Back in prehistoric times—I mean ancient, barely electronic times before we had this blog—I used to make hot water bottle covers for people. It was one of those things that I liked to make. Kind of weird, but not the weirdest thing I’ve ever made.* There is a place in the world for a hot water bottle, even if it’s a small place, and one that has mostly been usurped by those cloth tube things with buckwheat or rice or something that you heat up in the microwave for a minute. I had one of those once, and it really got hot as hell, but it always smelled kind of odd. Too much like food, you know? I am not putting a bag of hot, damp buckwheat on my aching back. That’s not really making me feel better.
At some point I stockpiled a bunch of hot water bottles that were half off at Restoration Hardware, which is one of those places where you ironically buy the things that people used to literally buy. But I was literally buying these ironic hot water bottles, because they were cheap, and I knew I’d need them at some point.
Well, some point came on Saturday, when I was digging around in my closet, and I found my stash of hot water bottles. I realized that I missed making hot water bottle cozies, so in about one point one minutes I was off to find the pattern I’d used, the classic “Hottie” from the very classic Rowan Magazine #28.
I had to change the gauge because I wanted to use Crystal Palace Merino Stripes, a yarn that I never, ever, wever would have used back in the day I was first making hottie covers. Such a snob I was! It has so many elements I used to despise: It is multicolor. It is merino, but it also has a bit of polyester. It is bulky weight. But I like this yarn, people, I really do. It changes color over a long stretch, and it makes a fluffy soft fabric. I have come a long way, y’all, if I’m making a multicolor bulky weight wool blend hottie cover.
This was a two-day knit, if you sort of ignore your family and catch up on Project Runway. So it makes a good last-minute giftie projeck.
If you’re looking for hot water bottles to cozy up, you can go for FashionHot, a site that sells thermoplastic hot water bottles that apparently don’t smell like rubber when they’re hot. Or you can go to a surgical supply company, which seems sort of stern. Which I sort of like.
As for patterns, this Rowan Hottie is kind of a pain, to tell you the truth. It’s like making a weird turtleneck for, I guess, an actual turtle who has retracted all his limbs. At one point you end up with a very strange thing in your lap:
I’m strong for this pattern, though, having made it so often before.
The world has changed since I started making these, and if I were only at the beginning of my hot-water-bottle-making journey, I’d go poke around the Web, because it’s so easy to discover new patterns that way. A quick tour reveals all sorts of smarter patterns–it begs to be made in the round, you know? Blue Sky Alpacas has a pattern that lets you get your Fair Isle on. Free, even. Their server seems to be down right now, but here’s the link for when it’s back in action.
And Ravelry has a number of free patterns too.
Actually, Restoration Hardware is still selling hot water bottles–cashmere covered, even, here. But that seems sort of easy, don’t you think? If you’re going to go for a hot water bottle, might as well go all out. And as for those fancy new thermoplastic hotties that have no smell? I am pretty sure that the scent of warm rubber has a profoundly therapeutic effect. Pair it up with some Vicks Vapo-Rub, and you’ll be on the mend toot sweet.
* OK, SINCE you asked, here’s one of the weirder things I’ve ever made: Gliz, who in case you’ve ALREADY FORGOTTEN was the ice cube mascot of the 2006 Winter Olympics. The weirdest thing I’ve ever made? To the GRAVE I’ll carry that little secret.