Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Crafting Felted Slippers

I've had a hankering to make felted wool slippers for a very long time. Now, I've made crocheted and felted slippers, even had my pattern published in SpinOff. And I've crochet amazing woolly slippers from raw fleece. But I wanted to learn to make felted slippers from wool, just by felting, without any needle art in between the fleece and the wearing.
That's been a long involved learning process! I've failed, I've learned, I've succeeded, I've learned, I've practiced, I've learned and now I'm wearing a pair of alpaca and kid mohair slippers that I just love.
So, I'm ready to share a quick pictorial of my process. I use only fleece from our animals- Jacob sheep wool, mohair and alpaca. Through trial and error, I've learned the fleece must be washed first to felt well. This is a pair of alpaca and mohair slippers I made for my mom.

1. First you draw out and cut the pattern/resist. A cheap textured plastic placemat works well. Cut about 1/2 inch wider than the person's foot.
Weigh and prep your fiber. Don't skip this step! Lesson learned the hard way.
Lay out your under towel, your super heavy duty bubble wrap, your netting and your soap. The soap matters. This is handmade soap from the Village Apothecary Shop at the Ozark Folk Center State Park. It works well.
Lay your resist/pattern on your bubble wrap and cover with your first layer of fluff, fibers mostly going one direction.
Layer your second layer of fiber over the first, going the opposite direction. Build up five layers of lightly fluffed fiber.
Put netting over pile of fluff.
Pour boiling water in a spiral over fluff.
Rub soap over netting being careful not to shift fiber sideways.

Pat, pat, pat.
Wrap the loose fringy edges over the resist.

Once you have all your fiber for that slipper wrapped around your resist, roll it up in the bubble wrap and towel and roll, roll, roll for 8 minutes. Set a timer ('nother lesson) it's longer that you think. 
Decide where you want the opening on your slippers and cut. Make sure you felt the cut edges immediately. More lessons. 

Make a last for further shaping and felting. Duct tape and old socks on the person's foot whom the slippers are for. Very bad English!

Finish shaping, embellishing and drying your slippers on the last. 

Cut a leather sole using the original resist as a pattern and stitch to bottom of slippers. 

Wear and enjoy!