We're just coming into the autumn here after our last-heatwave of summer, and everything's suddenly feeling a bit cold. I'm not sure about you, but I've definitely got cold toes when I get into bed, and I definitely want some cosy warm comfort tucked under the blanket with me when I'm on the sofa doing my knitting. In the colder months, I am not ashamed to say that I am well and truly a homebody. If you're a homebody too, meet your new friend, The Homebody's Friend.
You might have already seen (or even knitted) The Shopkeeper's Friend, our mini hot water bottle cover that helped so much to keep all of the shop team nice and warm during the long and cold winter we had last year in the Real Life Shop. We had such a positive reaction to that, that we couldn't not write a pattern for it's a larger sibling this winter.
As with The Shopkeeper's Friend, this pattern is probably best suited for those who have knitted in the round before, or who are competent two-needle knitters just waiting to give knitting in the round a try. If you're new to knitting, and you ask us in the Real Life Shop, we'd normally suggest that by the time you get to this, you will have knitted some swatches and a snood, maybe even a hat. There will be quite a few techniques in here that may be a bit tricky, but I've tried to include videos for each step you may find tricky, or need a refresher on. As usual, read the whole pattern through before you start so there are no surprises, and if you don't glue with the particular video linked, try searching the technique to find one you do get on with.
So, here we go!
The Homebody's Friend
To fit a standard hot water bottle (2L capacity), measuring around 21 cm wide, 33 cm from bottom to top, and neck-base (where the neck meets the bottle) circumference of 17 cm. You can buy a perfectly matching hot water bottle from us here. You also can often find uncovered hot water bottles at independent pharmacies and hardware shops too, your local sell-it-all store.
Gauge: 21 sts x 30 rows per 10 cm
At least 150m of DK yarn. I used 82 g of Sandnes Garn Peer Gynt (91 m/50 g). Good alternative yarns could be World of Wool Marble (110m/50g) or King Cole Merino Blend (superwash, 104m/50g) or Warth Mill Saddleworth DK (200m/100g).
2x different clip-on stitch markers (one for beginning of round, one for halfway round). Our stitch markers come in a mixed-colour tin, perfect for this.
BOR = Beginning of Round
HRM = Half Round Marker
K = Knit
K2tog = Knit two stitches together
K3tog = Knit three stitches together.
M1L = Make 1 Left (a video tutorial for both M1L and M1R can be found here)
M1R = Make 1 Right
SSK = slip, slip, knit those stitches together
S3K = Slip three stitches, knit those three stitches together
K to end of round using magic loop technique, placing a clip-on marker ON YOUR KNITTING (not on the needle, they can get lost on the loop when working magic loop) after 34 stitches at your halfway point, then also place the BOR marker on your knitting after the next 34 stitches.
Note: If you find it easy to work without markers when working with magic loop, you don’t have to place the markers, however you will need to know which side is the BOR and which is where the HRM should be. If you have never worked on Magic Loop before, I’d recommend using markers.
Round 1: K1, M1L, K to 1 stitch before HRM, M1R, K2, M1L, K to 1 stitch before BOR marker, M1R, K1. (+4 stitches)
Round 2: K to end of round.
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 a further five times. (you’ve increased by 24 stitches, total is now 92 stitches).
Knit every stitch until the piece measures 23cm, moving both your markers (if using) up as often as you feel you need to. I would move them up every 5cm or so, but you can move more or less.
Shoulder Round 1: K1, SSK, K until 3 stitches remain before HRM, K2tog, K2 ,SSK, K until 3 stitches remain before BOR marker, K2tog, K1. (-4 stitches)
Shoulder Round 2: K to end.
Repeat Shoulder Rounds 1 and 2 one further time. (you’ve decreased by 8 stitches, total is now 84 stitches)
Shoulder Round 3: K1, SSK, K until 3 stitches remain before HRM, K2tog, K2 ,SSK, K until 3 stitches remain before BOR marker, K2tog, K1. (-4 stitches)
Repeat Shoulder Round 3 a further six times. (you’ve decreased by 28 stitches, the total is now 56 stitches)
Shoulder Round 4: K1, S3K, K until 4 stitches remain before HRM, K3tog, K2, S3K, K until 4 stitches remain before BOR marker, K3tog, K1. (-8 stitches)
Repeat Shoulder Round 4 a further two times. (you’ve decreased by 24 stitches, total is now 32 stitches).
Knit eight rounds.
Neck Round 1: K1, M1L, K to 1 stitch before HRM, M1R, K2, M1L, K to 1 stitch before BOR marker, M1R, K1. (+4 stitches)
Neck Round 2: K to end.
Neck Round 3: K to end.
Repeat Neck Round 1-3 a further four times. (you’ve increased by 24 stitches, total is now 56 stitches)
To cast off, work a three-stitch i-cord bind off (tutorial found here). Use end to bind the i-cord stitches and ‘cast on’ edge together to form a round.
If you do not want your Homebody’s Friend having a tighter top edge that slightly grips the hot water bottle’s top, use Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast-Off (tutorial here) instead. This cast-off will curl more, but you could use it as a design feature.
Sew in your ends.
Wash your cover, then block it over the hot water bottle itself for best results.
If you want more 'grip' in the top edge so it can come over the neck opening a little, you can insert some elastic into the middle of the i-cord, or run a drawstring through it. Please note, if you're putting a drawstring through the i-cord, you should leave the ends out after tying off and tuck inside the cover between the bottle and cover, just in case you want to remove the bottle at a later date.
To insert your hot water bottle…
- Fold the hot water bottle into three length-ways, sides to middle, like a burrito wrap.
- Wriggle this tube of hot water bottle into the cover through the neck opening and let the hot water bottle unfold inside the case when past the neck and shoulder shaping in the case.
- Now the bottle is in the case, shimmy the bottle into place into the corners you’ve made in the cover.
- Fill and empty the hot water bottle through the opening at the top of the neck. You may want to fold the ‘collar’ down to do this if it grips over the top of the hot water bottle’s neck.
When you're done, share your project on Ravelry and Instagram! We'd love to see!
What have I learnt?
Well, in this pattern you will have learnt quite a few new skills! After this pattern, we'd say you're primed and ready to do your first sweater. The skills used in this pattern are:
- Magic Loop in the round (small circumference knitting, in the round, on a long cable)
- Judy's Magic Cast On
- Directional increases
- Directional decreases
- I-cord bind off