Easy Colorwork Technique: Mosaic Knitting

Mosaic colorwork, a type of slip-stitch knitting, is one of easiest types of colorwork knitting to work. It creates so many possibilities for patterning, often combined with texture, while working with just one color at a time. Also stay tuned for our favorite mosaic colorwork knitting patterns after Amy’s tips!

I’m a huge fan of stranded colorwork, but mosaic knitting never really came onto my radar until I received a submission from Ann McDonald Kelly using this easy colorwork knitting technique.

I immediately fell in love with Ann’s use of a bold color motif to add interest to an otherwise simple scarf pattern. I thought “this is really cool, but doesn’t really fit in with what I have for Fall, so maybe I’ll build a story around it for Winter!”

Ann not only worked up the Neon Mosaic Scarf she submitted, as well as the Tessellating Leaves Stole (more on that later), she also wrote an excellent article breaking down mosaic knitting in a way I think anyone can understand. The trickiest part of mosaic knitting can be the charts—some people show each line of a chart, while others condense two lines into one, because each line is essentially the same. Ann explains the difference in charts and how to work them in her article in Knitscene Winter 2014.

In January 2014, I hosted a Tessellating Leaves Stole knitalong. Whether you’re a master of mosaic knitting or knitting your first colorwork project, you’ll have a great time working this colorwork technique.

Tessellating Leaves Scarf by Ann McDonald Kelly

You can also download Joanna Johnson’s excellent Mosaic Knitting Basics video. Joanna’s a frequent contributor to Interweave magazines as well as a wonderful knitting teacher, and I learned so much just from watching this video. Joanna walks us through the basics of mosaic knitting—if you can knit stripes, you can work mosaic colorwork—and talks about how to choose colors for mosaic projects. Included in the download is the pattern for her adorable Freddie’s Blanket, a plaid-like project suitable for beginners.

Want more slip-stitch colorwork tips? Learn exactly what it means to slip a stitch and how that turns into colorwork. Then check out Heather Zoppetti’s Pattern Play column for more advice on managing floats, as well as ways to modify the basic technique of slipping a stitch to create all kinds of amazing allover two-color textures.

Favorite Mosaic Knitting Patterns

These patterns are favorites with our editors and with knitters like you, selected for knitters of varying levels who are new to slip-stitch colorwork.

Bath Abbey Hat by Faina Goberstein
Helen Cowl by Rachel Brockman
Winter Sunset Shawl by Susanna IC
Wash Your Hands Towel by Quayln Stark
Quiet Nights Cowl by Jennifer Miller Comstock
Agatha Shawl by Mone Dräger
Winding Path Cowl by Joni Coniglio
Mulberry Slouch by Stefanie Bold
Ribboned Crop Top by Ellen Coy

We hope these ideas spark a desire to learn mosaic colorwork! Also check out our Interweave Favorites: Knitted Colorwork collection for more slip-stitch colorwork patterns, as well as stranded colorwork patterns.

Featured Image: Neon Mosaic Scarf by Ann McDonald Kelly

Originally published for web 10/2014. Updated 1/2021.

Start Knitting Mosaic Colorwork