By Caroline Leamon, one of two guest bloggers devoted to knitting for National Sweater Day. This is the third part of her blog post. You can also read part 1, part 2 and part 3.
I came up with three different pandatoufles designs this past week, but this is just the tip of the iceberg – the designs, materials, and techniques that you can use to create your own pandatoufles are infinite. So let’s discover a few of the endless possibilities! I’ll start by showing you how to make some decorations, and then we’ll experiment with different ways to use them to decorate our slippers.
For me, the most obvious place to start with decorating pandatoufles is to create an actual panda:
The supplies that I used were all things that I happened to have on hand: leftover black and white yarn from the slippers, black embroidery floss, black and white craft pompoms, and black beads. Here are the steps I followed:
- To make the head, use white yarn and work in single crochet for 18 inches. Coil the resulting crocheted cord around itself to create a circle, and, using a tapestry needle and more white yarn, weave the yarn through the diameter of the circle, starting from one outside edge and working through the center of the circle to the opposite outer edge. Do this several times at several different places in the circle, until it feels secure and there aren’t any major gaps between the layers. Experiment with how tightly you pull the yarn each time you weave – the head that I created is not a perfect circle because I pulled the yarn more tightly at certain points to give it a shape that more closely resembles that of a panda’s head.
- Using black embroidery floss, embroider a nose and mouth onto the white craft pompom. Once you’re happy with the way the nose and mouth look, stitch the pompom securely to the lower part of your crocheted circle.
- Stitch two black craft pompoms to the top of the circle – your panda now has ears.
- Use leftover black yarn to embroider two eye patch markings above the white pompom nose.
- Securely stitch a black bead over each eye patch. You now have a panda!
To keep our panda happy (and add some color to our slippers), let’s make some bamboo. I used a bulky green yarn to create the bamboo shoot by working in single crochet for 25 inches. I created the leaves with some fringe that I made from yellow and green sock yarn.
If you haven’t crocheted or made fringe before, don’t be intimidated! Look online for more detailed instructions, or ask a crafty friend or loved-one to guide you. I chose to crochet and embroider my decorations because I think that the slightly different texture that this creates adds more visual interest. That said, knitting decorations or using ribbons, fabrics, buttons, and other materials for embellishments will definitely yield beautiful results too. Just work with what you like and the skills and materials that you have and everything else will fall into place with your design.
Here are the three ways in which things fell into place when I was decorating the pandatoufles:
These are basic panda slippers, great for those who like the idea of reinventing the classic bunny-rabbit slippers. To make this version, follow the instructions above for making a panda head for each slipper, and then securely stitch the heads to the toes of the slippers.
This slipper is the subtle/abstract version. To recreate it, follow the instructions above for the bamboo, and stitch the “bamboo” securely to the upper edges of the slippers’ openings.
And last, we have the best of both worlds! This is the version to make if you want to go all out. Attach the bamboo trim first, as with the second slipper, then securely stitch the panda heads to the toes of each slipper.
And that’s that – we have our pandatoufles! Regardless of whether or not you go on to make your own pair, I hope that you’ve found some inspiration here for customizing your own knitting projects. Here’s to these last couple of months of winter – may they bring creative inspiration, and many warm sweaters, socks, mittens, and (of course) slippers!