machine knitting midgauge standard bulky machknit knit machine-knit patterns

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Need a stocking stuffer? Knit some Fuzzy Feet Slippers

Fuzzy Feet  by Mar Heck ©2019

 This pattern is adapted from an easy, old, hand- knit slipper pattern that for years has been passed along from grandmother to grandchild and probably has been knit a million times.   Adding three twists to the pattern:  they are done on the machine in lightening quick fashion in stockinette stitch, we are adding fun fur to tickle our fancy and we are felting them to make them extra warm. MACHINE:   9 mm Bulky or midgauge 

   Child to adult.  Adult in parenthesis.

  3 (4) skeins Lion Brand Fun Fur™ (60 yards per skein, polyester), purple used for the sample
  1 (2) skeins knitting worsted weight wool yarn (Do not use wool yarn made to resist
   felting,  called superwash.) Light blue used for the sample.   Large eyed needle for sewing up

         Skills needed:  Making a swatch and determining gauge
                                E wrap cast on.               
                                Mattress stitch for hand sewing.


1.  Determine the recipient’s foot size by taking two measurements.  Measure the foot length from heel to toe and then measure around the instep close to the ankle.  The foot length will be the finished slipper length (number of rows)  and the width will be how high the slipper comes up each side of the foot on the sides of the heel/ankle (number of stitches).  The slipper is just a plain rectangle.

2.  Make a swatch .  You will make the slipper the size of the felted gauge. With one strand of fun fur and one strand of the wool held together, e wrap cast on 20 stitches and knit 30 rows at the largest tension your machine will do.  End with waste yarn and remove from machine.  The waste yarn will tell you which direction is the rows.  If it felts really well, it’s hard to otherwise tell which direction is which.  It will feel like a big waste of yarn, but you’ll only have to do this once for a particular brand of wool.  (You might be able to later think of a use for this little swatch.)  Throw the swatch in the washing machine until the wool felts.  Depending on the yarn you choose it may take a few cycles for it to felt.  After it attains the look you want, measure the swatch to determine stitches and rows per inch or centimeters, whichever you are more comfortable with.   Multiply the stitches and rows per inch times the dimensions you want to determine how many stitches and rows you will knit for your rectangle.  (See note below for calculating.) Note that it will have shrunk more in length than in width.

***If you prefer not to make a swatch, for a rough reference:  using the largest tension, my child’s slipper turned out to be at T 10.. 44 stitches X 50 rows to fit an 7-8” foot.  My adult women’s slipper, about a size 9, turned out to be 50 stitches X 74 rows to fit a 9 -10 inch foot. Because felting is not an exact science, you’ll need to do a little experimenting with the yarn you choose.  If you use the same yarns for different sizes, you can knit a pair using your best guesses for stitches and rows then adjust for other sizes by adding or subtracting stitches and rows. This works fine if you would prefer not to waste yarn on a swatch.  (You can’t reuse yarn that’s been felted, so some people would prefer to just dive right in.)    Another thought: you will want the slipper to be a bit snug, so do not add any ease.

3.  Directions for knitting.  Knit one rectangle for each  slipper.

*  E wrap cast on loosely from left to right with one strand of each yarn held together over the number of needles  you have determined you need.  Leave a yarn tail at the beginning about 10” long to later sew up the heel seam.

*  Put the yarns together in the feeder and turn the dial to the largest tension number.  Set your row counter to zero and knit one row from right to left.  (May be a bit hard to push the carriage.)

*  Hook the cast on comb into the stitches.  Add as much weight across the knitting as you can. Use ribber weights if you have them.  For the first 2-3 rows, pull all needles out to E position each row to make the stitches knit off a little easier.  Yank the knitting down after each row so that the fur doesn’t get hung up on the gate pegs.  Knit the number of rows you have determined you need.

*  End with the carriage on the right side.  Take the yarn out of the feeder and cut a length of the two yarns about 1 ½ feet long which will be used for sewing up the top of the slipper. ( I sewed mine first then felted them. ) Thread both strands into a large eyed  needle and take the stitches off their needles, one at a time from right to left onto this thread.  When all stitches are off the machine, pull the stitches as tight as you can.  This will be the toe.  You will most likely have a little hole, so stitch across the hole from north to south and east to west a few times.  Neatness doesn’t count because the felting and the fur will hide your sewing.

* Don’t break yarn.  With this same length of yarn, sew up the top of the foot seam with a mattress stitch from the toe towards the back of the slipper.  Again, for reference, I sewed a 3 inch seam for the child’s slipper and a 4 inch seam for the adult.  Fasten off by sewing through your last stitch again and then hide the yarn tail inside the slipper by sewing through the backs of 5-6 stitches and cutting the yarn off.   You need a large enough opening to slip the foot into, but small enough to stay on snugly.

*   Thread both strands of your beginning yarn tail into a large eyed needle and sew up the heel seam. You will be folding the back of the slipper in half and sewing from top to bottom.  The stitches face each other, so you can’t do a mattress stitch.  Any seam will do. Sew twice for strength.  Hide the yarn tail as above.

*  Note:  the edge that ends up around the ankle needs no treatment.  When felted it lies perfectly flat.  No problem there!

4.  Felt both slippers at the same time in the same wash load(s) giving them the same treatment as you did your swatch.  My wool needed 3 hot/cold cycles to felt, but each yarn brand seems to behave differently as do different colors, so you just need to monitor it.  When felted to the size you need, scrunch up some plastic bags, stuff the slippers so they have a nice shape and let them dry for a day or so.  Petting them doesn’t prolong the drying period, so have at it.  It’s amazing how the wool pulls together and makes the non-felting polyester “fur” more dense.  People are kind of surprised you can do this on a machine.  Just one bit of warning, they’re slippery on smooth floors.

5.  I found this addictive and made several pairs. They are so soft and cozy! For your next pair, you can do stripes and/or embellish them with bows, eyes, ears, tails, whatever.  Baby booties would be really cute and easy.  Because of the slippery nature of the slippers  (is that how the word came about?), the pattern may not be appropriate for toddlers or older folk.  You decide.  Once you have your gauge, the next pair is a snap. They are so silly, they’re fun!

New Knitter Notes:

Ewrap Cast On:
Pull needles that are going to be in work out to E position.  Make a slip knot and hang it on first needle on the left.  Push the knot back to the needle bed.  Just as though you were writing a cursive “e”, wrap the yarn around each needle counter clockwise, from left to right up against the bed, not in the hooks of the needles.  Easy does it---don’t wrap too tightly.  No need to wrap the last needle on the right.  Just put the yarn in the yarn feeder and that stitch will knit automatically as you push the carriage from right to left.  After your first row, hang the cast-on comb.

One way to calculate the stitches and rows per inch:
This simple method works in this case since we are dealing in approximations anyway.  For a sweater, you would want to do a more extensive swatch.  In this example, you knit 20 stitches and 30 rows and then felt your swatch.  When it has felted to your liking, measure the width.  Say your swatch, after felting, measures 4 inches across.  20 stitches divided by 4 inches = 5 stitches per inch.  To get your number of stitches for the width of the slipper, multiply 5 times the number of inches you want.  Say the length ended up to be 5 inches.  30 rows divided by 5 inches = 6 rows per inch.  To get the number of rows for the length of the slipper, multiply 6 times the number of inches you want.

Hand sewing a mattress stitch: 
Have the right sides of both pieces facing you, side by side.  With your large needle, go under two bars on the right side of the first stitch of the piece on the right, then under two bars on the left side of the first stitch on the left piece.  Go back and forth repeating from side to side, pulling the yarn taut now and then.  The stitches from each side pull together making the seam invisible from the right side.

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