This is what I think they’re thinking of
Pattern: Absorba, The Great Bathmat (Ravelry link) by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne
Yarn: Peaches & Creme Double Worsted (100% cotton), Daisy Ombre colorway
Needles: U.S. 15 Knit Picks nickel Options 24″ circulars (used as straight needles)
It’s ridiculous to fall in love with kitchen cotton.
Repeated plumbing failures and the general shabbiness of our bath linens — it all added up to a desperate need for a new bathmat. Now bathmats are not items of covetous desire. They are not pearls of great price. Nobody notices a bathmat until they are not there. (Hotels that spend big money on room decor should consider bathmats; how annoying is it to have to use what amounts to a miniature towel awkwardly spread out on the floor?)
I flashed back to last year when I first picked up Mason-Dixon Knitting. There was a pattern for a bathmat in there. It looked like a lot of work — not complicated at all (there are only about 3 sentences in the whole pattern), but so … big. Still, I didn’t want to pick up another thin, disposable bath rug from Target, as I’d just done for the kids’ bathroom. I wanted to solve this problem. I wanted to make it, not buy it. I wanted no compromise.
A Ravelry discussion about the Pisgah online store mentioned the deals to be had on the recommended yarn, Peaches & Creme double worsted. So happens that I liked one of the clearance colors, a white-yellow-gold ombre, and although I was somewhat apprehensive given the garish coloration and sloppy look of some of the ombre versions I’d seen in projects, I decided to go for it. Three one-pound cones (and four bargain grab-bags of odds and ends) were soon on their way to me, along with the size 15 needle tips I needed. (No way I was knitting a three-pound flat piece on straight needles — imagine the strain on one’s wrist trying to lift several pounds with every stitch.)
Back when I first started knitting my Bagstopper, in the early days of my knitting addiction, I took great though somewhat guilty pleasure in the beautiful, even texture of the garter stitch bottom. Young and inclined to be snobbish I was, I thought garter stitch was for beginners. It surprised me how sublime it was. And as I began my first square — holding three bulky strands of 8-ply unmercerized cotton yarn together, the first time I’d tried to knit with more than one strand at a time for more than a few stitches — I rediscovered that feeling. That nubbly, rustic, yet neat-as-a-pin texture of garter stitch. That crisp, bas-relief definition of kitchen cotton. They were made for each other. I fell head over heels. No more guilt over the fact that the yarn is the lowliest of the low, available at big box stores at bargain-basement prices. Kitchen cotton is beautiful.
The bathmat became my obsession. I wrestled it around the needles every night for two or three hours, gradually learning its secret ways. The log cabin technique gave me a series of intermediate goals, not unlike the dropped stitches of the Clapotis — I wanted to finish a strip, bind off, and pick up for the next strip at a minimum each knitting session. Even though there seems to be nothing gentle about rough kitchen cotton, the yarn quietly told me how to bind off loosely enough to pass the stitches over more and more easily, how to see the loops that made picking up neatest, how to pick up right on the tips of the needles rather than forcing the entire size 15 circumference through the unyielding yarn.
Now that it’s done, I want everyone to have one. There’s no reason any bathroom should be without the embarrassingly simple luxury of a handknit cotton mat. There’s no reason any kitchen should be without a drawer full of handknit cotton dishtowels and scrub cloths. Kitchen yarn is cheap and plentiful. And underneath its workaday familiarity is a flowering of unexpected beauty and pleasure, an easy indulgence no one need forego.