It is now a little over two years since I created this instructable, and just this past week (Sept 2008) it was published as part of The Hungry Scientist Handbook by Patrick Buckley & Lily Binns!
[href="http://modular.ucsd.edu/pics/05-2003/Pigeons_051803/lehrer-pigeons.mp3 Spring is here], and what better time to learn how make something to keep your fingers warm in the middle of winter?! Yeah sure, I guess autumn or even early winter would be a better time for that, but too bad, I'm doing this now. Hey, after all, maybe somebody reading this is about to embark upon an Antarctic adventure! Although I don't suppose that's very likely. Well, maybe y'all can try to remember how to do this for next year, eh?
Microwavable mitten warmers will provide your fingers with warmth for your daily bike commute or morning stroll. These little, reusable bags should be able to give off heat for half an hour or more.
Step 1: Materials
These mitten warmers can be made quickly and easily. This instructable will show you several different methods so you have lots of options depending on your resources and abilities.
Here is a list of supplies you may choose to use:
- mittens (obviously)
- microwave oven
- dry, uncooked rice or lentils - but not popcorn, that's a bad choice.
Choice of cotton fabric:
- old dish towel
- old sock
- old T-shirt
One or two of the following items:
- sewing machine
- needle and thread
- fusible webbing
- rubber bands
Step 2: Option One
Use a sewing machine to sew a small bag out of some fabric. These ones I made measure about 8cm (3 inches) by 5cm (2 inches).
Begin with a piece of fabric a little wider than you want the finished bag to be, and a little more than twice as long. The extra width is your seam allowance. By the way, you needn't fuss about with a whole lot of cutting, just snip the edge and rip the fabric. Next fold the piece in half with the inside out, and run them through your sewing machine to sew the two sides together. Then turn them right side out, and fill with rice. Tuck the remaining raw edges inside and stitch the opening shut.
The final thing to do with all these options, is to microwave your finished mitten warmers for between 30 seconds to a minute. The rice will likely have a fair bit of moisture in it so for the first few heatings, so expect the warmers to come out of the microwave a bit damp. If you use basmati rice, like I did, also expect it to smell delicious! You can pop them into your mitts right out of the microwave and enjoy you toasty fingers!
Step 3: Option Two
What? You say you don't have a sewing machine? Well it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out you can do pretty much the same thing as Option One, but do all the sewing by hand. I used a blanket stitch to close up the top seam on mine.
Step 4: Option Three
Now if you are like me, you're not a big fan of sewing. Well then, let's try to minimize the amount of sewing you need to do.
Find an old pair of socks that you've worn the heels through, but the toes are still in good shape... and make sure they're clean! Lob off the toes to make pockets with enough room to hold the rice. Fill rice into these pockets, and tuck in the raw edges, placing enough fusible webbing between to span the entire opening. Iron this seam together.
Since microwaving these bags will melt the fusible webbing, you need to stitch along the seam. Socks tend to be quite stretchy and the fusible webbing helps stabilize the fabric while you sew it, however you could do without it if you prefer.
Step 5: Option Four
What's that? You say you suffer from [http://www.phobia-fear-release.com/aichmophobia.html" aichmophobia] and don't want to sew anything at all? Try this: Either fill the toes of old socks with rice like the previous option, or make a satchel out of an old dishtowel or T-shirt.
One way to make a satchel is to take a square of fabric and push some of it down into one hand that you can fill with rice. Gather up the loose ends over top and tie off with some string. Try not to make the satchel too tight; keep it a little slack. Then just trim off the excess and use.
Step 6: Option Five
So you never quite managed to learn the whole tying-string-together thing, eh? Not to worry, use rubber bands instead of string. Wrap the rubber band as tightly as possible around the open end of the sock, or satchel.
Step 7: Option Six
Still too complicated for you? (sigh...) Okay then, just put some rice in a bowl, heat it up in the microwave, and then pour it into your mittens.
Sure the rice will be loose in your mitts and you'll probably loose some if you raise your hand to wave at a friend, but this is absolutely the fastest and easiest mitten warmer I can think of to keep your fingers from freezing when you are outside [http://www.themamasandthepapas.com/californiadreamin.ra" on a winter's day].