Mosaic Madness!

On Monday, on my way to swimming, I popped off for a coffee first.  Opposite my seat there was a small gap and through it I could just make out a magazine shop opposite.  And through that little gap, what did I see?  A large rack devoted to knitting, crochet and crafting magazines!  What luck!

I leafed through a few magazines and found “Knitscene” the most interesting as it had a chapter on a technique I’d never seen before: mosaic.  Now, it is Saturday morning and, in between working, playing music and training, I have managed to get into the techniques and have become quite addicted!

On Friday, I popped into Eken’s Garn which is situated dangerously close to where I have swimming/ physiotherapy training.  It is pretty hard to resist going past this cosy shop full of colourful delights.  I met a lady, Maria, dressed in a lovely hand-made colourful cardigan which immediately gave herself away as an excellent crafter as well as seller of yarn delights.  We found by talking 50/50 English and Swedish that we could find the right yarn for a larger project in the magazine.  The suggested colour was teal blue on grey but, at Maria’s suggestion, I went for a similar blue hue contrasting with a mustard yellow.  I also went for rather yummy alpaca yarn (Alpakka Ull by Sandes Garn) and bought some splendid “Luxus fur die Hände” German “Addi” circular needles, size 4.5mm.  We took the chance – as fellow yarn obsessives – to exchange website information – she also runs knitting courses and has a Ravelry page.

Unlike stranded knitting, mosaic knitting involves using two tones but you knit one colour and slip stitch the other from the row below.  On the wrong side, you just purl the colour you were on and continue slipping those slipped from before, making sure the yarn is behind the work. It means you change colour every two rows and that means one yarn strand stays at the start each time, while one is worked and stitches slipped to follow the pattern.  As there were 269 stitches I thought I might be lazy and try garter stitch, i.e. knitting every row without a purl return, but the result was not as effective.  I undid my first rows and started again back into stocking stitch.

The first swatch I made turned out to be the ideal starting point for making a trombone case marker for my dear friend, Ann, who plays in my orchestra, where I play clarinet.  She and another musician have exactly the same type of case and sometimes get confused so I suggested I could make her a little knitted something to mark it out as hers.  The small swatch I made to learn the technique was 2 times through the chart, but the second time reversing the colours (i.e. main colour became contrast and vice versa), then sewed up the sides and put in a bit of stuffing, then a small crochet edge and handle plus crochet “button” to fix it to the case.

The blue-grey mix mosaic is a smaller piece which I may make into a little purse.  While I make up my mind I still have the hundreds of stitches to keep my going on the scarf project!

These are the pros and cons that I have found so far using this mosaic technique:

Pros:
Works well on straight knitting (useful as I only really do colour stranded knitting on the round),

It looks effective and the patterns can be intricate.

As you only work with one yarn at a time, the strands become less tangled than when doing double stranded knitting which requires constant weaving behind the work.

Potentially the fabric is not so dense as double stranded knitting without the weaving behind the work.

Quick to learn, for a relatively experienced knitter.

It inspires: both the knitter – and those around her, going by nice comments at work and on Facebook. 🙂

A great starting point for more design ideas and creativity.

Requires concentration – a challenge.

It is highly addictive!

Cons:

It is highly addictive!

Requires concentration – not easy to talk at the same time.

For a less experienced knitter, the chart might be confusing at first.

The slip stitches can stretch between rows making it harder to keep the tension and to keep it even.

The fabric tends to curl a lot (hence handsome Swedish hand in photo).

One of the magazine patterns was called a “Ravenna Cowl” and when I mentioned it to aforementioned handsome (and clever) Swede he immediately pointed me to a website showing pictures of the Ravenna mosaics in Italy.  I have included a picture here but it is well worth looking online for more images for inspiration.

Happy mosaic madness!

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