Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sew Quick!

One day, earlier in this excruciatingly hot and humid summer, my brother stopped by to drop some things off. He was wearing a 'thing' around his neck that he ran under some cold water to chill it, and said he got it from "Tilley's Endurables". Rob (my husband), had been complaining about how hot and sweaty the commuter train is in the afternoons and needed something to cool him down. I did some googling, and found that Tilley's sells "Cobber Neck Wrap". I realized quickly that I could probably make one for much less than $20. But what to fill it with? They use tiny beads that when soaked in water (hot or cold), swell up enormously and as long as the fabric is still wet, will feel cold (or hot) for hours. Eventually, they can dry up again, and be re-used. I was stumped as to the filler, until I found the answer from an unusual source.

The machine knitting groups I'm in are hosted through Yahoo! Groups, and you have a choice of getting each message as a separate email, or getting a day's worth of messages in one neat and tidy, organized, "digest". For most groups, I'm now on digest (this really curbed my need to answer questions as soon as someone asked one, as now, often the answer has already been given by the time I read it). One complaint with these groups is that a subject will meander away from the original heading, but the subject line is still the original topic. So, if someone posts about their Brother machine, I don't read any of the messages, but then some day I might be scanning through the digest on the way to another message, and something might catch my eye. That's what happened here. In a subject I had not been following, the talk turned to neck coolers! The writer posted that she bought these crystals at the garden center. They're for mixing with the dirt so it holds water longer. Bingo!
Immediately, I gathered up the children and headed on a crystal hunt. We cruised "Man Row" (Canadian Tire, Sport Check, Staples, Home Depot and Lowes all within a few blocks), but got too hot and hungry to make it all the way to Lowe's. The next day I went to Michaels' and forgot to take my flyer coupon for 40% off. Of course, they had something that seemed the same, but intended for fake flower arranging "Cracked Ice". I bought it, even without the coupon, because for $9.99 it seemed it would last a long time and I was tired.
Of course, I had to Google to see if there were instructions on how to actually sew them, and then I found all kinds of links to the crystals. One woman even took apart disposable diapers to get the crystals! Because mine were not the same product, I decided to soak them in water first, and fill the coolers this way so I'd know just how much to put in.

When I searched my stash for "manly" fabrics, all I could find was a brown cotton gauze with a subtle embroidery. I cut it to the size suggested, sewed, and filled. We tried it for a day, and it felt rather heavy. Then I made one with quilter's cotton, to the same measurements. I quickly realized that the cotton gauze had stretched out it's crinkleness as the crystals grew! So, it had surgery and I removed probably half the crystals. Rob tried it on the train and said he felt better, but he was still sweating like crazy (the cooler lays against the carotid artery and cools the blood heading to your brain, so you stay clear headed, but can't really lower your body temperature overall).I dug down deeper in the bin and found the blue print, and the flowered one was a remnant from the fabric store (I was very disappointed that they had barely any quilter cotton remnants! This was the only one!). The pink and black one is to match Lucy's dress. The black one with beige stitching was to go with a dress I haven't yet posted about. I made all of these (except the pink and black one) plus three more, out of the one package of "Cracked Ice". It wasn't all wine and roses though, I did have an issue with trying to dry out the crystals...in the oven...

Then, we were tree shopping, and went to the Lowe's I hadn't gone to in my initial search. I quick stroll through the houseplant section, and guess what I found? The "real" crystals, for $3. Although I don't predict a need for another 10 neck coolers, I had to stock up with another package!For all but the last one, I made closed tubes so I wouldn't have to finish the raw edges. I decided to do Lucy's differently, so it'd be more like a scarf with her new dress. I placed the tube seam in the middle (instead of the edge), so the tails could open up. My edge finishing sucks. But it's cute. The kids aren't really into them though. Rob also doesn't take his anymore. He also won't even take a water bottle! But I did get him to move to the lower level of the two level train, LOL!

No comments: