National Sweater Day Knitting Challenges: Caroline – Pan(da)toufles (slippers), Part 1

By Caroline Leamon, one of two guest bloggers devoted to knitting for National Sweater Day
After all, the more you like what you knit, the more you’ll knit! Once you start creating projects exactly to your liking, you might be less inclined to over-consume. For instance, maybe one day you resist buying a mediocre pair of slippers in a department store because you know that you can make a pair that you’ll love. And after you devote so much time and creativity to making the perfect slippers, there’s a good chance that you’ll keep them for more than one season, thereby reducing your waste. The impact that this choice in slippers has on the environment is subtle, but subtle makes a difference.

So let’s make a perfect pair of slippers! I’ll walk you through this beginner-friendly project, focusing more on the design process with the hope that you’ll feel more inspired to experiment with customizing your own knitting in the future. To start, all you need is something that inspires you.

The WWF’s panda logo was my main inspiration, which got me thinking about how much pandas seem to love bamboo. So these slippers (“pan(da)toufles”?), will feature pandas and bamboo. With this very vague idea of what I want to include in my design, I’m now ready to find a pattern to follow.

This adorable and easy pattern is from Laura Long and Melissa Halvorson’s book Handmade Underground Knitwear: 25 Fun Projects for All Seasons. Do you see anything in the photo of the slippers that makes you think of pandas and bamboo? No, eh? This is where things get even more fun. We now have a template for a pair of slippers and we get to figure out how we’re going to change the existing pattern to incorporate our inspiration. At this point, making some sketches can be helpful.

When you know how you will be changing your template, you’re ready to start thinking about the yarn you’ll buy. The biggest change that I’m making to this pattern is knitting bolder stripes that are horizontal instead of vertical, which shouldn’t impact the amount of yarn that I need for each color. The original pattern calls for 175 m of DK/sport-weight yarn in each color, and the entire pattern is worked holding 2 strands of yarn together. Holding 2 strands of DK/sport-weight yarn together creates a thicker finished project, but you can also use a single strand of bulky yarn to create the same effect. With this information in mind, I went yarn shopping.

When you yarn shop, think about your inspiration and how you’ll be using your finished project. I chose a bulky yarn because it looks softer than the sport-weight yarn and is machine washable (it’s nice to be able to just toss slippers into the wash without worrying about them shrinking). I also chose some yarn for the decorations that reminded me of bamboo. At this point, I’m not sure how I will be decorating the slippers, so I will only list the supplies needed to make the body of the slippers, which we’ll start to knit next week. When you’re coming up with your own designs it’s normal to not be entirely certain how your finished product will look, and this is a lot of what makes it exciting!
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
-175 m of white DK/sport-weight yarn AND 175 m of black DK/sport-weight yarn
-87.5 m of white bulky-weight yarn AND 87.5 m of black bulky-weight yarn (I’m using Viking of Norway’s Balder superwash yarn)
*If you don’t know how to determine a yarn’s weight, ask for help at your knitting store.
Needles and notions:
-US size 8 (5mm) straight knitting needles
-Tapestry needle
Happy yarn shopping!