THE HARVARD Medical School Health Letter's January edition is devoted to the care and feeling of the common cold: Watch out for cold medicines, it warns, vitamins (overdoses are dangerous especially in kids), antibiotics (they don't work on viruses which cause colds) and it even, heresy upon heresy, takes on chicken soup - "remains to be scientifically verified," it sniffs.

Well, I really don't have anything against Ivy League medical schools, and I don't know from viruses, my medical training being of the old wives variety, but I can tell you, for the vapors and the ague, you know chicken soup is as good as anything anybody's developed - after whatever ill you call it actually hits, of course. But for prevention, aha! There is nothing like the good, old-fashioned muffler.

Wrap it around your neck, head, chest, waist. Tie it, drape it, knot it . . . and make it quick and easy - out of scraps, if you will, or the costliest cash-mere (if you can find it.) It keeps out wind and snow and even rain (for a few minutes) and it keeps warmth in. It's another layer; it's practically a sweater; it's better than a hat - or wear it around your head under a hat. . . .

Here are two of the quickest and easiest, one made vertically, the other horizontally. Make 'em all one color; change colors row by row - or even in the middle of a row. Fringe them or not, knot a fringe, or don't. Use one or two strands of worsted-weight yard and J or K hooks or lighter yarns and smaller hooks.

1. (vertical): Make a chain approximately the width you want the muffler or scarf to be. Triple crochet in fourth chain from hook and in each chain thereafter. Chain four to turn and (skipping first stitch) triple crochet in each stitch until end of row. Repeat this row until the scarf is as long as you want it. (Be sure to keep the same number of stitches on each row or you'll have wavy sides.)

2. (horizontal): Make a chain approximately as long as you want the scarf to be. Single crochet in ninth chain from hook, ch. seven or eight, skip seven chains (or six or eight or nine - it won't matter as long as you're consistent throughout a single scarf), single crochet in next ch. continuing in that manner to end of row. On second row and each row thereafter, chain seven or eight and single crochet in chain loop. Repeat across row. Remember, the more chains, the bigger the loops; the thicker the yarn, the fewer chains needed for a loop.

Stay warm.

And, listen, there's nothing like chicken soup . . . if a nice Harvard doctor isn't available at the time. (The same goes for the muffler, if a nice . . .)