Monday, February 28, 2011

french press slippers

The stakes were a little on the high side when I decided to make ballet flat-inspired slippers for my sister-in-law for her birthday. After all, beautiful shoes are her family business. But I really loved the Felted Slippers from Melynda Bernardi of French Press Knits. It was my first felting project so I was a little nervous but I was so happy with the way they turned out.

If you've never felted a knit project before, it's quite magical.  These were knit with Cascades 220 Heathers 100% Peruvian wool.  I think the Heathers works well because it gives a nice variation in the felt rather than a flat solid.  The bottoms are knit with three strands and the sides and straps with two to give it good bulk.   The remarkable thing is the size of the project pre-felting.

Here's a before pic next to my size 7 (dirty) shoes:

Looking at these floppy, 15" long clown shoes, it was hard to believe that they would eventually turn out to be a chic, sturdy slipper.  But wool is an amazing thing and after 20 minutes in a hot wash with a touch of detergent and a couple of Henry's old rubber balls, the fibre worked it's magic.  Here they are right out of the wash:

I was very vigilant during the felting process and checked on the slippers every 5 minutes, shaping the shoe each time.  If they felt properly, it's sturdy enough that shaping the damp shoe becomes more like sculpting than fibre work.  After a couple of days the shoe was dry and I could attach the strap (also felted, also meticulously shaped) and the cute tortoiseshell buttons. 

By changing colour and button style, you could get a lot of great looks. I want to make these for everyone know.  Starting with a pair for me!

(Most importantly, my sister-in-law loves them and they fit perfectly!)


Kristi said...

Love, LOVE, LOVE these slippers!!!!!!!!!!!!! You did an amazing job, Heather. You can be extremely proud of your work. You are indeed a renaissance woman!

miss allaby: the glad girl said...

Thanks Kristi! They turned out better than I even expected. It was so cool to take them out of the washer and think, "holy cow! I made shoes!" :)

French Press Knits said...

No wonder you love them- you did such a great job with them (honestly, some people just have the right touch- yours look just how they should). Hope there are many more pairs in your future :)

Anonymous said...

Heather,these are wonderful.Your mother told me about them but no picture I had in my mind came close to these beautiful slippers.They are perfect for Nat.You are an amazing person.So happy to say,"that's my niece who has all that talent.She's such a wonderful person as well."Love from Vonnie

miss allaby: the glad girl said...

Thanks Vonnie! xo

And thank you, Melynda, for your encouragement. I kind of want to felt everything now.