Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

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22 January 2008

The Skinny Person's Guide to Staying Warm

[Although this has become a moot skill today, as the temperatures zoomed up from 14 degrees F (-10 C) yesterday to a balmy 32 F (0 C) today!]

As a snow and winter-lover, one of the big complaints I hear about winter is that "I hate being cold!"

Staying warm is a skill. Here are some tips.

First off, it helps to have no fashion sense at all, or at least temporarily abandon what you have. I can guarantee that if you are teetering in to work through six inches of snow in nylons and stiletto heels, you will be cold. (And if it's 20 degrees out and you're wearing shorts, why is it a surprise to you that you're cold?)

Luckily for me, I not only have no fashion sense, I'm also double-recessive on the accessorizing gene. I think the only time I ever bought shoes to match something, I was getting ready for my wedding and looking for shoes in the "right white".

If you want to stay warm in the winter and you do nothing else, keep your head warm. Your fingers will still get frostbitten, but a sufficiently woolly hat will help a lot. Yeah, I know, it messes up your hair -- see "abandon fashion sense", above. The wind and the static electricity is going to mess up your hair anyhow, so you might as well start out warm.

Next after the head come the extremities. Starting at the ground with feet, I can tell you that hand-knitted socks are great for keeping you warm in the winter. So that probably rules out high heels, unless you buy them to fit over your Knitty Monkey socks.

What craziness am I talking? I am talking boots. No, no, not thin plastic high-fashion boots with teetery heels! Real boots that are waterproof and have treads, that keep your feet warm and dry and that keep you from slipping and falling down in the snow. Something like L. L. Bean's duck boots or Sorels, a pair of boots your feet can move into and live in.

(And given the price of a decent pair of boots, you might think you're paying for an apartment for your feet. But if you buy decent boots, you only have to buy them once, rather than buying new boots because the old ones cracked across the sole, which you didn't find out until you stepped on and cracked the ice and sank your foot in that icy-cold puddle. Now don't be talking to me about liking to shop for new boots -- no fashion sense, remember?)

If you're dealing with serious cold, I recommend thermal underwear. Yes, long johns make you look pretty silly, especially the ads for them showing men and women dressed in nothing but long johns with big goofy smiles on their faces. But on the other hand, they're warm.

Back in the days when we were using the furnace and heating with LP gas, in order to keep the heat bill down we kept the thermostat around 60-something when we were gone, and 66 to 68 when we were home. Stepping out of the shower in a 60-something house, brrrr! I lived in my long underwear. Oh. But I had my real clothes on over them.

The next extremity you want to keep warm is your hands. I say again, why would it be a surprise to you that your hands are cold, if you're scraping ice off your windshield and your hands are bare? At least buy a pair of stretch gloves.

Now, my body is one of those northern bodies that thinks, "Extremities? What do I need these for? Let's clamp off the blood to the hands and feet in this cold and keep the core warm."

To defeat this tendency, I really like mittens. Gloves are great for pushing the radio buttons in the car, but they're not so good for keeping my cold hands warm. In a mitten, I can ball my fingers into my palm and try to get some circulation going in there. When it's really cold, I'll even pull my thumb out of the mitten thumb so it can get warm, too.

Depending on the weather, sometimes I wear a scarf, too. The colder and windier it gets, the more I like scarves. A good scarf has to be both warm and soft. I keep trying to wear wool on my neck, and it prickles the heck out of me. That drives me crazy. So my fall-back scarf is an old commercially-knitted acrylic one. I wrap it around my neck so one end goes down my back and the other down my front. If I need to, I can pull it up over my face so only my eyes peek out.

There you have it: a snow dog completely bundled up from the feet up, with no skin showing except around the eyes. Winter, what winter?

[edited to add: The title of the post comes from a remark someone once made to me, "A skinny little stick like you must be freezing!" Of course, I wasn't freezing, and having brooded about that crack for a sufficient number of years, this is what my response would have been if I didn't think of clever remarks weeks after the fact.]

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Blogger Marguerite said...

Fashion sense? I'd rather have real sense. Which is why I'm wearing long johns to and bottom, cords, a sweatshirt, and worsted weight wool socks today.

When the dogs and I go out I'll have on real boots, an alpaca helmet hat, heavy fuzzy lined nylon gloves, and a Land's End Squall parka that's at least five years old and still looks like new.

I may be snowed in today, but I'm not cold.

11:18 AM  
Blogger tatt3r said...

I never spent much time outside in the cold till we got the dog. Now I appreciate my hand knits on our walks. I especially like my mittens. They are not double knit like yours, but a nice twin-rib that stays a bit warmer than stockinette without a lot of bulk. I need to make another moebius scarf. It is nice because it doesn't slip off, but it needs to be a bit wider to cover my nose and chin.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Kathleen C. said...

I layer gloves under a pair of mitts or mittens. That way at least the palm and half the fingers are double layered. And if I have to remove the mitten for lfexibility I still have on a layer.
I have a couple of those light weight silk undertops. They really are a nice light layer of warmth.
And I do two scarves. One small and lightweight wrapped around my neck and tucked inside the coat, and one heavy, handspun wrapped over the collar and halfway up my face.

10:35 AM  

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