Handmade Hand Warmers

Sometimes, for a maker, all one can do is make something. For me, this is especially true around illness. And especially regarding elderly loved ones when life will go on until it doesn't. I had made a lap warmer quilt for a dear friend's mother, pouring good wishes and loving thoughts into it while I made it. More recently, and with more love, I made some hand warmers for an elderly couple.

When I thought about what they should be made of, I wanted them both colorful and soft. Nothing that would catch or fall off or come apart. In my stash of hand-dyed velveteen I found the crumple-dyed purple and the ice-dyed blue. Just right.

They are simple to make: I folded a piece of plain cotton, 8" x 5" (20 cm x 12.5 cm) in half and stitched up the edges, right sides together, until I had just an opening. Clipped small diagonals at the corners, then turned the rectangle back inside out, or rather outside out, and funneled some plain white rice into the bag until it was nearly full. Left a little room for the rice to shift around. Then stitched up the plain bag, now 4" x 5" (10 cm x 12.5 cm).

The outer bag was from the velveteen, 10" x 6" (25.5 cm x 15 cm), then folded in half, right sides together, to make the cover bag 5" x 6" (12.75 x 15 cm), this time leaving enough room to get the inner bag inside. Clipped corners, inverted the bag, stuffed the inner bag in, then stitched up the outer bag.

Two bags can go in the microwave for 1 minute, a little more or less depending on the strength of your microwave. Two minutes will get them too hot to handle for about 30 seconds. This size stays warm about 30-60 minutes. 

Good for old cold hands. Or to warm up the bottom of your bedsheets in winter (although a sock filled with rice makes a very nice larger one).

They have a toasty rice smell, which is pleasant.

I gave two to someone who is bedridden and has low-vision. When I came in the room he sniffed the air. Yes, that rice smell was also unfamiliar. I put them on the bed. He kept touching them. "They're nice," he said. "I don't want to lose them."