Sunday, March 8, 2015

Barrage of Felted Slippers

A friend of mine asked for some slippers to give as gifts, and picked this pattern.  These slippers, called French Press Felted Slippers, are my favorite sort - felted.  I made a pair of felted slippers for Chris years ago (here is a picture of them), and they are so warm.  He wears them all the time.  There are several benefits of felting.  First of all - felting is always done with natural animal fibers, and that is because (in this case) wool will shrink and mat (felt) into a dense fabric when exposed to hot water and agitation.  Generally in knitting, you avoid those conditions and wash your handknitted item in cool water with little or no agitation.  But in this case it was desired.

For these slippers, you knit the bottoms while holding 3 yarns at a time.  This makes a nice, thick sole for the slippers - able to take abuse and wear.  Then you make the sides of the slipper in two pieces.  The second nice thing about making felted items is how fast they work up.  This pattern uses size 15 needles - huge.  I knitted the pieces for each slipper in one sitting.  Here is a picture of all 6 completed pieces for a set of slippers.

Then, you seam up the slippers in a way much like that of shoe construction.  Below, I have a slipper all seamed.  You'll notice how large the slipper is - that is to allow for the shrinkage during the felting process.

A button band is knitted separately, then all pieces go into the wash.  For felting, I  place the two slippers and the two button bands into a garment bag, and toss them into the washing machine with a small amount of delicate wash soap.  I've kept a pair of the boys' old tennis shoes, which I use only in felting so they are clean ;).  They are great agitators - beating the slippers with each tumble.  So they go in too.  I turn the machine to a "sanitize" cycle, which uses the hottest water and longest wash tumble cycle.  I have a high-efficiency front loader, so I have to check the felting process frequently, as you never quite know how long it will take.  Every 5-10 minutes, I will stop the washer, take the slippers out, put my foot into them, rub them around the contours of my foot, and throw them back in.  When the pieces are the size I want, I rinse them in cool water, gravity spin them, and lay them out to dry.  A thick felted wool like this will take 2-3 days to completely dry.

After felting, my slippers and button bands looked like this:

Then came the fun part - picking out buttons.  I sat down with the boys and my huge box of buttons, and looked for matching pairs and fun colors.  I, of course, got all veto rights - because the boys wanted to pick buttons like stars, soccer balls, and gaudy 1970's pearl buttons.  After button selections were made, it's simply a matter of sewing on the button band and button.

Here's the result:  I ended up with 5 pairs, 3 in a natural marl color and 2 in "mercury".  I used a total of 7 balls of yarn to make these 5 slippers. It was a fun, satisfying and quick project!

I hope their recipients will enjoy them!  They should be warm, and cute to boot! 

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