My absolute favorite present to knit and give to women is French Press Felted Slippers. I’ve lost track over the years of how many pairs of these slippers I have made. The first pair I made for me finally wore out and I am now on my second pair. I have been making these slippers and giving them away ever since the pattern first came out in 2009.
This summer I got the pattern out again because I needed some new ones. They are so easy to knit and so much fun to make and give that I ended up knitting four more pairs. I also love these slippers because I can use yarn that is leftover from other projects and try cool color combinations. When the yarn is felted together it creates a marbled effect with the yarn that I really like.
Knitting the slippers is so easy – I can knit a pair in an evening. They knit up quickly using two or three strands of yarn and big needles. Part of the fun is sewing them together, because you don’t have to have perfect seams with felted items. They look like slippers for giants when they are first knitted and put together.
This is also my favorite pattern to recommend to others. Over the summer at Grand Portage I got Val hooked on them and she is knitting them for all the women in her family for Christmas (I think she said she was making nine pairs). Debbie also got into the act with a couple of pairs. But neither of them had ever felted anything so we had an adventure in felting together.
We started by trying to felt in a front-loading washing machine. All the people in my family now have front-loaders and even laundromats are going to front-loaders. The seasonal housing where we did our laundry at Grand Portage also had front-loaders. I understand that these kinds of washing machines use less water and are easier on clothes, but I was very disappointed with the felting results. Deb and I felted the slippers for almost three hours, but we were never able to get them to shrink down to size. There just wasn’t enough agitation.
The very stylish blue and white slippers above also did not turn out well. Although the blue felted nicely, the white did not felt at all, so I had a slipper that was small on one side and big on the other. Turns out the white yarn was superwash, which is wool that has been treated so it doesn’t felt. Something you have to be careful not to use if you want French Press Felted Slippers.
After the unsuccessful experiment of felting in a front-loading washing machine, we bit the bullet and took the slippers to the laundromat which had older top-loading washing machines.I took along the lumpy, failed orange and red slippers and two new pairs I knitted. It took four wash cycles – you don’t want to rinse when you are felting – but my slippers and the ones knitted by Val and Debbie turned out very well. Felting occurs with hot water, soap, and agitation. All three are necessary and the hotter the water, the better. It took four wash cycles because the water at the laundromat is not as hot as I could make it in my home.
There are ways to hand-felt knitted items. Tom and I will probably experiment with some of them next time I need something felted. I also feel like I should buy an older washing machine now and store it at John and Jackie’s so I have something that will felt for the future. Perhaps that is an extreme response, however. Maybe an ice cream maker using boiling water. An agitator and hot water – any suggestions?
I will probably put away the pattern for a while until I figure out the felting issue. But I love to make these French Press Felted Slippers so it will not stay in the cupboard too long. If you would like to make some quick and easy Christmas presents, these are a perfect gift.