Baby, it’s going to be cold outside: Prepare

Posted Sept. 08, 2008, at 5:06 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:54 p.m.

I hate to say this — it’s not too soon to be thinking about keeping warm this winter. The fact is, given the dastardly news about the high cost of heating in the coming cold months, it’s time to make certain enough warm woolies will be on hand, or on foot, as the case may. That means mittens and socks. Hand-knit socks of cotton, wool, cashmere, alpaca or silk are perfect to keep feet warm on blustery January nights, both before and after going to bed.

Patterns for socks and mittens abound at many Web sites and in books. It won’t take long to find a pattern that suits your style. Try knitting with a self-patterning sock yarn — it will keep you entertained as you knit and dream about warm feet. Might be good for mittens, too. I’ll have to try that.

A shawl will come in handy when the temperature dips and we are reluctant to turn up the thermostat. Cast on 60 stitches with a warm yarn of your choice — Maine-grown and -spun wool or alpaca, for example — and knit in any pattern you choose until the piece is long enough to wrap nicely around your shoulders. A dear friend, I am happy to say, recently sent a wool shawl she had knit just for me. Believe me, you can’t have too many friends who like to knit warm things for you.

It’s not too soon to start knitting or crocheting a snuggly sweater, clothing we all need as the days draw in and the temperature begins to drop.

Drafts around doors and windows most certainly need to be thwarted as the cold season approaches. If repairs such as replacement windows aren’t in the budget, make a trip to local fabric stores and departments to stock up on polar fleece. Make door and window quilts with two layers of the fabric to keep out cold air. Or if sewing isn’t your thing, simply hang the fleece across windows or doors, especially on below-zero nights when the wind is howling.

Polar fleece stitched into tubes stuffed with fiberfill make good draft stoppers along doors jambs and windowsills. These are easy to construct with or without a sewing machine.

Polar fleece can be crafted into two-layer blankets without sewing a stitch. All you do is cut into the edges about 4 inches deep every inch or so on all four sides, then knot the opposing strips of fabric together.

Now is a great time to start making an afghan out of leftover bits of yarn from past knitting projects. My favorite pattern is the tried-and-true crocheted granny square afghan. Make one square every evening and by the time December rolls around you’ll have all the squares you need to sew together into a cozy wrap. I’m working on one that is half done, but I keep getting sidetracked by the socks I am knitting.

This winter, workplace climates may be chillier than in previous years if employers need to cut back on fuel consumption. Knitting or crocheting several pairs of mitts to keep in your work area could be your smartest move of the winter season. Make extra pairs to hand out to friends, family or at random. Warm hands make working hours much more comfortable.

Check with local homeless shelters and charitable institutions to see if warm hats, mittens, gloves and scarves are needed. Knit several to donate.

And don’t forget to provide pets with warm bedding. Sleeping on the bare floor or out in the doghouse can be a frosty proposition for Fido. Dogs never should be left outdoors in the cold, even with warm beds to curl up in. Actually, having a pet on its owners’ beds on cold winter nights may be a very good idea — just think of all that free body heat.

Snippets

  • Ever dreamed of being on the reality show “Project Runway”? Here’s the next best thing. In conjunction with the University of Maine Museum of Art’s exhibition “Celebrities and Socialites: Photographs by Andy Warhol,” the museum will present a Fashion Challenge at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, at Norumbega Hall, 40 Harlow St.

    To launch the UMMA exhibition, local designers and artists will have the opportunity to design and make a garment a celebrity might wear to a red carpet affair, or for a night of dancing at a discotheque.

    The Fashion Challenge will feature a runway show, a musical performance and a cash bar reception after the show. Guest host of the evening will be Kristen Andresen, aka Bangor Daily News’ ShopGirl.

    To enter the Fashion Challenge, designer and model must register by calling 561-3350. The cost to participate is $25.

    A kickoff and informational meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15, at the museum.

    Tickets to attend the Fashion Challenge will be available beginning Tuesday, Sept. 16. The cost is $12, $6 for University of Maine students with ID.

  • For a wonderful array of crochet and knit hat patterns, visit www.headhuggers.org. The patterns are free. Free crochet hat patterns also are at www.straw.com.
  • Those who enjoy filet crochet will find free graph patterns at www.nezumiworld.com. The charts also can be used for counted cross-stitch.
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