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Grandma slippers: I take up the torch. Needle. February 24, 2007

Posted by merp in FOs, Knitting, Life.

My Grandma, who passed away just before Christmas this year at the age of 102, was a prolific knitter. It was she, of course, who taught me to knit when I was about 11. She inspired me and taught me the basic techniques, but most of my knitting has been done on my own, as an adult (most of it, in fact, since after she had to stop knitting), so I’ve never knitted the same kinds of things she knitted (styles do change).

But like her, I just don’t feel like I’ve finished my day until I’ve sat on the couch for a while knitting and winding down. It seems we shared something fundamental there.


Grandma’s signature piece was her slippers. Every Christmas everyone in the family could count on at least one pair of slippers – always the same pattern – though in wildly different colors – always acrylic. (There may have been a time, before my time, when they were wool. I want to believe that.) We all felt we had enough slippers to last us for life. But after she stopped knitting around the age of 90, the slippers gradually became a precious commodity.

My aunt in particular missed them so much she unearthed the very last pairs Grandma had and still wears them with great care. She had asked me to make some a few years ago, but I slacked. When Grandma passed away, though, I knew my aunt would need these slippers. So I took out an unfinished pair that had been in Grandma’s things and figured it out. I made a pair each for my aunt (red) and my uncle (green) – the fifth slipper was my test model and will be mine once it has a mate.


They are quite simple and very comfy.

The basic pattern (adjustable according to size of foot and weight of yarn):

  • Assuming worsted yarn and #7 straight needles, CO 42 st.
  • K one row (right side); turn; K15, P1, K10, P1, K15 (wrong side).
  • Repeat those 2 rows (garter st plus those 2 purl stitches), until your slipper measures a little less (to allow for stretch) than the distance from your heel to the arch of your foot.
  • Switch to 1×1 rib and knit to desired length.
  • Don’t BO – instead, cut yarn leaving a tail, thread a tapestry needle onto the tail, bring it across to the far end of the row, thread it through all the stitches, pull the slipper off the knitting needle. Draw the tail tight to cinch up and close the toe. (Is that even remotely clear?)
  • Fold the slipper in half lengthwise and sew up the heel seam.
  • Sew up the seam along the top of the slipper along the ribbing, starting at the toe and stopping when you get to the garter stitch section.
  • Using dpn’s a size smaller than your straight needles, pick up stitches around the ankle – approx. 2 st to every 3 rows (I’m sure my Grandma did this part differently – I never saw her use dpns)
  • K one round.
  • [K2tog, YO] repeat all the way around.
  • K one round.
  • BO very loosely.
  • Weave a thin piece of elastic (cut to fit ankle) through the eyelets you’ve just made and sew together at the back. Or crochet a cord 12″ long or so and thread through the eyelets to tie in front.

Wow, that was hard. I’ve never tried to write out a pattern before. Hope it makes some sense.

Here’s the Ravelry link.

Here they are on a pair of feet (they are cuter that way).

Just wanted to share this little legacy. If you knit a pair of these, please let me know. I’d love to post a picture or link to your blog.

March 1, 2008:

DPN Version

You can skip the seaming all together if, after the garter stitch section, you just start knitting the ribbed section in the round on double-pointed needles. When you get to the toe, just thread the cut end through the stitches on the needles in the same direction you were knitting, then remove the needles and pull tight. I think this saves time.

Slippers I have made:

December 2007: Monster slippers!

April and July 2008: Mauve and purple slippers

January 2009: Funky Little Hightops
and Halmoni’s slippers (ravelry link)

December 2009: Cabled slippers and Stripy slippers w/braided elastic



1. Renee - March 12, 2007

Hi, I would like to thank you for sharing your grandmas patterns with us,
I know she is proud of you 🙂

Huggs Renee’

2. Renee - March 12, 2007

sorry i typed in wrong e-mail lol

Huggs Renee

3. marykz - March 13, 2007

the pattern seems to make perfect sense! I’m going to try it, and I’ll let you know….. MKZ

4. It’s eating your bra-a-ain! « merp - January 12, 2008

[…] Grandma slippers, resized for tiny […]

5. Janey - March 19, 2008

Your grandmother’s pattern sounds like a variation on the old, old, old Paton’s slippers pattern. (When I was growing up, I thought this was the only proper way to knit slippers.)
Her additions to that pattern include the extra around the ankle, with the eyelets and the elastic or crocheted cord.

Isn’t it great that you have something to remember her by that can be replaced?


6. merp - April 6, 2008

Interesting to know, Janey! I’m sure it did originate from a published knitting pattern, and why not Paton’s. Just as some of her signature recipes originally came from canned food labels, etc.

Thanks for the info!

7. Feets! But not Olympic ones. « merp - August 18, 2008

[…] Feets! But not Olympic ones. August 18, 2008 Posted by merp in FOs, Knitting. trackback My latest iterations of Grandma’s slippers: […]

8. Collaborative Design: Funky Little Hightops « merp - November 14, 2009

[…] started with my Grandma’s standard slipper (not yet imagining a hightop), but diverged pretty wildly from there.  T. had actually picked a […]

9. Holiday Gift Reveals, First Wave « merp - December 28, 2009

[…] for my aunt and uncle in Florida, more variations on my Grandma’s slippers pattern [rav […]

10. Lori - December 1, 2011

I am grateful for the time time you spent to post this pattern. So thank you. My question is when sewing up the heal — do you just sew straight up ?

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