One of the greatest joys of crafting is being able to create beautiful and practical things. Being able to follow patterns is important to recreate other peoples’ designs. But it’s even better when you develop the skill and confidence to take that basic pattern beyond the starting point. A great way to do that is to look for ways to either simplify or improve the pattern. Today’s post gives an example of that process.
I have probably made 100 pairs of these knit slippers following the original 60s era pattern (online at http://www.knitting-crochet.com/tvsli.html) for a simple garter stitch slipper with ribbed toe and purl texture stitches. I’ve tried other slippers but they don’t look right. Not that this pattern is perfect. In fact, there are a few things that have always bugged me.
So this time, instead of blindly following the old faithful pattern, I decided to tweak it a bit. The original pattern instructed to seam the heel. A straight seam made an ill-fitting point at the back of the slipper. I tried scrunching the seam into 2 l-shapes, but it still didn’t look right. Wait a minute. A rib-stitch “tab” at the back would fit better and make a more neat appearance. AHA!
original slipper with heel tab
But why stop there? The best feature of this pattern is the stretchiness of the slipper. It’s not real clear in the picture, but you can see that the ribbed toe, while stretchy, doesn’t look very nice. Would the toe be just as stretchy if I simply continued the garter stitch? Maybe added some more purl stitches to define the toe box? AHA2! (In all fairness, the original 60s pattern covered the ribbing with a big fluffy pompom. Not really today’s style. But hey, an amigurumi character head . . .note to self–experiment with that next. Right now you have orders for 4 pairs of plain simple slippers!)
New and improved slipper
And just when I thought I had the pattern tweaked to perfection, I realized that garter stitch can be worked in all purls just as easily as all knits. I don’t know about you, but I purl a lot faster than I knit, so the final experiment was worked in purl–and fixed a minor annoyance in the bargain. When working in knit, the purl texture stitches show on the wrong side and I couldn’t begin to estimate how many times I missed one of those and had to go back and fix it. But in purl, the knit texture stitches are on the RIGHT side where they can be seen.
Finished child's slipper
So here’s the new pattern: (adult size medium)
Worsted weight yarn (red heart)
Size 8 needles
Cast on 35 sts. Row 1: purl
Row 2: purl 11, knit 1, purl 11, knit 1, purl 11
Repeat these two rows for a total of 40 (20 ridges)
Row 41: purl
Row 42: purl 5, knit 1, purl 5, knit 1, purl 11, knit 1,purl 5, knit 1, purl 5
Repeat these two rows 9 times (10 ridges)
Shape toe: Row 61, *purl in 1st 2 stitches, purl next 2 stitches together* repeat across
Row 62: Purl purl stitches, knit knit stitches
Row 63: *purl in 1st stitch, purl next 2 stitches together* repeat across
Row 64: repeat row 62
Row 65: *purl 2 stitches together across row. Cut yarn, leaving a long end for toe seaming. Thread yarn end back through last row of stitches and removed from needle. Draw up tight to gather toe.
Now go to the back of the sole and pick up the 11 stitches in the middle. Work 10 rows of knit1-purl1 ribbing. Bind off.
Sew heel and toe seams.
I can see all kinds of possibilities here–add straps for a mary jane…shiny coins for a lucky penny loafer…and of course the aforementioned amigurumi heads. Maybe even use a circular needle to get away from the toe seam…Gotta go for now–I have 4 pairs of slippers to seam for delivery Saturday!
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