Kelley has always extolled the merits of hot water bottles, and I didn’t pay much attention for a long time. I thought they were old fashioned and maybe even a little frivolous. Hah – well, now I know better. I finally caved in a bought one and now I love, love, love the gentle comforting warmth it provides on cold winter nights.
But, hot water bottles definitely need cozy covers. Their rubbery surface isn’t very conducive to cuddling. So, here’s my offering for a custom-fit hot water bottle cover pattern. My goal was a very snug-fitting cover, of densely knit stockinette so there is only a thin layer of fabric between me and the warm bottle. I’ve seen cabled hot water bottle covers, but I think the cables add extra layers of insulation that don’t let the warmth come through as much.
Yarn: Bare Superwash Merino Worsted
Needles: well, to get the 6 sts / 1″ gauge, I used Harmony Wood US size 3 needles – 40″ circulars. You may need a different size. You’ll also need one DPN, in the same size as the circular you use – for three needle bind off.
Gauge: 6 sts / 1″
I used the Magic Loop technique throughout to knit in the round. The loops function as my side markers. If you need to, place markers at the beginning of the round and at the half-way point to mark the sides.
Measure your bottle width in inches. Multiply this number by 2 for the circumference. Multiply this number by 6. Round down to the nearest number that is divisible by 4 (so you have the right number of stitches for K2P2 ribbing). This is your cast on number. For example, my bottle is 6.5″ wide x 2 = 13″ circumference. 13″ x 6 sts/1″ = 78. 78 is not evenly divisible by 4, so I rounded down to 76, which is evenly divisible by 4.
My bottle has a tab on the center bottom so that it can be hung upside down to dry out, so I could only put 2 buttonholes in the button band, one on each side of the tab. I also wanted my ribbed button band to be the entire depth of the tab, so that determined how many inches of ribbing I did – 2″. You’ll have to figure out how to best close your cover at the bottom.
Cast on your determined number of stitches. Make K2P2 ribbing for half the desired height.
On the next round, where the first buttonhole needs to be placed (I did this in the P2 so they were more hidden), bind off 2 stitches, continue in K2P2 ribbing to next buttonhole location, bind off 2 stitches, finish round in K2P2 ribbing.
On the next round, cast on 2 stitches over the bound off stitches every time you encounter them, keeping in K2P2 rib pattern.
On the next round, when you come to the cast on stitches, either K or P them through the back loop to tighten them up, keeping in K2P2 rib pattern.
Finish your ribbing to desired height.
Switch to stockinette and knit until you reach the point where the bottle starts to curve toward the neck. If your bottle was a body, this would be the “shoulders” .
Next round (decrease round), K1, ssk, knit to within three stitches of side marker, k2tog, k1, slip marker, k1, ssk, knit to within three stitches of round marker, k2tog, k1.
Knit one round.
Do another decrease round.
Knit one round.
Do another decrease round.
Time for a little more math. Measure the widest part of the neck of your bottle, in inches. My bottle has a very narrow neck, but a much wider funnel shaped part at the very top where you fill it up with water. So, I measured this widest part. Multiply this measurement by 6 stitches per inch to find the number of stitches to mark off on each side for the neck. In my case, the neck is 3.5″ x 6 = 21 stitches. While you are marking the neck on each side of the bottle, you do want to be sure that K2P2 ribbing will work around just the neck stitches alone. This means that the number of stitches you mark for the neck on the front + the number of stitches you mark for the neck on the back are evenly divisible by 4. So, in my case, 21 + 21 = 42, which is not evenly divisible by 4. So, I rounded down to 40 stitches which is evenly divisible by 4. This means 20 stitches for the front neck and 20 stitches for the back neck.
Place markers on either side of the neck stitches, on both the front and the back, centering the neck stitches on each side. In my case, I had 70 stitches total remaining after the decrease rounds – 35 on the front and 35 on the back. This is how I centered the neck stitches: 35 – 20 = 15. Ahh, odd number. I want the front and back of each “shoulder” to have the same number of stitches because I want to use a three-needle bind off. So here’s how I marked the stitches: 8 stitches, marker, 20 neck stitches, marker, 7 stitches, side marker, 7 stitches, 20 neck stitches, marker, 8 stitches, round marker.
Now, flip your knitting inside out so you can match up your “shoulders” right sides together. Start with the shoulder that has the working yarn. Three needle bind off from the outside of that shoulder to the neck markers. Leave the yarn attached here, with one stitch remaining from the bind off on the right needle. Remove the neck markers on this side. Using the magic loop technique, begin K2P2 rib across the neck stitches on the side facing you. Start the ribbing, though, with a k2tog, to work in the extra stitch from the bind off.
When you have worked across the ribbed neck stitches on the side facing you, stop, leaving your working yarn attached. I wanted to work both of my three needle bind offs for the shoulders from the outside in to ensure both sides were shaped consistently. So, slide the shoulder stitches facing you onto the right needle without knitting them. This will get both your needle tips pointing in the same direction – out toward the side. Turn your work. Using a new strand of yarn, three needle bind off the shoulder stitches from the outside of the shoulder to the neck markers. You will have one stitch remaining on the right needle. Remove the neck markers. Slip the stitch remaining on the right needle to the left needle.
Again using the magic loop technique, continue on in K2P2 ribbing for the remaining neck stitches. You will need to start with either a k2tog or a p2tog (in pattern) to work in the extra stitch left over from the three needle bind off.
At this point, you can turn your knitting back to right side out if it makes you more comfortable, although K2P2 ribbing is reversible, so whether you flip it or not will not affect your finished product.
Continue in K2P2 ribbing until the turtleneck is twice as long as the neck of your bottle plus 1″. I tried the cover on my bottle several times during this process to make sure I was happy with the length of the turtleneck – I didn’t want any of the pink rubber of the bottle peaking out above the folded turtleneck.
When the turtleneck is the desired length, work one more round, purling into the front and back of every purl stitch, and knitting every knit stitch. This increases your total stitch count by 50%, ensuring that the edge of the neck will be nice and stretchy and fit well over your bottle.
Bind off in pattern.
Weave in ends. You may want to tighten up stitches at the shoulder to neck joins, where the three needle bind offs ended, but this part will also be covered by the edge of the turtleneck.
Sew on buttons.