitting through the back loop. When I learned to knit from a library book 7 years ago, I inadvertently knit all my stitches through the back loop. At some point I checked out Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Knitting Glossary” video from the library and realized I had been knitting, shall I say, a bit unconventionally. I’ve since switched to the “knit through the front of the stitch” method. When you knit your stitches through the back loop in ribbing, your fabric will have a tendency to bias because you are twisting these stitches.
5. Knitting in the round vs. knitting flat. When you knit in the round, you are making a spiraled tube of fabric. You’re always working the “public” side of the item and always moving in the same direction. For some people, this repeated spiraling has a tendency to bias. When you knit flat, you work both sides going in opposite directions each time which could help to counter balance the previous row.
So what is my recommendation? Well, since you really can’t be sure how a stitch will behave for you, it’s important to work up a gauge swatch using the yarn and needles intended for your project. You were going to knit a gauge swatch anyway, right? *the correct answer to this question is yes, BTW* Wash and block your swatch, let it sit overnight, examine it, measure it, and see if it does anything sneaky. If you find that your fabric is biasing, you may want to consider switching to a different yarn or perhaps examine the knitting method you use. Or just use this torquing effect as a design element!
Hope this is helpful!