Anyone who spends time crafting will encounter projects that don’t go according to plan. Here’s one of mine, and it’s a huge irritation to me because (as far as I can tell) it’s through no fault of my own.
About a month ago I decided I needed some new slippers for the winter and thought I might try my hand at making some felted ones. So I had a look around and found a lovely looking pattern on Etsy (pictured above). Click here to see it in their Etsy shop. I bought the pattern, and then checked with them about whether they use US or UK sizing, and then went and ordered some wool. Of course the wool they recommend in the pattern is a US thing, so I had to find something else to use. I settled on Wash+Filz it, which I’ve used for other felting projects in the past with great success.
I made a start, and the first slipper crocheted up really quickly… you can tell there’s a but coming, right? But, by the end of the first slipper I was nearly out of wool.
This really was a tragic discovery. I had bought 600m and almost all of it had gone into the first slipper – so of course I had to order more, which suddenly made these the most expensive slippers in living memory.
So, the rest of the wool arrived and I got the second slipper made. I followed the pattern exactly, apart from shortening the upright ankle bit by two rows (should have been fifteen rows, but I stopped at fifteen because I was running out of wool. The button band (which is crocheted onto the ankle bit) was kept the same size as stated in the pattern, and actually I thought that would work better as it shouldn’t pull so tight vertically.
All looking good so far, right? I thought so, and so I put them in the washing machine at 40 degrees (which is the same as I’ve done for other projects with the same wool). I failed to take a photo of the slippers after they came out of that wash, but basically they were still huge (I tried them on, just to double check!) and hadn’t really felted much, so I put them back in for a second wash (at 40 degrees again). Having to put an item in for two washes to achieve proper felting isn’t unusual (certainly not for me, at any rate), and it’s something I’ve done before with great success.
The slippers looked ok on first inspection, although I wasn’t impressed at how the button band had distorted the ankle area. Something that I thought would be prevented by shortening the number of rows in the ankle section. Still, that’s not the main problem…
See that, where my thumb is? That’s where my heel ends. Not good. The front half of the slippers were a perfect fit, but the back of them was a clear two inches too long.
Total cost of the wool (which includes having to pay postage twice, because I ended up placing two separate orders) was £33. That’s a LOT of money wasted. Plus, of course, the cost of the pattern (£3.19). To say that I’m unhappy about this would be a serious understatement.
However, I got in touch with Kim at KnotSewCute and had a bit of a chat with her about it (well, messaging back and forth, so the written equivalent of a chinwag). After a bit of going back and forth we both came to the conclusion that it was either an issue with the type of wool (which was different to the type they use – they used a 10 ply wool, and mine is single ply), or the felting itself (they felt either in a top-loading machine or by hand, and I felt with a front-loading machine). Bugger. I really appreciated being able to talk it through with her, and the excellent customer service in that respect is one reason I’m more than happy to recommend them. She suggested that I try to salvage them by hand felting the problem area (the heel and ankle) to try and shrink it down. I’ve decided to cut the slippers down to size, join the pieces using the same sort of yarn, and then try the hand felting. Not sure when I’ll try this, as I’ve sadly become very disillusioned with the whole idea of slippers. Plus I got some slippers for yule, so there’s no urgency any more!
As a parting gesture, Kim very kindly offered to let me choose some other patterns which I could have for free! This was a very sweet offer, and of course I accepted. I chose their fingerless mitts, peekaboo mittens, owl cup cosy, and braided fingerless mitts. All gorgeous patterns with techniques (like the crochet cabling) which I’m keen to learn, and not a single felted pattern – until I can find an affordable yarn that matches theirs I think it’s best I stay away from felting!
Kim and Tara can be found at KnowSewCute on Etsy and as Kim Miller on Ravelry. I haven’t yet had a chance to start on any of the patterns that Kim so kindly gave me (although I’m now tempted to buy their night owl throw pattern and add that to my growing queue of projects…), but as soon as I do I’ll be back here to tell all about it!