Friday, January 2, 2015

Fisherman's Wool Felted Slippers

Felting is always an experiment. Even when making the same pattern with a different yarn, or using a yarn you've successfully felted in the past in a new way, you can't be sure exactly how your project will turn out. I've used Fisherman's Wool for felting projects in the past, and know something about how it behaves but it was still an adventure getting the slippers finished in the shape of an actual human foot.

The pattern I used is Marsh Felted Slippers, available as a free Ravelry download. I did make a few changes, since I can't seem to follow a pattern any more than I can follow a recipe. I worked the whole thing in garter stitch, in the hope it would add extra thickness, and I added 6 rows before the start of the pattern to give a slightly higher cuff. My cuff turned out pretty short anyway, which may have been the result of the garter stitch being shorter than stockinette. The pattern only gave a width measurement for gauge, so I figured a little variation would be fineand it was!

The stripes were worked as follows:

Oak Tweed: 6 rows before pattern start
Nature's Brown: 18 rows (up to foot increases)
Oak Tweed: 4 rows
Nature's Brown: 2 rows
Oak Tweed: 6 rows
Nature's Brown: to end

After I made one slipper, I was....concerned. Instead of looking simply like a giant, loosely knitted slipper, it looked like a giant misshapen elf shoe.

Long and curly and rippled and narrow in the middle, and then gigantic in the heel.

I tried it on to see if it would look a little more like a shoe.

It didn't. 

In an effort to not waste my time completely, I decided the felt the first slipper. If it actually became a successful slipper, only then would I knit the other foot.

Since I've felted with fisherman's wool before, I know it can take some heat. And the slipper was so, so big, I wasn't too worried about over-shrinking. I ran it through a hot wash with some other laundry, and it came out looking pretty darn good. Still rather elfish, but not so rippled and uneven. I tried it on, mushed it around in the shape of my foot, and since it was still rather big, ran it in the dryer for ten minutes, tried it on again, and gave it another ten. I walked around with the wet thing on my foot for awhile to help with the shaping, and was surprised to find I had a pretty good looking slipper. 

I worked the second slipper the same way, then took a couple pics for that before-and-after drama. 

I thought it would be a simple matter to replicate my felting method for the first slipper....and it should have been. I put on a load of laundry and waited for the magic to happen. When I took my slipper out of the wash, it had shrunk much less than the first one. At first I thought it was just one of those felting mysteries, and moved on to the drying portion. But then I discovered the fatal flaw
I'd washed a large load of laundry with the dial set to small. Less water! That was the reason for the variation. Now annoyed at myself, I continued wetting down the slipper and running it in the dryer until it finally resembled its partner.

I have to say, though, it never quite matched up. The stripes weren't as clean, and never got as smooth as the other. Let this be a lesson that felting likes hot water and lots of it. 

If I were to do this again, I would start out with a smaller number of stitches and add more rows to the cuff for a bit more ankle warmth, but if you have smaller feet you might find that simply shrinking them more will give you a narrower ankle. And of course, I'd felt them at the same time, in the same way. With plenty of water.

I'm still quite happy with the result!

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