Yarn: Rowan Creative Focus Worsted
Shade: Teal (03360)
Ravelry: Bobble Bathmat Teal
Last year my boyfriend and I bought our first home. All my life I’ve been a serial renter and have never actually made it to 2 years at any single address since I left home to go to university at the turn of the millennium! So I was indescribably excited that we would finally have a home that was ours and which we would definitely be in for some years to come, for many reasons but in particular because it would now actually be worth kitting out our home with things that matched, rather than cheap fixes which would do the job and hopefully work in the next place, and the next, and so on…
Obviously I was super excited to knit some things for the new house and so I started looking for some inspiration. The first place I looked was Cute Little Knits because I knew it had some lovely homeware items in it and also because Jem Weston is a good friend and so I would be very excited to make one of her designs as I hadn’t done so before. As soon as I turned to the page with the Bobble Bath Mat on it, I just knew it was destined for the new house. We bought a new build and during the construction process George and I had spent a very long afternoon at the sales office going over and over and over the options for bathroom tiles because there were so many. Plus we had to choose for two bathrooms and a downstairs WC, so it wasn’t even like we had to make our minds up only once! In the end we were very proud of our choices and I definitely couldn’t wait to see the bathrooms finished. For the family bathroom we’d chosen a mixture of white and dark grey tiles. I immediately knew that teal accessories would look fantastic in there and it just so happens that Creative Focus Worsted comes in the most amazing shade of teal. So I was sold!
I’d never worked with Creative Focus Worsted before and wow had I been missing out! It’s so soft and luxurious, and the colours are just divine. It is a very soft weave so just be careful you don’t split any stitches as that could be easily done. I’m definitely going to be using this yarn again in future!
The construction of the bathmat is done in three parts – first the centre panel which has a moss stitch top and bottom border (that’s American seed stitch), garter stitch main panel with lovely big bobbles on it. Then you knit separately two side panels in moss stitch and sew these on using mattress stitch. The side panels are a different number of rows in length to the main panel, which is intentional due to the fact that the mat needs to be felted. The main panel is garter stitch because the bobbles stand out better against that than they do on moss stitch. As garter stitch and moss shrink by different amounts when felted, the moss stitch edges are knitted to a different length to ensure that they felt down to the same size as the main garter stitch panel. That is why they have to be made separately and sewn on, so don’t be tempted to cut corners by sewing it all in one piece, or it will felt very badly out of shape!
So here is my mat, all made up.
Unfortunately I could see once I’d sewn it together that I cast on too tightly, which is a common fault in my knitting. I should cast onto two needles more often than I do. I’m just a bit complacent, I suppose!
And here is a close-up of the bobbles which I’m really pleased with. Just occasionally I can get my little camera to do great things! To make the bobbles you work into one stitch five times then turn and work twice before passing the extra 4 stitches back over the first.
When knitting the row following each row of bobbles, I often had trouble with my working yarn getting caught around the bobbles as I worked past them. I think this is probably most likely to happen if, like me, you are a continental knitter and so the yarn goes from the right needle to your left hand. English knitters wouldn’t have the same issue as the yarn wouldn’t go across the bobbles. Anyway, if you are leftie then just make sure you watch out for your yarn catching on the bobbles and make sure it’s properly snug between each stitch.
So now came time for the scary and magic part – felting! I’d never felted anything before so I was completely petrified that it would go wrong and I’d ruin this beautiful mat that I’d just spent a whole month knitting for our new home. But there was nothing for it except to be brave and go for it! Luckily I’d had a great tip from Jem when I was working on the project which I remembered to use before the mat went into the washing machine. To make sure that you get really nice bobbles after felting, you need to get them to stand up as much as possible beforehand. As Jem so elegantly put it – tweak those nipples! So I went down every bobble, pinched it between my thumb and forefinger and gave it a pull/twist. You can really see the difference as you go down the mat so I fully advise doing this right before it goes in the wash.
I put the mat into a standard wash cycle at 30C as advised in the pattern and then paced nervously round the house as it spun. At this point I totally envied anyone with a top-loading washing machine – with a front-loader you’ve got no option but to wait for the cycle to end and hope for the best…
Luckily Jem’s design and my washing machine were a match made in heaven, and I almost cried with relief when this perfectly felted bath mat emerged!
It’s still a little damp in these pictures as I didn’t have the patience to wait for it to be completely dry before I photographed it, I was just too excited! The eagle-eyed among you may spot the one row I did wrong, but that’s the charm of a hand made item in my opinion. You will need to pull it to shape a bit when it comes out of the wash, but that’s easily done. And it evens out very well as it dries, mine actually looks a bit better now than it did when I took these.
The bobbles weren’t all completely even after felting, but I still think they look brilliant.
Best of all, I can’t describe how soft this mat is on my feet when I get out of the shower, it’s complete luxury! I don’t think I will ever use a bath mat that I like more than this one. Luckily I managed to have it finished just a week before we moved house and I was so happy when I put it in the new bathroom along with the matching blind, toothbrush cup, soap dispenser, pedal bin, toilet brush and eventually a whole new set of towels. It looks amazing! I have a second one planned in grey for the en-suite bathroom and I can’t wait to go again with all the experience I now have with this design.
If you only knit one homeware item this year, I would highly recommend you make it this one.