Sanquhar slippers

Slipper yarn on conesI’m making plans for the Arne and Carlos felted slippers that are going to be my next knitting project. A rummage through my yarn stash produced some suitable 100% wool aran weight yarn, as I expected it would. Some of it was on cardboard cones, including two cones of a dark brown yarn that looks like it might be from Jacob sheep. Another quantity was a medium brown that I think might be the remains of some Herdwick I made an Aran sweater from years ago. I also found a small amount of a paler yarn that could be left over from a Swaledale Aran of a similar vintage. (Memo to self: label leftovers properly in future.) All of it has been spun in the grease and smells strongly of lanolin.

Slipper yarn in ballsOn the scales, this lot weighed 360g including the three cardboard cones. I wound it into balls, finding that each empty cone weighs about 25g and I have around 280g of yarn. That should be enough. I also have a tiny amount of tomato-red pure wool chunky that was sold by WH Smith back in the ‘80s or ‘90s when the bookshop/ stationers went through a brief yarn-selling phase. I used some of it to make a felt bead necklace not long ago, so I know it will felt well.  What’s left should just about do for the cast-on of my slippers to give them a colourful opening edge. (If you want to know how to make felt beads out of scraps of yarn, see my Felt balls from Knitting Wool for a Chunky Bead Necklace Instructable – it’s a beginners’ felting project.)

Felt beadsI’ve fancied knitting something with a Sanquhar pattern for some time now, and these slippers could be the project for it because they require two ends of yarn to be used. You either knit from two balls of the same colour, alternating the stitches between balls, or you knit two colours stranded, as for Fair Isle. According to Arne and Carlos, the yarns need to be twisted together if the gap between colours is more than 4 stitches, so I’ve dug out some traditional Sanquhar designs which meet that criterion. The two main contenders I’m considering are Forge and Prince of Wales.

Sanquhar patterns - Forge on left, Prince of Wales on right

Sanquhar patterns – Forge on left, Prince of Wales on right

I’m not at all sure that patterns such as these, being quite detailed, will show up when the fabric has been felted, especially as the contrast between my yarn colours will not be as great as is usual for Sanquhar. But at least they will be more interesting to knit than simply alternating between one colour and the other. With two shades of brown I can expect to get something like this if I go for Prince of Wales:

Prince of Wales SanquharI’ll cast on these slippers once I’ve finished the second sleeve of my Kelmscott cardigan. I need something plain-ish to knit alongside the cardigan’s collar, which is proving quite demanding. And I thought, after knitting two fronts in a lace pattern with a 20 stitch, 60 row repeat, that I’d conquered the most challenging part of this project.

Kelmscott collar chartsThe main issue is the chart for this large lace collar, the 200-odd stitches for which are spread across three landscape sheets of paper. That makes the individual squares so small that I found it impossible to follow the pattern without picking up whichever sheet was relevant and peering closely at it every few stitches. (It could be that I need reading glasses, of course.) After a few rows of this I stopped and charted up the 20 stitch pattern repeat from the central portion of the collar in an Excel spreadsheet. Once I’d printed it off at a reasonable size I was able to knit much faster, because now I only need to peer at the miniscule charts for a few stitches at the beginning and end of each row. Things will get more complicated when I’m about half way up the collar (it’s knitted from the bottom up to the neck edge), when the decreasings start eating into the 20 stitch repeat, but I’ll worry about that when I get there. The best thing about knitting bottom-up is the stitch count is reducing every few rows.

About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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