Tips with Trish – Mosaic Knitting

Happy New Year knitters! With the pressure of holiday gift knitting behind us (for a few months anyway!), it can be hard to muster up knitting mojo in January. One thing I’ve found that motivates me when I’m suffering from knitter’s burnout is a fun technique that doesn’t require a lot of effort and combines gorgeous colours to create an engaging pattern. Say hello to Mosaic knitting!

Invented by Barbara Walker in the ’60’s, Mosaic knitting is a brilliant way to add colour, texture and depth to your knitting while only ever working with one colour at a time. If you’re new to colourwork, this is the perfect place to start. For my samples, I worked swatches from Wendy Bernard’s The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary. With a full chapter on Mosaic knitting, including instructions for both flat and in the round, this book offers a great selection of fun patterns.

Mosaic knitting is achieved by knitting the stitches in one colour while slipping the stitches that will be worked in subsequent rows/rounds in the other colour. Each colour is used across two consecutive rows, and colours are changed at the beginning of rows so there is no need to break the yarn and no dreaded ends to weave in. Slipped stitches are always slipped purlwise and with the yarn held at the wrong side of the work. If it sounds simple. that’s because it is!

In Mosaic knitting, the first row/round is worked in the colour indicated in the pattern, and the second is worked in the same colour. In the swatch above, the stitches on the needles represent the first row in the dark colour. On the subsequent row/round, the same stitches will be knit and slipped as on the previous row/round. After working two rows/rounds in the dark colour, two rows/rounds will be worked in the light colour, and so on.

Choosing high contrast colours is the key to achieving great results in Mosaic knitting. The best way to ensure true colour contrast is to select colours from opposite sides of a colour wheel. Don’t have a colour wheel? Take a picture of the colours you want to use and then view it in black and white mode.

If you have visibly strong contrast in black and white, you can rest assured that your colours will work well for Mosaic knitting. In the photos above, I used Cascade 220 Heathers in 9455 – Turquoise Heather, 2448 – Mallard Heather, and 4002 – Jet Heather. The two shades of blue contrast very well in black and white, but the dark blue and grey have no contrast which tells me I should chose a lighter colour for the contrasting shade.

Our free Mosaic Cowl pattern is an excellent first project in Mosaic knitting. Knit in two shades of Estelle Alpaca Merino Chunky, the geometric pattern is rhythmic, and addictive and you’ll be surprised how quickly it knits up! Download your free copy here.

Perhaps the most popular example of Mosaic knitting is Andrea Mowry’s Nightshift. For those of you looking for a larger canvas on which to practice this intriguing technique, this gorgeous triangular shawl may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Once you’ve purchased your pattern online, head on over to your LYS and ask them to show you their Nightshift Shawl Kits. Each kit contains six skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash Wave, a machine washable wool that consists of multicoloured plies that gradually shift colour throughout the skein. With seven different kits to choose from, you’re sure to find one (or two or three) that are exactly your colours!

Be sure to post your finished projects and tag us on Facebook and Instagram, we love seeing what you’re working on!


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