A round of applause for Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift! It saved the day!
Here is what happened: My Briochealuscious shawl, that I had labored over, was in distress. Panicked, I searched for a savior, and found it in the guise of Shetland yarn!
You see, I was acting on advice from Nancy Marchant about the slipperiness of superwash wool. She has designed tons of brioche, and when comparing the durability of projects knitted in normal wool versus supwerwash, she discovered her brioche garments made with superwash or silk had lost their structure, lengthening to the point of ridiculousness.
Alas, such is the lure of indie dyed sock yarn that I went ahead and put some little panels in my shawl anyway, since the designer, Mowry, used superwash yarn in the pattern, so why couldn't I? Unfortunately, the brioche looked like a dog’s breakfast. Clearly, only a superstar like Mowry could pull off the knitting in superwash, at least short term--Marchant says it's over time that the brioche will fall apart because those threads are so slippery! I guess mine just looked sloppy from the beginning due to my loose tension.
Ouch! Doesn't that look hideous? After this disaster, I paired my pale blue Cross Creek sock yarn with a raspberry strand of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift to support it and keep everything stuck together. Marchant had suggested pairing a "wooly wool" with superwash if you insisted on knitting it in brioche. This was a vast improvement, but the area where I joined my edging to the brioche section I’d knitted purely in superwash wools still looked really wonky--it's the green and white panel + trim:
I realized that green and white superwash band had destabilized the whole garment and joining directly to it wasn't going to work. Solution? I grabbed some cream Shetland Spindrift yarn and knitted 7 total rows of garter stitch with it and the raspberry to create a grabby edge I could attach my rick rack edging to. This meant I was adding a stripe section out of the pattern, but it worked perfectly! Here is a closeup of the new join:
Isn't it amazing the difference yarn fiber makes? Now my blue superwash sock is surrounded on all sides by red and cream Spindrift, which is truly acting as the glue connecting the sections. This experiment has convinced me of the wisdom of Nancy Marchant’s advice and I will never try to brioche with two strands of superwash again. You see, the superwash treatment strips the scales from wool fiber, making it impossible for the yarn to stick together as it did before. It seems the structural integrity of brioche depends on that sticking factor. So it will be Shetland, mohair or other rustic wools leading my brioche knitting now!
Cheat Sheet: yarns to avoid when knitting brioche:
According to Nancy Marchant, you should avoid superwash yarns, silk blends, bamboo and tencel/rayon. Stick with “wooly” wools and you will have no problem preserving and keeping your brioche garments long term.