Mosaic knitting: much easier than it looks.

This beautiful new hat pattern from my friend Sarah looks complicated, doesn’t it? It’s called Mighzal (Ravelry link), which means spindle in Arabic. She took the concepts of using writing as decoration on spindle whorls and the concept of a Kufic square, which rotates the same word around the four sides of a square to make a complex looking tile, to create a hat pattern which will let the wearer proclaim their love for spindles.

mighzalIt looks really difficult, but is only a step up in difficulty from knitting a hat with two-row stripes. The technique of mosaic knitting, refined by Barbara Walker, lets the knitter not only work with only one color at a time, but count stitches only on every other row because the first row in each stripe defines quite clearly what happens in the second row.

Here, let me show you with a swatch:


This pattern is “Yang and Yin, or Endless Branch” from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. (This volume is a little more difficult for mosaic knitters as none of the patterns is charted; mosaic charts are a sneaky treasure, in my opinion.)

The next row of the pattern is a green stripe. Yes, stripe. The only color yarn I will knit with is green.


I knit the first three stitches, all green, then the next color in the design is purple, so instead of knitting the next two stitches, I slip them from the purple row below. Anywhere this row calls for green stitches, I knit them with my working yarn. Anywhere it calls for purple, I slip them from the previous row. (Note that this requires that there *be* purple stitches there. This is a design limitation, but not something you have to worry about when knitting someone else’s pattern, if they’ve done it right.)

20130917-121424.jpgHere I’ve gotten to the end of the row. All green stitches were knit; all purple stitches were slipped. Note that my purple yarn is going to be carried up the right side of these two rows.
All right so far, but what about the second row?

20130917-123723.jpgOn the needle are some green stitches and some purple ones. When I come to a green stitch, I will purl it with my green yarn. When I come to a purple one, I will slip it, with the yarn in front because the floats stay on the wrong side in mosaic knitting. (If I were knitting in the round, I would have left the right side facing me and knit any green stitches and slipped any purple ones.)


And here we are, the second row of green yarn complete. The next row will have me knitting with purple; any slipped stitches will be green.

See? Not so bad. Now go have another look at Mighzal (Ravelry link) and see what you think.