Sunday, March 28, 2010

Experiments in Mosaic Knitting

Although there has been radio silence on this blog recently the knitting has continued apace.

Lately I've become interested in mosaic knitting, a technique I believe was invented by Barbara Walker and was written up in her book, Mosaic Knitting. The fabric is created by knitting with one color at a time for two consecutive rows, (the first row is knit and the second can be purled to create a textured look), and then changing to the second color which is also knit and then purled for two consecutive rows. Stitches are slipped in a pattern in order to create the desired design. It is different from stranded knitting in that you are never carrying two yarns at once. To my eye the results are graphic and striking.

Because I am also continuing in my sock craze, I have been experimenting with mosaic knitting as applied to socks. So before starting my latest pair of socks I worked up a sampler to decide upon a design.

Before knitting the sampler I was convinced that this yarn, Classic Elite Alpaca Sox in Carousel, would be gorgeous in the flower pattern with a grey background. However, as you can see it just laid there with no pop at all. I then tried white which did allow the flower design to come to the fore but the color combination just seemed boring to me. The pattern was also much too "fiddly" for me to tolerate for the duration of two socks.

I then decided to try out a mosaic pattern used by Charlene Schurch in her Sensational Knitted Socks: Caesar's Check. It's a very striking pattern and works well with the mosaic knitting technique. Here it is paired with black.

As an aside, I feel compelled to mention that that rhythm of this pattern, Caesar's Check, is in sevens. There are seven stitches in each section and seven rows to complete each part of the pattern. I followed this through by knitting seven repeats of the pattern so there would be continuity. This kind of pattern rhythm is something I've noticed that occurs in knitting. It isn't visible to the naked eye per se, but is a notable part of the experience in creating the fabric.

And, without further delay, here are the socks themselves:

Please excuse the blindingly white winter skin! Also, the wide black area near the toe on the right sock was done intentionally to widen the sock at that point. I thought it would be an interesting touch, but once the sock was done it just looked like a mistake.

Overall, I am satisfied with the results. The mosaic (garter stitch) legs of the socks are soft, flexible and comfortable. The feet fit me perfectly and I like the vertical stripes (as opposed to the horizontal stripes called for in the pattern).


Completed: March 27, 2010
Yarns: Classic Elite Alpaca Sox in Carousel and Malabrigo in Black
Pattern: Caesar's Check by Charlene Schurch in Sensational Knitted Socks

I've already  moved on to more experimentation with mosaics in black and white. Working as a professional in an urban area on the East Coast means wearing lots of black. So, I've been attempting to come up with a sock design in black and white that could pass muster in an office setting. Here's what I have so far.

Not sure how well this works. Stay tuned...