So you're looking at this and thinking, "Haw haw! A hot water bottle? How old is the Gingerbread Lady? Ninety?"
You laugh now, readers, but buy yourself a hot water bottle (if you don't already have one - or, like me, two) and I will have the last laugh. Oh, yessirree. You will rediscover love, a love like none you have ever known before. And because you're a crafter, you ought to wrap your new-found beloved in a warm, woolly cover. And that's what we're going to do today.
First of all, what yarn shall we use?
Well, you all know that I'm a big fan of sock yarn (despite having never knit a sock in my life) and this would be ideal for such a project - it's normally superwash wool. Perfect. Unfortunately, it'd take you forever and a day to do it in sock yarn and in the meantime, your little tootsies will be blue with the cold. So I've used acrylics (the one featured in this tutorial is Caron Simply Soft) and a wool/acrylic mix. Some people are afraid that acrylic might melt - well, this hasn't been the case with me so far and I like a HOT hot water bottle.
First, take your hot water bottle (to be hence referred to as the HWB) and chain till your starting chain is the length of the body of the HWB:
Now do a HDC (American = half double crochet) [HTR (British = half treble crochet)] in each chain.
Let's take a moment to extol the virtues of the HDC.
If you're a beginner, you mightn't know this stitch, it's kind of halfway between a single [Br = double] crochet and a double [Br = treble] crochet stitch. It's really fantastic for one great reason: it allows you to make a ribbed effect, like a knitted rib effect. In fact, I've done scarves in this stitch with a chunky wool and have given them to knitters - who didn't realise it was crochet! (And, being knitters, they didn't realise that I had crocheted it in about a third of the time it would take them to knit it, evil chuckle.)
This is a HDC [HTR]:
Begin as you would for a DC [TR]: yarn over, hook through stitch in the row below, yarn over, draw through.
You now have three loops on the chain.
Normally, you'd yarn over and draw through two loops, then yarn over and draw through the final two loops - but with a HDC [HTR], you yarn over and draw through all three loops at once:
When you have done a few stitches in your first row, look closely at your stitches:
There are three loops visible, aren't there? Well, when you come to the end of your row and turn your work, you can create a ribbed effect by crocheting through the two back loops of your work. In other words, I would crochet the next row through loops 2 and 3 and ignore the loop # 1 at the front (for a very pronounced rib, you crochet only through the very back loop, loop #3, leaving loops # 1 and 2 to jut out at the front.)
Anyway, you do a HDC [HTR] in every stitch in your foundation chain, when you get to the end of the row, turn, do 1 chain a HDC [HTR] in the back two loops of the last HDC [HTR] in the previous row. You just crochet back and forth, till you have a long rectangle that covers the HWB when you fold it in two. Then grab a sewing needle and sew it in:
I remove the HWB and turn my work inside out so you can't see the sewn edges. The other nice thing about the HDC [HTR] is that it doesn't produce a 'front' and 'back' side to your work.
Now your HWB should be snugly enclosed in its ribbed cover, with an opening around the neck of the bottle. When the bottle is empty, you can fold it in the cover and wriggle it out through the neck. This will allow you to wash the cover. Just to finish it off, I crocheted a couple of rounds of DCs [TRs] around the neck of the bottle:
And there you go!