Laura Ricketts Designs

"She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands..."

Laura Ricketts Designs is a personal and business website for Laura Ricketts, hand-knitwear designer, author, teacher, crafter, mother and wife.

Chewbacca boots

The other crafty thing I have finished this week is a pair of Moonkoosa Boots by Tiny Owl Knits. Stephanie Dosen is the proprietress there, and is a very talented knit wear designer (check out her stuff at the link).

 I like to call them my Chewbacca boots.

I like to call them my Chewbacca boots.

I like to call them my Chewbacca boots.

I made a pair of these slipper/boots for my daughter a year and a half ago, and I was eager for a pair for myself. If you have never felted or fulled woolen things before (on purpose), here is a bit of an explanation for you: fulling is the shrinking of a natural fiber cloth with hot water, soap and agitation. It's usually referred to as "felting," but felting is done without water. Have you ever fulled by accident when you washed an all-wool sweater by mistake? You put a nice, adult size pullover into a washing machine and at the end of the cycle out came a child's, thick, stiff sweater? See how easy that is? You can see how such fabric might be appropriate for slippers or a hat, or a nice purse. AND, when you made that teeny sweater you see that you, too, can do it!

Felting knitted fabric works best if the fabric is loose and open. It is also best if the yarn that was used doesn't have multiple, tight plying. This make it easier for the cuticles of the wool strands to grab each other and hold on. For these slippers, I used Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride yarn -- a lovely, single ply, wool/mohair bulky yarn. Knitting for felting is funny, too: the article one knits is always huge and floppy. Slippers are about 5 sizes too large, and hats are like buckets that come down to your shoulders. I always feel like I'm knitting items for a clown. When you stick them in a washing machine (with hot water and soap), be prepared to watch the process carefully, pulling the item out often to check on how quickly the item is shrinking and if it is in the right proportion. If there is still some shrinking to do, pull it into shape and stick it back in, checking on it again soon.

My friend Natalie kindly let me use her non-locking, top loading washing machine and hot water. I went over there for a few minutes with these unfinished boots in a zipped pillowcase. I had previously felted the boot part. Following someone else's recommendation on Ravelry (I'm sorry -- it's been so long; I can't remember who), I had used cotton, non-feltable yarn and a crochet hook and single-crocheted around the leg everywhere I wanted the fringe to be. This kept the hole for insertion open. Then, I felted the boots, removed the cotton yarn, and added the fringe in a latch-hook type knot. The boots needed to be felted for about a half hour to become quite a thick fabric, but the fringe just needed a bit of body to it -- maybe 5 minutes or so of felting.

I came home and combed out the boots. Here they are before and during the combing of the fringe.

 Here you can see more clearly how the fringe is attached.

Here you can see more clearly how the fringe is attached.

Then, I stuffed the boots with plastic bags to give them the appropriate shape and allowed them to dry over two days. The finished product is the first picture of the post.

Some people finish the boots off with a sewn-on leather sole. Really, the felted sole is quite sturdy for home wear, or even out and about (sort of like a moccasin). Now, I can look forward to a cool day in which I can comfortably wear these. And, maybe, I will need a Star Wars costume, too.