Winter Stitching: Rugs and Hot Water Bottles

Rug supplies

Rug Making Supplies – wool strips and large crochet hook

So here I am, slinking back ashamedly to post about my meager winter projects: I crocheted a rug (several months ago) and made a hot water bottle cover (last weekend). I’ll start with the rug, since that was finished first. At some point in the distant past, Mom sent home a box of rug strips that belonged to Grandma. She couldn’t make rugs from them anymore, so they were passed on to me. I decided a simple crochet rug would be fast and easy, especially with the strips already done. When I opened the box, I found that “rug strips” was a bit of an exaggeration. There were lots of random scraps, some strips of old jeans, and a few strips/scraps of wool (according to the burn test).  I had what I thought was a large pile of wool strips, a big hook, and directions for crocheting an oval from the old Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework (the one with all the hideous 70’s projects).

Sylvie and Peter check the rug strips.

Sylvie and Peter check the rug strips.

The cats helped check the strips for me, and I got started. Bit harder than it looked, but it was going quite quickly. Then Sylvie got a urinary tract issue, which meant she was peeing everywhere every five minutes. She showed an unfortunate predilection for my projects, particularly after fabric has been washed and ironed. The half-finished rug fell victim, and it sort of lost its appeal after that. But, I finally finished it up. With the strips and big hook, it goes fast, but also eats up fabric. The “large” pile of strips didn’t go very far. The book talked about how to increase for a few rows, and I assumed that was the pattern for the rest of it, but I was wrong – it ended up rather wavy on the edges, and I didn’t like it well enough to redo the whole thing. As you can see, it’s the ideal size for a cat, or for standing on while washing dishes. Plus, I can tuck the wavy end under the bottom of the counter so you can’t see it. It’s actually very cushy, but the wool was quite sticky while trying to crochet. Once I figure out how to increase properly, I’ll try again with different fabric.Rug_SylvieRug_Peter

My second winter project was a hot water bottle cover, which I only got around to last Saturday. My heat stopped working early in the winter (just after it turned really cold) and it took two weeks for them to fix it. Meanwhile, I huddled in blankets with a space heater, and used a hot water bottle at night (wrapped in a towel, very classy). Now that I don’t need it anymore, I’ve finished a proper cover:

Hot Water Bottle

There was a sale on flannel, so it only cost about $2 total, which is nice. Choices were mostly children’s prints, but who doesn’t like pink with monkeys? I made bias binding from flannel too, so the whole thing would be soft and fuzzy. The first time, I used this nifty tutorial to make continuous bias binding, got it all sewn and ironed, and then realized it was too small for wrapping around all the flannel. So I tried this tutorial to strip-piece wider binding. Both methods work quite well. If you’re trying to fussy cut your binding (to have polka dots appear exactly in the middle, for example) the continuous method might be tricky to get just so, but it’s pretty slick otherwise. Actually attaching it around the curves is another story, but I suppose it just takes some practice.

Hot Water Bottle pinning

I poked around to look at different covers, but just traced the bottle and added seam allowance to make my own quick pattern. Unfortunately, it ended up smaller than it should be. I did add another inch to be sure there was extra room, then the seam allowance besides, but it’s still quite difficult to get the bottle in through the flap part. The way it folds over takes up too much of the circumference to just slip the bottle in. Once the bottle’s inside, it fits fine. Other than that, I fairly pleased with it – mainly because I added some pink top-stitching for fun:

Pink top stitching!

Pink top stitching!

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