Here's a winter knit for you. Shown on the left is a common hot-water bottle or hottie. For those of you in tropical climes, this is a flexible rubber vessel with a screw-in stopper. You fill it two-thirds full of hot (not boiling) water, squeeze it to expel the air, screw in the stopper and put it in your bed. It is much appreciated by sick children and animals, people like me who sleep alone in poorly-heated, ill-built flats, and people whose sleeping partners object to cold toes.
The beauty and utility of this mundane object can be much increased by knitting it a little woolly jumper (right). So equipped, it won't burn you when it's newly filled, and it will release its heat slowly over as much as eight or nine hours.
It's also a nice way of trying out a pattern or a new knitting technique. This particular pattern is a sort of miniature Aran sweater. I wanted to try out an arrangement of cables and the knit-and-purl pattern in the middle to see whether I liked it or not. I'm not all that keen on the knit-and-purl pattern, which is based on a tree-of-life design, but comes out as just diamonds. I think it's more trouble than it's worth. If I were making a proper gansey for a person I think I'd do something else there, maybe zigzags or even horizontal lines.
Materials: 4 x 4.5mm double-pointed needles, 2 balls Cygnet Superwash double knitting wool, or any near equivalent (these balls are a completely routine size so two balls of any kind of double-knitting should do).
Gauge: is not that crucial but I recommend a fairly tight fit.
- Cast on 70 and join into a circle; or you could do a provisional cast on, which wouldn't be a bad idea as you will sew up the bottom later.
- Knit 35, place marker, knit 35 and mark end of round (for example by having this at the end of one needle).
- Work six repeats of the pattern in the chart below. Click it to see it at full, printable size. In each row work the pattern twice, once for the front and once for the back.
- Work 24 rows of 2x2 rib (70 is not divisible by 4, so to make it match up at the end of the round you will have to either increase by two stitches, as I did, or decrease by two, or work 1x1 rib instead, it doesn't matter which).
- Cast off with a stretchy cast off such as the one described here, work in ends, and sew up the bottom.