A Guide to Mosaic Knitting in the Round

A Guide to Mosaic Knitting in the Round

Mosaic knitting in the round opens up a seamless world of colourful patterns and textures, perfect for projects like hats, socks, and sweaters. This technique allows for the creation of detailed designs with minimal fuss, using only one colour at a time. Here's what you need to know to apply mosaic knitting effectively in circular projects.

Essential Tips

If you're new to mosaic knitting, you may like to take a look at our introductory article and video tutorial that outline the fundamentals of this colorwork technique. Working in the round requires a slightly different approach, but the main advantage here is the seamless pattern creation, which is ideal for many types of projects. Here are key considerations when applying mosaic knitting in the round:
  • Continuous Rounds: Unlike flat knitting, where you work back and forth, knitting in the round involves joining your work and knitting continuously on the right side only. 
  • Seamless Joins: When changing colours in the round, you may notice a slight "jog" or step at the join. To minimise this, ensure the yarns are tensioned correctly when switching colours, taking any slack out of the stitches but not pulling these tight.
  • Markers Are Your Friend: Use stitch markers to denote the beginning of a round and any pattern repeats. This makes it easier to keep track of where you are in your project.
  • As Easy As Knit, Knit, Slip: The majority of mosaic knitting in the round is worked in stockinette, therefore every round will simply have knits and slips.  This make for a quick and easy project, especially as the second round of each colour will be identical to the first.  Working garter stitch however, involves knitting the first round of stitches and purling the second.  In this case it's important to bring the yarn between the stitches to the front (not over the top) to purl, then back between the stitches to slip.
  • Needle Size: It is crucial when choosing circular needles for your project that you don't overstretch the project.  Err on the side of caution and pick a size smaller.  For example, if your finished project will have a 60cm circumference, select 40cm circular needles.
  • Manage Your Tension: Keeping an eye on your tension, especially when slipping stitches. Too tight, and your fabric will pucker; too loose, and your work may look sloppy.

Reading Mosaic Knitting Charts

Charts for mosaic knitting provide a visual representation of the pattern, showing both colours and which stitches to knit, purl or slip. Reading charts for knitting in the round involves a few key points:

  • Right to left: As you're always working on the "right" side of the fabric, mosaic patterns for circular knitting are designed to be read from right to left for every round, as this mimics the direction you knit.
  • Chart Symbols: Sometimes, one row on the chart will represent two rounds of knitting so ensure you check the numbers on the right as a guide.  Familiarise yourself with the chart's legend, which will indicate the stitches for first and second rounds. 
  • Colour Coding: The coloured boxes and letters to the right of the pattern reference which yarn should be used - commonly represented with an A or B.  Before you begin, note which you would like to be yarn A and which yarn B so that you can easily track this in the pattern.  Remember that simply because yarn A may be shaded darker within the pattern, is not a requirement for this to be a darker yarn.

In mosaic knitting, especially when working in the round, understanding repeats is also an essential skill for executing patterns correctly.

  • Look for repeat markers in the chart. These are often shown with bold lines or brackets. The section within these markers is what you'll repeat around your project.
  • There will likely be both stitch repeats (within each row) and also pattern repeats over a number of rows.

Converting Charts

Adapting a flat mosaic pattern for circular knitting is possible with some minor adjustments:
  1. The easiest way to convert a pattern is by using a chart.  If you don't have one then it is recommended to create one.
  2. Isolate the stitch repeat so that you can eliminate any selvedge stitches. These are likely added for seaming so will not be required when knitting in the round.  This will change the number of cast on stitches so adjust accordingly. 
  3. Reverse the stitches on the "wrong" side rows.  This simply means changing purls to knits and vice versa.  A slip with yarn in front is now a slip yarn at back. This only applies to the second round of each colour, which would have been a wrong side row if knit flat.
Mosaic knitting in the round is a worthwhile technique to add to your knitting toolbox. It allows for the creation of intricate, colourful patterns with a straightforward approach. With practice and patience, you'll find mosaic knitting in the round both enjoyable and rewarding.
If you fancy putting these new skills into practice, take a look at our current range of Mosaic Knitting patterns.

Happy Knitting 🧶
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