There’s plenty of winter left, but it’s too late to do any caulking or insulating, too late to buy a wood stove. You can still save money by dropping the thermostat a few degrees, though, if you invest in some wool BUSHes—Blankets, Underwear, Sweaters, and Hats—for around the house wear.
Unlike a heavy down comforter, a wool blanket does a better job of regulating heat. You can also layer them, and wear them around your shoulders or over your lap while reading a book. Just promise you won’t make one into a coat. Ebay is a good source for vintage wool blankets. There are also still a few mills in the U.S. making wool blankets. Can we get a mill going again in the Hudson Valley? (See the last entry below.)
Long johns in anything other than wool are just pretenders in our book. Cotton does not have the heat retention capabilities of wool; worse, it retains moisture, chilling the body. That’s right, cotton kills. Synthetics are clammy and hold odors easily. Most modern wools are not itchy, they don’t retain water like cotton, and they don’t hold odors. U.S. made Rambler’s Way makes both men’s and women’s long johns. They use superfine, Rambouillet American wool and they offer the men’s in a classic red color. They are very soft, but also lightweight, so save them for special occasions if you want them to last much more than one season. The men’s are currently on sale for $45, almost half price. Wool clothing from Ibex is well constructed, but unlike most of its lineup, the underwear, like Stanfield’s below, is made in Canada, not the U.S.
For more brutal conditions, ie, thermostats set 60 or below, try the full union suit from Stanfield’s. The union suit, created in Utica, NY, was originally designed for women and called an emancipation union under flannel when it came out in the 1860s as part of the clothing reform movement in the United States. Not sure why that name didn’t stick. The Stanfield’s modern version has 20% nylon in it for extra wear, but this is the old style itchy wool that you would do best to wash before wearing. We recommend Kookaburra Woolwash, cold water, and air drying for all wool garments. Although we like buying pre-owned stuff, you probably want to stay away from vintage in this category unless it’s NOS (New Old Stock).
Oh, we do love our vintage sweaters here at Wigwam. But not as much as this guy.
I love a cozy wool hat for indoor warmth. At the WorkShop event during the holiday season, I tried on a whole bunch o’ hats made by Laura of Beaconknits, finally settling on an all black model with some nice texture. Unfortunately, while wearing it around the house my wife proclaimed it a “girl’s hat” and that was that. Beaconknits is a front for a compulsive hat knitter who makes some mighty fine hats right here in Beacon, once a contender along with Danbury for the capital of U.S. hat-making. Says Laura, who also blends mohair and alpaca into some of her creations, “I’ve been knitting since I was small, everything from mittens and socks to sweaters, scarves and blankets, but mostly hats recently. People need warm heads!” Custom orders are available.