Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And Mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap...

had just settled down to a long winter's nap. Friends, there was a damned good reason why people wore hats to bed before the invention of central heating.

Truly, this has been the coldest winter ever, and decidedly the least sexy. Long underwear is the de rigueur silver lining of daytime indoor clothing (think: down vests over heavy sweaters, polarfleece shirts, flannel-insulated jeans, thickest-wale corduroy slacks, you get the picture), and nighttime brings extra challenges in the sleepwear department. I am not a pj kinda gal; my all-time happy-making sleep garment is the classic heavy-duty flannel nightie, aka the male libido vanquisher. (I did say "sleep garment," didn't I? Fair reader, I do not live in a Victoria's Secret Catalog, but in an overtly Victorian state of mind.) True confessions: I totally do not care about the lack of allure, because there is almost nothing more hateful than freezing in bed.

Let us begin with the bed fittings. An underlayment of quilted mattress protector, on top of which, the sherpa mattress cover. Extra-thick flannel sheets, two down comforters, a quilted coverlet, and on the female side of the bed, an overlayment of down comforter (twin size) in a flannel duvet bag. In addition to two people, the bed is frequently occupied by anywhere between one and four cats, one of whom usually buries himself under the blankets.

I should mention that the house is centrally heated by a geothermal system (the brainchild of H, Master Environmentalist), and there is a woodburning stove in the downstairs livingroom that runs 24/7. Windows, locked tight, are large but supposedly have high E ratings.

Nonetheless the bedroom (upstairs) is screaming cold. Also, as a womyn, I am not possessed of the y-genre chromosome that disposes one to a) fall asleep instantly, upon climbing into bed, if there is no human sexual outlet available, and b) generate an oven's worth of heat as soon as I fall asleep. No indeed--popsicle toes and fingers, frostbite face, have long been the bane of my existence. They are also what let me read into the wee hours, since I cannot fall asleep while cold. On the bright side, my Frigidaire extremities allow me to churn my way through the Harvard Classics, stacks of New Yorkers, random novels, the New York Times crossword, 'n' more, every night.

Fortunately I am a knitter. And this winter, my sleep quotient has been aided by wearing some of my more recent creations to bed.

You will notice that the lovely model in this photo is wearing several garments knitted by moi-meme: to wit, the slouchy sweater sans hood (pattern in Greetings from Knit Café; for more on this see my post of 11/29 /09); the Toshiko scarf knit in Noro (free pattern from Berroco,, and the Crude Mitts of my own design knitted in a combo of generic cashmere and Julia yarns (pattern gratis on request, after signing a medical release form). The socks are polar fleece, but I have promised myself that once my remaining two WIPs are completed, I shall knit a pair of burly hiking socks especially suited to the rigors of New England winter indoor sleeping.

Finally, finally, finally, after hours and hours, I'm warm as toast, sleep comes and it knits up the ravel'd sleave of care, as the Bard famously said. And, my friends, 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

PS: I almost forgot to mention that I heat large ocean-smoothed stones, collected on rambles along the beauteous Rhode Island coast, on the top of the wood stove all day. Then at night, before plunging into bed, I put several of these stones in a small cotton sack and run them upstairs. They are deposited between the sheets and do a decent job of warming up my small area for a while. Littler stones can also be inserted into my Crude Mitts and used as hand warmers, both on top and bottom. (Though the mitts sag a bit from the additional weight, the heat is a boon while reading.) A future project will be to knit a special sleeping bag for the hot stones.


  1. Despite disclaimers, I aim to be chic. Thank you for noticing.