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National Sweater Day Knitting Challenges: Design Your Own Knits: Pan(da)toufles – Part 2

By Caroline Leamon, one of two guest bloggers devoted to knitting for National Sweater Day. This is the second part of her blog post. You can also read part 1.

Now that we have design ideas, a template pattern*, and our yarn and supplies, we’re ready to begin creating our pan(da)toufles! Well, almost ready…before we cast on the first stitches of our project, there are some small steps to take to ensure that we’ll be happy with the way our finished slippers look and fit.

The first task on our to-do list is making a sample swatch. Knitting a small square that you will probably unravel afterwards might seem like an anti-climactic first step, but it can save you lots of frustration later in the project. Why? Because the sample swatch is what will help you determine and adjust your gauge, which you must do to be certain that your finished project will be the right size. It’s far better to realize that your gauge isn’t quite right after you’ve made your sample swatch than it is to draw the same conclusion after you’ve knit an entire sweater for yourself that doesn’t fit!

How do we know how big to make our sample swatch and how to check its gauge? Every knitting pattern has a “gauge” section that tells us exactly how big to make our sample swatch and what its measurements should be when it’s complete. For instance, in our template pattern, the gauge section reads, “17 sts and 32 rows = 4 in. (10 cm) in garter stitch.”* This means that when we’re making our sample swatch, we need to cast on 17 stitches and work in garter stitch (knit every row) for 32 rows. Doing this should give us a 4-inch square. Here we go!

So it looks like my square is a little bit wider than 4 inches. I’m going to keep the gauge as it is though, bearing in mind that the finished product will be wider than the original pattern intended. However, if your swatch is significantly larger or smaller than 4 inches, you can adjust your gauge by changing needle sizes. If your original swatch is too big, switch to smaller knitting needles; if it is too small, try larger needles. When you feel like your gauge is close enough to the measurements specified in the template pattern, you’re ready to continue.

And we continue with a little more measuring! This time, measure the distance between the back edge of your heel and the tip of your middle toe. This will be the length of your finished slippers (the slippers should be slightly shorter than your feet because they will stretch to fit cozily when you wear them). Now that you have your measurements, we’re ready for the last step.

As you can see from the photo above, the slippers will be knit in bold, uneven horizontal stripes. To figure out how big you will need to make each stripe for your own slippers, follow the formulas below. In each formula, m refers to the measurement of your foot and the values are in inches.

Stripe A = (m/2) – 1.5

Strip B = m/2

Stripe C = 1.5

For example, my foot measurement is 9 inches, so my stripes measured as follows:

Stripe A = (9/2) – 1.5 = 3 inches

Stripe B = 9/2 = 4.5 inches

Stripe C = 1.5 inches

Now, finally, we have all of the information we need and we’re ready to start! Here are the instructions. See last week’s entry for the list of supplies you’ll need. Good luck!

With white yarn, cast on 28 stitches. If you’re using DK/sport-weight yarn, hold 2 strands together throughout the project. If you’re using Bulky-weight yarn, use only one strand throughout.

You are now working on Stripe A. Knit across each row until this stripe measures the length you determined for Stripe A in the formula above.

Switch to black yarn and continue knitting until the black stripe measures the length you determined for Stripe B in the formula above.

Switch back to white yarn and knit for 1.5 inches.


Cut the yarn, leaving a 12-inch tail. Thread this tail through all of the stitches on the needle, gathering tightly.

Repeat for the second slipper. Your almost-finished slippers should look something like this:

Next week, we will finish them and start thinking about decorations. Stay tuned!

*Template pattern source: “Posy Striped Slippers,” from Laura Long and Melissa Halvorson’s book Handmade Underground Knitwear: 25 Fun Projects for All Seasons (Wiley Publishing, 2009).

  • Cathy

    Avoid using acrylic yarn because it is made from petrolem products, and that would hardly be reducing one’s ecological footprint! Check your local yarn shops for natural fibres that may even be local or fair trade.