Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mad Scientist at Work

Last week at knit group, several people were working on thrummed mittens which were so amazing.  If you’ve never encountered this technique, it involves knitting in tufts of roving.  We started talking about the other things you could make using this technique, like a lap blanket or slippers.

Two days later I got an email from a local yarn shop that featured a pattern for thrummed slippers.  The slippers themselves didn’t look hard, in fact they looked a lot like a vintage pattern I’ve been carrying around with me almost since I first learned to knit.  I’d never made them but the pattern was paired with a pair of gloves that are knitted flat, which was why I kept the pattern.  One of my knitting buddies said it looks exactly like the slippers she learned to make back in the day in 4H.

It wouldn’t be any big deal to incorporate the thrums into this pattern.  To try it out, I used the left over handspun from my poncho, Border Leicester fleece locks, and some roving.

The first thing to do was to try out the pattern so I could figure out how it works.  It turned out to be super easy.  Here are the basics:

The one on the left is inside out and the one on the right shows the roving
in the space between the slipper and the second sole
(I used worsted weight yarn and US size 6 needles.)

Cast on 43 stitches.

Row 1 – K4, P1, K33, P1, K4.  (The outside edges end up folding down around your ankles.  If you want them to come up further on your feet, you simply increase the number of stitches between the purls.  But keep track because you’ll need to center the “sole” stitches on the next row.)

Row 2 – K16, P1, K9, P1, K16

Repeat these 2 rows until piece measure 3 ½ inches from the beginning.

Next row: Bind off 6 stitches, K31, P1, K4.

Next row: Bind of 6 stitches, K9, P1, K9, P1, K10

Next row, work in K1, P1 ribbing over 10 stitches, K11, work in P1, K1 ribbing to the end

Next row, work in K1, P1 ribbing over 10 stitches, P1, K9, P1, work remainder of stitches in rib pattern.

Repeat these 2 rows until it measures the length of the foot but don’t bind off.  Cut the yarn leaving a 14-inch tail.  Using a tapestry needle, run the yarn through the live stitches and pull the yarn through all the stitches and pull tight.  Work in the yarn.

So I discovered that the section between the K9 of the original 2nd row was the bottom of the foot.  That’s where I needed to include the thrums.  I guess you could add them to the entire inside but the wool locks I was going to use for the thrums are quite long stapled and would wrap up around the sides.

On the first slipper I made, I interspersed the thrums 3 across the 9 stitch area and then staggered 2 across 4 rows later.  But I thought it needed a little more fullness so on the second one, I put 3 thrums across on each row.

I also changed the way I closed up the back seam.  The instructions say to sew the edges and then draw the 9 stitches of the bottom together.  On the second pair, I picked up 9 stitches along the back and knit a triangle inset to make the heel a little squarer.  Gathering the stitches made a bump in the back that wasn’t very comfortable.

I finished them and really liked where they were headed but, since today is the perfect day to try out warmy, cozy slippers, I realized they needed a little more on the bottom.

So I pulled out the chunky handspun from my leftovers and knitted an attachable sole.  To add to the cush and the warmth, I decided I would also pack the pocket between the new sole and the bottom of the slipper with wool roving.  Ain’t no cold getting’ near my tootsies with these suckers!