It's high season for the sofa blanket. Most of the year, it is little more than a splash of color. But when a chill settles over the house...

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It’s high season for the sofa blanket. Most of the year, it is little more than a splash of color. But when a chill settles over the house, throw blankets are the best companions for a nap or a good read. So, we wondered, which ones have the highest warmth quotient?

“Down is probably the warmest,” says Karl Spilhaus, president of the National Textile Association. We asked him to rate the warmth factor of six popular throw materials:

Down: At the top of the scale, these throws are filled with feathers from ducks, geese or other waterfowl. Prices range widely, depending partly on type and amount of down used. A goose-down throw from Eddie Bauer costs $49.50; a luxe version can run close to $400 (www.eddiebauer.com).

Cashmere: Always elegant and very warm, this luxury material can easily cost $300 or more for a throw, such as the beauties we found at www.williamssonomahome.com.

Wool: This high-performing fiber is not as warm as cashmere but not as expensive, either. A cheery plaid wool throw from Land’s End, for example, costs $69 (www.landsend.com).

Fleece: It’s soft to the touch, casual and easier on the pocketbook. Typically polyester, it will provide less warmth than the natural fibers but will last a long time and is affordable. Patagonia has fleece blankets in 18 colors for $35 (www.patagonia.com).

Cotton: Thermally speaking, this lightweight, breathable fiber is not the warmest of the bunch, but less-expensive styles can be layered. We found one at L.L. Bean for $29 (www.llbean.com).

Chenille: Blankets made of this soft, fuzzy yarn — cotton or polyester — have plush texture and lush colors. Their degree of warmth depends on the weight and density of the yarn. Costs vary widely. World Market (www.worldmarket.com) has a throw for $39.99 and Linens ‘N Things offers others for $59 to $99 (www.lnt.com).