All You Need To Know About Mosaic Knitting

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A swatch of slip-stitch technique mosaic knitting pattern made with white and indigo yarn and a text overlay which says "All You Need To Know About Mosaic Knitting,, " followed by the LKO lettermarkIf you ever tried colorwork, you must have heard of mosaic knitting. A term coined in the 1960s, this type of knitting became popular over the years. Barbara G. Walker was the one to invent it, and many have fallen in love with it.

She was also the person to make mosaic knitting popular. Her patterns are just as popular today, as they were in the past. As you can see, it took one passionate knitter to bring this technique to life. Although it had been around before, it was only after that moment that its popularity soared.

Slipped stitches are quite common in knitting. So you may be wondering what makes mosaic knitting stand out? For one, it is its beauty. Secondly, it’s fun. And thirdly, it’s versatile. That means that you can try various patterns with great success.

Mosaic Knitting And Its Secrets At A Glance

But what exactly is mosaic knitting? The easiest description would be a type of colorwork. Yet, that doesn’t cover what this style is about. This guide will introduce you to the colorful world of this knitting style. Furthermore, it will provide you with information on how to do it.

At the end of this article, you will know more about mosaic knitting. Also, you will be able to attempt it on your own. Since it’s easy to do, you too, will fall in love with it, like others before you. Trendy designs often use mosaic knitting. You can create things that are on par with popular models today.

Don’t worry if you’re not an expert knitter. This technique is ideal for novices. Even more, experienced knitters find it very appealing. You can create so many different things, that nothing rivals it. Plus, it’s a great introduction to colorwork. In case you’ve never tried it, this is the way to go.

What is Mosaic Knitting?

One funny thing about this type of knitting is that many people don’t know about it. Even people who like knitting are not aware of its existence. In a way, one can say it is the least known colorwork style.

You might have heard of intarsia. Also, you might have heard of Fair Isle. These are common styles. However, mosaic knitting is different. What’s more important, beginners can find it ideal for starting.

Many knitters, especially novices, consider colorwork daunting. And for all the right reasons. How could someone keep track of all the colors? Things such as patterns can help you out. Still, you need to know the technique.

That’s why we should focus first on what mosaic knitting is. Have you ever used two colors to create stripes? That’s the most basic form of this style. So, if your answer was ‘yes’, that means that you will find this one a breeze, too.

In a nutshell, you can create mosaic patterns by slipping stitches without working them. That’s the easy explanation. Now let’s get a little more in-depth with mosaic knitting.

There are basically two techniques. One involves slipping stitches. The other consists of switching colors between rows. Use one color for two rows. Then switch. That pretty much explains the technique.

Of course, if you want to create intricate patterns, you will need a lot of attention. While the above explanation is simple, you must apply it correctly. That’s where explaining the technique in-depth helps a great deal.

When you switch rows, you pick your dominant color. As you work, when you reach the other stitches, just slip them purlwise. This means that you don’t work them as usual. You will do all these to control the color switching.

You can work in this style for hats and caps. Also, you can use it for sweaters. That means that you can work round or flat. It doesn’t matter what your choice is. This style is versatile, and you can create many beautiful things with its help.

Even more so, you can adapt other patterns to mosaic knitting. There is nothing you can’t do if you pick it up. For many knitters, it is a preferred style. Above all else, it’s fun, and that’s a great thing to have when you want to relax.

Pros & Cons of Mosaic Knitting

The idea of creating colorful sweaters and caps may have already convinced you. With so many people loving mosaic patterns, it would be hard to stay away. However, you may want to consider whether this style is for you or not.

It’s true that it’s a great alternative to regular knitting. When compared to stranded knitting, the mosaic style has some differences. By learning about them, you can better decide if you want to do it or not.

Any type of knitting has advantages and disadvantages. Some knitters prefer one style over another. Also, others use the same one all the time. You just need to figure out to which category you belong to.

Since we’re talking about mosaic knitting here, let’s focus on it. Just like any style, it has its good points and not so good points. That said, it’s not a complicated style. Thus, all the disadvantages you will hear about are not deal-breakers.

So here are the ups and downs of this style. Once you look at the bigger picture, you will know what to do.

Pros #1: It’s easy

That’s one thing that you might find hard to believe. At first glance, juggling with different colors appears difficult. But it’s not. Once you get the hang of it, you will find it easier than regular knitting. Stranded knitting has its challenges, but this one is more fun.

Always compare styles between them. After all, knitting is a pastime. So it should be fun. If a technique challenges you, there are two ways to deal with it. You either leave it aside, or you learn it better. In this case, mosaic knitting is too simple to overlook. Plus, don’t forget how pleased you’ll be with the results.

Pros #2: It keeps its stretch

You know how difficult it can be to maintain stretch with stranded knitting. But there are no such troubles with this style. Actually, it keeps its stretch as well as stockinette. If you ever worked stockinette, you know that’s one significant advantage.

In a way, it’s a basic style of knitting. Mosaic knitting doesn’t require you to do complicated things. It’s like stockinette, but better. So, you can truly enjoy its advantages. Even more, it makes things that look great. And it will fall well as fabric. In other words, you can’t go wrong with it.

Pros #3: You don’t have to keep tension

Another challenge of stranded knitting is maintaining tension. You don’t want your work to become too loose. Therefore, you need to pay attention all the time. There’s no need for this with color stitching. Just as it preserves its stretch, it doesn’t need constant tension. So, if you usually work a bit loose, you won’t have this issue.

Even more, you don’t have to worry about cumbersome floats. As you work, you’ll notice the pattern coming up nicely. That’s another significant advantage for this knitting style.

There’s a reason why many knitters prefer it. Especially if you’re a novice, you can appreciate such advantages. It can take a while to become an expert. But, when you use mosaic knitting, you’ll get faster there. And that’s one thing you shouldn’t overlook.

Cons #1: The stitch slipping is set in stone

When you use this style, you have to deal with slipped stitches. These come from the previous rows. Also, they each require working in a specific manner. When you work with them, there are guidelines to follow.

The technique is like this. When you reach a stitch that you must slip, two crucial rules are in place. One is that the stitch must be in the non-dominant color. When you do the slipping, the one under it should be the same color.

If this sounds a bit too confusing, it’s not. Once you understand how the technique works, you’ll find it easy. Also, there are many resources for you to use. To further your knowledge, use such resources. You will manage to master this technique in no time.

Cons #2: You can’t work with large areas

People call it mosaic knitting for a reason. You basically mix and match colors. Therefore, you work with a few stitches of one color and then switch. That means that you can’t create large areas of the same color.

For that, there are many other colorwork methods you can try. Use intarsia, for instance. Or you can opt for roositud. They are all ideal for that type of pattern. Otherwise, try mosaic patterns. They are a lot of fun. Also, you can create unique items you will love wearing.

As you can see, there are other knitting styles to try. If you like the idea of working with large patches of color, you can adopt another style. But mosaic knitting has its charm. With so many patterns out there, it would be a shame not to try it. Give it a chance at least once. You might fall in love with it forever.

A swatch of slip-stitch technique mosaic knitting pattern made with white and indigo yarn.

How to Knit Mosaic Knitting

Experts describe the technique as being extremely simple. First, you must choose two yarns of contrasting colors. The reason to do so is to make your work pop. The freedom this technique gives you is hard to beat.

You might be able to learn it from your grandmother. But, if yours didn’t care about mosaic knitting, there are other resources to try out. Remember; even if you are a complete newbie, this one is easy to learn. Mosaic knitting has simplicity written all over it.

Actually, that’s one of the main advantages of this knitting style. You can create shapes and other beautiful patterns. Maybe it’s not like painting on a canvas, but it’s as close to art as knitting can be. And knitters can be artists, too. The beauty of what you’ll be able to make with your two hands will convince you.

The idea is to pick a yarn of a dark color, and one of a light color. Ideally, you should choose colors that work together. Of course, you can always experiment. In the end, you cannot know what will come out. Maybe you’ll love the results.

When you pick the colors, go with something that appeals to you. You don’t have to count only on what other people give you. After all, this is your work. You choose how to make it happen.

That said, you may still find colorwork challenging. And maybe you’re right about it. Still, if you postpone learning it, try mosaic knitting first. It will help you breach into this wonderful world. Plus, it will give you access to so many beautiful patterns.

Intarsia and Fair Isle are two types of stranded knitting. You can use colorwork in new and exciting ways. But, for that, you need a proper introduction. Therefore, mosaic knitting is the way. And that’s exactly what we will focus on.

Before we delve into the technique, here are a few thoughts. First, with this style, there are no floats. That’s what stranded knitting has as the main difference from mosaic knitting. That means that this latter style doesn’t require you to juggle with two yarns in the same row.

Therefore, you have less work and headache to worry about. Think of this. Have you ever changed yarns between rows? That’s your best start for mosaic knitting. Here’s another take that will help you feel at ease. Have you ever tried the brick stitch? That’s another excellent example of mosaic knitting!

Now that you feel a little more confident, let’s start. The following explanations may seem technical. However, if you follow them, you’ll be a master of mosaic knitting in no time.

First, you need a motif. Or you can choose a pattern you like. Grab your needles and some yarns. That’s pretty much all you need to start. Have a chart nearby. That will help you keep track of your stitches. Now, let’s take a look at the steps you must follow.

Step #1: Create the foundation rows

As with any knitting piece, start with the foundation rows. First, cast the number of stitches you need for your piece. Then, knit the first rows. One rule of thumb to remember is that these rows need to be the same color.

If you take a look at mosaic charts, you’ll notice these rows are there. That’s a great thing. It means that you don’t have to guess anything. Just follow the chart, and you’ll be fine.

Step #2: The role of the foundation rows

Another important aspect is to understand the role of these rows. Sometimes, you may find charts that don’t include them. Just remember that you must knit them first.

The primary role of these rows is to provide you with stitches. These will be the ones you will slip when you start your colorwork.

Step #3: Understand the dominant colors

Before, we talked about dominant colors. Basically, that’s the color that is predominant in a row. How do you decide that? It’s quite simple. How you work the first stitch, that’s the dominant color. You will notice, in the chart, how to work those stitches.

You must work all stitches that are in the dominant color as normal. Any pattern will tell you that. That’s another rule to remember. Once you reach a stitch in the non-dominant color, slip it purlwise. As you can see, the technique is nothing complicated.

Step #4: One or two slipped consecutive stitches per row are enough

Here is another thing you should know about mosaic knitting. While all this talk about slipped stitches might scare you, it shouldn’t. That’s because this type of knitting requires you to slip only one or two consecutive stitches.

As you can see, that’s not difficult. In other colorwork styles, things may be more complicated. But not when it comes to this knitting technique. By slipping stitches, you continue to progress with your work. Soon, you will see how beautiful your work will look.

If you’re unsure, just try it. Sometimes, when you put your hands on the needles and actually follow the instructions manually, it’s easier. You can see with your eyes how the work progresses. This way, you won’t feel like this type of knitting is as challenging.

Bear in mind that slipping one stitch is common. Slipping two consecutive stitches is uncommon. Therefore, your work is not that difficult.

Step #5: How to work wrong side rows

When you must work the wrong-side rows, here’s what you need to do do. This is the easiest part. Many knitters say they don’t even look at the pattern. In short, you will just have to work using the dominant color. At the same time, slip the stitches in the non-dominant color purlwise.

That means that you move the yarn in front. At the same time, you just purl the stitches in the dominant color. If you thought mosaic knitting was complicated, now you can see that it’s not.

How to Read a Mosaic Knitting Chart

One of the crucial steps to learn is reading a chart. As with any other patterns, this is your guide. Therefore, you must know what the symbols mean. To start with the beginning, there are two types of charts.

One is RS only. The other is RS/WS. There’s a reason why you find many RS charts easy. As you remember from earlier, the wrong side rows are easy to do. Consequently, many pattern creators just skip them. What they show you are only the right side rows.

You can see that, if you think of it this way. The wrong side rows are a mirror of previous rows. For that reason, putting them down can be cumbersome. Not only for the chart creator, but also you. Since you will watch each row, it can become unnecessarily complicated.

Instead, follow the rule explained earlier. That will give you a clear idea of how to work the wrong side rows. Focus your attention on the ride side rows. Those will help you create the pattern you want. Therefore, they are the most important.

There are certain conventions when it comes to chart creation. Therefore, most creators use the same symbols. However, you might stumble upon some charts that use other conventions. For the most part, let’s stick with the most common.

Here are the rules that apply to chart reading. Mosaic knitting is not fundamentally different from other styles. That’s why you will see symbols you might already know.

Rule #1: Start by counting the rows

Depending on what type of chart you read, there are two choices. If the chart you read is RS only, count the rows first. Then double them, since the wrong side rows don’t appear on the chart. That gives you the total number of rows.

In case you have an RS/WS chart, you don’t have to do that. Just count all the rows, and you will have the right number. As with any pattern, establishing the number of rows is crucial.

Rule #2: Knit the first two rows of each color

You know about foundation rows from earlier. They give you the dominant color. But here, you will learn about a bit more than that. You will have to knit two rows for each color.

To quickly bear in mind the dominant color, look at the stitch that is last to the left. That is the stitch you will knit first in that row. That’s how you get your dominant color.

You must have all the details in place at the start. This way, you establish one dominant and one non-dominant color. It doesn’t matter which you choose. These are the standard rules to apply. Plus, they will help you obtain any pattern you want.

Rule #3: Slipping the non-dominant color stitches

Now, the essence of mosaic knitting is to know when to slip stitches. You can still recall the rule about slipping stitches that are of the non-dominant color. Now here is a bit more insight on the technique.

Start in the left-hand corner. By knitting to the right, work the dominant color stitches. When you reach those in the non-dominant color, slip them with the yarn. You need to do that on the wrong side. This way, you’ll keep them hidden.

For most charts, these stitches are noted with a V. Thus, you can easily spot them on any chart or pattern. It is a standard convenience, and it’s easy to remember.

Rule #4: Working the wrong side rows

Finish the right side row in the manner described earlier. Now, start working the wrong side. This is the easiest part. Just work in stockinette. That’s for the stitches in dominant color. To explain it better, they need to be purled.

As for the slipped stitches, you should slip them with the yarn on the wrong side. That, in a nutshell, is how you need to read the chart. While there can be some differences between various charts, they are almost the same.

Why should you use RS charts? Simply put, because they are, in a way, easier to read. When you look at them, you’ll notice that they look like the final product. If you intend to obtain a series of stylized deer, that’s how the chart will look.

Take a look at an RS/WS chart. Do you notice how the model seems stretched? By doubling the rows, the final appearance appears distorted. That’s why many people are not crazy about them. With such essential support for RS charts, you should use them, too.

Why does the distortion happen? Mainly, it’s because, in stockinette, stitches appear wider. It’s also why each color must appear in two consecutive rows. If you were to use one color for one row, you might not make it clear.

However, if you are a beginner, you may prefer RS/WS charts. Since it’s better to work correctly than quickly, that’s the way to go. However, don’t let RS only charts overwhelm you.

Once you get the hang of how to work wrong side rows, you can’t make mistakes. In short, that’s all you have to know about it.

In brief

Mosaic knitting has been around for decades. Barbara G. Walker took it out from its anonymity in the 1960s. From that point forward, it became a staple in many magazines dedicated to knitting. You might have heard about it, or not.

The truth is, it’s a fun technique. You can create many beautiful things. Also, you can learn it fast. For novices, as well as experts, it’s a great way to spend the time.

Even more, it’s the best introduction to colorwork. Just pay heed to the information above. You will become a master of mosaic knitting in no time. Furthermore, you will be able to create patterns of your own.

Looking to Dive Deeper into Mosaic Knitting?

Now that this guide has equipped you with the fundamental knowledge of Mosaic knitting, you’re ready to embark on your own journey of creating stunning knitted pieces, whether it be a cozy cap or an elegant sweater.

To further enhance your skills and explore the endless possibilities of mosaic knitting, there are a couple of resources worth exploring.

Consider delving into the ‘Mosaic Knitting Workshop‘ book. This comprehensive guide is far more than a pattern book; it’s an all-encompassing journey through the art of mosaic knitting. Tailored for beginners yet insightful for seasoned knitters, it covers everything from basic techniques and chart reading to color selection.

Featuring 15 unique projects, each with step-by-step instructions and alternative colorways, the book is a perfect companion for those looking to broaden their knitting horizons.

For a more interactive approach, the Creative Bug course ‘Mosaic Knitting: How to Make Placemats,’ led by Edie Eckman, is an excellent opportunity to deepen your understanding. This course breaks down mosaic knitting into manageable steps, teaching various stitch patterns and chart interpretations.

Beyond the technical skills, it offers the chance to engage in a creative community, with access to HD video lessons, a detailed placemat pattern, and personalized instruction from Edie herself.

So, as you continue to weave your way through the exciting world of mosaic knitting, these resources stand as beacons of inspiration and guidance, helping you to unleash your creative potential and master the art of mosaic knitting.


  1. That was a very interesting article. Thankyou

  2. Mary Leonard

    Thank you for your article.
    Do you have the pattern that is shown in the article, navy and white.
    It looks very nice.
    Thank you.

  3. Can you j knit it in the round (socks)?

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