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Mosaic Charts: How to only knit half the stitches and not read a wrong-side row

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Mosaic knitting is a technique that was invented by Barbara Walker and detailed in her book Mosaic Knitting. Essentially, mosaic knitting is a method of working with two intersecting colors within a knitted piece, but only using one color at a time. This is achieved by knitting some of the stitches and slipping some of the stitches with the yarn held on the wrong side of the work. The color alternates every two rows, so when you are slipping stitches, the alternate color from the row below is being pulled up into the current row. This gives the illusion of the knitting having two colors in one row, but really it doesn't.

Since only one color is being used in each row, mosaic knitting also lacks the restrictive "floats" that traditional color knitting has, which makes mosaic knitting much more elastic. And since each wrong-side row is worked the same as the right-side row, this color knitting technique is easy to accomplish when worked back and forth.

Mosaic charts may be represented as only the right-side rows, or as both the right-side and the wrong-side rows. When only the right-side row is represented on the chart, it is assumed that you know to repeat the right-side row backward as the following wrong-side row. These types of charts have the row numbers indicated on the right-hand side only; each row is numbered, but you will only see odd-rows numbers. This allows the pattern to appear more clearly on the chart and gives the knitter a "get out of chart reading free" card for the wrong-side rows.

One unusual feature of a mosaic chart is that the beginning of each row will have a color indicator. This is typically represented as a square of color, and it means that on that row you will knit all the squares of that color and slip all the squares of the contrast color. These indicator squares are separated from the chart by a single empty column so you can tell they are not really part of the chart, but simply a color indication.

Sample Chart

Begin by a casting on 18 stitches using the darker color, knit two rows; attach the lighter color and knit two rows.

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Now looking at the chart, we can see that there is a dark color indicated for Row 1 as seen by the dark square at the beginning of the row.

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Reading across Row 1 there are four dark squares, one light square, three dark squares, three light squares and seven dark squares.

The Main Rule: Knit the stitches that are the same color as the row's indicated color, slip the opposite color stitches with the yarn on the wrong side of the work tip to tip (purlwise).

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So, for Row 1 (RS): K4, slip 1, k3, slip 3, k7.

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For Row 2, the wrong-side row (this is where you use the "get out of chart reading free" card), simply knit the stitches that are the same color as the active yarn you are using and slip the opposite color stitches with the yarn in front.

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Row 3 has the lighter color indicated at the beginning of the chart, so bring the contrast color forward up under the main color, and then to the back of the work to begin knitting.

Reading across Row 3 there are five light squares, one dark, one light, one dark, three light, one dark, one light, one dark, four light.

The Main Rule again: Knit the stitches that are the same color as the row's indicated color, slip the opposite color stitches with the yarn on the wrong side of the work.

So, for Row 3: K5, slip 1, k1, slip 1, k3, slip 1, k1, slip 1, k4.

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And again, on the wrong-side row knit stitches that are the same color and slip the contrasting color with yarn in front.

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TIP: When casting on for a mosaic pattern, check which color is indicated for Row 1; either cast on using the opposite color or make sure that you work two rows of the opposite color before beginning the charted rows.