Thursday, March 12, 2009

Porphyrios Slippers

The chest of prayer shawls at church is still full, a disincentive to knit another shawl just yet. But someone on one of the lists was brainstorming other projects for a prayer shawl ministry, and thought warm slippers might be nice, especially for men who are sick. The key to good knit slippers is to make them from wool and to full them, which means purposely wash them and make them shrink. It blends and lightens the colors, and makes them like a very good thick felt, but still with a tad of stitch definition.

One good thing about a smaller fulled project is you can use up the remains of other wool knitting projects. The slippers in these photos are all made from remnants of sweaters, shawls, and from yarn I got then didn't like for the purpose I'd bought it for. Most of them are stranded, 2 strands of different colors of worsted weight yarn knit on size 10's to get the gauge of 12 - 14 stitches/4 inches.

Wool shrinks about 25% when washed on my long cycle and then dried on high heat. That gives a good smooth sole to the slipper and a nice fuzziness too. It does shrink a little more on the length than the width, so before they're shrunk they may seem too long and narrow. Don't worry, it gets worked out in the wash. If you want to be really careful, knit a test swatch then run it through a wash cycle and see how much it shrinks.

These slippers are dedicated to a man, Elder Porphyrios, a saint in the Greek Orthodox tradition. A friend told me about his book, "Wounded by Love" which is about the best book I've ever read on spirituality. It changed my outlook and I imagine I'll remember this book for years to come. I belive reading this would be a great comfort to someone going through a rough time, as Elder Porphyrios really epitomized someone who "gets" God's love.

This pattern comes out in a women's size 8/9, but it could depend on how much you wash it. I've played around making them larger and smaller proportionately to make children's sizes and it works well. Once you wear the slipper, it kind of adjusts to the size/shape of your foot, and if it's too big just wash it again. Click on the image below to see it larger. NOTE: YOU MUST USE WOOL!! (or some other animal fiber)

To finish, the seam will come up the top of the slipper but first you have to sew across the toe. You also need to sew up the heel of the slipper. How much you wash/dry depends on your machine and what size you are trying to achieve. It will continue to shrink if you wash it again (so handwash once you get it to the perfect size!)

For a child's size 3/4 (woman's size 5/6), I started with 19 stitches, increased the center stitches until I had 9; knit 12 "ridges" of garter, bound off 2 stitches each side, then did stockinette for 24 rows after that, starting the toe decrease at row 18 (after the decrease) and following the same toe decrease style as in the chart - row 18 one decrease each side of the sole, then on rows 20 and 22, a double decrease on each side.

If it's not for a child who likes to slide on wood floors, and traction is an issue, you can make a design on the bottom (after you shrink them!) using fabric puff paint for traction. Let it dry completely before walking in the slippers to avoid unfortunate stains on the floor.

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