Another top-level circle? Clothing, from hats to shoes.

lathechuck's picture

I don't see a topic here that relates to issues around what we wear, indoors and out. But if shelter becomes less sheltering, and low-energy transportation options involve more exposure to the elements, we may need to give more thought to the shelter that we carry around with us: what's cool in warm weather, what's warm in the cold, what keeps us dry in the wet? In addition, the clothes we wear convey information to those who see us, so "fashion" is also a valid topic to consider.

lathechuck's picture

I've recently adopted the practice of wearing a scarf indoors. My original motivation was to save the collars of my favorite flannel shirts. For some reason, they were disintegrating long before the rest of the shirt showed much wear. My hypothesis is that sweat soaked into the cotton and promoted the growth of microorganisms that consumed the fabric, but that's just a guess. In any case, it seemed simpler to replace a scarf than to replace a collar. (And I have replaced a collar!)

When I put the scarf between my potentially-sweaty neck and my shirt, I was immediately delighted with the soft warmth of the fabric, arranged under my chin and up to my ears. It's sort of like turning the thermostat up a degree or two. Conversely, wearing a scarf like this may allow you to tolerate another drop of your thermostat, or a little less wood in the stove.

A speculative reason to wear a scarf is for better health. Many winter illnesses start with an upper respiratory infection; that is, a stuffy or runny nose. If it progresses to a lower respiratory infection, the consequences can be much more serious (e.g., bronchitis, pneumonia). My hypothesis, totally unsupported by clinical research , is that maintaining a slightly higher temperature between the upper and lower areas, all other things being equal, could help protect my lungs from my nose. The scarf keeps my neck and chest warmer.

The design: ... "the design?" you ask. "what's to design? It's just a strip of cloth." Well, yes, but if you walk into a fabric store and ask for "a strip of cloth", they're going to ask for a lot more information. If you ask "where can I buy a scarf?", you'll might find ornamental silks or bulky woolen knits or even a "tactical shemagh" (for desert combat, hot and cold). so... back to the design: what I'm wearing right now is a rectangle of cotton flannel "shirting", 44" long by 8" wide. I put narrow hems on the edges to keep them from unraveling. 43" is long enough to start on one shoulder, wrap once around my neck, and end over the other shoulder, and short enough that you won't struggle to find a place to tuck the rest of it. It also happened to be the width of the fabric "as sold". Shirting flannel is thin enough to wear under your top layer (perhaps a flannel shirt or fleece vest), which will keep the ends in place. It's sold for as little as $4/yard, so you can make these using just $1 of fabric each.

Yes! Your clothing matters so much and on so many levels.

These days, we all seem to dress like we're cleaning out our garages (remember arts & crafts shows? You can't tell the vendors from the customers) and worse, we don't dress for the climate.

Central heating and being able to turn up the thermostat means too many people wear tee-shirts in January and then bitch about their heating bills.

If you want to spend even less money on a large collection of flannel scarves and want them to be longer, visit Goodwill and buy flannel sheets. You won't get a pattern selection but they are very cheap so you can experiment with length and width with no financial pain.

Instead of cutting the fabric, cut a snip and tear it down the grain. You will remain perfectly on-grain, making the edge sewing easier. Iron, measure, rip, then iron your new edges. If the fabric doesn't want to rip, it will let you know.

I have taken to wearing a scarf too. It turns out that I had a very fine gray silk scarf tucked away in my stash and I have put it to good use to keep the cold away from my neck.

I usually buy a couple of wool sweaters from the thrift stores each winter and just layer them as needed. This year I couldn't find one with a high neck, so I found the cold wind whistling around my neck very uncomfortable, so I reached for a scarf. Works great. I wear it indoors and out as needed and it really helps me to keep warm in the winter. In the summer I will switch it out for a wet dish towel to keep cool.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Have a look at a dollar bill. See what George is wearing? I can date when I became an indoor scarf wearer because it is linked to a condition I developed in 2012. I get cramps in my neck if the skin gets even a little chilled. This can happen in summer, too, but in summer it is more likely a bandana I have ready. Right now I'm wearing a silk handkerchief tied behind the neck and have a knit boiled wool jacket with the lapels crossing each other, pinned to stay closed and the collar turned up on the neck in sort of a mandarin look. I mean-- that is what lapels and collars are for, are they not?

Lots of women's t-shirts have deeply scooped necklines so I avoid those. Even with a mock turtleneck there is often a gaping hole to be filled with a scarf if I want to be warm. Of course, a scarf can buffer irritating wool or scratchy stitching.

When I first read this post last night I had just hung two silk scarves up to dry. Don't let anyone tell you silk has to be dry cleaned.

mountainmoma's picture

I wear baselayers and I havent been heating until the evening. So, I am wearing a terramar silk long john bottom, the nice thing about the silk is it is very thin so does not show under jeans, this makes me so much warmer. Then, I also have a baselayer top, which right now is alternating between a 100% wool baselayer top and a patagonia mix of wool/recycled synthetic. Another benefit of either of these tops is that they do not hold scent very well at all, so they can be reworn a few times before needing to be washed, I air them out over night. Then, I am also wearing a flanel shirt and either a used cashmere sweater or a military surplus polar fleece. This is for inside. If I am sitting still, I will then also have a blanket on my lap. Maybe a knit hat.

I have a 3 layer bedding, fist flannel pj's, then a down comforter, a wool blanket over that. I do not heat at night

In the summer, I wear loose summer dresses or skirts. Or loose overalls with just a tank top underneath to work in. Just a top sheet on the bed.

lathechuck's picture

It can be especially chilly in my basement ham-radio / computer room, so when I wore out the sleeves on a nylon shell jacket, I saved the hood and some of the shoulder fabric before throwing the rest away. Not only does it go on easily over my headphones when I get chilly down here, it's big enough to cover my bike helmet, so I'm comfortable riding in cool weather (mid-40s).

I heat the house to 64 degrees in the winter and it's cold. I'm the only one who suffers.
To help combat wanting to turn up the thermostat, I keep several lightweight jackets (from Goodwill). They live on the backs of my computer desk chair, my kitchen desk chair, and my sewing machine chair.
When I sit down at any of those chairs to work, the jacket is already there.

I choose lighter-weight loosely fitted jackets so I can layer them on top of the turtleneck and heavy sweater I'm already wearing.
In addition, I keep a lap quilt and a knitted hat for my computer desk because it's the coldest corner of the house for me.

This is the same computer desk I wrote a lengthy front page essay. It's got the towels draped underneath it to trap heat.
Yes, this works too, since my lower body has a much smaller space to heat.

I'm thinking about adding another row of towels draped across the front underside of the desk. When I sit, those towels would automatically drape across my lap and legs so I wouldn't have to root about for the lap quilt.

As I read these comments, I was wondering if anyone used a high energy food item like bacon(fat) or butter(fat) or rich meat broth to help stay warm. I am sure you all have warm drinks to hand as well, but what about food items?

Years ago a friend of mine who did a lot of outdoor camping, backpacking, river rafting and the like related a story of something that she and a friend did after a rather skimpy dinner provided by the rafting company. Apparently there were a lot of little butter pats left over after dinner. It was getting cold on the river and everyone was bedding down, but before my friend and her friend turned in, they ate all the leftover butter pats and found that they were warm all night. I can only speculate that such high energy food would keep you warm.

Does anyone use such a strategy?

I know that very traditional cooking doesn't spare the fat; it's calories and, as you suggest, warmth.

Terry Pratchett (the Discworld series) does a huge amount of research into his fantasy novels and in the colder regions, his characters eat fat-soup (spelled with many umlauts). The reasoning is that it's nourishing and keeps out the cold.

I think you're correct!
My mother grew up smearing bacon grease on ryebread because it was a) available and b) delicious. It still is and what really is the difference between bacon grease and butter?

Sadly, I can't afford the calories to do the same.

lathechuck's picture

I made a batch of biscuits (to put starch next to the chili bowl) this evening. I used whole wheat and whole rye flour (2:1 ratio), and chicken fat and butter (2:1) as shortening. The chicken fat cooked out of a chicken that I roasted a couple of weeks ago, so I let the pan drippings solidify in the refrigerator, pulled the fat layer off "for later", and made the gelatine-thickened broth into chicken stew. Anyway, the biscuits were delicious (especially so, after I spent an hour or so out in the orchard, pruning pear trees).

What's the difference between chicken fat, bacon fat, and butter? Nutritionally, not very much, but the dairy industry has a better marketing program. I've used all three as "something to spread on bread", with happy results. (And, I should say, I'm 6'2", and 160 lbs, so engage my taste for fats in moderation, and try to minimize my sugar consumption... except for a tablespoon of local honey on a stack of pancakes, once a week.)

I regularly use a drop biscuit recipe from The Joy of Cooking, the 1997 version on page 790 (Drop Biscuits with Oil).
As long as the fat is LIQUID, any kind will do.

I've used olive oil, vegetable oil, melted bacon grease, melted mixed meat fat, melted butter, and melted shortening.

They all work. They all taste different. We (dear daughter and I) alter the seasonings (herbs, spices, bacon bits) to suit the fat.

Stir in some grated cheese and you've got wonderful eating.
This is quickest and most flexible biscuit recipe ever.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Thinking of an elderly friend who died 35 years ago, I remember her telling me about her happy youth in the American midwest. In winter, she and her siblings and friends would go sleigh riding --horse drawn!-- just for the fun of it. When they returned home they would drink hot milk with lumps of butter added to it. Indulgent calories that perhaps helped keep them warm.

Again, I think looking to the past sometimes does have ideas for the present and future.

I have been knitting cowls with sock yarn for some years now. They are useful to gift but I have kept a fair number. The advantage over scarves is that they don't come unravelled and need no wrangling. They are also pretty. The pattern I use can be found on Ravelry:
I have also taken to wearing skirts over leggings. It gives a layer of warm air.
Oh, and fingerless mitts from Knitty:

David Trammel's picture

A new circle on clothing, has merit. Let me think on how to integrate it. For pure symbology, I like to keep the circles at thirteen but that's not set in stone.

In accordance with the suggestions made at the beginning of this month, I have drawn up some possible rearrangements of the Circles on this site.

Keeping in mind that no filing system is universally acclaimed; most are highly idiosyncratic; and the dreary fact that any new method of re-organization will entail a slog of work indexing, reclassifying, tagging, cross-referencing and/or moving of extant posts, these suggested ways of organizing might be best considered as potential for future cataloguing than for the past.

One method could be Directional, as in constructing a Memory Palace or Memory Mansion. In the East will be stored things of the Dawn and the Morning: How to Begin, Daily Devotions, 1st Quarter of the Horticultural year, and so on. In the South, How to Grow: work pertaining to the land and home in the 2nd Quarter of the growing season. In the West will be haying, harvest, food preservation and so on. This does not address the Directional and Seasonal Attitudes of our Antipodean fellows, but since they have Christmas in July anyway, maybe they can adapt this system to their own Palaces of Memory without too much difficulty.

Another method of arrangement might be the Elemental:

EARTH: Matters to do with Rock, Stone, Pottery, Shelter, Land, Defense, Limits, Soil, Pest Control
AIR: Beginnings, Primers & 1st Principles, Mentation, Memory, Logic, Science, Jokes, Reading, Education; Communications & Signalling, Ham Radio, Semaphore; Books, Libraries, Singing, Sheet Music, & Musical instruments;
FIRE: Fuel, Food, Solar Heat, Baking, Cooking, Canning, Charcoal, Controlled Burnoffs of undergrowth, Woodland, Coppicing, Orchards, Fruiting signs, Woodworking, Cooking on the hearth and range, Herbs, Hospitality, Homely arts
WATER: Drinking, Cleaning, Soapmaking, Courage, Coping, Healing, Endings, Tinctures, Brewing, Irrigation, Rainmaking
ABOVE: Weather Prediction, Celestial Navigation,
BELOW: Death & dying, Wine cellaring, Vision Quests and Dreaming
WITHIN: Matters of the Soul and Spiritual Arts Family, livestock, whole systems environmental, religion, magic, philosophy, wisdom traditions; Psychology, Healing Arts

A third option for classifying collected information might be a simple Trinity:

HARDWARE: Things to do with Things
SOFTWEAR: Things to do with People
FIRMWARE: Things to do with Patterns of Info.
Under this option, sewing machine repair falls under HARDWARE. Clothing repair is under SOFTWEAR. Tailoring and quilting techniques and PATTERNS are under FIRMWARE.

HARDWARE: Tools, Engines, Plumbing, Building, Milling, Pumping, Sewing Machines, Wellheads, Radios, etc. All Things Wood & Metal.

SOFTWEAR: Clothing, Shoes, Linens, Knitting, Towels, Tailoring, Quilting, Rope, Sails, Knots, Tents, Yurts, All Things Flexible and Fibrous

FIRMWARE: Weather Knowledge, Sailing Techniques, Wine-making, Brick-making, Pottery, Charcoal-making, Biochar, Masonry, Carpentry, All Things Changeable yet Eternal

Or, the Trinity of choice might feature different Properties. CARDINAL, MUTABLE, and FIXED, for example. Under this Trine, it would be Things Yielding, Things Unyielding, and Things Initiating Movement.

A fourth option will be to have no system nor any dividing lines between Knowledge Containers, but only to maintain an ever-growing Index of Posts alphabetically and let things fall where they may.

A possibility growing out of this fourth option leads to the fifth method: the cladistic.

Some life sciences no longer use the Linnean hierarchies of Family, Species, and more general classes. Instead, entities are grouped in related clusters with links to other clusters or nodes of a network having an uncertain shape, indefinite linkings within and flexible multi-connections.

If we leave the posts to organize themselves for a while, they might naturally fall into recognizable patterns of quasi-family relatedness that make shorter heuristic pathways for discovery to a newcomer and which suggest useful groupings for an experienced user. Each individual’s Memory Palace is apt to be unique, anyhow; it would be impracticable to attempt an exact one-to-many mapping satisfactory to all scholars.

You might retain your symbolism of 13 under any of the methods outlined here.
The Directional method could divide Time into 13 28-day months of the Land Year. This will entail different tasks than the 13 divisions of the Sea Year. The Sea Year will have Seven Oceans and Six Seasons.

The Elemental could provide Seven Elements plus Wood, Metal, Mirth, Piebald or Mixed, BeanySeedy, Time, and Dark or Unknown.

The Trinity could pick up your current Circles and distribute them unevenly across the Trine.

The 26-letter alphabet divides neatly into two groups of thirteen or thirteen groups of two.

The Cladistic method could specify no more than 13 levels of differentiation, similar in effect to Kingdom, Phylum, etc.

Um. I'm used to what we have. I don't want to discourage you, gkb, but my gosh. You're much smarter than I'll ever be.

Your suggestions overwhelm me. I've figured out what we have and can work within it when I add a new forum post, like Winter Laundry.

Perhaps a poll of the users?

LoL, that's why I said not to try to reorg what we already have. These are ideas for David to decide how to catalog his entries when he has time to attend to daily or weekly postings of his own, plus whatever we contribute. I think a simple trinity is best, as in triage, and the more complex cross-referencing can wait.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Hello all, I been quiet for awhile but my hands have been busy and I've poked around here a bit and after reading this thread last week I brought out my scarf. We keep our thermostat set to 66, so it's nice to have on the colder nights, and my workplace is in an old industrial space. We have radiant heat from the ceiling, but its often cold in the building, and the scarf has really helped.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

I want to bring back the cloak, but also like to blend in more or less. Still, I think it would be awesome if more people where cloaks.

This one is awesome, but way outside my price range:

Apparently this company, Sesena, makes elegant capes for the upper crust (where cloak wearing is still a thing? I wouldn't know). I need the budget friendly "down home" cloak!

I looked at the pictures. The model would have looked far better if he'd been wearing socks. Very jarring.

As for the cape, it's essentially a circle skirt with a much smaller circle for the caplet and a mandarin collar.
It's fully lined (you can see a flash of red), making it both easier to slip on and off, and covering all the inner seams.
The closure is as basic as they come: a hook and eye. It's the fanciest one I've ever seen but that's what it is.

I've made dozens of capes for costumes and kid's birthday gifts. Eight-year-olds ADORE getting a super hero cape for a gift.
They are easy to sew if you've got a cape pattern (huge variety) or a circle skirt pattern.
The key is that a cape or circle skirt is made of pie wedges, thus narrowing the fabric at the neck or waist. Go to the fabric store and leaf through the pattern books in the costume section and you'll see plenty of variations.
Or look on line. McCalls has a really nice line of historical costuming, but Halloween costumes (simpler) will work too. Or modify a circle skirt.

As for the lining, you're making two capes: the fashion face which everyone sees and the lining. They get sewn separately and then sewn together. The lining is needed because it makes the cape hang better. Use slippery fabric for the lining so it doesn't catch on your clothes.

If you're careful with your sewing, you can make your cape fully reversible although this does lead to pocket issues.
The fashion fabric can be pretty much whatever you want.

It's all straight seams. Make one first out of old bed sheets before you cut expensive fashion fabric. The fabric store will sell you a fancy hook and eye to hand-sew at the neckline.

If you know someone who can sew an a-line skirt with a zipper, they can sew a lined cape.