This week, I share an unfelted, adult-sized version of my Wooly Woodland Moccasins and chat with Jen Hagan, an amazing designer who talked with me about, among other things, the interplay between yarn and needle size.
Wooly Woodland Moccasins, What You Knit Is What You Get (WYKIWYG) Version
These are based on a traditional moccasin shape from the northeast region of what is now the United States and are cozy enough for winter gift-giving. I'm experimenting with different yarn and needle combinations for different sizes. I welcome your notes and additions, too! Whatever yarn you use, this is a super-fast project.
It's appropriate that Jen mentioned how knitting a yarn at a looser gauge than usual provides a different result in so many ways. I've been making pairs and pairs of these moccasins as gifts. One of the women in my knitting group tried a pair, too. It's interesting to see how our yarn choices really impact the final results.
I made the first pair with some odd balls of Bernat Felting Natural Wool, held double. I really love this yarn because it is so soft, but it's not very durable. Also, I like to run out of all of my options before I buy more yarn for a new design. It's the only way I really chew through my stash.
I've noticed that 100% acrylic yarns, even those that say they are the same weight as wool or blended yarns, seem to knit up with a larger gauge and a stiffer fabric than yarns that include wool. I have no explanation for this.
One of the perils of this, as you know, is that I always seem to run out of one color just before I'm finished with the pair. In this case, I made most of the pair of slippers with blue yarn, but made some adjustments and made the cuff of the second slipper with grey yarn. I liked the look of the off-color cuff, so I made notes in the pattern about making it that way, intentionally.
Making both sides of the cuff on a slipper I'd already started in the same (different from the rest of the slipper) color required some surgery, since this pattern is worked side-to-side. That is, you make the cuff, add stitches for the foot, work short-rows around the foot, then graft the beginning and the end of the foot together and make the second half of the cuff. The pattern also has an option for if you'd rather cast on, cast off, then seam. The first pair was made with a seam instead of grafting. While I love them, I think they look at lot better when they are grafted closed.
I finally bought a good yarn/kitchen scale earlier this year, so after that first pair, I was determined to try to divide my odd bits of yarn up evenly and try to make it at least look like I knew what I was doing. If you're working with stash, you might want to consider dividing your yarn, too. I kept that first pair of slippers for myself, and I love them! They are very cozy and stay on my feet well, but are still easy to kick off when I hop into bed.
Garter stitch is very stretchy, so it's really a matter of taste about how these moccasins fit. If a moccasin fits pretty well in the foot, but is slipping off the ankle, you could add a ribbon or twisted cord tie around the ankle to secure it. The cuff can also be worn flipped either up or down.
Other yarns I've used for these slippers:
Bernat Roving, held single, less than 1 skein, #11 needles, makes a moccasin with a gauge of 3 stitches to the inch and a final length of 8 inches, unstretched. It's on the smaller side. It fits a woman's shoe size 6.5 and would probably work for someone with smaller feet. I would call it a large child/small woman size. Bernat Roving is a great yarn, but be gentle when seaming. It tends to unravel and can break easily.
Bernat Roving, held double, two skeins, #13 needles, makes a moc with a gauge of 2 stitches to the inch and a final length of 10". Fits a woman shoe size 10 and a man, shoe size 9. So, I would say, a woman's large or a man's medium foot.
Sensations Rainbow Classic (I used Bright Multi Rainbow Classic), held double, #11 needles, makes a slipper with a gauge of 2.75 stitches/inch and a final length of 8.5 inches. It fits me, and I normally wear a size 8.5 woman's shoe. So, woman's medium. But, the final product is smaller than the pair made with Bernat Felting Natural Wool, and a bit thinner. One ball (this comes put up in monster 8-oz skeins) made 2 pairs of moccasins and the cuffs of a third pair, with some yarn left over.
It was so nice of Jen Hagen to talk with me. Here's hoping that I should ever get the time to knit a sweater on size 4 needles!
Jen Hagan's Website
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee writes about knitting black holes. Yet to be explained by science, but experienced by many knitters.
Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top
The Orchid Thief by Ysolda Teague
Clara Parkes writes knittersreview.com
The Knitter's Book of Socks is Clara's latest book.