Keeping warm while it's cold outside, with our organic fabrics.
Regardless of what the calendar may say, it sure feels like winter out there. Even though our home is heated by a combination of solar hot water and environmentally-friendly wood, it still wasn't overly warm inside this morning. (I'm very much not complaining -- our first winter here we had no heat at all, and it was frequently in the low forties indoors. We tend to wait for the rich solar power of the day to heat the house, and the low sixties in the morning seems downright luxurious!) Perhaps when you make your own power you're more apt to be careful with it? Regardless, days like today I'm very grateful for the wonderful organic fabrics with which we're able to surround ourselves and keep cozy even when it's chilly!
Our family has a nice collection of pajamas made from organic fabrics of different weights; fleece is particularly wonderful for the really cold nights. Luckily NearSea Naturals just added three gorgeous new fleeces in stunning colors so I have more to play with; my favorite is Cranberry Cosmo, but Winnie prefers the Dusky Jade, and Chateau Grey is a wonderful neutral that goes with everything. Fleece isn't only good for pajamas, of course -- it's splendid for everything from cardigans to dresses, from workout attire to baby blankets and diapers, from lounge pants to warm hats and easy-to-make scarves.
On really cold nights (and whenever they feel like it), the kids like to curl up in their sleeping bags. Made by Grandma, they are really envelopes of Luxurious Wool Pile covered with a nice durable hemp fabric. Originally intended for camping, the sleeping bags have quickly been adopted for near-everyday use. They're incredibly warm and comfortable, say the kiddos, and have the added benefits of their grandma's love permeating every stitch ... I think it's so sweet that the kids mention that (though they don't say "permeating") and it's exactly the result I hope for when making gifts for someone! I've mentioned before that my bed is topped with the Luxurious Wool Pile, and we sleep under a blanket (okay, really a piece -- I haven't done anything to the edges yet) of our Organic Wool Blanket Fabric beneath the comforter on the coldest nights. It's so delightful; I love the feel of frosty air nipping at my nose while the rest of me is all toasty!
It's not at all unusual for New Mexico winter days to have temperature swings of at least 40-50 degrees, so layering is crucial. Fabrics like our Featherweight Natural Hemp/Cotton Jersey and our (new!) Raven Black Medium Jersey make wonderful innermost layers, to keep body heat in no matter what else you're wearing. Winnie, who may be the kindest and most industrious of us all when it comes to sewing (though Clarity might have her beaten soon), made her husband a set of longjohns last year from organic merino interlock that I'm convinced the man only removed to wash between December and March. We're all hoping she makes him another pair or two this year, if only for some color variation. I think she might use the Deep Thistle or Cholla Organic Wool/Organic Cotton Crepe this time, though, as she's been eyeing them covetously for quite a while! Over the camisole, tank top, or long john shirt, we'll layer another shirt or two, and then top it off with a sweater, jacket, or coat. It's so important, of course, to keep our feet and heads warm (didn't your mother tell you that we lose most of our body heat there? mine did, over and over and over and over...), so we have a wonderful selection of socks and hats.
(Speaking of socks, does anyone want to make the Cozy Tractor Socks for me? Please? I'll provide the yarn, and tell everyone what a good knitter you are! I'm afraid The Elven Hat is more my speed these days, but I so covet those socks!)
Another trick that helps keep us warm all winter long is one that homesteaders used and that's been around for hundreds of years: soapstone foot warmers. We have two blocks of soapstone with metal handles (yes, I got them from ebay, where they were cheapest at the time), that sit atop our wood stove absorbing heat. When we're ready for bed (or simply really cold), we grab one and stick it in a bag my mom knit from organic merino yarn and lined with organic french terry. The foot warmers stay warm for hours, and make life in a chilly house much more comfortable. We've boiled them at times, when we didn't have a fire going and didn't want to start one; the heat doesn't last as long but it's still a wonderful way to get warm!
My mom tells me I didn't learn to walk until I was almost 16 months old, because my first winter was spent in bed in an unheated log cabin in upstate New York. Unable to get out from under the covers lest I freeze, my language development accelerated but my motor skills hung back a bit. It's hard to start crawling when you're under ten pounds of blankets! (By the next winter things had improved and I was wreaking havoc right and left as I zoomed all over the place.) My boys spend their days wearing organic wool and organic cotton, but they're still wreaking havoc ... isn't it nice to know that some things never change?