Mosaic Knitting – Learn The Slip Stitch Knitting Technique

By Jodie Morgan

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Mosaic knitting or slip stitch knitting is a beautiful colorwork technique for colorful fabric patterns. Sound interesting? Read on.

Mosaic Knitting, Learn The Slip Stitch Knitting Technique

Frustrated Teacher Quits In Disgust, Sells The Farm, Moves The Family Halfway Across The World And… Starts Knitting

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Knit sweaters, socks, hats, pillows, scarves, and blankets Learn more about slip stitch colorwork, how to do do it, and recommended mosaic patterns.

I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on May 22, 2023.

Table Of Contents

Mosaic Knitting Origins

It’s been around for around 60 years. Most people haven’t heard of it. Intarsia and Fair Isle knitting are more commonly known.

What’s great about this knitting technique is you only knit with one color per row. It’s easier than other colorwork methods. It doesn’t have floats (the leftover yarn on the back of fair isle knitting).

I’ve made two mosaic knitted projects, the Kentia Wrap and the Slip Knit Love Shawl. I love how they turned out and the way they look.

Who Invented Mosaic Knitting?

An author, Barbara. G. Walker invented it in the 1960s. Every winter, she chose a new subject and learned all she could. When she was 35, learned to knit.

A close-up of my mosaic knitted shawl, the Kentia Wrap.
A close-up of my mosaic knitted shawl, the Kentia Wrap.

The Mosaic Knitting Technique: An Easy Guide For Knitters

To knit mosaic, you work with one color yarn per row. Let’s say color 1 is yellow and color 2 is purple. Work across a color row by knitting the stitches in color 1 and slipping the stitches in color 2. It’s an easy way to create colorwork patterns.

What Is Slip Stitch Knitting?

It’s a color technique used in knit projects. It’s unique among color methods as it’s based on two-row stripes. Two rows of one color, two rows of the other. Slip stitch knitting uses bright colors, two yarn types, and slip stitches.

Slip Stitch Abbreviations

  • wyif – with yarn in front
  • CC – contrast color
  • wyib – with yarn in back
  • sl (number of stitches) – slip (number of stitches)
  • MC – main color
Another section of my Kentia Wrap.
Another section of my Kentia Wrap.

Mosaic Knitting Tutorial

Here’s a basic tutorial to get you started with this technique.

  1. Gather your materials: You’ll need two contrasting colors of yarn so the pattern stands out. For the sake of this tutorial, let’s call them light and dark.
  2. Get to know the chart: For mosaic knitting, a chart is super handy. The chart will show the pattern in 19 stitches and include a selvedge stitch at each edge. Remember, these edge stitches should always match the color of the stripe you’re working on. Never slip the first or last stitch!
  3. Understand the pattern: Mosaic knitting is usually worked in stockinette stitch. This means that all right-side rows are knit, and all wrong-side rows are purled.
  4. Learn the stitch technique: When knitting right-side rows, from right to left, knit the selvedge stitch first. Then, knit the stitches that match the selvedge stitch color and slip the opposite-color stitches as if to purl, holding the yarn at the back of your work. On purl rows, work from left to right, purl the stitches that were knit on the previous row and slip the opposite-color stitches, holding the yarn at the front.
  5. Start the pattern: The fun begins at Row 3! Start with the light color yarn. Knit the selvedge stitch, then continue to knit the stitches shown as light on the chart, slipping the dark stitches. On Row 4, purl the light stitches and slip the dark ones.
  6. Switch colors: Now it’s time to switch back to the dark yarn. Work the next two rows, slipping the light stitches. Always carry the new color up under the previously used color along the edge of your work.
  7. Keep track of the pattern: Chart styles may differ – some show both right-side and wrong-side rows, others just show the right-side rows. In mosaic knitting, wrong-side rows mirror the right-side ones, so you only need to focus on the right-side rows. Make sure to identify the type of chart in your pattern!
  8. Experiment with your own designs: Go ahead, be creative! Play with color reversal, stitches, and new patterns. You never know what amazing designs you’ll come up with!
  9. Wrap it up: Finally, don’t forget to cast off and admire your gorgeous mosaic knitting project. I bet it’s stunning!

Remember, mosaic knitting might seem a bit tricky at first, but with practice, you’ll master it in no time! So, have fun and keep those needles clicking!

Though it may be tricky, there are many repeat rows in mosaic designs, giving you plenty of time to get familiar with the method.

How To Read Mosaic Knit Charts

Here’s a guide by Knitting with Suzanne Bryan.

Knitting Mosaic In The Round

Work rows from right to left as you always work on the right side. Using a mosaic chart? Read that right to left. Here’s a tutorial by The Chilly Dog.

Use a marker to track your progress so you have a better view of where you’re up to when you next come back to it.

Knitting Mosaic Chart Generator

Here is an excellent chart generator for knitting slipped stitches by Laura Kogler. If you use it, thank her!

A work in progress shot of my first mosaic knitted shawl.
A work in progress shot of my first mosaic knitted shawl.

Mosaic Patterns To Knit

Here are great knitting mosaic patterns and designs. You can also explore this knitting technique through online workshops.

A beautiful cowl free knitting pattern: the Tesserino Cowl by VeryPink Knits.

A lovely shawl – Etude NO 6 Shawl by ExpressionFiberArts

Pin Now to Save for Later

Mosaic Knitting Pin

FAQS About Mosaic Knitting

Is Making A Mosaic Knit Hard?

No, mosaic knitting isn’t hard. It’s one of the easiest colorwork techniques to learn. It’s great for beginners, as you only use one color (one strand of yarn) at a time.

Why Do Mosaic Colorwork?

Some people think mosaic colorwork is a substitute for stranded knitting (another type of colorwork). It’s a good alternative, but the two techniques are different. Mosaic is easier and more stretchy.

Is Mosaic Knitted Fabric Reversible?

It depends on whether you like the wrong side of mosaic knits. I think it looks better on the right side. The pattern is more defined on the right side, it often looks strange on the wrong side. Some mosaic patterns are reversible.

How To Fix Mistakes In Mosaic Knits?

Here is a video tutorial by WatchBarbaraKnit on Youtube.

How Do You Knit Different Colors In The Same Row?

Here’s a great video tutorial using two yarns by 10rowsaday on Youtube.

How Do You Slip Stitch In Knitting?

Step 1

  • Insert the right needle into the first stitch of the left needle
  • The pattern tells you to slip knitwise or purlwise.
  • To insert your needle knitwise, insert it as if you were going to knit
  • If you want to make a slip purlwise, insert your needle as if you were going to purl

Step 2

  • Now your right needle is inserted into the first stitch on your left needle
  • Without making a yarn over, transfer the stitch onto your right needle

You’ve completed your slipped stitches! For a visual guide, here is a video by NobleKnits.


If you have questions about this colorwork article, ask away below! If you’d like to learn more about the technique, check out my guide to related books about knitting. Want to see something new? Read my post on the loom knitting method.

About The Author

Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

Jodie Morgan (Author & Founder) | Lives In: Regional Australia

Author: Jodie Morgan is a passionate knitter and blogger with 40+ years of experience currently living in regional Australia. Taught by her mother and wonderful grandmother “Mama”, she fell in love with crafting from a young age. When she’s not knitting, you’ll find her enjoying a cup of coffee with cream, or sharing helpful resources and tips with the online knitting community. Get to know Jodie and the team on our meet the team page.

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Frustrated Teacher Quits In Disgust, Sells The Farm, Moves The Family Halfway Across The World And… Starts Knitting

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