I just finished knitting these Malabrigo Loafers by Julie Weisenberger last week. They took me two evening sittings. I think I’ll be making several gift pairs next year. The pattern called for Malabrigo worsted, holding two strands together for both the soles and the uppers. I substituted some tougher seeming, undyed, local handspun wool (produced by the Baa Baa Sisterhood) for the soles. This may have been unnecessary—I never had any difficulty breaking worsted weight wool yarn by hand until I met Malabrigo. It actually has pretty high tensile strength despite feeling so soft. I don’t know whether tensile strength correlates well with resistance to abrasion.
Durability aside, I think the baa baa sisterhood wool gives me better traction than Malabrigo might. The soles are knit in garter stitch, so they have some texture to them. They don’t feel too slippery to me, but my office is carpeted as is our whole apartment other than the kitchen. So I probably won’t feel the need to add any non-skid devices to the soles for some time. Last week I had to shuffle some cars around in the snow and ended up parked with my driver’s side door right next to a two and a half foot snow bank. I trudged through it and up the icy driveway in these. Not only did I not slip, but my socked feet were still warm and dry! Wool possesses many amazing material properties: high tensile strength, good insulation, and even water repulsion.
Prior to the addition of the penny slot bands, the slippers looked like this:
If you make the penny bands, be sure to tack down the stitches on either side of the penny slit, or the penny will just roll around inside the sewn-on band.
Each loafer upper is knit on two circular needles in such a way that the stitches of the right half and the stitches of the left half always remain on their own dedicated needle. I felt like I had a lot of needle ends and yarn strands sticking out while I was working; I used two center pull balls, one for each strand. However, I wouldn’t try making these any way other than with the two circs. It makes it easy to maintain the symmetry of the slipper. The pattern called for size 10 needles for the large size, but I had to use 7′s to get gauge, and the slippers fit my mens-size-10 feet just right.