Mosaic Knitting Week 1: History and Your First Homework!

Hello knitters! My name is Christy Furlan, I’m the designer behind Yarning for Whimsy. I started designing about a year and a half ago and, since then, have fallen head-over-heels for mosaic knitting.

I’ve designed five different items using mosaic knitting thus far – with a good deal more brewing in my head for the future.

One of these designs, the Mr. Wednesday Shawl, will be the focus of our upcoming KAL. I can’t wait to see what special flair each of you will bring to the pattern!

I have found that I love discovering color pairings that can brilliantly play off of each other in a mosaic pattern.

And who’dve thunk? I was never really one for colorwork before I dove off the designing deep end.

To tell you the truth, even though I’ve been knitting for about 8 years now, I hadn’t even heard of mosaic knitting before I decided to try my hand at designing.

When I did, I bought a ton of stitch dictionaries – one of which was Barbara Walker’s A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

Inside this fabulous book (which I recommend to anyone interested in designing), Ms. Walker features a few mosaic knitting stitch patterns.

The moment I flipped to the first mosaic knitting page, I wanted to cast on immediately. The patterns were so interesting and different than what I expected from colorwork – I couldn’t resist!

When I cast on to try out this new technique, I was even more impressed by how easy the colorwork was.

Since then, I have seen mosaic knitting called “lazy Fair Isle” and now I know that it couldn’t be a more apt name!

With this method, you get beautiful, intricate color patterns without all of the complexities of Fair Isle or intarsia – no working with two colors at once, no long floats, and no bobbins! When working a mosaic pattern, you use only one yarn color at a time. With this single color, you knit or purl some stitches and slip others to create the colorwork pattern.

Gorgeous and simple – it really doesn’t get any better than that!

But where did mosaic knitting come from?

We owe it all to Barbara Walker. She is the innovator behind mosaic knitting (and a lot of other techniques – she’s pretty much a knitting superhero). After experimenting with a few mosaic knitting patterns featured in her earlier books, Ms. Walker wrote a stitch dictionary devoted entirely to her newly coined term, Mosaic Knitting.

This book has over 200 original mosaic knitting patterns of all shapes and sizes, each illustrated on a new type of chart of Ms. Walker’s own devising.



In the book, Ms. Walker discusses the basics of the technique and ways to change it up and expand upon it. It’s a fascinating look into the development of an entirely new knitting technique.

I highly recommend this book if you are at all interested in designing your own mosaic knitting patterns!

Now, mosaic knitting has expanded beyond those first 200 or so stitch patterns developed by Ms. Walker. There are now websites that can help designers create their own mosaic knitting patterns while making sure their ideas stay within the rules of the technique.

I find it a challenging but very fun activity to try to create new mosaic knitting charts from the ideas in my head. It’s like writing a sonnet in stitches – you have to follow the rules carefully but, once you wrap your head around the restrictions, the colors start to flow together like magic.

Sometimes forcing oneself to work inside a tight set of rules can force the mind to open up to new possibilities!

Next week, we’ll get into how to choose the perfect yarns for a mosaic knitting pattern. In the meantime, here’s your Challenge for the Week:

Mosaic knitting has certainly become a popular technique of late. It even has its own attribute selector on Ravelry!

What mosaic knitting designs have you seen pop up recently? Which are your favorites? Why? Post some of the most eye-catching in the comments!

About the Author

The Founder of Yarn Academy Babs is all about inspiring others to find their creative juices. Babs finds it exhilarating to learn as many new techniques and skills as humanly possible and explore the entire world of yarn. Babs is always looking for the win win solution to any situation so we can all grow together in the wonderful world of fibre and colour.

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