Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bed Warmers, a.k.a. "Knee Thingies"

Last week, I talked about drying lavender blossoms, with the idea that they are useful for bed warmers.  Today, I'll talk you through the super-easy process of making one. 

These delightful little bags are often called "bed warmers" because they can be heated in the microwave and used to keep the foot of your bed warm for hours; they are also called "spa wraps" if you make a longer version that can be either heated or chilled to wrap around shoulders or sore muscles.  Since the most common use of these in our household is to soothe my bad knee, they are called "knee thingies" around here.

To make one, choose your favorite scrap of cozy fabric.  I used a leftover piece of flannel from a pair of PJ pants I made, but you can use anything you love.  In fact, I encourage you to use a piece that makes you smile when you see it; I made one last year using a piece of buffalo plaid from a 1980s dress I had, and I love seeing that fabric every time I use it.

You are just making a pillow.  Sew up three and a half sides of your fabric (with right sides together), and turn your bag inside out.  You should have a gap about half the width of the short side through which to fill the bag. 

Mix your filling.  For the one above, which is fairly small, I used about 2 cups of rice and 2/3 cup of lavender blossoms.  You want to let the filling be pretty slack, so it conforms to your feet, knee, or wherever you like.  I used a canning funnel in the opening of my bag to fill it with the rice and lavender mixture.  You can use any spice or herb; cinnamon and nutmeg are nice too.

Sew up the opening.  You can whip it by hand; I used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine.  You want to use a stitch you can pick out, because you really want to empty and change the filling once in a while (although I really have been bad about this).  The filling is compostable, and then the bag itself is washable if you used a washable fabric. 

To chill, put the bag in the freezer.  We keep one there most of the time, wrapped in a couple of plastic grocery bags to ward off freezer funk.  They are wonderful for post-exercise knee pain.  To heat, put in the microwave.  I nuke mine for about 3-4 minutes on high depending on size; you will want to experiment with your own particular bag and microwave.  Stick close the first few times; I have never had a problem, but you want to exercise the caution appropriate to putting a cloth bag of grain into the microwave.

The Analysis

Fast:  I whipped this "knee thingie" up in about 20 minutes.

Cheap:  My only expense was a couple of cups of cheap rice.  The lavender was from my garden, and the fabric was a remnant.

Good:  If you haven't experienced sliding one of these into the foot of your bed on a cold night, you are in for a treat.  In spite of my reticence to turn on the heat, I am fundamentally a person who can't maintain body heat, and one of these will keep me warm most of the night.  I actually like to have the bedroom a little cold just so I can enjoy the weight of a pile of quilts and the warmth of a "knee thingie." 

Fall Thermostat Challenge Update:  Although I weakened for a few hours at the end of last week (I just couldn't get the house to warm up higher than 61 degrees), a burst of warmth has allowed me to turn the heat back off and keep saving that money!  Total since Labor Day:  778 hours, or 32.4 days!
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