Conditions on our homestead dictate that we wear shoes fairly constantly. We try to switch between indoor and outdoor footwear and back, because it’s too easy to track the forest floor inside with us. The only time of year we don’t track in copious amounts of sharp spruce needles is when it snows; in that case, we track in snow.
During the day, we usually wear socks and slippers around the house, especially shearling boots with sturdy soles that allow us to wear them outside in an emergency. When we can, we step out of these into outdoor boots before leaving the cabin. These might be full boots, or cut-off slip-ons we’ve made from old pairs of leaky hip boots.
At night, I have to put on socks before I put on boots. Michelle will wear boots without socks, but I will not. We’ve often talked about a solution for this inconvenience. Recently, Michelle solved it.
She has been felting much of her knitting lately (“intentionally!” she specifies). For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, it’s the practice of knitting a wool clothing item preposterously too large, then shrinking it down to “boiled” wool. The resulting item is dense and thick, practically wind- and waterproof.
Michelle knitted wool foot beds for me, then attached synthetic wool uppers in sock ribbing. We slipped these into the cut-off boots and rolled the upper ribbing over the lip of the boot. After wearing them around a bit until the felting had shaped to my foot, I can now slip in and out of them. The felted inserts keep my bare feet warm, dry, and comfortable.
Michelle had previously taken her felting projects to town to shrink in a washing machine, but she recently learned to felt using a washboard, which allows her to do the job here at home. Conveniently, our washboard matches the length of my foot just about perfectly, so for my pair, she was able to use that as a guide instead of measuring periodically with a ruler, or asking me to try the fit of a soggy sock.
I’m delighted to be so comfortable when stepping outside now. In fact, they’re so comfortable that I have to pay attention; more than once lately I’ve come inside and gone about my business, only to realize much later that I’m still wearing the boots. They’re almost as comfortable as my shearling slippers, so I don’t notice the difference.