You were warned: send Stuff for this newspaper, or you get knitting instructions.
New Horizons in Loom Knitting: How to Make a Slipper (or Two)
Previously, we learned how to make Round Things using straight knit, purl, and knit. With these three techniques in hand, and armed with a hook, a hoop, and our native craftiness, we will now make a slipper – a Thing that is not only Round in places, but also Flat in places. This is going to be mind-blowingly awesome, just you wait.
First, a word of caution: use the small hoop. One day, half asleep, I started knitting merrily away. After about an hour, I thought to myself, 'Hey! This slipper's taking a lot longer than the other one. I've only done about seven rows.' I looked down at the hoop in my lap: I was using the big hat loom...deciding that the Lincoln Memorial was not ready for a set of woolly slippers, I started pulling out stitches. This was a salutary lesson: only knit when fully awake.
For this excursion, you will need:
- 5 ounces (142 grams) of Number 6 (bulky) acrylic yarn. Pick a colour you'd enjoy seeing on someone's feet. Pick soft yarn, your victim will thank you come Christmas.
- A 24-peg round hoop. (Give or take.)
- A loom knitting hook.
- A yarn needle.
- Two hands and a reasonably functioning brain.
First, choose your victim. Now – this is important – measure their feet. You may use the metric system if you insist, but the pattern I'm going to give you will yield a pair of slippers that fit someone whose feet are about 10 inches long, because that is the size of human feet in this household. Do conversions and adjust accordingly, godless Europeans.
How to Knit a Flat Panel
To make a Flat Thing, don't go all the way round. Stop between the last peg and the first peg. (Use the safety peg as a marker.) When you get to the last peg, turn around and go back.
Here's the trick: the first time, work all the pegs. When you turn around, skip the first peg, but do the last peg. When you turn back, skip the first peg, etc. This will become clearer as we explain how to make the slippers, which involve both a Flat Thing and a Round Thing.
Making a Slipper
- Using all 24 pegs, but not going around, ewrap the loom. Leave a fairly long yarn tail hanging down from the loom.
- Now go in the opposite direction, and flat knit 1 row. This is the only time you do this step. Remember: only 1 flat-knit row.
- Now turn back and purl 1 row.
- Reverse direction. Knit 1 row.
- Continue purling one row and knitting one row until you have 12 purled and 12 knitted rows. It will look like this coming out of the loom. It is a somehow satisfying state of affairs. Notice that the yarn is soft, thick, and somewhat springy. This will feel really good on tired toes of a winter evening. Also notice that choosing a deeper colour rather than, say, pastel or neon, has a more soothing effect when held out to a fireside.
Unless, of course, you're knitting for a rocker like Magwitch or the Prof. In that case, we'd recommend all-out, full-frontal psychedelic. Know your user.
- When you reach row 12, you have a decision to make. Are you more comfortable going clockwise or anticlockwise? Responding accordingly, simply extend the row that's going in your favourite direction across the peg divide and start knitting in the round. Remember to alternate purl and knit rows. Yes, this means you'll have a Flat Thing sticking out, and now you'll be working on a Round Thing. Deal. You have nerves of steel, right? Keep knitting and purling. This will be the toe. For a 10-inch foot, make six more rows, then read the next step.
- When you've finished the sixth row (or however many you need for the size foot you're working towards), add one more purl row.
- Now, do you remember the way you made the top of the fitted hat? (If not, check the link.) You're going to make the toe of the slipper the same way: Knit two pegs, purl two pegs, knit two pegs, all the way around. Do this twice. That's right: two rows of mixed knit/purl.
- Now, measure how much yarn you need by looping the working yarn around the hoop two-and-a-half times. Cut the yarn. Thread it through the yarn needle.
- Go behind the first two knitted pegs, then thread the yarn through the two purls in front. Go all the way around the hoop this way: working yarn behind the knits, working yarn sewn through the purls. When you get back around, anchor the yarn needle by sticking it in your work.
- Use the yarn hook to pull all the purled stitches off the hoop to the inside. Tighten the yarn. It will look like a star pattern from above.
- Pick up your yarn and yarn needle again. Go back around the hoop. This time, thread all the knitted stitches together. Anchor the yarn needle again, you still need it.
- Do this step very carefully. Pay attention to what I say, or you will end up cussing and annoying your nearest and dearest. Here's what you do: Leave the first pair of knits alone for the time being. Use the yarn hook to pull off the second pair. Now, tighten the yarn around the hoop: first, tighten the inside loop, then, the outside loop. Do the same, very carefully, all the way around, making sure you tighten inside, then outside. Save the first pair for last. When all else is done and tight, take your yarn needle and draw it through the first peg again. Tighten. You should now have a nice, tidy toe, and the whole shebang should be free from the loom. Set it aside.
- Pull your yarn needle through the toe to the inside and tie it off.
- Now look at what you've made: On one end, you have a slipper toe. On the other end...oops, you have a Flat Thing with a tail on it. What gives? Thread the yarn tail through the yarn needle. Turning the slipper inside out, sew a seam up the heel. There. You're all done. Be proud...
- ...for about two minutes. Until you realise that you have one slipper.
- Go and make the other one.
The other week, my youngest sister, who is a super crocheter, happened by. I showed her the slippers, which I claimed to have 'invented', though I admitted my indebtedness to the ones my mom used to crochet when we were kids.
'But these are different,' I insisted.
Sis laughed. 'Yeah, because you're loom knitting, not crocheting. Here, let me show you. You'll like this.' Taking a crochet hook, she started crocheting a small, round section. 'Look,' she said. 'Doesn't this look like the toe of your slipper?'
'Wow,' I said, awestruck as I always am by the proper application of crafts and/or theoretical physics. 'Yeah, it does.'
'You're making the same slippers as Mama,' Sis continued. 'You're just doing it backwards.'
Which, I will admit, is pretty much the story of my life.
Sis also reminded me of another trick my mom knew. If you want your slipper to be tighter around the foot, sew around the opening with elastic thread to firm it up. As soon as I get over to the fabric store, I'll pick some up to finish off Elektra's slippers for her.
PS from Milla: Our resident Swedish home safety expert recommends using Puffy Paint to apply non-skid dots to the soles of these otherwise slippery slippers. I cannot disagree, but have not acquired paint and expertise yet. Anybody who tries this should report their puffy painting experiences, so we can all share.