We are, as is the rest of the UK, in the grips of 'the Beast from the East,' which actually equates to around 8 inches of snow but complete shut down. The schools are closed, and my normal day of salad production was definitely off the cards, so instead we had an enforced day in. What a pity, eh?!
In the true spirit of Hygge, snow days should be specifically designated for all things cosy and all things making: I actually do think this should be The Law. They are a great opportunity to catch up on all those odd little projects that sit in quiet corners looking longingly for some attention, often for years at a time. This is one such project, and yesterday was the perfect excuse for experimental slipper making. And yes, that is a Thing.
Maybe a decade ago, when I had spare cash and an inclination to shop, I bought a matching wool scarf and beanie. I liked the colours and even then, I liked the fact they were made of wool and not some horrid synthetic fibre. They'd been expensive, but I'd swooped in on the sale rail and seized my find.
Several years later, I had a poorly child and a generously spirited Granny Janny who offered to look after her whilst I was working. The little 'un had a sore throat and, being the loving mother I am, I donated my cherished scarf to her for the day to soothe her pain and provide a little mammy reassurance whilst I was away.
When I returned later to collect her, there had been a vomiting incident, and my lovely mum had washed my scarf. Hot washed my scarf, to eliminate the risk of infection. This had, of course, resulted in a rather more diminutive scarf, in fact too diminutive for scarfing purposes. It's sat on the back of my door since - too good to throw out, too useless for a charity donation and too pretty to abandon.
Having cold feet and a little time, I had a mind to create a pair of slippers. I checked to make sure there was ample fabric to wrap both feet and pinned and tacked them into place. I like working with felted wool because it doesn't fray so any cutting is easy (I used pinking shears) and no special seams are required. I usually follow patterns for little projects but sometimes it's nice to go a little freestyle, and this was definitely a 'winging it' situation. Slippers are quite easy - just a long rectangle of fabric folded around the foot and stitched vertically up the heel and horizontally across the toes.
I used little shell buttons left over from another project for decoration, as well as the original tassels, and stitched it all together by hand, using a combination of back stitch and (where it would be more obvious) blanket stitch. The width of the scarf was not deep enough for my feet and so when I'd got the finished footbed, I picked up stitches through the fabric using an odd ball of wool and a crochet hook and created a vertical ankle cuff using a rib knitting stitch and double pointed needles.
I'm still undecided about whether to add a more substantial sole, but I have a chamois leather spare if I do. Again, these are easy to work with - no fraying edges and soft enough to cut with scissors.
The best bit about this little project? Well apart from cosy toes and the incredible peace of mind of a days crafting and the fact that I do actually love them? It's that the only waste created was these tiny scraps of surplus fabric above which, being wool, have been composted with the tea leaves and the veg scraps. And when I'm done with my slippers, those little shell buttons, the leather soles and the scarf fabric itself will all go into the compost bin and get another life nourishing the soil.
My experimental slippers have also been a useful reminder to myself about how important it is to me to pass on crafting skills. There's a combination of knitting and sewing here, various stitches and techniques but, when push comes to shove, I have actually managed to make a pair of shoes. (Not that I'd necessarily wear them in the public!) Should the day ever arrive when the shops close, I have the ability to clothe my feet without any outside influences. This resilience is actually pretty reassuring and that peace of mind is something I'd dearly like to pass onto others.
Watch this space for shoemaking courses!
Treading Lightly is simple living, within your means and the means of the planet, and making a minimal impact on the Earth. Find out more here about Catherine, of Barefoot Solutions, does this from day to day.