Fulled Crocheted Slippers

Crocheted Fulled Wool Slippers

For some reason, all the slippers in the house have decided to wear out at the same time (despite the fact that they are all made years apart of different materials, using different techniques).  With so many slippers that need replacing, I felt compelled to find a quick solution.  And I wanted a sturdy solution, so that hopefully, I don’t have to deal with this crisis again any time soon.

I chose crochet, because it seemed more approachable.  Maybe because I don’t have any crochet WIPs leering at me from my closet, workroom, tote bags, and sewing table…

I thought fulling* (felting) the finished slippers would make them sturdier.  So, I needed to crochet them larger than usual, by moving up several hook sizes.  I usually work with a size G hook on this pattern, so I choose a size J this time.

I no longer remember why I decided to use pencil roving.  But it worked lovely, so I plan to use it again in the future.

Crocheted slippers before fulling.

These are the slippers before fulling.

I held two strands together throughout.  At normal gauge, this pattern would make a child’s size 8.  After crocheting them larger and fulling, this ended up around child’s size 13.

I attempted to full them in my front-loading washer, adding some laundry with them for extra agitation.  I knew from past experience that this doesn’t work well, but I was feeling lazy, and hoping for small miracles.

I should have taken a photo of them when they came out of the washer.  Depressingly little fulling had occurred, and what fulling had occurred was extremely uneven.  I took them to the bathroom sink and finished fulling them by hand.  I got them soapy and wet and rubbed them on a plastic mesh basket (in lieu of a washboard) and on each other.  I alternated hot soapy water, and cold rinses, until I got a more consistent fulling.

TIP:  The direction you rub is the direction it will shrink.  So, for final sizing, keep this in mind.  If you want the slippers shorter, rub from toe to heel.  If you want the slippers narrower, rub from side to side.

Slippers after fulling (felting).

Slippers after fulling. Sophie the Giraffe added by my son, for size comparison. 🙂

I don’t care for the way some of the increases and decreases reacted to the fulling, though; they resisted fulling into their neighbors, so there are some openings in the fabric that I would prefer not to have.  For this reason, I want to try this again, using a different pattern.

I’m also curious now to try crocheting and fulling with one strand of pencil roving.   Maybe not for slippers, but I could see using one strand to make pouches and bags.

As for time spent on this project, it took a me couple hours to crochet the slippers, and maybe another 45 minutes to full them.  I then set them by the heating vent to dry overnight.

*Many textile artists prefer to use the word felting for fabric that is made directly from fibers.  When a fabric made by some other means (woven, knit, or in this instance, crocheted) is felted, it is referred to as “fulling.”

A dictionary definition for fulling is a “Process that increases the thickness and compactness of woven or knitted wool by subjecting it to moisture, heat, friction, and pressure until shrinkage of 10–25% is achieved.” From The Free Dictionary.

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