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What Is Mosaic Knitting? An Introduction to Color-Knitting’s Best Kept Secret

Blog » Beginner Knitting » What Is Mosaic Knitting? An Introduction to Color-Knitting’s Best Kept Secret

What Is Mosaic Knitting? An Introduction to Color-Knitting’s Best Kept Secret

Liat Gat - Founder

March 22, 2015

Mosaic knitting is a beginner technique that make advanced-looking color designs simple. To get you inspired, here are a range of Mosaic knitting projects from beginner to advanced. Invented by prolific designer Barbara Walker in the 1970's.

Welsh Blanket Boomerang by Susan Ashcroft

Mosaic Knitting – Color-Knitting’s Best-Kept Secret

What is mosaic knitting, you ask? I don’t blame you for wondering. Mosaic knitting is a little-known yet wonderful and easy way of knitting with two colors.

Mosaic knitting is so easy that anyone can do it. That’s because you never have to knit with two colors at once, which makes it perfect for beginners (or anyone who has not yet tried color-knitting).

Mosaic 2
A beginner mosaic pattern

Speaking of not trying color-knitting, most knitters wait far too long to make the attempt, thinking that it’s hard. But even if you think you’re ready for color knitting, it’s hard to know where to you jump in and start. The answer, as you might have guessed, is mosaic knitting.

Slipping Stitches Makes the Color Design

Mosaic 1
Like all mosaic knitting, this swatch uses only 1 color at a time

If you can knit and purl, you can do mosaic knitting.

I’ll show you how to do basic mosaic knitting in my next blog post.

For now, just know that the only other technique you need to know besides knitting and purling is super-easy: slipping stitches.

How to Slip a Stitch in Knitting

How to Slip a Stitch in Knitting – Sl 1

Instructions: To slip a stitch, abbreviated “Sl 1,” insert the right-hand needle into the stitch as if to purl (with needles tip-to-tip), and slide the stitch from the left-hand needle to the right needle without knitting or purling it.

Animated demo of how to slip a stitch in knitting
How to Slip a Stitch in Knitting

It’s absolutely this easy. And now that you can knit, purl, and slip a stitch from one needle to the other, you’re ready to see why it’s worth learning mosaic knitting.

What Can You Make With Mosaic Knitting?

Welsh Blanket Boomerang by Unitwo
Mosaic knitting makes playing with color easy

Why would you learn mosaic knitting, you might wonder? What if you are not a beginner – is it still a good choice? And can you truly knit anything cool with it?

After delving deeply into all aspects of mosaic knitting over the past months, I can tell you that the answer is Yes!

Mosaic Knitting Patterns for Beginners

The cool thing about mosaic knitting is there’s something for everyone. If you’re a beginner, you can start out and, with very little practice, knit cool stuff like the dishcloth below or this trio of dishcloths.

Ballband mosaic dishcloth by Nokkis
An Easy 6-Row Mosaic Pattern: Ballband Dish Cloth

See the textured, almost “woven” look? It’s not a must for mosaic knitting, but there’s not really any way to get this same textured effect without mosaic knitting.

Textured fabrics and geometric patterns are where mosaic knitting truly shines.

A zigzag striped pillow with a self-striping yarn
Stripes Brigade Easy Mosaic Throw Pillow Pattern

Even as a beginner you’ll also be able to knit my own Stripes Brigade mosaic throw pillow pattern (above), included in my upcoming Fantastic Mosaics video ebook (more on that below).

Mosaic Projects for Intermediate and Advanced Knitters

If you’re an intermediate knitter, you can make color-knit fingerless mitts, hats, blankets, and triangular shawls without having to read charts or do Fair-Isle knitting or Intarsia.

Mosaic Fingerless Mitts
“Prickly” by Melissa J. Goodale – Easy mosaic plus Knitting in the Round

If you’re an advanced knitter or you’ve done Fair-Isle knitting before, knitting from Mosaic Charts will be a new kind of challenge for you. Once you learn it, you can knit sweaters, socks, shawls, and blankets with this technique – all without having to hold and manage multiple strands of yarn at once..

Dovetail Shawl by Judy Marples
Mosaic charts + self-striping yarn = gorgeousness

All it takes is learning how to think about charts in a new way – mosaic charts don’t show you the color you’re to knit with, but whether or not to slip a stitch.

Experienced knitters will enjoy studying mosaic knitting in-depth and getting to the core of how mosaic charts work (and how they make you a total charts ninja when you’re done!).

Fun Projects You Can Knit With The Mosaic Knitting Technique – Beginner to Advanced

Mosaic Knitting - Patterns to Try

Cick to follow my Mosaic Knitting pinboard on Pinterest

From top, counter-clockwise:

  1. Sprocket Baby Blanket – a flat charted design
  2. Ballband Dishcloth – a beginner dishcloth pattern (no chart)
  3. Mosaic Socks – a simple charted pattern in the round
  4. Interpolate Shawl – a charted shawl that you can get a kit for on Etsy

Can you believe all these projects were knitted with just one yarn at a time? It’s hard to imagine it, but that’s the beauty of mosaic knitting.

I give you lots more suggestions for mosaic patterns for practice in my upcoming mosaic knitting video class, Fantastic Mosaics (see below).

It’s Ok If You’ve Never Heard of Mosaic Knitting – Neither Had I!

For some reason, mosaic knitting is a little-known style of color knitting. Even many experienced knitters have never tried it.

I first tried a mosaic knitting pattern when my roommates and I embarked on an adventurous mosaic-knit Christmas stocking spree inspired by the Family of Funky Stockings from Handknit Holidays one winter.

I only wish I had known then what I know now from putting together this video class, especially about tension and choosing yarn!

ill-fated mosaic Christmas stocking spreeIf you look at my picture, you’ll see that I did not do a good job choosing the contrasting color. The problem is that it exactly matches one of the colors in the self-striping yarn – a big no-no because you can’t see the pattern. You can’t tell from here, but my tension was not great, either. Luckily, you’ll get to learn from my mistakes!

My ambitious first attempt aside, I’m convinced that mosaic knitting is the perfect way to introduce new knitters to color-knitting.

In my next blog post, I’ll give you an easy pattern with which to try out mosaic knitting, plus a video and photo tutorial from the course so you can get a taste of that, too.

Coming Soon: Fantastic Mosaics –
KnitFreedom’s New Mosaic Knitting Video Class

Intrigued? You’ll be learning all this and more in my upcoming video class, Fantastic Mosaics, coming March 28th.

The cover of KnitFreedom's mosaic knitting video ebook

Stay tuned (and be sure you’re signed up for the newsletter) because not only will you get an email when this new course is available, you’ll learn how to join the giveaway for a free copy plus more prizes (and one-on-one time with me!).

Leave a Comment

What is your experience with Mosaic Knitting? Have you ever heard of it? Done it? Have a project you’d like to try? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.

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53 thoughts on “What Is Mosaic Knitting? An Introduction to Color-Knitting’s Best Kept Secret”

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  1. I have learned so much from you especially about trying new things. I am 71 and started knitting again a few years ago. Been trying my hand at Fair Isle and Intarsia. Fun but requires great concentration.
    Have heard of mosaic knitting but had in mind Mosaic tiles.Lots of pieces to put together. This sounds exciting. I’m looking forward to it. LOL I am staying with my 96 year old mother. I can hear her already. What do you need another course for? You still haven’t finished my socks. Love ya!

  2. I have been knitting for nearly 7 years. I finally tried stranded knitting this year before Christmas, made hats for each grandchild, which turned out quite well, for a noob. I am inspired by your blog on these other variations on color knitting. Mosai and slip-stitch, here I come! Thank you, Liat!

  3. This is one of those techniques that looks much more complicated than it is. People are very impressed by it, but it’s not that hard.

  4. Hello Liat!
    I’ve tried 2-colour knitting before with dubious and in 2 cases very laughable results. My knitting kept getting narrower and narrower … truly humorous, if it weren’t for the fact I bought the yarn and pattern as a kit. 14 colours, 9 pattern blocks, and not one ended up being a block! Can you say trapezoid? Perhaps parallelogram? I knew you could.
    You’ve helped me overcome and rise above some bad knitting habits in the past, so with your help I’ll give mosaic knitting my best efforts again … maybe even complete my kit!

    1. Hi Steve! You’ve got me laughing and smiling over here to think of your “blocks” project, because it reminds me of my first Fair-Isle project.

      I was knitting a Fair-Isle mitten and didn’t realize I was pulling the yarn too tight. The stitches were so tight that kept going down a needle size to be able to fit the needles into them. By the time I finished the mitten the bottom was the size of an adult mitten and the tip would fit a child! No amount of blocking could rescue it.

      Will you post a link to the kit and pattern you are talking about? I’d love to see it. And in any case, I know that together we can help you overcome your two-color curse… ;)

      1. Steve, I can laugh wholeheartedly with you. Have just finished a pair of socks for my self and was concentrating very hard on maintaining tension and even stitches. I congratulated myself on how well they looked. the foot was fine. The heel and leg were a masterpiece of even stitches. THEN I tried to put them on. That’s right tried. The beautiful heel would not go over mine. I could not get them on.,.Good thing to have a sense of humor.

  5. New to color knitting and have always been intimidated by Fair Isle. Am so excited to learn Mosaic Knitting to take my knitting to the next level.
    Thank you for making learning how to knit a fun and easy!

  6. I adore mosaic knitting! I’ve done it for probably 25 years. Love the pattern development ease and how subtle or bold doesn’t matter, the results are beautiful! I’ve always used handspun, and love the unpredictability of the colour shifts. So glad Barbara’s work is once again coming to the fore!!

  7. Liat, I am incredibly excited to try mosaic knitting. Your blog and videos have helped and improved my knitting abilities so much.
    As Minneta mentioned her inability to read charts, I too have been unable to figure them out. Looking forward to the chart reading video as well. Thank you!

  8. Glad to see you doing this. I have tried slip stitch knitting, now with a fancier name and liked it. However, my brain does not wrap around reading the charts well and look forward to your clear teaching on this aspect of the technique.

    1. Hi there,

      I know what you mean about the charts. I hope you like the video I have prepared for you on mosaic charts – it’s very thorough!

      I’m excited because I put picture-in-picture images of the chart itself and the pieces that I’m referring to next to my hands in the video as I’m knitting, so you’ll easily be able to follow along with what I’m doing.

  9. I’m hoping that I will be able to reproduce Blackwork stitches using the Mosaic Knitting technique, once I learn it. It looks perfect for Blackwork. I am SO in love with geometric patterns! Thank you once again for providing a fascinating learning tool and technique for us lovely knitters.

  10. Hi Liat! The only color knitting I have done is just breaking off and starting the new color. I have felt a bit intimidated to do the true color knitting, but since you say the Mosaic Knitting is a breeze, I am very interested in trying it out! I looked at the dishcloth pattern, and it does not say when to join the other color (at the beginning) – but I’m sure you will tell us soon – can’t wait:-).
    Thank you!


    1. Hi Sheree,

      Mosaic knitting is perfect for you! It’s literally the next baby step after making stripes, which you can do. And mosaic knitting is a great way to get ready for stranded colorwork (Fair-Isle and Intarsia).

      I know you’re going to love it!

  11. Hmm, ok, a challenge. This I will try.

    BTW, I’ve never done any ‘colorwork’ aside from stripes in a scarf. :)

  12. I have heard about Mosaic Knitting but always thought it was difficult. I am now 75 years young but willing to learn more . I have previously done, many years ago, fair Isle Knitting but not done any lately.

  13. I just discovered Mosaic knitting. I’ve done a couple of simple hats following a pattern, but would love to learn how to create my own designs. I’ve trying “winging it” and the results aren’t quite what I expected. There are clearly tips and tricks that I need to learn.

    1. Hi Eden,

      Mosaic knitting is perfect for creating your own designs because there is no difference in gauge from mosaic knitting to Stockinette stitch. That, plus the fact that you can do a mosaic pattern over any number of stitches, means that you can insert a mosaic motif just about anywhere without doing any math.

      Once you work through the charts portion of my Fantastic Mosaics video class, you’ll be ready to write your own patterns and charts.

      I also recommend you look into Barbara Walker’s book, Mosaic Knitting. It was her passion to add mosaic charts to pattens and create her own designs.

  14. Liat, plain and simple I do not know or understand how to read a chart. Do you have an easy to understand explanation or know where I could get more info? I have discovered I am limited in my knitting because of my inability.
    thank you for your time

    1. Hi Minneta,

      I think learning to read charts is so important! I am actually working on a new video course right now that will teach you how to read every kind of chart, from knit-and-purl charts to cables, lace, color knitting of all kinds, and any other kind of chart you can think of.

      I look forward to sharing the class with you! It may come out around July or August.

  15. Barbara LeBlanc

    Hi Liat, I took my first Mosaic knitting class at Stitches West this year with Margarite Fisher. It was really fun and I love how easy it is. I am really looking forward to getting your video class on this to add to my other classes I have purchased from you. You are a wonderful teacher and anytime I can’t remember a technique, all I have to do is look it up on one of your classes I already have, and review it to refresh my memory. As I get older, I find that having the video classes helps me jog my memory so I can be successful in my knitting. I’m excited about this new Mosaic knitting because it is so much fun and looks far more complicated than it is.

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Thank you for your sweet comment! I’m so glad you love my classes and they are helping you succeed in knitting. I really appreciate your loyalty and your enthusiasm.

      I look forward to hearing how you do with the mosaic knitting! Keep me posted :)


  16. I have done both mosiac and fair isle, and I love color knitting – any way. Each row adds a bit to the pattern, and choosing colors is fun. I would agree with you that mosiac knitting is easy to do and makes a good introduction to more complex color knitting, such as fair isle.

  17. I have done Fairisle knitting before, carrying the yarn across, sometimes too tight! I am willing to give this a try for sure. Look forward to the next blog post Liat! Thanks for sharing your wonderful talent with us.
    Have a great creative day!

  18. Marlene Dufresne

    Many years ago I found a pattern for a lovely afghan with irises in mosaic knitting. I made one and had

  19. I printed the Peaches & Crème dishcloth pattern, but it doesn’t say how or where to attach Color B. It is just tied on at the beginning of Row 3?

    1. You actually don’t need to tie it on, just start knitting with it at the beginning of Row 3. Leave a 6-inch tail hanging down for weaving in later.

      Wednesday’s blog post will cover this, too. :)

  20. Hi Liat. I’ve made the slip stitch dishcloth before several years ago. I’ve been wanting to learn to do color knitting, so this is timely for me. Looking forward to learning with you.

  21. Yes I’ve tried it. Very relaxing and puts rhythum into ones hectic lifestyle.
    Did Judy Maples, Dovetail Shawl on . :)
    Love your pictures of mosaic work. Can’t wait for more info and hopefully the patterns will be made available.

  22. I done this type of knitting before but did not know it had a name. I just learned it as 2 color knitting. I’ve done dishcloths but nothing like fingerless gloves or larger projects. I am excited to learn to do these. thank you for you wonderful website and tips.

  23. I have knit dozens of the ball and dishcloth. They are sturdy, colorful, and all that texture is great for wiping down counters. For a more challenging knit, I made the Byzantine wrap by Susan Pandorf. The pattern is available on Ravelry. It was a bit tricky at first but once I got the groove it went well. It turned out beautiful and I always get compliments on it. It used Noro Silk Garden and I occassioally had to break one of the yarns and move to a new color when the colors were too close.

  24. Hi Liat
    I have done colour knitting before but it was a long time ago. I made my son a pair of sock with little dancing Peruvian maids on them, they were so gorgeous. Sad to say he didn’t wear them for long and he couldn’t get them on now, he’s 36!!!

  25. I’m 60 and have taken up knitting again a year ago. Knitting with more than 3 or 4 colours in broad stripes was an achievement but, to knit colours in the way you’re showing is, for me, terrifying. I will try it, though I’m not promising it will look any where near as good as yours. Thank you for showing the way. K.N.I.T.

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