One thing I completely forgot to say in my previous post is that when things don’t work out, it’s amazing what support you receive from the online community – most of whom are people you have never met in person!
In an earlier post I described how my first attempt at making felt slippers wasn’t a huge success. Lo and behold, Chrissie Day, an experienced felter who has written several books, popped up to give advice in the comments. So I bought her book Felt Style, ordered some polystyrene foot lasts, and had another go.
I covered the lasts with clingfilm, slipped them into my “honey monster” slippers, and wet, soaped and rubbed until the slippers fitted the lasts well. I have to say it was so much easier rubbing the slippers with the lasts inside, as it gives something to rub against.
Then I slipped a pop sock over each one, tied a knot at the top, and put them in the washing machine with a bath towel at 60°C.
As you can see, the slippers are a much better shape, and the ridges are less prominent (though I can still feel them). They are still a little big lengthwise (size 5 rather than size 4, I reckon!), so I think I need to make the original template a bit shorter. But with an adornment or two, I think these are now perfectly acceptable footwear!
So huge thanks to Chrissie for her advice and support on this. The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze.
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!