Mosaic knitting is a form of colorwork knitting that makes use of simple slipped stitches to create intricate patterns and textures. While it looks complex, it’s actually very easy. Don’t be intimidated - let’s talk about it!
Mosaic knitting is a term coined by Barbara Walker. The legendary knitting icon found intarsia and colorwork with multiple bobbins unwieldy and was searching for a way to create complicated looking patterns with ease. Ultimately the patterns she created were just combinations of knits, purls and slipped stitches worked one color at a time on each row. The process was easy and the results were fabulous. Barbara Walker published a book called Mosaic Knitting in 1976 that was the definitive stitch dictionary featuring over 200+ slipped stitch motifs to be used in larger pieces.
The ease of mosaic knitting is that you’re only working one color at a time. In any given project, you’ll work a row in a single color, slipping stitches of the other color to create the design. A row or two later (depending on if you’re working in the round or flat) you’ll work with the second color and slip the stitches of the first color. Even when you add more colors, the process is still the same.
Recently we’ve seen a resurgence in mosaic knitting and beautiful new patterns. Just this past month designer Patty Lyons hosted a KAL (knit along) for her Labadee Cowl which features two mosaic motifs as well as several other creative techniques. Susan participated and will be sharing what she learned later this month on the blog.
If you’re new to mosaic knitting, here are a few small projects to start with: in addition to the Labadee Cowl, we like Ambah O’Brien’s Astra Cowl, the Sarah Schira’s Ancyra Cowl, Angela Tong’s Miki, and Kirsten Kapur’s Swimming in Colors.
While accessories are a great way to get your feet wet, there are some pretty breathtaking examples of mosaic knitting. Lisa Hannes (Malihadesigns) has several gorgeous mosaic shawls. Our favorites are Liljana, Elegant Garland, Pauline’s Color Play, and the stunning Afternoon in Lisbon.
Andrea Mowry (dreareneeknits) is another designer whose recent patterns focus on mosaic, slipped stitch designs. She has a small cowl, The Shift, a larger shawl, Night Shift, and a cropped sweater, Shifty.
Other mosaic designs we love: Isabell Kraemer’s Copenhagen Calling, Purl Soho’s Mosaic Blanket, Natasja Hornby’s Lunae, and Irene Lin’s Boho Style Mosaic Cardigan.
The possibilities with mosaic knitting are endless, and we hope you're now inspired to take the plunge into learning this fabulous technique!