You remember how I said I was going to use Great Aunt’s nurse’s uniform fabric to make the collars?Yeah, I changed my mind. It’s a very small check and would, I think, turn out an overall quite dark finished product. Dark fabric absorbs more heat. Not what you want on a long, hot walk. Right? I went stash-diving. You should have seen the length of my periscope when I got to the fabric I ended up using! Its something I bought many years ago (predating YoungB) to make a nightshirt for Dr B, who promptly changed his mind about wanting one. It’s been folded and awaiting its time ever since. There is one small, faded patch. And, unlike the checked fabric, there’s a definite right and wrong side.
It’s 115 cm wide rather than 36 ins, which immediately gave me better options with regard to cutting triangles to make bandana-style collars. I cut out four, then realised that the stripes wouldn’t be running the same way on all of them. See if you can find a toss to give, as YoungB might say, because I couldn’t. Two would have selvages, two would not. More tosses not given. The first one – which, logically and obviously, would be the test version and mine – was sewn with pink thread. Mostly, that was because there was pink already in the machine but the contrast helped me to see what I was doing in order to work out what changes I needed to make for the rest. Although the fabric is pale blue with a dark-blue stripe, as you can see in the photo, the pink wasn’t so startling as to be obvious. Besides, once wet and tied around a neck, you’d have to be mighty close to notice. However, when I decided that the prototype was OK, I changed to grey thread.
There are many instructions on the internet for making cooling collars of various sorts. I couldn’t find one that used the bandana-style I was after (which is not to say there isn’t one, merely that my search terms didn’t uncover it), so I drew on bits of several of the others for inspiration and made up the rest. In Australia, summers are generally hot and sunny, so as well as keeping your neck cool, you often want to keep it covered. (Many school hats are legionnaire-style for that reason.) I reckoned a triangular neck cooler with the tail kept long would be just the shot, so that’s what I made.
The finished product is a triangle about 43 cm/17 ins base to apex with a base about of around a metre/39 ins. It varied slightly from one to the next because it wasn’t so much about precision as getting the job done and not every original triangle was precisely the same (or one might have needed more trimming than another to straighten the edge). I included a divided pocket at the base – about 8 cm/3 ins folded over, then sewn along the line from base to apex – into which I put a small amount of water storage crystals. I used a shade over a teaspoon for each collar. That doesn’t sound like enough, but those things swell to about 300 times their size when they’re loaded.
I pre-charged them the night before the walk. YoungB ticked me off for that because it meant they were wet and heavy. Most people, he groused, bring them dry and wet them at the event. I knew that but, as I explained, they hadn’t been used before, so I wasn’t certain how long they’d take to plump up. I’m sure the next time we use them, they won’t take anything like as long. I was refreshing mine at one comfort stop when another walker congratulated me on the great idea and asked where I’d bought it. I admitted I’d made it, assured her it was easy, and pointed out that there are lots of tutorials on the internet. All of which is perfectly true. But the time to do some of those things? Ah, yes, that’s another matter entirely.
Still, as I said, I made four for our little team – the other Nieces weren’t able to join us, as they’d originally planned – and now that I’ve done those, I wouldn’t hesitate to make more. I might do some things differently. For example, I might subdivide the pocket into more compartments so that the collar sits closer because the bulk is spread differently, but tying the ends provided sufficient adjustment. The simple design works.
So that’s what I’ve been up to. How about you?