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What is Mosaic Knitting?

When I hear the word colorwork, I immediately think about the popular Fair Isle and stranded colorwork techniques, which I tried last month. As I begin to explore the world of colorwork, I found that there are many techniques that fall under this name. Mosaic knitting is one of them.

What is mosaic knitting? The word mosaic conjures up images of repeated patterns, geometric shapes, and beautiful tiles. In the knitting world, mosaic is a lesser-known colorwork technique that uses slip stitches and contrasting yarn to create a pattern. It differs from stranded colorwork and Fair Isle because only one color of yarn is knit per row. The contrasting color is brought up from the previous row via a slip stitch. Stitches are worked in stockinette or garter stitch. The effect produced can appear very much like a mosaic tile.

Close up of maroon and gold mosaic knitting pattern showing slip stitch.

Mosaic knitting is considered one of the easiest forms of colorwork. There aren’t any long floats to secure or carry across the back, the tension remains pretty much the same as stockinette, and many beautiful patterns can be created.

Mosaic knitting pattern still on the needles in gold and varigated blue green yarn.

The biggest challenge in mosaic knitting is the charts. However, once you understand how they work, reading them is a breeze. Charts can be shown in two different styles. Because the color change is worked the same over two rows, a chart may label a row both RS and WS (see Chart 1 below). This just means that on the RS stitches are knit and then slipped as indicated and on the WS they are purled slipping those same stitches. To the right of this type of chart is a column indicating which color yarn to work with on those two rows. The yarn color changes every two rows. Another way that charts are shown is by having the RS and WS written out separately (see Chart 2 below). The first stitch in each row is considered a selvage stitch and indicates the color yarn that should be worked. Both chart styles have their merits. The first style allows the knitter to more easily see how the finished pattern will look. The second style more clearly shows what stitches are being worked on the RS and WS. While both chart styles have their advantages, I prefer the first type of chart because I can visualize the pattern more clearly.

Overall, mosaic knitting is a fun technique that is much easier to manage than stranded colorwork and would be a great step for a new knitter who would like to experiment with colorwork.

Have you ever tried mosaic knitting?

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