Study in Stripes

I finished my Stripe Study Shawl!

Stripe Study

It’s sitting on Maggie’s twin size bed, so you can see for yourself how big it is. I used almost two full skeins of the Beaverslide 2-ply Sport/Sock weight in the Hidden Lake (teal)  colorway, and nearly one full skein of the  Natural Buff. This yarn, I can’t even tell you. It’s the best yarn ever. You really just have to see for yourself. The fiber content is 80% fine wool and 20% fine kid mohair. It comes in 458 yd skeins for $14.50. Although the suggested needle size for this yarn is a size 2-3 needle, I used a size 8 for the Stripe Study Shawl, and the fabric is velvety soft, lofty, warm, and has beautiful drape. Do yourself a favor and order some Beaverslide for yourself. Learn more about Beaverslide Dry Goods here. They are not paying me, I just loooove the yarn.

Stripe Study

After I finished my shawl, I decided that it was high time to knit this year’s slippers. I started on Thursday night and by Friday afternoon I was wearing them! They were damp, but whatever. They were mostly dry.

fuzzy slippers

I used my favorite slipper pattern, Felt Clogs (AC-33) by Bev Galeskas, from Fiber Trends.  I have knit this pattern many, many times. It’s one of those patterns that is written perfectly, is very clear, and if you have your wits about you then you’ll be fine.  Unfortunately while knitting slipper number one I did not have my wits about me. I came to the last row of the instep shaping, had 4 extra stitches and should have been at the marker (I was not). I know from experience that it wasn’t the pattern’s error, it was mine. It’s easy to get lost in these patterns if you don’t keep track of your place. I was paying more attention to the television program I was watching than to the pattern I was knitting. But instead of unknitting, I decided that four stitches was not a big deal, went on to knit the cuff, and finished the slipper, four extra stitches and all.

I knit slipper number two without incident, felted them, and now can’t even tell which one has the error. Gosh, I love felting.

It’s a lovely cool morning here in North Carolina. I have my new shawl on my shoulders and my new slippers on my feet. It feels so good to be knitting again.

How to do it: Slipper Soles

Have you ever worn felted slippers? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. Felted slippers are the bomb. I’ve made a bunch of pairs and I wear them all the time: In the winter because it’s cold, and in the summer because the AC makes it cold. I had to make a new pair for myself recently because my old ones had developed their own bad case of air conditioning.

Make your own slipper soles!

I know you can buy ready made slipper soles, but I had trouble finding the right size for my slippers. There are also many different ideas and tutorials on how to make the slipper bottoms slip-free (in Ravelry forums, just search “slipper soles”).

But I thought it would be fun to do a tutorial here on the old blog. A change of pace for me, and a bit of a treat for you. If you are a visual learner like I am, just scroll through the pictures — you’ll get the idea. Now, let’s get started!

How To Make Your Very Own, Custom Fitted, Slipper Soles

What you’ll need:

  1. A pair of newly felted, dry slippers.
  2. Paper for making a template.
  3. Scissors.
  4. Marking pen. I used an extra-fine tip Sharpie.
  5. One sheet of suede. I got mine at the craft store for $5.99.
  6. Leather punch, size 5/64″. I got this at the craft store, too, as part of the Mini Punch Set. It was $8.99, and I’m already scheming to use it for more projects.
  7. Tape measure or ruler (but “eyeballing it” works for this project).
  8. Block of scrap wood.
  9. Hammer or heavy mallet.
  10. Sharp sewing needle.
  11. Embroidery thread in a color to match your slipper.  **UDATE 1/30/08: My embroidery thread is not wearing well, and one of the heel pieces has come off.  I am going to try using leather thread, if I can find that at the craft store, and I’ll let you know how it goes.**

Here’s some of the supplies ready to go.

Make your own slipper soles!

The first thing you need to do is make a template. Trace around the bottom of your slipper onto your template paper. For the toe piece, draw the template piece about 1/2″ in from the edge that you traced and long enough to cover the ball of your foot, curving the corners. Do the same for the heel piece. Cut out your templates, and lay them on your slipper to make sure they reach just to the edges, but not over the edge. Here’s my templates on my old slipper, checking to see that the problem areas will be covered.

Make your own slipper soles!

Next, use your marker to trace around your templates onto the wrong side of the suede.

Make your own slipper soles!

Make your own slipper soles!

Then cut them out.

Make your own slipper soles!

With your marker, on the wrong side of the suede, mark where you will punch the holes. My dots are 1/8″ from the edge, and 3/8″ apart. I did not measure the marks until after I made them; it’s really easy just to eyeball this part.

Make your own slipper soles!

I keep talking about the wrong side of the suede, and in the picture above you can clearly see the difference. The piece on the right is the smooth, even, front side of the suede. The one with the marks on the left is uneven and more rough to the touch.

Alrighty. Now on to the fun part, in which you get to hammer really loudly and aggressively! I did this step outside for some reason, but I suppose you could do it anywhere suitable for hammering. First, practice with the punch set on a scrap of the suede.

Make your own slipper soles!

Once you get the hang of it, you’re ready to start punching the holes. Place the puncher directly over the first dot, and hammer it through the suede.

Make your own slipper soles!

At first it took me seven or eight hammers to make the hole. After a few holes, though, I got into a good rhythm and the job went faster than I expected.

Make your own slipper soles!

With your holes punched, you’re ready to sew them on your slippers. Using embriodery thread (all 6 strands) and a sharp needle, sew through all the holes around each piece.

Make your own slipper soles!

In that picture it looks like the needle goes into the fabric below the hole, but it doesn’t. Put the needle into the fabric next to the hole you just pulled it through, and bring it out through the next hole. Because the fabric (the felted wool) is thick it takes a little muscle to make sure the thread goes into the fabric, not just into some fuzzies. (If anyone can tell me the name of this type of stitch, I’ll add it. What can I say? I’m self-taught.)

That’s the job! You’re done!

Make your own slipper soles!

Phew, that was fun. Since this is my first tutorial please let me know if something isn’t clear. I’ll let you know how these babies hold up to my rigorous wear.

set of sheep

I finished two sheep for the kids.

pair of baa baas
(if you click over to flickr, you can see bigger sizes)

Pattern: Fiber Trends’ Felt Flock designed by Bev Galeskas
Needles: US 11
Yarn: Patons Classic Merino Wool and Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted, held double to make bigger sheepies.
Start: May 15, 2007
Finish: May 22, 2007

Fiber Trends patterns are great. They are very well written and clear and easy to understand and helpful if you’re a beginning knitter. I remember making my very first pair of Felted Clogs, and I had to read the instructions for “wrap & turn” just about each time I came to it. But it was there for me to read it and I really appreciate that. It makes sense to me to pay $5 or whatever for a pattern when it is a good pattern.

finished baa baa

I love this guy (or gal?) so much. I used a heathered yarn held together with a solid yarn for the body and I just love the color that resulted after felting. I want to snuggle with it! The eyes came from the doll making section of the craft store – “animal eyes” they’re called. I don’t think I’d like the sheep as much without the eyes. I also love it because I sewed the ears on in the right places. Unlike Sloth:

goonies

Whoopsie. He looks like Sloth from The Goonies, right? For him, I took a chance felting white wool (Patons) without a proper test swatch. I held it with a strand of brown, and though it looks like a zebra I think it’s okay.

What matters to me is that the kids like them, and I think they do.

sheepy love

stare down

she loves

Now we just have to figure out which sheep belongs to Jerry and which one belongs to the Mag.