In the spring of 2023, when I was putting away my winter footwear and getting out my summer sandals and flip flops, I discovered that there were holes in the soles of the much-worn felted slippers that I had made in late 2016. I sighed and added "new slippers for me" to my already overly long list of 2023 knitting projects, deciding also to prioritize them and get them done by October, as they were something I actually needed.
I did an extensive search of slipper patterns on Ravelry, and ended up deciding that the French Press Felted Slippers, by Melynda Bernardi, which I had used to make my previous pair of slippers, was still the pattern I liked best and that I was just going to make myself a new pair. I'd already purchased the pattern, it is a design with a certain amount of style (that is, as much as one could expect from a pair of woolly slippers), and my first pair had both kept my feet warm as toast and lasted for over six years. I could hardly do better than that.
But I could do better in terms of colour choice. I had liked my old slippers, but had always regretted making them in a khaki green. In winter, I wear dark brown yoga pants (I own five pairs of them), or olive green khakis or corduroys around the house, and the old pair had really only gone with the latter. In August 2023, I visited Romni Wools, looking for a dark brown worsted yarn that would go with all my around-home trousers. They didn't have anything in just the right shade in a worsted, but in their bargain basement I found some bulky-weight Linie 231 Filz-Wolle in 12 Chocolate Brown that I thought would do -- I would just have to felt the yarn more to get it down to the right size. Knowing I would probably need more of a heavier gauge weight yarn than the 150 grams of worsted the pattern specified, I bought four 50 gram skeins of yarn to be on the safe side.
When I began knitting the slippers, it soon became clear that 200 grams of yarn I had weren't going to cut it. I had to go back to Romni and get two more skeins -- I think they only had three left. When I was finished knitting the slippers, I realized that I should have made the soles with three strands of yarn instead of only two. But this was a mistake I didn't bother to correct, as I wouldn't have had sufficient yarn for it, even if I did go back to Romni and get that one remaining skein -- assuming it was even still there. The two-strand sole was pretty thick as it was anyway, given the yarn I'd used, not to mention of a comically large size. It was a relief to have finished the knitting, as I don't like big needle knits.
Then came the felting process, another thing I don't enjoy. I have a front loading washing machine with a Fort Knox-like auto locking system, so I thought I couldn't use my washing machine to felt things, but must do it manually. The last time I made these slippers, it took me five and a half hours to felt them. This time I did some reading up and watching of YouTube videos on felting in advance. I started out using hot water in a cooking pot as the YouTube felter had done, thinking I could at least sit down during the process, but I didn't like that I had to keep refreshing the water as it cooled. I ended up going back to the method I'd resorted to for my last slippers: I agitated the slippers in a large pot of water which I kept simmering on the stove, occasionally rinsing them in cold water at the sink to shock the felt into shrinking. This time it took me a gruelling four hours and twenty minutes, during which I endured frequent splashes of hot water (it wasn't hot enough to burn me, but it was hot enough to sting), but I thought was at least an improvement on the last time, and this time around I'd also done more felting in less time because the slippers had been larger to start with. My hands ached so much that I had to get up in the middle of the night and take ibuprofen, and it took me four or five days to get the brown stains off my fingernails, but it was a relief to think that the felting process was done and I wouldn't have to do it again for years.
With the slippers ready to assemble, I took one of the straps with me to Fabricland to buy buttons for them. It was a pleasant and easy task, I was in the home stretch of finishing slippers I really needed but that I hadn't enjoyed making and then... I lost the felted strap somewhere in the store, and simply could not find it again. And hoo boy, did I look. I must have spent well over an hour looking for it. I retraced my steps through the stores repeatedly. I emptied out and went through the contents of my shoulder bag and the one shopping bag I had with me three separate times. I went through my coat pockets, even taking off my jacket and shaking it in case the strap had slipped down one of my sleeves or something. I told the staff I'd dropped it and they looked for it themselves with a commendable thoroughness and zeal. One young store employee even got down on her hands and knees and crawled around in the yarn area, where I'd been browsing, looking for it. But all of our efforts were for naught. We couldn't find the damn strap. Finally, too tired to look anymore, I gave up, purchased the buttons that had matched the strap while I had it, left my name and contact information with the store staff in the forlorn hope that the strap might yet turn up, and dragged myself home. I waited a few days, and when I didn't hear from Fabricland, I resigned myself to the inevitable, and made a new strap.
At least I had enough yarn left over, and it took me less than fifteen minutes to knit a new strap and darn in the ends. Then came the felting part, which took about an hour, but then I hit yet another snag in the process when I realized the new strap and the remaining original strap were two very different shades of brown. I ended up stewing the slippers and the straps in a pot on the stove for five or six hours, which almost corrected the colour of the new strap. There was still a slight shading difference between the straps, but by that point I was too fed up with the whole process to care.
The completed slippers in a size 8. (The colours didn't photograph that well, and the buttons actually go better with the yarn than one would think given their appearance in this photo.) After all the trouble I had with them, I'm reasonably pleased with them. But I think next time I make these slippers I will go with a worsted. These fit well, but they are a lot bulkier than my old slippers.
I do have a few thoughts on how to make the felting process easier on me next time. First of all, I am going to experiment with using my washing machine to felt whatever material I'm working with, because it's occurred to me that I can work around the machine's auto lock by unplugging the machine whenever I want to check on or remove the items. If machine felting doesn't work for me, I will buy a deep stock pot to use for the manual felting process to prevent or at least reduce the splashing. And lastly, in future I vow to be VERY careful with my samples when shopping for notions, especially if the sample is actually a piece of a project.
This project was made from newly purchased yarn and I had just 20 grams of yarn left when it was completed, or a stash increase of 20 grams.