by Donna Hulka
If you’ve never used one of these before, you’re in for a treat. Heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer, flax seed and lavender make a fantastically relaxing and comforting combination that soothes the body and mind. Use this pack on your back, neck, feet, or anywhere that could benefit from a little TLC.
You may be familiar with making hot/cold packs with rice. But trust me when I say you’ll thank me for urging you to try flax seed instead. Flax seeds hold heat better and have no odor. Rice smells like, well… rice! Flax seeds are also shiny and smooth, giving the pack a luxurious hand. They can be found at better grocery stores (try the bulk foods section) and health food stores.
And one more thing before we start. Do not fear your sewing machine! Yes, there is a little sewing involved in making one of these, but only three straight seams. Be brave and dig that lonely sewing machine out of the closet. Don’t have one? Try a friend or neighbor. I’m willing to bet you’ll find some crafty soul who’d gladly trade you the sewing work on a flax pack for a little crocheted something-or-other.
- 100% cotton fabric, 9x17” piece (A colorful, inexpensive cotton bandana cut to size works nicely.)
- Sewing thread
- Flax seeds, 4 cups (about 24 ounces/680 grams)
- Lavender essential oil, dried lavender flowers, or essential oil of your choice (optional)
- 2 balls (2.5 oz/70.9 g each) Elmore-Pisgah Peaches and Creme or equivalent amount of worsted weight 100% cotton yarn (Note: Do not use synthetic yarn, as it may melt when heated)
- Size G/4.25mm hook or size needed to achieve gauge
- Stitch markers
8-inch (20.3 cm) square flax seed-filled fabric pack
8 x 9¼-inch (20.3 x 23.5cm) crocheted cover with four 1-inch (2.54cm) crocheted buttons
18 st and 18 rows = 4 inches/10 cm in pattern stitch (seed stitch)
US pattern notations used
ch = chain
flo = front loop only
hdc = half double crochet
sc = single crochet
sc decr = single crochet decrease (see Note, below)
sl st = slip stitch
The fabric pack should be machine-sewn because flax seeds are very small and can easily work their way out of hand-sewn seams.
The rounds in this pattern are worked in a spiral, therefore you will not join at the end of a round. When indicated, you must use a stitch marker to mark the first stitch in a round because it is not otherwise possible to tell where the round began.
The front of a chain looks like a series of Vs (and each V has a top and bottom loop) and the back looks like a series of bumps that forms a spine or ridge (see chain stitch tutorial). I’ve suggested working into the back ridge of the foundation chain because it gives the beginning edge of the work a more finished look, identical in appearance to the final edge.
How to sc decr: insert hook in st indicated, pull up a loop, insert hook in next st, pull up a loop, yarn over, draw through all three loops on hook
Starting with a 9x17” piece of fabric (Figure 1, dotted lines indicate seam allowance) fold in half, right sides together.
Sew along edge A and B, leaving ½-inch seam allowance (Figure 2). Turn right side out. If desired, add a few drops of essential oil or a couple of tablespoons of dried lavender flowers to flax seeds and mix. Fill pack with flax seeds. Fold edge C down into the pack about ½ inch, pin in place, and sew along edge C about 1/8 inch away from edge.
Foundation: Ch 38, turn.
Row 1: Mark as front. Working into the back ridge of chain only, sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each chain across (37 sc). Turn. This is the only row you will work, the rest is worked in rounds.
Round 1: Ch 1, sc in flo of 1st sc (place st marker), sc in flo of each sc across, ending with 2 sc in flo of last sc (38 sc). Here is where this row becomes a round: Turn your work in the opposite direction you normally would (righties, turn it counterclockwise; lefties, turn it clockwise) so you can work in the unworked back loops of the scs just worked. Sc in unworked back loop of each sc across (37 sc).
Round 2: Sc in 1st sc (move st marker to this st), (ch 1, skip next sc, sc in next sc) around (75 st).
Round 3: Ch 1, skip 1st sc, (sc in next ch-1 sp, ch 1) around (75 st).
Continue to (sc in next ch-1 sp, ch 1) around and around (without marking rounds) until piece measures 8 ¼ inches (21 cm) from beginning. Lay the cover on a flat surface with front (as marked in Row 1) facing, place a stitch marker in the upper right corner, and continue crocheting around until you reach the marker (Figure 3). Do not fasten off; you will now begin the rounds that will form the buttonholes.
Round B1: Sc in next st (move st marker to this st), sc in each sc and ch-1 sp around (75 sc).
Round B2: Sc in 1st sc (move st marker to this st), sc in next 5 sc, (ch 2, skip next 2 sc, sc in next 6 sc) 4 times, sc in each remaining sc around (75 st). The buttonholes should now be evenly spaced across front of pack (Figure 4).
Round B3: Sc in 1st sc (move st marker to this st), sc in next 3 sc, (sc decr, 3 sc in ch-2 sp, sc decr, sc in each of next 2 sc) 4 times, sc in each remaining sc around, working in 4 sc decr evenly spaced among the remaining sc (67 st).
Round B4: Sc in 1st sc (move st marker to this st), sc in next 5 sc, (sc decr, sc in next 5 sc) 4 times, sc in each remaining sc around (63 st).
Round B5: Sl st in 1st sc (move st marker to this st), sl st in each sc around, sl st in 1st sl st to join. Fasten off and work in ends.
Buttons (make 4)
Make an adjustable ring by placing the tail end of the yarn behind the working end to form a ring, (see this article for detailed adjustable ring instructions), ch 2, work 12 hdc into the ring, sl st in 2nd ch of beg ch-2 to join. Fasten off and work in ends.
Lay the pack on a flat surface. For each buttonhole, insert a stitch marker through the middle of the hole and attach the marker to the inside of the back of the pack, where the buttons will be attached. Sew buttons at markers with sewing thread (this enables you to make a more secure attachment than sewing them with yarn), keeping your stitches close to the center of the button.
Slide fabric pack into crocheted cover and button closed.
Instructions for Use
Heat in a clean microwave for one minute. Microwaves vary greatly in power, so if more heat is needed, reheat in 30-second intervals until desired temperature is reached. Be sure to test temperature and do not overheat.
To chill, place in plastic bag and freeze for at least one hour.
Do not wash or allow pack to become wet. Crocheted cover may be washed separately.
Do not use on insensitive skin or areas with poor circulation (you may not be able to sense if it is too hot).
It is best to shift the pack during use so that one area does not become too hot. For this reason, do not sleep on the pack.
If used by children, an adult should supervise.