Mosaic knitting

      2 Comments on Mosaic knitting

You know what else I do that I don’t write about much here? Knitting. I don’t write much about knitting because I don’t think much about it, to be honest. I do knit, but I don’t think about it—mostly I knit as a thing to do that I don’t have to think about, while I’m watching television or whatnot. Which is terrific and all, but doesn’t make for much of a blog note.

Made a scarf.

Made another scarf, this time with stripes.

Made a scarf with self-striping yarn.

Made a scarf with diagonal stripes; too many ends to run in.

Made a scarf with Xs; that was OK.

Made a scarf with yarn-over holes in it; that looked odd.

Started a hat, didn’t finish it.

Made a plain scarf.

Made a scarf with stripes.

Yeah, I knit scarves, almost exclusively, and I generally give them away when I’m done with them. If I can’t find a taker amongst my friends and family, I put ’em on the mitten tree in December and they are taken away and probably given to somebody who needs a scarf and isn’t terribly choosy. I do try to make them nice-ish; one of the local groups has a standard knit-for-the-poor scarf with a standard yarn and pattern that I just dislike intensely, so after the first one I did for that group I abandoned them and struck out on my own. My technique is, pretty much, pick a yarn I like (or sometimes two or three) and start knitting. If I’ve got different colors, I’ll do some stripes or checkerboard or something that isn’t terribly complicated. I don’t usually write down a pattern of any kind; if it’s complicated enough for me to have to check my instructions to myself, it’s too complicated for me to bother with while I’m watching The Creature from the Pit. And then it’s not complicated enough for me to bother writing a note about. I don’t write about learning new things, because mostly I don’t learn new things.

I do read knitting blogs, though, such as Gentle Reader Gannet’s blog on String Geekery and Stephanie McPhee’s Yarn Harlot and occasionally a few others. And Gannet has written a few times about a thing called mosaic knitting which, it turns out, is not a complicated system for avoiding shatnez but a rather simple system for working in two colors without the complications of keeping tension even with stranded work or having to run in an infinite number of ends when the project is done. It came up again recently and I thought I should try that and, well, I tried it. And it’s pretty awesome, actually. I mean, the actual scarf that I made with the technique didn’t work out quite as well as I had hoped, but the technique seems easy and pleasant. The advantage of it, from my point of view, is that I only need to pay real attention every other row, and with many patterns, I may not need to pay attention even that often (if the pattern for a particular row is slip-every-other-stitch or even slip-every-fourth-stitch, it doesn’t require much attention). I’m looking forward to trying it again.

The thing about the technique is that it doesn’t work for all patterns equally; there are some patterns that are better suited to it than others. There are helpful websites, which gannet pointed to in some recent posts that I think might be interesting for non-knitters as well as knitters. Knitting is pretty much recreational math with pointy sticks, innit? Anyway, there’s Scott Pakin’s Create your own mosaic knitting patterns page, which has various tools for making sure that a pattern is viable and will look good, or for taking a non-viable pattern and making it work whilst still looking good. And there’s Laura Kogler’s Mosaic Knitting Pattern Generator, which is a marvelous thing. It starts with a randomly generated Mosaic pattern within some parameters you devise, and then you can ask it to do some things with it, such as mutate it by changing one stitch for every vertical repetition. The most interesting thing to me, which unfortunately seems to cause some problems with the programming, is her notion of a dissolve, where each vertical repetition introduces a minor alteration towards horizontal stripes. You can see (much of) one here to see what I’m talking about.

And that, to me, looks like an excellent pattern for a scarf. Doesn’t it?

Well, it does to me. With the two ends of the scarf in the complicated patterns dissolving up to horizontal stripes in the center (on the back of the neck). I tried it, not in red-and-white but in blue-and-black, and I’m currently at the nothing-but-stripes part. A few problems: I don’t really like the color scheme; I chose a loose tension that makes the scarf soft and flowing-feeling but makes the patterns messy-looking at the ends; this half of the scarf is almost five feet long and the design only works at all if it’s two matching halves. That’s only three problems, but they are pretty substantial problems. I will have to decide if I want to finish the other half of the scarf and have a long, kind of crappy-looking scarf to give away or rip it all out and do something else with the yarn.

Still, I have ideas for what to do with my next attempt.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

2 thoughts on “Mosaic knitting

  1. Dan P

    The pattern you linked looks like it would be beautiful, and please do post a picture if you finish one up to your satisfaction!

    1. Vardibidian Post author

      Thank you! At this point it looks likely that I will not finish that particular one, but I hope to knit a similar-ish one at some point soon, and if I do, I will attempt to photograph it.



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