In past years I have made four pairs of felted slippers with a separate knitted and unfelted ribbed cuff. In the photo below, my daughter and niece are modeling slippers I made for each of them. Yes, my daughter wanted each foot to be a different color yarn.
Later my daughter asked me to knit a pair for her friend. In the next photos you can see one slipper before felting, next to the other slipper after felting, plus the beginning of the knitted cuff using some handspun yarn. After that is a photo of the completed project.
I have used various methods to attach the unfelted ribbed cuff to the slipper, including sewing it on the inside of the cuff of the slipper and then folding it over, and sewing it exactly at the top of the felted cuff. Once I tried knitting a provisional cast on with a non felting yarn at the top of the cuff, so that when I felted the slippers it would leave holes where I could pick up stitches to knit the decorative ribbed cuff. That was a lot of work and did not work out very well.
Felted slippers do wear out in the heel after awhile and there is no way to repair them. There are leather bottoms you can buy, but it gives them a very different look and they are hard to fit on and attach.
Last fall when I was sorting out drawers and baskets of hats, mittens, and scarves that had accumulated over many years, I found a purple hat and scarf my mom had knit. The yarn was good quality wool, but had worn out to the point where I did not think it looked good enough to donate and I probably would not wear it myself either. I decided to unravel the yarn and re knit it into a pair of felted slippers.
For this pair of felted slippers (and two of the pairs pictured above) I used a pattern called “NL8 Felted (Fulled) Slippers” by Nancy Lindberg. I bought the pattern at a yarn shop years ago, but now you can get it electronically on Ravelry. It is a basic top down sock pattern with a gusset heel, but on thicker yarn with bigger needles. It knits up quickly.
I cast on the stitches for this pair of felted slippers about five times before getting it right. All knitters know what I am talking about. With the long-tail cast on you have to estimate how much tail to start with. I have read various methods for determining how long to make it, but have never found them to work. My method is to guess and go for it. Usually it takes several tries of getting it too short or too long, ripping it out, and starting over. Or it is too short, so you start over and adjust accordingly to make it just the right amount longer on the next try, but it ends up being massively too long. So then you just give up and leave the long tail. Then you start to knit with the tail by mistake and have to undo those stitches and start knitting again with the working yarn.
This yarn from my mom’s hat and scarf is thicker than the suggested yarn for the pattern, so I used bigger needles. It is also thick and thin yarn, so I was not sure what would happen with the felting process.
You are always supposed to knit a swatch to determine your gauge, but I usually don’t, and decided not to bother this time. Instead I guessed how many stitches to cast on and knitted most of the cuff before determining the circumference was too big. At that point what I had knitted so far became my swatch, so I figured out how many stitches I should have cast on in order to get the right width. I ripped it out and started over with fewer stitches. See step one. Remind yourself, it is about the process, not the result. You have to enjoy the process.
Following is a photo of the two slippers knitted up and ready for felting. I used up almost all of the yarn, except a few yards plus the short pieces from the fringe and pom pom.
They look like they will fit Paul Bunyan next to a regular hand knit sock.
The slippers felted up nicely to the right size after two cycles in the washing machine (with laundry I needed to wash anyway), using hot wash water and cold rinse water. Notice below how much the slipper shrank in the felting process, compared to the regular sock.
The thick and thin yarn felted with no problem and resulted in an interesting effect. I decided not to add an additional decorative unfelted cuff to this pair. The yarn for the main boot is interesting by itself, and I didn’t have anything on hand that seemed right. I think they look nice plain in this case. The cuff can be left up or folded down.
I posted these slippers for sale on ETSY. https://www.etsy.com/listing/1009333048/hand-felted-slipper-boots?ref=shop_home_active_1&frs=1