A moccasin slipper consists of a suede sole sewn onto the bottom of a sock. The result is snug, warm slip-on footwear that's perfect for puttering around the house. Any sock pattern will do. The easiest approach is to knit a ribbed tube sock from bulky yarn on large needles. The work flies by in no time at all, creating a fabric stretchy enough that getting a reasonably close fit isn't rocket science.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Tape measure
- Pair of moccasin slipper soles in appropriate size
- 300 grams worsted weight wool yarn
- Five double-pointed knitting needles (dpns) in size 10 US, 4 UK/Canadian, 6mm
- Tapestry needle
Using two strands of yarn held together, cast 32 stitches onto one of your double-pointed needles (dpns). Use any cast-on method you prefer; the backward-loop method is pictured here.
Divide the 32 stitches evenly across four of your dpns. There should be eight stitches on each of four needles, with one needle remaining empty.
Lay the dpns in a circle so that the unattached ends meet at the top. The first cast-on stitch should be on the left of the gap. The last stitch, with the ball of yarn coming out of it, should be on the right. Be careful that the "bumps" all lie along the centre of this circle of dpns; they shouldn't spiral or twist around any of the needles.
With the needles so arranged, knit into the stitch immediately left of the gap using the fifth (empty) needle. Since the yarn strands you're using come out of the stitch to the right of the gap, you have effectively joined your stitches into an unbroken round.
Continue working knit stitches around this formation to create a tube-shaped piece of fabric. Notice that you are always working the outside, or "right side," of the fabric, never turning the piece to work the inside. As you knit the last stitch off one dpn, use this now emptied dpn to begin knitting across the next. Continue "working in the round" in this way until your tube measures 4 or 5 inches from dpns to cast-on edge (do not include the needle width in your measurement).
Cast off: Knit two stitches, then pass the first stitch over the second. This leaves one stitch on the dpn in your right hand. Knit another stitch, and there will be two. Again, pass the first stitch over the second once more. Continue doing this all the way around, setting dpns aside as they empty, until one stitch on one dpn remains. Loosen this loop to keep it from falling through. Remove the last dpn. Do not break the yarn; you'll reuse it in a moment to knit the first actual sock.
Knitting a Gauge Swatch in the Round
Measure the recipient's foot from toe-tip to heel. Choose a pair of moccasin slipper soles to match that length; the retailer will have labelled them with both inches and shoe size numbers.
Measure along a row of your gauge swatch. Count the number of stitches ("V" shapes) that fit in an inch. If the last stitch falls partially inside and partially outside the inch, count it as a half stitch.
Measure around the widest part of the ball of the recipient's foot. Multiply this circumference measurement by the number of stitches in an inch, then round down to the nearest multiple of 4. For instance, a 9-inch foot circumference times 3 1/2 stitches per inch gives you 31 1/2, which rounds down to 28.
Getting the Right Size
Unravel your swatch and cast on again, using two strands as before and counting up to the multiple of four you calculated a moment ago. Again, use the backward-loop method (or another stretchy method, if you know of one and prefer it) and distribute stitches evenly across the four dpns. Join carefully, as before.
Work the sock leg in knit 2, purl 2 (K2P2) ribbing. Continue until the fabric is the same length as the recipient's foot; this usually works out to the length from ankle to calf.
Switch to half ribbing, half stockinet. K2P2 across dpns 1 and 2, K across dpns 3 and 4. This creates a flat surface to attach to the moccasin sole while maintaining the stretchy ribbing on the top of the foot. Continue until this foot section measures 1 1/2 inches less than the length of the recipient's foot.
Work a decrease row as follows: On dpn 1, knit the first stitch. Perform a slip-slip-knit (SSK) by slipping the next two stitches from the left to the right needle individually as if to knit, passing these two now-twisted stitches back to the left needle, then knitting them together through their back loops. Knit across the rest of dpn 1 and all but the last three stitches of dpn 2. Knit the next two stitches together (K2). Knit the last stitch. On dpns 3 and 4, do it again: K1, SSK, K across all but the last 3 stitches, K2tog, K1. You should now have four fewer stitches than you did when you started the round.
Work a plain round: knit (just knit, no purl) a complete circuit around the four dpns.
Continue alternating decrease rounds and plain rounds. After each plain round, count your stitches. When half the original stitches remain, stop alternating; work each round as a decrease round. Continue until only a quarter of the original stitches remain.
Get ready to graft off. Break the yarn, leaving about a 12- to 15-inch tail, and thread this onto your tapestry needle. Slip all dpn 1 stitches onto dpn 2 (front dpn). Slip all dpn 3 stitches onto dpn 4 (back dpn). The yarn tail should come from the right-hand end of the back dpn.
Pass the needle through the first stitch of the front dpn as though to purl (right to left). Pass the needle through the first stitch of the back dpn as though to knit (left to right). Pull snug but not overly tight.
Work the rest of the kitchener stitch graft-off by repeating the following sequence: Pass the needle through the first stitch of the front dpn as though to knit. Take this stitch off the dpn. Pass the thread through the next stitch as though to purl; leave this stitch on. Pull snug. Now come around the right-hand edge of the work, under the dpn tips, and enter the first stitch on the back dpn as though to purl. Drop the stitch. Enter the next stitch as though to knit; and leave the stitch on. Pull snug. Come around the right edge of the sock to return to the front dpn. Continue until only one stitch remains on each dpn.
Pass the needle through the last front dpn stitch as though to knit and the last back dpn stitch as though to purl. Remove the dpns. Pull tight. Take the needle through the fabric and turn the sock inside out. Sew the thread in a zigzag through several stitches each direction, then cut it close to the fabric.
Knitting the Tube Sock
Thread a single strand of yarn onto your tapestry needle. Cut the thread at about 30 inches long.
Turn the sock right side out, ensuring that you see knit stitches (Vs) rather than purls (bumps) on the stockinet section. Lay the stockinet against the inside of the moccasin sole.
Sew the sock to the moccasin sole through the pre-punched holes. Make sure the suede edge sticks up outside the sock rather than folding underneath. Use a running stitch, passing the needle in at one hole and out at the next. The seam should run along the stockinet/ribbing divide and along the side seams and graft edge of the toe.
Attaching the Sock to the Moccasin Sole
Tips and warnings
- If your yarn is in a single skein, make up the double strand by knitting from both ends of the skein. You can make this easier by rolling up a centre-pull ball.
- Moccasin slipper soles are often available as part of a complete kit. You might prefer to follow the kit pattern rather than the simple tube sock instructions given here.
- Allergies and/or sensitivities to wool and other natural fibres are not uncommon. Unless you already know that your friend can wear the fibre you're using, moccasin slippers make a risky surprise gift.
- Remember that you're knitting with two strands of worsted yarn held together. Make sure each knit stitch goes through both strands of yarn.
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