Monday, November 18, 2013

Little Felted Slippers pt.1 (tips & tricks)

With a little trial and error, I'm happy to report that my two little "Elfish" felted slippers are completed and drying at this current moment. The key to working with any origami-like project is preparation and good thinking-outside-the-box skills. Although I had preparation checked off my list with a drawn-out chart of how it's sewn up, let's face the facts: when you fold an object, it is hard to decipher the chart the more you sew.

To reiterate my point, let me tell you a true short-story:
Once upon a time there was a knitter who hated to hand-seam. For this project, however, she felt the need to do tidy sewing, meticulously making sure that the seams were invisible. Things were going smoothly, until the last section needed to be seamed. The slipper looked, well, a little odd. While one side looked perfectly fine, the other seamed "off." Frustrated, the knitter turned the knitting inside out to rip back a couple of seams, but was perplexed at how she couldn't find the weaved-in tail ends. She looked, and looked, and looked, but it was nearly impossible to decipher which ends were knit together and which were seamed. Well, with a little picking around at the back, and many minutes passing by, she finally ripped the seams out and started over. This was one example where invisible seaming back-fired!

Project: Felted Slippers by Midnattsol 
Yarn: Paton's Classic Wool, 1 skein of "Leaf Green" & "Plum Heather"
1 skein of each color will make two complete "toddler slippers"
Needles: size US10 straights

Pattern modifications to make a size "Toddler"
***Elfish style*** 
Version 1: Main slipper color: Red    Cuff: Green  
(Version 2: Main slipper color: Green    Cuff: Red)
For version 1, the bottom blocks 1 and 7 will be green, and the rest of the blocks are red.

Toddler Size:  Co 12 stitches; work 24 rows for each square. Leave long tails while switching colors to be used for seaming.
CO with green, work 24 rows. Switch to red and work 120 rows (or 60 ridges). Pick up 12 sts with red for blocks 7 and 8; knit 24 rows each.

This order isn't crucial, but here's some tips I've learned on Ravely for this project:  1.) Seam C 1st.   2.) Seam B   3.) Seam A.   4.) Lay flat with lower left flap still in left hand. Fold up and match F to F and then G to G. Sew them both.  5.) Seam D.   6.) Seam E.

If you are planning on working on these felted slippers in the future, here are some tips that I learned from my mistakes:

1. Draw or print up the chart to the slippers, complete with markings "A," "B," "C," and so on, along with any notes you might need if you are working with a lot of different colors, like: what colors each square will be, or even what square is what part of the foot anatomy (ankle, top of foot, heel, etc.). Next, take markers out and color code where the seams are going to be joined.

2. Now do yourself a HUGE favor, and take this little extra step to ensure that when you start folding up this project to sew, you can still recognize the seaming areas "A," "B," "C," etc by threading different colored yarns into those seaming sections. It would be best if they were the same colors as your chart, but it's not a big deal. In the end, all you have to think is "blue is sewed to blue, green to green, white to white, etc."

3. Keep in mind which side of the project you are sewing. Keep the "right-sides" out and facing you.

4. Make sure all of your seams are neat and pretty (despite my little story in the beginning). When it felts, you'll want there to be nice crisp, clean lines.

 For the cases where one side of the garter touches the top edge of garter (that sounds confusing, check out figure 2), do a combination of threading the yarn through the side bump of the garter edge (the same way you sew garter edges together) while picking up a loop (see figure 1) between the garter ridge and cast-off/cast-on edge for the other one.
figure 1
figure 2


This is how the slipper looks, pre-felted:
Jake testing the slipper out.
5. Felting: an awesome, yet sometimes tricky endeavor. Make sure you knot up your tail ends after seaming extremely well. Unless you want to be like me, who had to do some emergency seaming mid-felting when the machine took a couple of seams completely out. And I weaved in the ends very well.
The machine is only an aid. I eventually took out the slippers and hand-felted to get it thicker and more solid. You don't want any garter showing through.

Tips on felting:
-To felt, the fiber must be 100% natural, like 100% wool. NO blends.
-The water must be hot.
-Agitating the wool (or rubbing the wool together) in this hot water will cause it to frizz and shrink into felt.
-The project must be knit a little loosely to felt well.
-I think it's a general rule that a felted project will felt to about 1/3 the size of the original knit. 
-Drying it in the dryer will cause it to shrink some more, so be careful about how much you shrink it in the washer AND dryer.

The key to machine-felting is: BABYSITTING your project. Check it often. For me, it was a seam-ripping issue, but you'll want to make sure it doesn't shrink too far.

NOTE: unless you want to learn the hard way from the "Yarn Harlot," who let her projects drain and spin in the machine thus leading to an expensive repair bill when the hairs caught inside the machine, DON'T let your water drain until you remove the stray hairs from the washer. I used mini strainer (the size of the top of a mug). Only then should you let the water drain.

Just roll the wet pieces in a towel to drain as much water out.


6. Drying. Dry it a little in the dyer if you'd like. It's not absolutely necessary if you use a towel to get the excess water out, but it takes a LONG time to dry if you don't do this. Keep babysitting it though. It doesn't need to be completely dry. It might be better to leave it a little damp so that you can mold it into its final shape and leave it to set like that.

Check out pt.2, the finished projects tomorrow! Happy felting!
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