Ilene got back to me tonight with thanks for my thoughts and although she says:
“I don't have any questions at this point,”
That may be but apparently I’m full of answers – Insert big silly grin here
“Since I'm only half done, and I'm sure I'll see ways to improve my process as I go. It’s a good first shot at it, so far. Anything you'd like to share is great. This is the first pair of slippers for me, a couple women made some trial pairs.
They used three layers of merino,”
Without knowing just how thick the layers are my guess is that 3 layers may not be thick enough. They’ll look great and feel fab but wear through fairly quickly unless they add a leather or latex sole.
“I wanted mine thicker and coarser with higher cuffs. I did 5 layers alternating merino and Harrisville, and extra size around my foot shape.”
Sounds better to me. You’ll still need to add a sole if you really want them to last.
“I rolled with bubblewrap until it was nicely bound to the pinch ("fulled"?).”
Personally I don’t roll things with a resist in them. I prefer to work my seams carefully by hand – letting the middles mostly take care of themselves.
The pinch test is to see if you have prefelt. In the case of heavy duty felt like slippers need; fulled is when the felt is very durable and won’t shrink anymore. At that point many wools take on a pebbly look to the surface. You’ll know you are close when you see that.
“We used the U shape that seems common in books inc Chris White's.”
When you cut it open you may (actually will likely) find that the inside is no where near as felted as you thought it would be.
Just gently turn the booties inside out and repeat the process.
I usually cut into the package when the resist is starting to buckle inside. When you cut the two booties apart be sure to turn them inside out at least once as you proceed. Each time pull sideways on the centre seam and stretch it out to flatten it as much as you can. If you don’t you will feel it when you walk on it. Ouch.
“Do you use that and then cut and felt around your last? I will use my plastic garden shoes for now, but a last would be great and I have duct tape. Now I'm planning to alternate hot and cold water and throw em for the felting. Or??”
I like to pick up the bootie by the
neck ankle and drop it onto the table top so that it lands flat on the sole. Just let the weight of the wool and water carry it down. Do that lots. It’s the best way I’ve found to thicken and harden the sole. I also roll the slipper against itself and roll. Or roll it in a towel but making sure not to set that centre seam in as I do so.
Every so often I turn the bootie inside out. Each time I stretch out the centre seam again and then give the whole bootie a good stretch in every direction.
The first time you do this it will amaze you how much bigger it will get. But each time you do it you’ll see less and less give.
Once the slipper stops stretching back out to huge stop turning inside out but do not stop stretching. The stretching adds strength to the final product.
Unless your gardening shoes are too small for you fulling to them will make slippers that are too big. But do use them to get close.
Place the bootie over your shoe. Drop it on to it’s sole as before and slap it silly on the upper with the palm of your hand. Or use a rubber mallet.
When the slippers are getting pretty tight on the shoe remove it and do the final fulling on your feet for a perfect fit!
I always try to get someone else to do it for me – think free foot massage!
“I plan to cut the cuffs with jester shape folds around the cuff to show some of the colors I used inside. Maybe other design cuts like that, we'll see.”
Sounds fab - can’t wait to see the photos! Maybe they’ll look something like mine.
“In the future, I don't think I'd use Merino, or just a little to get the coarser stuff to felt.”
Using merino always appeals to me but the coarser stuff will felt on it’s own in most cases.
Can you hear Pat Spark repeating the mantra
….. Sample, sample, sample………