Before Christmas I was asked by three people if I made felt slippers. I didn’t but one friend was so keen that she sent me a link to instructions on how to make them. So I had a go at making a test pair for myself.
This is the result – not entirely successful. I used three layers of dark red merino and then three layers of grey Icelandic wool, because I thought this would make the outside sturdier – and they do feel quite robust. And they are reasonably symmetrical.
However, there were a couple of problems:
1. They didn’t shrink as much as I expected, so they’re too big for me (and too small for ESP). In my previous experience, the more layers of felt, the greater the shrinkage, so I expected these to shrink quite a lot, especially as there were three layers of merino. The resist I used was about 30% bigger than my foot – but although I fulled for ages, the final slippers refused to shrink any further. I wonder whether it would be easier if I had a form to put inside while fulling, to give the felt something to shrink against.
2. There are some prominent ridges along the sides where the wool bunched up over the edges of the resist. I couldn’t get rid of these, no matter how hard I rubbed. I think the issue here is that the instructions I followed recommended laying out three layers of wool at a time, each at right angles to the previous layer, before turning the resist over and doing the other side. Although I did trim the layers before folding them over on the other side, they were still quite bulky.
Normally I lay out one layer at a time on each side. With six layers of wool, this would obviously more time-consuming, but it might lead to a better result.
With this pair I could get round most of this problem by cutting away more of the felt around the heel to make the slippers more of a slip-on style. But I’ll probably just put them in the box labelled “Lessons learned” and move on!