So I’ve been working on an interesting knitting project, the French Press Felted Slippers, by Melynda Bernardi of French Press Knits. She’s having the sort of success fledging pattern designers dream of – in less time than it takes to conceive, carry and birth a baby she designed a knitting project, started selling it in an Etsy shop, and then published the pattern on Ravelry. It immediately ricocheted to the top of the bestselling/most queued patterns list, and she’s riding a wave of happy-happy-joy-joy-down-in-my-heart popularity only the geekiest of knitters understand. I am convinced, as always, that it is all about the photos. Her photography is dynamite, she built her brand correctly (start with the blog, open the Etsy shop, sell stuff, publish the pattern, and soar), and the pattern is easy, well-written, and pretty to look at. I like pretty. So do most other people.
Anyways, after reading a bit about her in her blog and posts and such, I got warm fuzzy feelings for her and decided I should bite the bullet and knit the pattern. This is the first project I’ve ever fulled (and yes, I do mean fulled, not felted, just look it up), so I’m intrigued as to how it will go. I will state that my confidence comes in part from the sound advice I received from Emily of Skyline Chilly just a couple of weeks ago. I received yarn in the mail absolutely coated in smoke – it was expensive, pure silk stuff that I had spent a lot of money on. After much research and many questions to different fiber experts, extensive bitching on the phone to my best friend about the idiocy of bad sellers, and a phone call to my local dry cleaners, my best advice came from Emily. She suggested actually using – gasp – a washing machine, and her very thorough instructions paved the way for me to actually submit my yarns to the powers of the automatic rinse cycle. It was freeing. The yarns came out perfect. Two rinses, a couple days of carefully turning them, drying them, reskeining when necessary, and I feel like I can do anything. Therefore, the next obvious way to use the washing machine must be the process of fulling my yarn! Ah ha!
So now, in my third paragraph, I return to my original point. I am knitting a pair of slippers. It is an “interesting” project not just because I am fulling for the first time, but also because I am sort of … winging it. I have this great Shetland fingering weight wool that was handdyed for me many months ago using different jellies “stained” into it. Unfortunately, Shetland wool is rough as all get out, and the yardage I own isn’t great. But I couldn’t just swap away this pretty yarn that was custom-made for me. I thought this slipper pattern would work well, because I could just double or triple the fingering way to achieve the thickness I wanted. Ha. With that method, I discovered, I would very quickly run out of yarn. Very quickly. Like, after the first strap. So, after a bit of rummaging around in my stash, I pulled out the rest of that Knit Picks Telemark that I used for the aforementioned cat’s paw lace sampler, and away I went. Somehow, my green jelly-stained yarn has turned into a pair of white slippers. I used white mohair and white sportweight yarn held with the original jelly yarn for the sides of of the slippers. The straps are made with just the sportweight and the mohair, while the bottoms have been knit with the mohair (as always) alongside two strands of white, worsted weight Cascade 220. White slippers. Dear God. Somehow I sense that these slippers are going to become a gift for some lucky other soul, unless I can design a better bottom. The last time I wore white shoes was in the 4th grade for Easter, and I destroyed those patent leathers faster than you would believe. I actually recall climbing a tree in them. I did it carefully, because I didn’t want to get them too dirty, but I still climbed. Anyways, while on one hand I am sure I won’t be climbing any trees in these, I also know that there is a lack of carpet in my home, that I enjoy traipsing around in my slippers everywhere, and that I still have a propensity to get ink on my fingers and food on my clothes. White slippers. Oy.
I’m finishing up my second sole right now, and then hopefully tomorrow I’ll find the time to seam it all together. Then it will most likely sit for another week on my desk or in some other haphazard location until I decide its time to full the damn things. Exciting!
P.S. – For the record, I have never seen my cat Calle so bloody happy over yarn. She has a deep affinity for wool, and when I unskeined the Cascade 220 and laid it out on the bed, she actually rolled in it. She sat down beside it, sniffed it delicately, buried her face in the skein when she realized what it was, and then began stretching her body over it until, ecstatic, she just covered the entire length of it. There were a couple of dramatic sighs in there as well..