Saturday, 15 February 2014

crocodile shoes

crocodile style down slippers
I anticipate that one look at these elegant beasts will leave people with a desire or longing to create 'the look', so being a generous crafter I will outline the process.

1. Start with a pair of really stinky down boots destined for bin (3 years or so of foot pong and worn down soles optional). Wash slippers.
much loved worn stinky down bootles
2. One can cut the slippers up at this point and remove the down for later use but be prepared to find down in extraordinary places for weeks (such as in the DVD player and up your nose).
down trying not to stay in box
3. Look for a down boot or slipper pattern on internet (I really like these ones based on this pattern but my plates of meat are a bit too big). Failing that if you are impatient to crack on just make it up as you go along - get a pair of pre-existing slippers and cut out fabric pieces of approximately the same shape, but bigger, as these are giant slippers.

4. You need inner lining fabric (leftover from the patch jacket), stretch fleecy outer fabric (I got my scales fabric from Just Sew and had a hard time choosing which animal print to choose), some kind of hard-wearing fabric for the soles (I wanted the sticky slipper fabric or faux leather but could only find boiled wool felt locally so went for that) and ... by far the most important thing to remember when making a down-filled project is DOWN-PROOF FABRIC.  
pattern pieces based on pre-existing slipper design
5. Down-proof fabric: this has to be tightly woven with a high thread count. Without this the slippers would go from plump to flaccid in a few weeks, shedding feathers like a moulting duck. I was thrilled to learn that the stuff I needed was called 'cambric ticking'. This is such a lovely old-fashioned combination of words, conjuring images of The House of Elliott (I loved that series). I was even happier when I went into Just Sew and the lady immediately knew what this was and had it in stock (I love that shop). Of course you need to cut double pieces for the cambric ticking to line the lining and the outer.

If you don't live near any helpful shoe-making elves, continue as follows.

6. Sew the ticking to the lining pieces. Sew the front and back pieces to the 2 side pieces so the cambric is uppermost. Leave enough room to get your foot into the slipper but not too much room or the slippers will fall off (though there is a work-around with elastic).
cambric-lined lining
7. In the same way, sew the ticking to the outer (crocodile skin) fabric, this time ticking innermost. Attach the outer to the inner at the foot-hole opening (obviously turn the fabrics right side together to do this). 
body of slipper without sole
8. At this point the slippers have no sole/soul. I decided to sew an extra piece of quilt wadding to the ticking lined sole.
lining with wadding and boiled wool felt outer sole
9. Sew the sole lining to the slipper lining, right sides together. This is the shell of the slipper with the ticking-lined outer and lining facing each other:
completed slipper lining turned inside out (right)
10. Sew elastic to the foot-hole opening at the sides and back to ensure a snug fit. 
attaching sole and elastic
11. Sew felt sole to outer - remember to LEAVE A HOLE FOR STUFFING WITH THE DOWN.

12. Add down - this bit is very messy. Do outdoors unless you live in a county where it rains for about 200 days a year.
stuffing the slippers with down

 12. Trim excess fabric after ensuring correct fit (most important that the sole is the right size for your foot). Finish edging with suitable bias binding - I used skull ribbon.
skull ribbon
  13. Prance about daintily
Slippers lined with skull ribbon
14. Debate whether slippers look more like dinosaur eggs, crocodile shoes or a snake distended with mammal.
dragon eggs
crocodile shoe
snake eating a sheep
15. Gaze at new down slippers with pride, even if they are a bit lumpy looking.  Like the handspun Herdwicks , it isn't about perfection.
dinosaur egg slippers?

16. Don't bother buying Sock stop paint from Fun to Do. It might be solidified and unusable due to having been on the shelf for far to long and will only lead to disappointment.

Monday, 10 February 2014

beginner's lace

Hemp scarf kit from House of Hemp
This unfinished project has been hanging around in the bottom of my knitting bag for about 3 years and I have a good feeling for the year now it is complete - the yarn, from the House of Hemp is organic, hypoallergenic, non irritant, extremely strong, and might I say quite attractive.  Anyone interested in learning more about the properties and diversity of the cannabis plant should read this link.

hemp: irridescent sheen
The pattern was extraordinarily simple but I wouldn't look too closely at the stitchery. I am so very easily distracted so it wouldn't win any awards for technical perfection. However the pattern is very forgiving for a beginner's mistakes. 
delicate lacework
Comments made about scrim nets during the making of this were not justified. Or comparison with fishing nets. Think instead, English garden party in early summer with a light breeze and parasols. 

scrim net

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

fixing things

Normal sized sleeves at long last
Remember the aran cardigan with giant sleeves? It has had a lot of wear this winter which is a pleasing reward for a labour of love...but the giant sleeves ( a result of not understanding the properties of Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran after washing) could be ignored no longer.

Luckily, in learning how to rectify other mistakes I discovered this technique for shortening sleeves:
1. Using a circular needle pick up loops of stitches in a line at the level you wish the cuff to start - if you have matched up the seam neatly this line should start and end at the same level. This will allow the cuff to be knitted in a round, which is a much neater technique than having a seam.

2. Cut the sleeve off a couple of rows down from the circular needle and remove/unravel any wool below the circular needle - what you end up with is a circular needle threaded neatly through the loops at the bottom edge of the sleeve. Now simply knit the cuffs in an identical pattern to the original ones.

The knit stitches are actually upside down because in the pattern the sleeves were knitted from the cuffs up whereas this is knitting from the top down, but it doesn't seem to matter. In the original fisherman's ganseys, the entire sleeve was knitted from the top down to allow for replacement of worn out sleeves, I guess using a very similar technique. The Kate Davies sweater also has top down sleeves so should I feel inclined I could make it into a long sleeved sweater without too much effort.
close up of cuff knitted from top down on end of sleeve knitted from bottom up