When it comes to keeping warm, some people prefer the lightweight warmth of a microfleece scarf or blanket. Others prefer to lose themselves in a heavy-knit sweater or under a thick comforter. Tights, turtlenecks and UGG boots are staples for some. For others, it’s fleece for day, flannel for night. Luckily, many have become experts at layering – whether they’re heading into the office or out to the slopes.
While it’s wise to get your own winter wardrobe and home in shape for the cold months ahead, the holidays are the time to give gifts of warmth – whether it’s buying plush slippers for a favorite aunt or donating coats, blankets and other items to those in need.
This time of year also offers opportunities to discover what wintry items local artisans are creating, from felted hats to alpaca gloves to pretty candles that will visually warm up a room.
Take note: Today is the final day of the Parkside Community Association’s Eighth Annual Holiday Art and Craft Show, which takes place from noon to 5 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 96 Jewett Parkway. Admission: $2. Visit www.parksidebuffalo.org.
And Artists in Buffalo will present its 14th annual Holiday Open Studios and Galleries from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and next Sunday. For details, visit www.artistsinbuffalo.org.
In the meantime, turn to Page F3 to find some items we dug up to keep you warmer – yet still stylish.
For a unique look, felted accessories are a stylish – and warm – way to go. Buffalo textile artist Linda Collignon, who calls her business Raveloe Fibers, creates a colorful line of hand-felted flower brooches, hats and scarves, priced $35 to $75, using the wet felting technique. It’s done by layering and gently agitating wool fibers together by hand with soap and hot water to form a firm, felted cloth.
“Wet felting is a traditional felting technique that is very warm because it is impenetrable to wind, repels water and is lightweight so you don’t feel weighed down,” Collignon said.
“I sometimes incorporate silk fabric into it so it is more lightweight and strong,” she added.
Her collection can be seen through Dec. 15 at Indigo Art, 47 Allen St. (see www.indigoartbuffalo.com), as part of the “Far from the Madding Crowd” Holiday Artisan PopUp Sale. Her accessories also are available next weekend at the Burchfield Penney Art Center during the Holiday Open Studios and Galleries. See www.artistsinbuffalo.org for event details.
When you think flannel, you think plaid, right? Well, flannel bedding, a winter must-have for many, branches out in the pattern department. Lands’ End this season offers a super-sized paisley print in black on a cream background on a duvet cover and matching shams – smashing with garnet-red flannel sheets. L.L. Bean puts a botanical floral on its Ultrasoft Comfort flannel sheet set, as well as evergreen branches and pine cones on another. Garnet Hill (www.garnethill.com) offers a full range of flannel prints – from cupcakes and polka dots to ponies and penguins.
There are plenty of fresh takes on plaids, too. The Martha Stewart Collection at Macy’s includes the Sleigh Ride Plaid Flannel pattern – including a duvet cover in the oversized white plaid with black accents on a red background. This can be mixed with flannel sheets in several coordinating patterns, including a damask floral.
Of course, other fun prints can be found on flannel pajamas for the whole family, including holiday and seasonal themes.
This winter you will find faux fur in expected places, such as a faux-fur trim on a detachable hood on a parka, for instance. But it also makes some surprise appearances, such as on the Nate Berkus Faux Fur Stool, $54.99, introduced at Target earlier this season.
In addition, you will find faux-fur vests – a big trend – as well as dressy faux fur jackets, neckwarmers, earmuffs, booties, slippers and handbags. A real head-turner: A faux-fur trim of generous proportions dresses up an oversized cocoon cardigan from Guess, $138, spotted in the Lord & Taylor holiday catalog.
For the home, look for faux-fur blankets, throws, pillows, beanbag and butterfly chairs, teens’ sleeping bags (found on www.PBteen.com) and more.
Cathy Hinze, who owns Alpaca Play Pen in Attica with her husband, Jim, participated in last weekend’s 34th Annual Holiday Gift Show at the Kenan Center in Lockport. While knitting a pair of fingerless alpaca gloves near her display of yarns, clothing and accessories, she explained what makes alpaca so appealing.
“Alpaca fiber is five times warmer than sheep’s wool, three times lighter, and 80 to 90 percent of the people who can not wear wool can wear alpaca. It doesn’t have the itch factor that wool has. It also wicks moisture away from your body so you can wear it in the summer,” said Hinze, who makes socks, gloves and sweaters from alpaca yarns. A few years ago, she even made a wedding dress from woven alpaca fabric for a fashion show at an alpaca farm in Ohio.
Her alpaca fingerless gloves, available in two lengths, cost $25 to $30.
Alpaca yarns and clothing are available elsewhere in Western New York, including alpaca farm shops (see www.alpacabreedersofwny.com) and yarn shops, such as Karma Knitting and Clothing, 5546 Main St., Williamsville.
Many people turn to down – or a down alternative – in coats for day and comforters for night. This season, quilted insulated coats, parkas and puffers come in a range of colors – including brights and jewel tones. Some are filled with goose or duck down (or combined with feathers); others have a synthetic downlike insulation. Some are labeled “packable” and even come with a drawstring travel bag.
You’ll notice that many of today’s styles are tailored to look sleeker than some from the past. Waist-defining belts, princess seams and diagonal or vertical stitching help eliminate the Michelin Man look.
The outerwear experts at Lands’ End also point this out: The higher the fill power the greater insulation, so you can use less of it, eliminating excess bulk. Its knee-length Chalet coat for women with 600 fill power down insulation is described as providing “warmth without weight.”
Fill power is a key factor when choosing a comforter, too.
This from Bed, Bath & Beyond’s online buying guide to down: “High-quality down has a high fill power and is much loftier than down of a lower quality. That means down comforters with high fill power require fewer ounces of down to create a lightweight comforter that generates the same level of warmth.”
A fill power rating of 550 to 750 is considered very good, while a fill power rating over 750 is considered excellent, the retailer added.