Cold hands, warm heart

I had a very fiberish weekend, well in keeping with the time of year. The Great Canadian Furnace Wars are in full swing in the McPhee clan, and anything that involves wool is very welcome. Last year the ongoing battle to see who could go the longest without turning on the heat involved a great deal of confusion. My Uncle Tupper and his wife visited Ian, and since Susan isn’t a McPhee, she compelled him to turn on his heat. Ian complied (he is nothing if not a good host) and provided heat for the duration of their visit, then turned it off again and outlasted me from that point.

(I say this means he lost, since managing outside influences is part of the Furnace Wars, and why you turned your furnace on is irrelevant. On is on. Dude lost.) Ian disagrees, and the lack of clarity surrounding who the victor was has only impelled both of us to do better this year.

Ken (who lives downstairs from my Mum) turned on their heat last week, thus disqualifying both of them. (We suspected that this would anger my mother, but it turned out that she had snuck it on briefly the week before) My sister Erin was unceremoniously turfed from the contest three days ago when the temperature outside fell to 0 degrees (32 Fahrenheit) and it was discovered by a mole (my daughter, who was babysitting) that she was using her fireplace to heat her home. Ian and I discussed it, and we were clear. That’s heat. She’s out.

Therefore, the two cheapskates virtuous contestants left in the match are Ian and me. In past years I have been held back from the full glory of my skills by the presence of small children, but now – they are young women and the fact that they carry McPhee DNA could not be more apparent. The girls discussed it the other night, and in addition to the financial and environmental rewards reaped by waiting, they also have embraced the glory of kicking their Uncle Ian’s arse on this, and have broken out the sweaters, afghans, wool socks and hot water bottles to make it possible.

(I think that even if I wanted to turn on the heat now, I would be outvoted.) We are baking bread, we are making soup…and I – armed with the best defence possible (and regretting every woolly thing I have ever knit my brother, since he is not turning it against me) am playing with wool and planning to defend our position in the Furnace Wars with knitwear.

While I waited for the Sunrise Circle wool to dry (slower than expected, probably due to the low indoor temperatures and dampness) I really meant to work on the Rotating Rib socks, but a comment from Linda reminding me of these sent me scurrying to the stash and bookshelf.

I am an enormous fan of the book Selbuvotter, Biography of a Knitting Tradition, by the lovely Terri Shea, since it feeds a chronic low grade obsession with fancy mittens that flares up every once in a while. This beautiful book concerns itself with the handcoverings of the Norwegian Selbu folk tradition, and there’s both mittens and gloves.

I let Amanda pick a pattern she thought was good (steering her off of the gloves) rounded up some Kroy in off-white and some seriously pretty Shelridge Farm handpainted sock yarn, and I went off to the races.

Selburipfull2810

Looks good, yes?

Selburipplam2810-1

No. It’s an illusion. That is actually a pretty poor mitten for a bunch of reasons, and actually, we can speak of it in the past tense, since it has already met with a vicious ripping and been replaced with this:

Newselbuback2810

I know it doesn’t look much different, but it is. For starters, I decided the Kroy was too stiff and heavy compared to the Shelridge Farm stuff, then there is the fact that upon closer examination I was apparently only doing an “interpretation” of the chart for the cuff rather than the chart itself, which was an error I could have lived with except that it led to a further error (too many stitches) which I then compounded by doing another “interpretation” of the palm chart, which I also could have lived with except that it became obvious that it sort of looked like ass and wasn’t going to come to a point evenly at the top. I knit on for a while trying to figure out if I cared….and by the time I worked out that I really cared a lot….I had the better part of a mitten. (A thousand curses on slow thinking. )

Samantha came out from under the wool blankets she was snuggling in long enough to help me rip it back to zero. I replaced the Kroy in off-white with Sisu in cloud white, followed the chart (what a concept) and now I’m much happier….

Selbuwork1St2810-2

As I’ve slogged through though, I’ve realized that there may be a flaw in my plan to use wool as a secret weapon in the Furnace Wars. I think Ian can buy mittens faster than I can knit them.

260 thoughts on “Cold hands, warm heart

  1. It’s the same at our house…except it’s me who refuses to turn the heat and my SO who cranks it whenever it dips below 60. But we live in LosAngeles so it’s easy to get away with no heat.

  2. you and my husband. jeez. what’s wrong with a little heat? ask my DH to turn on the furnace so we don’t see our breath hanging in the air and it’s like I asked him to donate a testicle to science.

  3. Oh! So lovely!
    I’d whup any McPhee’s butt in the furnace wars, by virtue of geography. Here in LA, heat is entirely voluntary. With socks and a sweater, I’d never need to turn it on.
    On the other hand, we can’t live without air conditioning.

  4. We only turned off our air conditioner last week. I love cold weather, sweaters, blankets, and scarves. My husband and I would win that contest hands down versus other members of our family…it helps that we have two big dogs that insist on sitting as close to us as possible.

  5. …yes, he can buy them, but they won’t be nearly so nice.
    Quote from my friends-from-Minnesota’s then-ten year old son, at the onset of fall: “Are we not going to turn the furnace on again this fall?”

  6. I caved yesterday when the wool socks and wool sweater wouldn’t keep me warm. It was 33ยฐF last night. Wimp, I know.

  7. Wow, those mittens are gorgeous!
    I live in Michigan and we broke down and turned the furnace on after the football game this weekend, being cold and wet made the heat necessary. Good luck, I hope you beat your brother!

  8. But let’s be serious here, don’t you have enough wool to completely insulate your house? Ian never stood a chance, really.

  9. Ha, furnace wars. I love it! It’s that time of year, for sure. We went from 80 degree balmy days to feather comforters down here in Maryland. It’s sweater time, for sure. And don’t I love it.
    The mittens are stunning, but then again, I’m a sucker for anything with a little history behind it.

  10. I was just thinking about the Furnace Wars over the weekend and wondering if they would come up on the blog soon. Best of luck to you. Keep knitting. I’ll bet a big PC monitor and some of your husband’s equipment can throw off a lot of heat too…

  11. I love the mittens, and I may have to join in on the ‘knit things to keep warm’ game, as I’m curious to see how long my landlord will go without turning on the heat. Montreal has been a bit warmer than Toronto over the past week, but it’s definitely getting nippy out there now!

  12. Yeah, but then the knitting world would know that the BROTHER of the Harlot resorted to such cheap trickery as store-bought mittens. Dude would be unworthy of hand-knit socks for a loooong time after that.

  13. I had to turn the heat on last week when my elderly Sheltie was shivering one morning. He passed on Saturday, but since it’s on there’s no use in going back is there?

  14. We still have the air conditioner coming on at my house. I’d LOVE to need to use the furnace. Maybe I’ll see if we can go all winter, since it never goes below freezing here. Hmm….

  15. I applaud anyone who with teenagers is able to resist the furnace. My husband is from Florida and he starts talking about the furnace early. Also my only daughter left at home is frantic for the furnace but is walking around in Shorts, sweat shirts and wrapped in a blanket. Best wishes. cecilia

  16. OK…. but don’t let your pipes freeze.. Actually, now that I think of it you could have an edge over your brother by knitting pipe cozies. Your daughters could help with the knitting…

  17. Beautiful! That’s a knitting frontier I have yet to conquer – stranded mittens! I s’pose I ought to get really good at colorwork and mittens separately before combining them, haha.
    Good luck in the Furnace Wars! I’m usually the cheap one who has to fight my roommates to leave the heat off, but now I live alone and don’t have to fight with anyone! Woohoo! I’m confident your part of the McPhee clan will win out! =)

  18. I’m in a similar “heat war” at home, but the only one I am battling is myself. It’s been pretty balmy in MN for October (now almost Nov) so it’s hard to complain. We’ve just shut the window in the bedroom a week ago. Last night we just added another blanket. Add to that 2 cats and we have been doing just fine.
    Like the mittens! I’ve just started the snowflake socks in Interweave out of Baby Ull.

  19. Furnace War. . .we could play seeing as we have yet to turn the furnace on this year and as I type there are six men on top of my house putting on a new roof and unnerving the daylights out of me because I can see every step they take by the bending in the ceiling. They say it will be warmer when they are done.
    I’m wondering how a large man-sized hole will be warmer.
    Beautiful mittens! I hate making and wearing them, but yours are so lovely as to make a girl think twice about her prejudices.
    Are they a holiday gift? Or aren’t we worried about that yet?

  20. The mittens are gorgeous — I’m glad you had a ripping back helper, though, since ripping back two colors can be a bear to manage (ask me how I know). I wish we were considering the heater down here; I’m wearing Kauni in defiance of the actual weather, just because it’s done and I need to. I would gladly trade you a few degrees to help you out in the Wars. I hope the sweater wool dries soon (does a hair dryer count as heating?)!

  21. Make homemade baked beans! Requires having the oven on for hours, and makes the house smell great. My husband is from Maine so he gave me a bean pot early in our relationship. Not that he likes them much having suffered from childhood overexposure…lobster either!

  22. Furnace Wars! I love it. I try to hold off until at least November, but I don’t always succeed. The weather has been cooperating here this year, though. I try to say, Oh, the kids need heat, but the truth is, they’re both hot-blooded and I am cold all the time. It’s part of the reason I really don’t like winter at all.

  23. Ah, fall. After a hot summer, one treasures the chilly mornings and basks in the warm afternoon sunshine. One of these days, it’s going to get COLD, tho, so the treasuring part is good right now. DH was getting chills in the house, so I caved and put the furnace on last week or so. It’s actually colder in the house than it is outside these days! We installed programmable thermostats last year and they really help.
    Cheers!

  24. Amy in StL, so sorry about your dog! That is awful, it’s very hard to lose a pet.
    When I was 19 and living on my own for the first time, the roommates and I didn’t realize that our furnace had oil, and the oil had to be replaced. When the tank totally ran dry in January and it took 3 days for the oil supplier to come, I got to know serious cold. Water glass by the side of the bed with ice on the top cold. I have never recovered.

  25. As my favorite podcaster (Brenda Dayne) always says, “If you’re cold, put on a sweater. That’s what they’re for”.
    Go McPhee Clan Go.

  26. Bwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Gotcha! I’m knitting the same hand, with a different cuff. My first attempt at stranding on DPNS. Slow, but I’m getting the hang of it. And the patterns are so gorgeous it’s hard to put down.
    P.S., unless he left the house immediately upon turning on the heat, and did not return until all vestages of said heat had dissapated, Ian definitely lost last year.

  27. Yeah! You’re making mittens! Love the colors you are using.
    As for the furnace….er….I seem to flip from heat to air and back again whenever my “hormones” dictate it. My husband decides it is better to pay more money for heating and cooling than to have the climate wrong in my house and have my head spinning around.
    I really did try at one point.
    Happy Knitting!

  28. Fireplace – no; soup & bread baking – yes. What if your sister had made popcorn, let’s say, or a pot of stew? It seems that it is a heat for heat’s sake rule. While I respect your fortitude, I have turned ours on a bit (but only during the day, night time is still for wool blankets & socks).
    But I digress – I’ve been wanting that Selbuvotter book for some time now. And seeing how quickly you are knitting up those lovely mittens only makes my longing stronger. (This is of course crazy since I don’t even begin to knit at your speed, but still, a girl can fantasize).

  29. I was noticing and admiring the lovely colored wooden dpn’s. Are they the ones from Knit Picks? If anyone else knows, please post. I must get them for Christmas!

  30. We don’t have control over our heat – it comes on Oct. 15 whether we need it or not, and off on June 1 regardless. We have window wars. I just bought a book on knitting 2 socks at the same time with circular needles, thinking I would use up my sock yarn stash 2x fast. If I could make mittens too – just now finishing a 2nd pair from a 12-month mitten pattern brochure – just think how fast I could use up that yarn! Really, I need the space.

  31. I saw that the girls owe you when it comes to Furnace Wars since in their youth, they cost you the battle. Now that they are older they can help and you can beat your brother through the ingenious use of numbers. 1-all five of you can sit close together thus using body heat to keep warm. 2-teenagers have friends…have the girls invite people over to increase the body heat available for warming (but only in the common area of the house as they are indeed teenagers ^-^). 3-baking!!! The girls can take turns baking things for their friends which means with three girls on a rotating schedule you could have the oven on for a good chunk of every day.
    May you be victorious the year. Long live Clan Harlot!

  32. Dude… that mitten is freaking intense. Seriously. And your house has all that wool for insulation. Ergo, you should probably last longer. For the glory of the wool!

  33. I don’t think anyone here in Oz has any concept of how FRIKKIN COLD it gets in Canada – we’d ALL lose the Furnace Wars! Good luck lasting it out! Do you think Ian would twig if you asked him for all those knitting things back so you could, um, wash them for him?
    Mitten is just gorgeous ๐Ÿ˜€

  34. aah… i remember those days. now our heat is rolled into our maintenance and i know that most of the neighbors have the heat on high and all the lights 24/7 (much like they did with the AC). we conserve but there isn’t much fun in it since we pay for their waste. when i successfully track down a funky draft (i’ve been shoving polyfilled store-bought socks through all the crevices for 5 years) which only affects ME, i’ll be much happier. in the meantime, may the wool wars be well!

  35. You C’nucks are tough! I finally succombed and turned our furnace on last Friday. It dropped to 27*F two nights in a row and the kids were complaining. Here I thought I was the only person in the universe to play “See how long we can hold off” on the furnace front.
    Did I mention I’m in Iowa? That’s like a southern holiday spot for northern Canadians. At least it seems that many Canadian geese enjoy it throughout the winter.
    You should SOOOOO win!!!
    Kim

  36. *face*palm*
    Thank you so much for showing me that those mittens do not have to be black and white. I swear it hadn’t even occured to me, and I’d been stalling on starting a pair. Now I’m going to look for white and a wedgewood blue. Yay!

  37. GOOOOOOO team Stephanie!!!
    You can do it, and with your girls backing you up you are a shoe in (or a sock in) to win. I have no say in when the heat comes on in our house…it’s up to my husband each year. And the man never gets cold. Of course we are in Baltimore, not Canada! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Lovely mittens, they make me smile in their fanciness!

  38. I really think I need that book, if only for the charts. Good luck with the furnace war. May your knitting not be slowed by numb fingers.

  39. Yay, go mittens, go! Sure he can buy some, but they won’t have the love in every stitch like yours do.
    Re:Furnace Wars. My dad would so love you. When I was little and we were freezing, my mom would wait until my dad went to work, and then turn on the furnace, saying, “Now, don’t tell your father.” We baked lots of cookies too. There should totally be a group on Ravelry for Furnace Wars, or Knitting for Warmth or something catchy. It could be an international contest! The participants could all promise to send something wooly to the winner every fall/winter.
    Bless Ian’s little heart, he doesn’t stand a chance, really. Maybe you should start working on his consolation prize.

  40. Funny. I thankfully cracked this morning…only to discover that something is awry in this household, because the furnace will only stay on for 30 seconds…I’m waiting for the furnace man now, as many others have not yet cracked under the cold and appointment was easy. This year, I’m glad I’m weak!

  41. Humm, I think I may have won the heat war for the past few years, the heat in my flat is broken and my space heater was recalled for defects! That translated to an entire (very snowy) winter sans heat, and a sudden urge to knit in the round to learn to knit in the round for socks and mitts! But I do live in a third floor apartment so I get everyone’s rising heat! Still, it’s beastly to get out of the nice warm shower in the morning…

  42. Parties. You need to have parties. We had a Halloween party on Friday and even though I shut off the furnace at 2:00 in the afternoon and opened a couple of windows at 5:30, the house just got hotter and hotter as the night went on. By the end of the evening Husband had every ceiling fan in the house on and most of the windows open. There was frost on the ground in the morning, but we were cooking inside.

  43. The local news are mentioning all the misguided and misinformed tourists from Up North who arrive here with short shorts and halter tops……..
    It’s been 2 degrees C at night and around 10-12 degrees C during the day…..which is almost true for inside temps also…..and that since last week !
    Furnace, central heat and such words are almost unknown here as are their concepts……..
    I have been sitting around in three sweaters, a polar Fleece jacket and a hat listening to La Bohรฉme………. und will knit myself a pair of mittens with removable fingers.
    I made soup and simmered it until there was almost nothing left and the kitchen did not warm up……..the upper walls have bricks missing ( intentionally in a pretty design )……it’s for ventilation in tropical climate……..go figure.
    Furnace wars……..ahhhh…….it would mean I had a choice……
    Angelika
    Mexico City

  44. For some reason, the hot water bottles sound like cheating to me… [veg] You could also dry some fruit or something, y’know. Make fruit leather? You need the oven on at the lowest possible temp it has for that, and the oven door cracked just a bit so all moisture will escape. Hee! (That’s really cheating, but all is fair in the furnace wars!)

  45. There’s hope for the future, though. At some point down the road, you may join those of us experiencing what might delicately be called “personal summer.” Visitors to my house shiver in sweaters while I fan myself. There’s always a light of some sort at the end of the tunnel. The mitten is gorgeous!

  46. I love it! Furnace wars! Sometimes I feel like I own the electrical company, so I too, wait until I can wait no longer. Good Luck! Thanks for the laugh!

  47. Yes, my husband was hoping to make it to November before turning on the heat, but I nixed that this morning, after last night – central NY, freezing temps. I slept like a rock, though; there is some good in these cold temps – great sleeping weather! So, while I have already given in, I cheer you on – good luck! Also, the mittens – Ooooo. That was my reaction to every photo…they are beautiful! I love the bit of variegation that enhances the pattern. Beautiful beautiful!

  48. oh!oh!OH! my heart aches with the beauty of all things scandinavian. curse you yarny! just when i am struggling to curb and control my latest binge of book/yarn buying, you go and show me those mittens. AAARRGGGHH!! must… get…. out… credit…card….clicking… on… link..now…urge is too great…. resistance is… futile…

  49. Um … perhaps you COULD buy mitts more quickly, but they wouldn’t be nearly as fabulous as those you knit. Scrumptious! Must admit that we have not only used the fireplace but also the furnace. Definitely not your long-lost sister.

  50. Love, love, love the mittens. I wish it got cold enough here for mittens. That being said, I would never win the furnace wars as we turned our heater on last week, and we live in southeast Texas.

  51. I’ve met Teri and she is that rare kind of speaker with both a strong sense of self and a wicked self-depricating sense of humore. I’m so glad she had the guts to publish this herself and even happier that she’s done well with it.
    I, on the other hand, don’t wear or knit mittens, grew up in a house with inadequate heat and insulation while having a hotter-than-normal, easily-chilled adolescent metabolism, and now have thermostat controlled heat that just does its own thing year round. Still, I keep the temperature lowish and knit in a sweater and two cats.

  52. The mittens are stunning as usual. I have the book lurking in my stash as well and plan to give some of the glove patterns a try not really being a mitten girl myself. As for the furnace wars, surely you have the larger cheering section ๐Ÿ˜‰

  53. Doesn’t making soup, especially in large quantities, essentially give you a smallish but still effective boiler radiating heat nicely in the kitchen? Clever, very clever.
    The mittens are amazing. Am I correct that you work at least three, possibly four colors at a time?

  54. My parents and I, much to the consternation of my husband, are also engaged in the furnace wars. This is the first year we’ve owned our own house, so I told my husband that we could put the money we are saving on heat into his “I wanna plasma TV” fund. I think he capitulated.

  55. That’s a lovely, lovely mitten.
    Alas, since my heat controls the heat for the rest of my building, I’m not allowed to leave it off. Or even turn it down 5ยบF…

  56. Well, you can always dye yarn and roving. Using the oven to set the dye of course; a new cycle for each colorway…
    Best of luck in the heat wars, you ladies can win!

  57. You should go to Crunchy Chicken’s website and register for the “freeze yer buns off” contest to see who can keep there thermostat the lowest. I think the off setting is pretty darn low, if you ask me!

  58. You go girl…girls…and Joe! You can always wrap the pipes in wool to keep them from freezing, and who says the wool has to be KNIT in order to be warm? I say bring it all out and wallow in it! We look forward to hailing your victory! Would that mean more reward yarn? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  59. I have small children–I am disqualified…however I do try to toughen them up by leaving the windows open above our bed until it gets to be I.F.C. inside the house, at which point my children jump on me and insist that they are not sea otters, polar bears, or manatees and that humans need heat. I beg to differ, but I am often, alas, outvoted.

  60. I must admit I’m impressed. It was 69 at home this afternoon and I was “freezing”. I don’t know if I could survive those temperatures. I’m a “southern” (from sunny Guatemala) bird.

  61. Ditto on the “don’t let the pipes freeze” comments.
    Water freezes at 32degreesF/0degreesC. Frozen pipes break and leak. Plumbers cost lots more than a little heat, and so do people to repair (and replace) everything in the basement, including all that high-tech equipment and Mr. Washie.
    Frozen pipes and hypothermia are Bad.

  62. I go through a personal battle with everyone else in the house every year re: heating. Mostly it involves me huddling on the couch in sweatshirts and woolens and glaring at my mother until she has enough of my crap and turns it on. It’s a ritual.
    I just got Selbuvotter a few days ago and immediately went to Needles & Knits for authentic Norwegian wool (which, holy crap, spoilt for choice). Not only are the mittens and gloves beautiful, they’re so much fun too!

  63. Can I win too, I haven’t had a working heater in 6 years. Yes I know we should get it fixed but it just seems too extravagent when I only REALLY need it a few nights a season. If we had kids it would be different, but two adults, a cat and dog all in a king bed with down comforter makes more heat then I can usually stand.

  64. Y’know what is freakin’ hilarious in my household? I grew in Florida, South Florida to boot and I can outlast my hubby (born and raised in Ohio, northeast Ohio) for months when it comes to turning on the heat. He turns it on, I turn it off. I go to bed later than he does 90% of the time so I hear a good choice words regarding my sense of warmth each and every morning when he gets out of bed.
    I love him but, what a wimp sometimes.
    Good luck.

  65. Go Team Stephanie!
    And, they might be able to buy mittens faster than you can make them, but they won’t be so warm. AND I’d bet that Ian doesn’t have as much wool insulating the house, either. In a pinch, you can always dig out the stash and huddle in it. (And, with all that extra air in the unknitted wool, it might even be warmer than the knitted stuff.)

  66. I’d just like to point out that knitting a mitten will not keep you warm the way a lapful of grey handspun wool could. You keep harping on how big Joe is and how big the gansey is…it’d be just like knitting an afghan. Warm and toasty.
    (And since you’re not going to listen to me anyway, remember to knit a right AND a left mitten, ok?)

  67. Am I the only one that is wondering if you will make two mittens for the same hand again this year?

  68. My bet is on you .the girls and Joe in the furnace wars Unless of course Ian goes to visit someone with heat and stays till he wins . You need to write down some rules me thinks. Stunning mitts!!

  69. The judicious use of a hairdryer helps with the furnace wars as well as lighting a few candles. I try to go until November, but the Husby overules me.

  70. Seems to me that if the fireplace counts, so does extra baking to heat the house a bit from the oven and water bottles to get the heat from the hot water heater.

  71. I”m out of the furnace wars too. I usually make it to Nov., but not this year. Was out of town last week and have an ancient cat- I left the heat on while I was gone for her sake and the pipes’ sake. I enjoyed the heat the night before I left, but I turned it off when I came back.
    love the mittens

  72. Surely Stephanie, you have enough handknit wool in that house to trump Ian’s ability to get to a store fast. Unless Ian is really Donald Trump in disguise, could he really afford to buy as much wool ware, as you currently possess?
    And.. if you get desperate. Stick your hand in a skein of yarn. Tie several together and wrap around your feet. Desperate times call for desperate measures woman!
    I so get your furnace wars btw. Though we don’t have a competition with other family members, I do my best to keep the heat off as long as possible and this year is a new record. It has been turned on however. We have small children here after all.
    Stay warm and Go Team Stephanie!

  73. I’m holding out on heat, too. Until something on one of our bodies turns blue, the furnace is off! But I say you send someone to visit Ian that requires heat. Either a very small baby/child or a very old person. ๐Ÿ˜‰ All is fair in heat and war.

  74. Wonderful mittens! Inspiring me to get going on mine!! Wheeee!! And fantastic tale of the McPhee Furnace Wars! I live off the grid and only use wood heat, and gave in long ago to the Canadian West Coast chill. Good for you, and good luck.
    ~gyl

  75. I love the whole idea of “Furnace Wars”! Is there a proze for the one who keeps it off the longest?
    The mitten is absolutely lovely!

  76. Oh, the heat!
    I turned it on here in chilly Denmark (We had the first frost in week 41) October 17. It was neccesary – my piano was going out of tune (ow) and my guinea pigs were freezing (ow-ow), and my fingers were too stiff to knit (triple-ow).

  77. Sorry to ask but I really don’t know….if it is 27 degrees outside of your house, how cold is it inside?
    Sooooooooooo……..what if your sister had used the fireplace for cooking? Would it count then?
    Gorgeous mittens! Too bad it isn’t ever cold enough in Tallahassee to wear anything so lovely.
    We use a heated mattress pad for all the boys. My side of the bed is 2 and the Fiber Enabler has his on 10! The littles have theirs on around 5. Gotta love him, the man buys me yarn!

  78. Here in DC, we were in shorts and tshirts a mere 2 weeks ago, and now it’s in with the flannel jammies and wooly socks! Love the mittens, that pattern is really beautiful.

  79. I am not generally a fan of color work (neither knitting it nor the way it looks) but the mittens – YUM – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pair of that style of mitten that doesn’t make my knees go weak & these are especially lovely. The yarns in the new mitten do seem to knit together more smoothly (closer gauge match I guess) but I do like the color of the Kroy a wee bit more (less stark white). Either way a lovely, lovely mitten. Now that I am getting older, I find myself less willing to put up with the cold indoor temps. J’s mother complained bitterly about the coldness in our house when she came for Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago (& the oven was on with a turkey roasting!) – I told her that her son paid the gas bill & therefore I let him control the temp. Oddly, she didn’t assk him to turn the thermostat up. But now I really don’t like it below 67ยฐ F now.โ”‚

  80. So he can BUY them faster than you can knit them, but:
    1. You will stay warm by working harder (knitting the mittens)
    2. He is in a sense cheating by going to a nice toasty store to keep himself warm at home… you never know if he is spending extra minutes or hours wandering the store just to keep himself nice and warm before he has to go home.
    Good luck with the Furnace War! I’m so out. As soon as it starts to get cold I crank it up!

  81. Our heat came on this evening in Nova Scotia. The outside temp was 1 Celius and it was 15 inside. It is now a toasty 20 and I am a happy knitter. My fingers don’t work as well when they are COLD!

  82. I completely understand the furnace wars, though with me it will be the exact opposite. I’ll be having air conditioning wars with myself pretty soon. Hubby and I are moving to Arizona and I DON’T do hot weather. I feel as though I’ve done as much as I can to save the air bill though by making sure that we have a pool that I will live in year round!

  83. I know what you mean–my oil furnace stays set at 13C until January when I break down and nudge it up 1 degree. All other heat must be from the woodstove and I wait as long as I can into the fall for that to make the woodpile last the winter. I now see more clearly the cause of my addiction to spinning and knitting.

  84. I broke down weeks ago when the temps in the house went down to 52. I baked things in the oven and did everything I could think of, but after a week of never quite warming up, I fell and lit the stove. May I suggest a heated mattress pad. My best buy of last year.

  85. It finally got cold here in Chicago (I am SO moving to Toronto with the 56 days of summer) and my heat hasn’t come on once. I am a little concerned that it won’t come on when I need it to. . .

  86. Personally I have my own internal furnace these days so my family, especially daughter is complaining that maybe a little heat wouldn’t hurt but then just talking about it I have this overwhelming need to step outside…..

  87. The Great Canadian Furnace Wars are the highlight of my fall and if I weren’t such a lilly-livered baby I’d maybe join in. Of course, it was freezing at wake up time here, but rallied into the fifties and the next few days are promising sixties, so since it wouldn’t really be fair, I figure I may as well warm up the place for an hour or two in the evening so I can feel my hands to knit. I’ll think of your cold hands with every stitch. ๐Ÿ™‚

  88. Don’t forget to wrap your pipes! I’d hate to see you lose because you were in danger of your pipes freezing. Pipes are wimps.

  89. Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I’ve got some tips.
    OK, you’ve probably thought about the obvious — when it is too cold to knit, go to a coffeehouse…or a knit shop…or a neighbors. Take some of the bakeds goods.
    Also, share the warmth. Watch movies huddled under blankets together. Cuddle the cat. Take baths of hot, hot water…and soak until the water is tepit. Then add more hot water. I know you’ll feel like an ice cube when you get out, but you can really put drying off for a very, very long time. (I grew up in a house with little air conditioning, so I also used this is the summer with cold water. I was a very clean child.)
    Does a heating pad count? Because a heating pad on your feet goes a long way towards keeping you warm.
    Good luck. Stay warm.

  90. For the last week, Mr. Happy has been in England and I, lone participant in the Watt Furnace Moratorium, have been sleeping betwixt New Brunswick Sheets TM (the ONLY way to survive the winter) and under a multitude of blankets including two feather duvets, a Velux blanket, a grandmother-made quilt and a coverlet.
    Under all those blankets my body is almost completely unidentifiable (perfect for deceiving the monsters under my bed).
    Tonight however, being advised that the temperatures will hit 0C and with Mr. Happy’s radiant self an ocean away, I have caved and turned on the furnace.
    I am deeply ashamed of myself.

  91. My heat is on. I have 3 cockatiels in my living room, and since they only weigh 80-85 grams on a good day, it’s not fair to make them shiver all their weight away. The thermostat is set at 17C (~65F) all winter in the living room to keep them happy. My office heat is on as it’s in the basement – and cold and damp if it’s not heated.
    My bedroom window is open, though, and there’s no heat on up there at all. Electric baseboard heaters give me a bit of flexibility.
    The hose froze (-3C) solid last night, so I know it’s time for heat. And, I’m the one who pays the bills around here, so I turned it on.
    Toronto must be much warmer!

  92. Good luck in the Furnace Wars! I caved last night because we had freezing temperatures outside, and my 16 year old son was complaining of the cold. I suggested putting on more clothes and wrapping in blankets, but he’s wimpy. As is our 13 year old beagle, who was shivering. She’s the real reason I turned the heat on. And I’ve discovered the perfect way to warm up, before the heat was turned on-visiting my mother in the nursing home where the temperature is about 30 degrees warmer than my house. Now I know why they charge so much-their gas bills must be astronomical. Also, love the mittens, but don’t you find your your fingers don’t work as well in a cold house? I was knitting with wristers on yesterday and it helped.

  93. I’m still interested in seeing a toilet bowl full of frozen water… If it weren’t totally gross, I’d say you should knit a toilet seat cozy. Or get a heated toilet seat like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TOTO_(company)
    but I’m pretty sure that would be cheating and disqualify you. Hot water bottles push the no heating line, as they warm an area external to the body, with that being the sole purpose (unless you want to claim cramps from now until Ian caves).

  94. Glad its not only me having rippingitis. It seems like ever since I got excited to finally have some cool weather to wear some of my newly summer worked knitted goodies and started getting excited about knitting more woolly wonderfulness I find I am in a frog pond this week. UGH!!

  95. Mittens SO gorgeous!! Sigh…I live in central California and last year the only coat I wore was a raincoat – all “winter.” I miss some good winter!!

  96. We have heating wars here – with a husband whose total coldest winter day dress is a flannelette shirt and who wears a cotton business shirt (no jacket, no vest, no singlet, no coat – just the shirt and tie) every single day of the year. I think he wore a jumper one day last year when we went to play in the snow! Needless to say, he gets no knitted goods from me! I am always the one who weakens first and turns it on!

  97. It isn’t even that cold here in the southwest and I have my heat on. It’s been on for about two weeks. It doesn’t go much, but it is on. Maybe more clothes on everyone would help. I just can’t seem to get the two little ones to put on pants, socks and a long sleeved shirt.
    I do think I need fancy mittens. I just don’t know if I should spend my remaining birthday allowance on that book or knit picks stuff.

  98. I’m in Singapore. . .there’s no such thing as indoor heat. It’s lovely, but I am missing some brisk, chilly fall weather. Being one degree next to the equator has not stopped me from knitting though! Hope you win the battle!

  99. I have been running the heat. I am a Bad User.
    Since my heat requires me to gather firewood, hand-split it (wedge-n-maul), stack it, and schlep stove-sized portions indoors on a daily basis, I try to be responsible about it. I caved to the hard frost last night.
    It’s only cold enough right now for one stoke per day, so I get home from work and build a smallish fire and then let it go out at bedtime. (This takes about one good armful of wood.) Later in the heating season, I’ll have the fire that never goes out, but right now, every night after work is like a Jack London short. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Compared to normal people, I have a *lot* of experience building fires.)

  100. Holy cow… I’m a native Vermonter (Vumontah) and would like to think I can put up with a good deal of cold weather (wethah)… but seriously! Are you having to break up the ice in the toilet yet? We just recently turned on our heat and before we did, everything in the house was cold and DAMP. (I could deal w/ the cold, not so much the damp.) Drink lots of tea so that cold doesn’t come back!

  101. Amen to the person who mentioned pipes freezing. If it weren’t for those dang pipes I could make it until late November, I’m sure of it!
    The advent of electric heat had a negative effect on birth rates. This could be a pro or con for keeping it off, depending on what your family population goals are.

  102. The whole concept of the furnace wars eludes me. The winner is the one who dies of frostbite? I turn on the furnace at 68 F and I don’t feel the slightest twinge of guilt. I am a fragile flower and require careful tending.

  103. Wait a minute. Using the fireplace is charming….not cheating. I’ll admit to holding out on turning the furnace on, but the fireplace? No, that’s just me being rustically warm….and charming, don’t forget charming.

  104. I really had no idea that so many people play the Home Heating Holdout game until just recently, as it’s become quite a topic on many a blog. I find it an irresistible challenge…especially now that we’re in the great province of Nova Scotia and the prospect of refilling our oil tank midway through winter has me a bit a-feared.
    I’ve been looking for a great chart/pattern to do some socks in and I think I may have found it! So pretty.

  105. I am a landlord’s dream come true, too. I can’t stand being hot, and in fact never even turn the heat on in the bedroom at all unless it dips below zero F. The boyfriend, however, likes it hot. So every winter has been a constant war of the thermostat. Until we moved into our current apartment. Poor guy doesn’t understand how to regulate a radiator! Bwa ha ha!

  106. True, Ian can buy mittens faster than you can knit them BUT….
    A)This does not involve having fiber in various preparations insulating the house
    B)The work involved to have such mittens which in turn warms the body.
    C)Recipients of handknit items always think they are warmer because of the care given in the making.
    Besides a determined woman (and it sounds as though there are 4 in your house) will always outlast the guy.

  107. Since hot flashes began making an appearance in my home, I am a very poor judge of cold temperatures in the house. I relented and turned on the heat a couple of weeks ago when we had snow. I was running around in a sleeveless top and shorts and the spouse was in a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt.
    It’s been pretty warm so far this fall though.

  108. Well, I had to cave in on the furnace this Saturday. I felt a cold coming on and fought it with all the vitamin C and grapejuice I could get my hands on, but it finally caught up to me on Saturday. So I turned on the furnace. I live in NW Pennsylvania and we have been dipping below freezing now, so I guess it was just a matter of time…
    Good luck to you!

  109. Our heat went on in September, when it started snowing. We’ve had 50 degree days lately, so the heat is way down (set at 60 at night, 65 during the day)… we’ve had snow nearly every night this week, however, so while the heat remains low… the furnace is ON.
    I LOVE the mittens.

  110. As Southerners who HATE summer, when the first cool front of autumn comes and we can finally turn off the air conditioning, we rejoice and turn on the attic fan, opening the windows and letting the cool air in. Nothing like sleeping under warm blankets with chilly air flowing through! We don’t turn on the heat at night until it dips into the 30s (F).
    Unless it’s cold enough to freeze the pipes we mostly get the heat we need from the stove and the fireplace.
    I can go forever being chilly. Good grief, that’s why I knit! On the other hand, I’m the one who wimps out first when May comes and we start debating when to turn the A/C on.
    And hah — when you start into menopause you will have Ian beat, hands down.

  111. i’m in my own furnace wars here… against the kids. So far i’m victorious (in calgary). i have survived for 7 winters with zero heat in my bedroom (before cps shows up, the rest of the house is heated!). good luck in the war.

  112. I am glad that i am not the only one who loves the Furnace War. I live in Massachusetts, and i turned on the heat today. i was really hoping to make it to November 1, but regardless I still won. Both of my parents (different houses) have turned theirs on, and my sister doesn’t count since she moved to California! I hope you win!!!
    Paula

  113. Wow, love those mittens!!! Sadly, since showing them to mom, she wants curtains like that… Swear she’s trying to make the knitter in the family go bonkers… Though, once I start my job (THIS WEDNSDAY!!! WOOOOO!) and have a steady paycheck, I’ll be able to buy the yarn, needles and hopefully get some time together to knit… Good luck on the getting time bit, but hey, can always head over to the library and knit, go in early and knit, kick mom and dad outta the house and knit (good luck on that btw)…

  114. Ian may be able to buy knitwear faster than you can make it, but you can’t feel the love from “bought” knitwear… feeling the love is like a source of heat, right? gives you that warm feeling inside! ๐Ÿ™‚

  115. Many years ago we bought an old house to renovate, with a furnace that had been converted from coal. The November gas bill was $400 and we shut off the furnace for the rest of the winter with a small electric heater in the bathroom to keep the pipes from freezing and a kerosene heater in the only room we used. I’d come home from work to a house around freezing, turn on the heater and dive into a sleeping bag and read for an hour or so until the heat rose. The rest of the house stayed around freezing, including the trip to the third floor bathroom.
    Ohio usually doesnt get that cold, but when my daughter was a baby we had a record – 22 F. And the new furnace died. It was off for four days til parts arrived. Once again the kerosene heater in a single warm room.

  116. Furnace wars! Dude, I’m in! Ok, I can’t be ‘in’ because I’m no relation to you at all and haven’t even met you. But we heat with a woodstove and always try to put it off as long as possible, because frankly it doesn’t do any good anyway. keep us posted, I’ll be watching the scoreboard!

  117. One year we waited until we could see our breath in the living room. I may not be a McPhee, but I am a New Englander. That outta count for something.

  118. Hey, thanks for the props, Steph. High praise, indeed. I agree, the second mitten looks way better. The Kroy looks like it’s a tiny bit finer than the Shelridge, and the texture’s a little different too. If it’s any consolation, I did the same cuff thing when I was making the pattern and chart.
    We’ve already turned the furnace on, but we have a new little kitten, and you can’t let a poor, defenseless, tiny, itty bitty kitten shiver while he eats his dry kibble. And then he looks at you with that little pointy face and those big green eyes. That’s just wrong.

  119. Just wait. Someday you’ll have hot flashes as your secret weapon in the heat wars! Ian won’t stand a chance. The mitten looks great. Don’t forget to make the other one with the thumb on the opposite side. (Just a friendly reminder from the “we’ve all been there, done that” club).

  120. D’oh! Those mittens! I need to resist their wily charms!! I too have a low-grade love of fancy mittens, but far too many WIPs and not enough baby hats done. Gotta get back to the baby hats. Oh, and wasn’t there something about a blueberry costume too? Right…

  121. Nice looking mittens. I’m knitting the second of a pair of leg warmers for my daughter, who will not wear pants unless all her skorts and dresses are in the laundry! No sense stocking up on cold weather gear as we may only get to wear sweaters and coats 2 or 3 days all winter – which generally sets in after Christmas, it seems. Our best bet is to choose a comfortable temp and stay at it whether that requires a/c or heat. Sometimes we have both in play in the same week – mostly to combat humidity. That could be why friends from the northern regions tell me I have a very narrow comfort zone.

  122. well you may have trouble following charts but I do note that you managed to leave the hole for the thumb which is more than I could manage over the weekend. Yes I had one mitten knitted, one almost complete and ready for felting when lo and behold…I could either lop off my thumb or frog the darn mitten. You can imagine which choice won. Meanwhile down here in Rhinebeck I am having my own version of furnace wars….two golden retrievers + down comforter + alpaca blanket + afghan + wool socks = 1 warm RN. Good luck Steph!

  123. You crack me up with your furnace wars. Wouldn’t knitting a blanket or sweater be a larger and warmer help?
    I made that very same mitten for my mother, but in black and white from Shelridge farms. It’s lovely yarn and a beautiful pattern. I got stumped on my dad’s glove from the book though because of a misdirection in the pattern. It’s waiting for a time when work leaves me enough brain cells to figure it out.

  124. Dude lost!! sooo totaly!!
    And here we were just trying to hold out till the guy came to clean the vents.. but having small children.. one with athsma.. I couldn’t hold out too long Drat.. he coughs when he is cold.. so on went the heat!! but not too much!
    GOOO!!!!! McPhees Beat Uncle IAN!

  125. No heat here yet, I want to at least get to November, although I was sorely tempted to turn it on when I got out of the shower this morning. Good thing I don’t know how to light the pilot light, I put on my sweater & wool socks & got busy & toasty very quickly.

  126. Sisu is a Finnish term that could be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. The equivalent in English is “to have guts”, and indeed, the word derives from sisus, which means something inner or interior. However, sisu has a long-term element in it; it is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain the same. The term is commonly used in everyday speech to describe stoic toughness. Sisu is an ability to finish the task and get things done. (Excerpt from wikipedia.com)
    Marja

  127. Ha! Us too…we try to wait for December to turn the heat on (we’re near Rhinebeck FYI so not as cold as you probably, but not warm). I can’t imagine how long we’d hold out if we had *competition*. Oooh.

  128. Those are beautiful!!! Furnance Wars..guess you need something to keep you busy. Sounds like fun, but I would’ve already lost:( Keep the war going!!! Be strong, think soup, muffins etc!!!

  129. The heat wars are on in this house too (I hate forced air and the boy hates shivering to death). I would understand having to turn the heat on when it’s 0 degrees, but it’s L.A. and it’s 60F outside.
    Also, how dare Linda distract you with something pretty when you’re supposed to be knitting Jonathan’s socks?
    /me runs away. Again.

  130. So using the fireplace means you lose? Then we lose. It was 58หšF IN MY HOUSE the other dayโ€ฆwe lit a lovely fire and warmed the entire house. The furnace, however, has stayed decidedly OFF. With the thermostat set to 57หšF, it doesn’t have a chance.

  131. Eek. Usually I would be all such a movement as resist-turning-on-the-furnace. But something has gone terribly wrong with me.
    I have been cold. COLD for about 2 weeks now. It is the strangest thing. I am usually fairly impervious to cold. Well – I am taking mitts to work with me and just bought a booklet of hat patterns because I am going to need like 6 more hats before I consider myself prepared for FALL nevermind winter.
    So…long story short….we’ve already had our heat on for a few weeks.
    Total wimp.

  132. heat wars.. now that is funny ๐Ÿ™‚ May the best woman win! (Go Steph!!)
    love love love those mittens. just plain wonderful.

  133. My mum and I had something similar going on when she went through menopause, although that was more the thermostat wars, as I get cold very easily and she, obviously, did not at the time.

  134. I am knitting those same mittens, but it’s taking me a lot longer. (They were cast aside when I was half done with the second mitten so I could knit a sweater.) I like the colors you chose for yours ๐Ÿ™‚

  135. I’d cheer you on, but I fail to see the point of not turning on your furnace. I hate being cold and I hate having to layer up to get out of bed in the morning.
    So here’s to beating your brother’s arse. You two are mental.

  136. Oh my! Y’all really are duking it out. I’m too much of a cold-natured person to let it get too cold in the house. Plus, I have Li’s (Domesticrafts.com) horror story about her fingers all swelling up from the cold temperatures in her house.
    Still I’m rooting for Team McPhee!

  137. Good luck in beating your brother, it is a pasttime that I enjoy as well!
    The mittens, regardless of errors, look pretty darn amazing to me. I’m quite taken with the pattern!

  138. A woman after my own heart…
    But wait, your Mum lives downstairs from your BFF? Wow… I think my head would explode.

  139. I thought I was winning… but wood fires count?!?!
    Not in Alaska. A wood fire is in the same category as the soup and the bread. Especially if you cut down the tree and split the wood when you could have been knitting. We usually make it to Nov 1 before the oil heat… but I’m aiming for Dec 1 this year.
    Good luck to you!

  140. Not only are my roommates and I having The Great Furnace Standoff (seeing who will be the first to cave, and therefore the one responsible for us (gasp!) having to pay a heating bill, but I’m having a private masochistic sweater contest with myself, convinced that if i layer too much too early it’ll ruin my resistance later on. I’m hoping to get through most of November without heat on… we have new windows, so it should be ok… right?

  141. Dear Stephanie,
    Can I just say that I am pea green with envy? You are knitting with those Harmony needles that folk like me from Oz drool over. The closest I get to them is my monitor and if I get too close I actually can’t see anything. They look so good ….. anything knitted with them would automatically be great,well in my book. The mittens look gorgeous by the way.

  142. Staying warm with no heat calls for some creativity, but we are knitters and this is what we are here for. We have so many options. There is a pattern in Twinkle’s Big City Knits for a floor length skirt made of heavy weight wool, stranded, which I can’t wait to get started on. As for the pipes freezing, a good solution is to turn on the water to just a trickle and place a lamp directly in the cabinet under the sink. The warmth from the bulb and the water flow does the job. We used to do this in our kitchen which had a sink on the north wall and it always worked. My husband will sometimes soak in a hot bath, I don’t think this really saves on the bill though.

  143. We don’t have heat yet, but that’s because we’ve no control when it’ll get turned on. Of course here in the land of dirt & smog (Zhengzhou, China) it’s only about 55 degrees out.

  144. I am also keen to knit mittens. I just ordered a bunch of birthday yarn, much of which I intend to turn into mittens. I have been looking through Folk Mittens and Folk Knitting in Estonia (bargain score) while I wait for the yarn to arrive and need a break from other knitting.

  145. Hey, did you know that the Selbu mitten celebrates its 150th anniversary this year? The original Selbu mitten pattern was designed by an eleven-year-old girl while she herded sheep. Some pictures of the Selbu mitten throughout its history.

  146. Hey Steph,
    I just finished up a pair of Selbuvotters with the Patons Kroy in Polo Blue and Whitecap. I know this yarn feels a bit stiff, but I threw them in the washing machine (just like I do my Kroy socks) and air dried. Fluffy and soft. It was a great way to use up some leftovers. In fact, the Ladies small I did took 35g of white and 25g of the blue. Pictures are here.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/hockeymomknits-donna/
    or I’m on Ravelry as donnam.
    HTH
    Donna

  147. Two words: electric blanket. We rarely turn on the heat unless it falls below 10F here in Detroit – sweaters, lap blankets for the downstairs, lots of soup-cooking, and the blessed electric blanket upstairs. Very cozy! Plus, the dogs and cats lay all over us anyway!

  148. I think knitter’s are more creative with keeping warm. I know I’ll have to start cranking things out for my in-laws now that they know just how muchy I knit and how cold they get up where they are in the States. The mitts are beautiful, too. Really like that pattern.

  149. Furnace Wars, HA! We keep ours at 62 deg. and sweat off pounds and inches when we visit any of our family who likes it downright tropical. Wussies.
    The mitten is gorgeous by the way.

  150. I fully admire your self restraint on the heat war. I gave in a week ago. New Brunswick is cold. I hate being cold. Be careful not to go TOO long no matter how much honour is at stake. Two words: Frozen Pipes. Not pretty.

  151. Right on sister! I am in my quest for delay. My thermostat is a bit goofy right now so I have no idea what the temperature inside is, hard to feel stoic and brag when you can’t give the numbers.
    I agree, knit the gansey!

  152. You probably already know this trick- put pillows and blankets in the dryer for 15 minutes to kill any lice bugs (that’s your excuse, they’ll feel so toasty before snuggling in bed).

  153. I’ve already caved on the heat. In my defense, I do have a small child. But, I’m a wuss. I can deal with heat, but the slightest bit of cold makes me miserable. Dr. Pig, on the other hand, used to live in Nebraska, where he made a point of wearing shorts until after Thanksgiving. Even on his daily bicycle commute to work. In the snow.
    He’s Swedish on one side but I wouldn’t be surprised to find some distant McPhee in there somewhere on the other side.

  154. Rock on with your cold self!!
    The Husband and I are determined to make it to Nov. 1st without turning on the heat- we live in Northern Vermont (there was ice in a bucket on the porch yesterday,) in a house thats not very warm to begin with, I’ve been roasting anything I can think of, baking obsessively and and living of slow cooked soups. Last night we admitted we were crazy but then we threw another wool blanket on the bed and refused to turn on the heat…
    Stay strong! Stay warm!

  155. Well, we live in Philadelphia and haven’t turned our heat on yet, and there are a couple of windows still cracked open! When it’s cold enough to close them completely, we use flannel sheets, lap blankets, wool sweaters, and we bake often. I grew up in upstate NY during the “energy crisis” so I can deal. My daughter, the winter baby, runs around in short sleeves while I huddle in a sweater. And my everlovin’ husband doesn’t like to spend $$ on heat that could better be applied to the purchase of books and music (and yarn, of course!)!

  156. Good grief! I thought my family was the only ones that indulged in the Heat Wars (except the fireplace is allowed for us – do not get between my mother and her wood stove). My ILs also heartily embrace the tradition. I happily lost this year – not nearly enough socks in stock to keep my feet warm.
    -Maja
    (duckicanuck on ravelry)

  157. Good luck! Hope you win! I’m in New England and have not turned on my heat yet. I always hold out as long as I possibly can.

  158. You and your family are too funny!!! My father-in-law refuses to turn up his heat even in -10F weather. People have left dinner parties early because they are too cold. I hope you all win – keep us posted as to the temperature that finally causes Ian to cave!
    By the way – the mittens look great. I’m getting a fancy mitten craving myself.

  159. I lose…Because of my spinal cord injury and subsequent nerve damage and an elderly cat the heat has to be on when the temp drops below 60F, only on low but still on. Any temp below 60 and I cant function very well. We are however tryin to keep the furnace turned down as low as possible and layering because propane is so expensive here.
    Good Luck to thee Harlot and her side of the McPhee clan!!!

  160. all hail the hardy souls who are battling the furnace wars!!…i always set a nov.1st deadline…no heat before that no matter what!! but this year the weather has been good up until this week and since we’ve almost hit 11-1, i’ve upped the ante and set a new date of thanksgiving!! i have no doubt that it will be turned on before that and hubby will think he won, but i’ll let him think that since i know that i set him back a couple of weeks. my sons will walk around all winter in their boxers and complain of the cold…oldest is moving to his own house (old log cabin) soon…can’t wait to see how his tune changes when he’s footing the bill!!

  161. He might be able to buy mittens faster than you can knit them but, by knitting, you are distracting your mind so it doesn’t recognize any cold it might feel, therefore giving you an edge in the furnace wars over Ian.

  162. We tested the heater for about 2 hours the other day. We have a new house so I don’t think it counts. Nothing like discovering the furnace is on the fritz when you *really* need it.

  163. I love the handpaint you’re using on the mittens – it is gorgeous. And yeah – heat is heat, and he lost. Good luck in this year’s furnace wars!

  164. LOVED your post about not turning on the heat. We don’t compete with anyone, but every year it’s a fun contest for our immediate family to see if we can make it to Nov 1 without turning on the furnace. We can turn on the gas fireplace in the family room in the evening – but no fire place. This year due to a mild fall and Nov 1 being on Thursday, it looks like we’ll make it! Happy Halloween!

  165. Buy your firewood & it warms you once.
    Chop it yourself & it warms you twice.
    Can’t remember who this quote is from, but I think it applies to your Brother & his store bought mittens,lolol.
    Sympathies out to the person that lost thier dog. Our 12yo “Puppy” passed away last week. My heart goes out to you.

  166. Ian may be able to buy mittens quicker, but there’s no way that he can buy Harlot mittens. There is something special about Harlot mittens and they will keep people warmer than anything he can buy.

  167. Those are beautiful mittens.
    i hate mittens, but i am tempted to knit a pair after looking at yours.
    maybe after i finish my stranded socks i’ll make a pair of mittens..(just cause i never have)
    (it too a while but i saw difference in cuff.
    stars are paired to be correct. each pair has 1 stitch between star (inside the pair) and 2 stitches between the pairs..)

  168. You know, I’ve never been a fan of variegated yarnโ€”too busy, I think. But these mittens totally changed my mind! I love the color variations when they’re paired with a solid color background. I’ll have to keep this in mind for later!

  169. Are burst pipes considered a serious demerit, do you have to forfeit if they burst on you? Or do the other players pick yp the bill to show that they’re sporting?

  170. Our Furnace War is actually more of a Furnace Tug-o-War, with me turning the heat on and my husband turning it off. However, this year I don’t think he will get much of a struggle from me. I’ve been unemployed since February so I am much more conscious of our budget. I absolutely LOATHE being cold, but I’m willing to don a sweater and some socks to put more money into the grocery budget :-).

  171. Those mittens are amazing. I love the idea of a solid background with a bitchin’ varigated for the colorwork. And when you’re in a yarn store and just need a hit, solid backgrounds are a good choice.

  172. Ok… but what’s the temperature *inside*?
    ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m a wimp… my heater has been on for a month already and it is only in the mid-upper thirties at night and 60s in the day here in Oregon. Good luck holding out and winning the Furnace War!

  173. Why oh why can’t I get my family to play fun games like that with me? They just point out my insanity and walk away when I try to engage them. Jerks.

  174. My furnace hasn’t worked properly in two years, and not at all since the spring, but we primarily heat with a woodstove and a couple space heaters. I have to admit that we have had heat in the house for quite sometime now. I did finally pull the air conditioners out of the windows Sunday evening.

  175. We have yet to turn it on . . . although I must admit that the only reason that I did not turn it on yesterday (while I was stuck at home with some repair folk) was that the furnace was replaced last year, the controls are all digital and I didn’t want to press the wrong button (i.e., if I turned it on would I be able to turn it off before DH got home from work!!!!).
    Frankly, he works under the military view: the heat does not go on until November, preferrably November 15! The only one who complains about being cold is the 13 year old. She doesn’t have an ounce of fat but of course, my darlin’ hubby’s response when she complains of being cold is that she doesn’t eat enought fruits and veggies and that if she did, she wouldn’t be so cold all the time.

  176. How lovely!
    We live in Washington, DC and are having a spell of wet chilly weather–and are surviving it only through knitwear. Last night was our first freeze–so it is not THAT cold here. Unfortunately, we can’t shut one of our windows until things dry out a bit since the dampness made the wood expand too much to shut….

  177. My mother always said that she wasn’t turning on the heat until November. Then, when it was November, she’d say “Well, it’s already November–winter’s almost over”
    She froze my gerbil solid once. No lie. My dad had to run him under the hairdryer to make him wake up.

  178. LOL…I found myself recalling your post about this last year, when, last night, I turned on the baseboard heater in my bedroom…regretting that it was 2 days before Halloween (seem to recall that was a goal last year? no heat until October 31st?). I am a weenie, but warm ๐Ÿ™‚

  179. Why didn’t I think of making it into a game? Darn it! I caved in and turned on our furnace last Friday night. I am going to write the date down and do better next year.

  180. Egads!
    I have been outed as the wimp I am. My central heating packed up 10 days ago and I’ve been whinging like a very whingey thing since about British Gas’s incompetent (or more accurately, competent but slllloooowwwww) ’emergency installation service’ which means my new boiler won’t be installed until the end of NEXT week.
    Too many years in England have thinned my previously sturdy Canadian blood and I crack when the outside temps fall into the low teens…..

  181. I’m afraid I had to wimp out last night because my 21-year-old cat can’t take the cold any more. It was only 37F (3C) here in North Carolina. Oh well. Perhaps we’ll do better next year.
    LOVE the mittens. Haven’t tried colorwork yet myself, but I may have to start with a pair of those …

  182. I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand. I want to be comfortable, with fingers supple and not frozen so that knitting is possible. I don’t live quite as far north as you do, but you would win e-v-e-r-y year were we to compete. And my ancestors came from Ireland–so I look good naturally in cozy Aran knit sweaters.

  183. I’m having my own furnace war. I don’t have one…and I am rushing to finish some sweaters to stay warm. Maybe they’ll be done before the heating guy installs the new system.
    Monique in Chicago

  184. Long time reader, first time commenter, woohoo!
    If only your family could turn the Great Canadian Furnace Wars into a reality show – I’d watch, especially for all the knitting content!
    It’s hardly cracked “chilly” here in my part of Arkansas, and people at my husband’s work have already started turning on the heat. Such folk wouldn’t last day in your neck of the woods. I laugh at them. (Sure, I’m Australian, so kind-of-chilly is cold to me. But I can deal with sweaters and blankets and big thick socks.)
    I’m going to try to resist turning on the heat until December, at least.

  185. I’ve sort of won, we turned on our electrical fireplace last night. Becuase it doesn’t actually burn anything, I still think that we are anti heat so far. And it was cold yesterday and this mornings – I had to use the ice scraper.
    Love the mittens, would love to try, but I’m not a Knitter just yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

  186. Oh how I love the McPhee Furnace Wars. I fear you would judge harshly the early arrival of the heat in our house — so much further south than yours. We are shamed!

  187. Stephanie – i have been giving this a lot of thought (no comment on the quality of things to fill my brain, now!). Ian would have been innocent of the “turning on the heat” charge if he had left the house when the houseguest required heat. However (!!!), he remained in the house (he could have stayed outside or come to visit you, at the same time checking up on you if he so chose)but he didn’t! He benefitted from the heat. I think this makes you the clear winner. No discussion further…. (best wishes, stay well).

  188. Lovely mitten! I’m making the same ones, in two shades of teal. I like your use of the slightly varigated (spelling? I know that’s not right and there should be an e in there somewhere) yarn – might have to try that next time…

  189. I SOOOO have to make those mittens…they would be terrific in cream and a variegated blue…sort of like Delft pottery, no?? Sigh…I’ll put the book on my wish list. I guess I can go without heat (in Michigan) but not without fresh patterns!

  190. I’m big on not turning on the heat yet either – but it is not nearly that cold here, it was 38 last night. But hey, I have quilts, handknit socks and sweaters and I welcome the chance to use them.
    Love the pattern and the variegated yarn on the mittens – I would love that pattern on a sweater or even socks

  191. I’m big on not turning on the heat yet either – but it is not nearly that cold here, it was 38 last night. But hey, I have quilts, handknit socks and sweaters and I welcome the chance to use them.
    Love the pattern and the variegated yarn on the mittens – I would love that pattern on a sweater or even socks

  192. Wow. I thought it was amazing that we (living in Chicago area) were able to get almost to my birthday (10/15) this year without turning on the heat. Usually it goes on before the end of September. You McPhees are truly tough. Maybe it’s because you’re Canadian and I’m not…

  193. Steph. If you are baking bread, that involves turning on the stove for a long period of time. That would warm your house up nicely. So, if your sister cannot use the fireplace (which she may have been using to cook over, or as a dryer) doesn’t using the stove disqualify you? Just stirring the pot.

  194. Steph. If you are baking bread, that involves turning on the stove for a long period of time. That would warm your house up nicely. So, if your sister cannot use the fireplace (which she may have been using to cook over, or as a dryer) doesn’t using the stove disqualify you? Just stirring the pot.

  195. All are definitely tougher people than I. I’m in my work building in semi-balmy (comparatively) Northern California and our heat is off until ‘all water is removed from the gas lines’. Yikes. Everyone’s noses & feet are cold, so tomorrow I bring my supply of wooly items to trap body heat. Best of luck on the Furnace Wars (do hand warmers count…the type you take camping?)

  196. There are no Furnace Wars over here (Seattle area), but we are in the throes of Heatless October. It’s been cold this last week, so we are also bundled up indoors. Last year we made it to Halloween, and this year we’re trying for Daylight Savings. Thanks for inspiring us!

  197. There are no Furnace Wars over here (Seattle area), but we are in the throes of Heatless October. It’s been cold this last week, so we are also bundled up indoors. Last year we made it to Halloween, and this year we’re trying for Daylight Savings. Thanks for inspiring us!

  198. There they’ll find you in the spring. Frozen solid, knitting needles in hand . . .

  199. Well you now have the girls on your side, and if your Joe is anything like my Ken, you have a two legged furnace to snuggle up with. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you need more snuggle mates, I’ll send a couple of my dogs and cats your way.
    Take Ian down.
    Tiny Tyrant – who would have totally broken out the electric blanket already (and will tonight here and its NOT nearly that cold)
    BTW – If I hadn’t had a total brain cloud I would have sent out your package today. But I left the box at home then I didn’t grab one at lunch time. I’m sorry.

  200. Well you now have the girls on your side, and if your Joe is anything like my Ken, you have a two legged furnace to snuggle up with. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you need more snuggle mates, I’ll send a couple of my dogs and cats your way.
    Take Ian down.
    Tiny Tyrant – who would have totally broken out the electric blanket already (and will tonight here and its NOT nearly that cold)
    BTW – If I hadn’t had a total brain cloud I would have sent out your package today. But I left the box at home then I didn’t grab one at lunch time. I’m sorry.

  201. Those mittens are really, really looking good!
    So much better than the traditional Norwegian colours of black and white.
    At least you can walk and knit at the same time. Those two activities (performed at the same time) might help in the “no heat” war.
    Happy knitting,
    Janey
    P.S. You might want to check on your computer’s minimum temperature for working properly however. When I clicked on Comments, instead of being able to read the 209 which preceded my words, all I got was “Post a comment”.

  202. Those mittens are really, really looking good!
    So much better than the traditional Norwegian colours of black and white.
    At least you can walk and knit at the same time. Those two activities (performed at the same time) might help in the “no heat” war.
    Happy knitting,
    Janey
    P.S. You might want to check on your computer’s minimum temperature for working properly however. When I clicked on Comments, instead of being able to read the 209 which preceded my words, all I got was “Post a comment”.

  203. ah, but you have plenty of wool in it’s raw state to use as insulation, no?
    beautiful mittens btw. I’m resisting that book until I knit some fancy mittens from one of the other (two or three) fancy mitten books I already own.

  204. ah, but you have plenty of wool/yarn in it’s raw state to use as insulation, no?
    beautiful mittens btw. I’m resisting that book until I knit some fancy mittens from one of the other (two or three) fancy mitten books I already own.

  205. ah, but you have plenty of wool/yarn in it’s raw state to use as insulation, no?
    beautiful mittens btw. I’m resisting that book until I knit some fancy mittens from one of the other (two or three) fancy mitten books I already own.

  206. ah, but you have plenty of wool/yarn in it’s raw state to use as insulation, no?
    beautiful mittens btw. I’m resisting that book until I knit some fancy mittens from one of the other (two or three) fancy mitten books I already own.

  207. Furnace Wars – what a screaming RIOT! Gee, I’d be in trouble; I’m competitive, but old. If I’d known about the Furnace Wars I’d have tried to get in on it although a) it’s been spookily warm here in south-central Wisconsin; b) I’m not a McPhee; and c) I have a degree in Advanced Wimp. But I’d have lost already. I turned the heat on the other morning, just for a *moment* but enough to have lost. OK nevermind. (That mitten is eye-wateringly breathtakingly exquisite…)

  208. Furnace Wars – what a screaming RIOT! Gee, I’d be in trouble; I’m competitive, but old. If I’d known about the Furnace Wars I’d have tried to get in on it although a) it’s been spookily warm here in south-central Wisconsin; b) I’m not a McPhee; and c) I have a degree in Advanced Wimp. But I’d have lost already. I turned the heat on the other morning, just for a *moment* but enough to have lost. OK nevermind. (That mitten is eye-wateringly breathtakingly exquisite…)

  209. Oooo! Love the colours in the mitten. You make me want to start knitting mittens now too!

  210. Oooo! Love the colours in the mitten. You make me want to start knitting mittens now too!

  211. I congratulate the McPhee women! I on the other hand am a total wimp. My heat is on at the moment. I just can’t take my nose and fingers going cold and numb. Any suggestions? Otherwise, the heat is staying on until March!

  212. Wow, Stephanie, I love the concept of keeping the furnace off for as long as possible! Making it a competition is so great! Now instead of urging my husband to re-attach the thermostat to the wall (one of my three monkey sons dismantled it last spring), I am just going to keep silent and see if we can live without it indefinitely. Heck, this is the San Francisco Bay area! “Wah, it’s 50 degrees Fahrenheit!”. I am of tough Northwestern stock, I can do this standing on my head. Thanks for reminding me that I can.

  213. Furnace Wars – what a screaming RIOT! Gee, I’d be in trouble; I’m competitive, but old. If I’d known about the Furnace Wars I’d have tried to get in on it although a) it’s been spookily warm here in south-central Wisconsin; b) I’m not a McPhee; and c) I have a degree in Advanced Wimp. But I’d have lost already. I turned the heat on the other morning, just for a *moment* but enough to have lost. OK nevermind. (That mitten is eye-wateringly breathtakingly exquisite…)

  214. I wonder who would win in my family. I have a cockatiel that I doubt could convice that it would be good for him to be cold! Go for it. I”m keeping it down too!

  215. Dude! Have you seen the Latvian Mittens book? I have been saving my pennies to buy it. And have you seen the Latvian Mittens NATO 2006 website? Maybe you did before I started reading your blog, but if you haven’t, run as fast as you can to your computer and look it up. I guess you’re already at your computer if you’re reading this, but you know what I mean.

  216. Dude! Have you seen the Latvian Mittens book? I have been saving my pennies to buy it. And have you seen the Latvian Mittens NATO 2006 website? Maybe you did before I started reading your blog, but if you haven’t, run as fast as you can to your computer and look it up. I guess you’re already at your computer if you’re reading this, but you know what I mean.

  217. Dude! Have you seen the Latvian Mittens book? I have been saving my pennies to buy it. And have you seen the Latvian Mittens NATO 2006 website? Maybe you did before I started reading your blog, but if you haven’t, run as fast as you can to your computer and look it up. I guess you’re already at your computer if you’re reading this, but you know what I mean.

  218. Though we live in California, my HusBoy and I are with you in the Furnace Wars! It may be due to the fact that our cat was ill into our heater a while back, but it’s still not going on!

  219. must not cast on for fair isle must not cast on for fair isle must not cast on for fair isle
    I can’t see anyone else’s comments! Weird. Anyhoo, I got your Secret Life of a Knitter for my birthday, and I wanted to know when you’re coming to England to sign it for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  220. I love the clan wars! I look forward to these blog entries every year =) And I love the mittens – both versions. Very, very pretty. Bought mittens – pah! Can’t possibly be as warm…

  221. I love the clan wars! I look forward to these blog entries every year =) And I love the mittens – both versions. Very, very pretty. Bought mittens – pah! Can’t possibly be as warm…

  222. I love the clan wars! I look forward to these blog entries every year =) And I love the mittens – both versions. Very, very pretty. Bought mittens – pah! Can’t possibly be as warm…

  223. I love the clan wars! I look forward to these blog entries every year =) And I love the mittens – both versions. Very, very pretty. Bought mittens – pah! Can’t possibly be as warm…

  224. First off, I confess to sometimes having selective hearing. BUT!! I do think in the preview of next week’s ‘House’ episode, he jokingly refers to the ‘Squirrel Liberation Army’. Did I hear that right?? Anyhoo, I thought of you…

  225. Lovely mitten!
    I break down and turn on the heat when the indoor temp falls below about 55หš F (13หš C). But we have a groundwater heat pump, so it isn’t as expensive or bad for the environment as, say, burning fossil fuel in a furnace would be (she said pridefully).

  226. I live in Atlanta, so I can’t really boast too hard (although we do get into the single digits of F sometimes). But living on the top floor of a condo with a profligate neighbor underneath, last year I made it until January 5 without putting on the heat and I had the bedroom windows wide open until Christmas. I never put the thermostat above 60 and if I ever feel cold I remind myself that in August I’d have KILLED to be able to cool the house to 60 …

  227. LOL, that is hilarious. Simon’s parents are British and have the whole you only turn on the heat if you are actually freezing to anything mentality. Of course the fact that they live in Newfoundland seems to have left their minds. I remember going to the bathroom once and almost froze my arse off literally, they had a wooden toilet seat and there was a layer of frost on the toilet.

  228. I live alone, which makes the furnace war more difficult because I’m not playing against anyone. I’ve made it so far, though… I hope my downstairs neighbors start vigorously heating their apartment soon.

  229. so in the words of my husband when told about the furnace wars. He would turn his on and say, so I lost, but at least I am comfortable.

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