As a garment, are socks too VISIBLE for you? Do you want to spend your time knitting something exquisitely beautiful, yet entirely private? Are your foot-insulation strategies nobody’s business but your own? Then, my friend, Icelandic shoe inserts are for you. They are a great alternative to the brassy ostentation of handknit socks.
My interest in Icelandic shoe inserts started, as many beautiful journeys down the rabbit hole do, with Lori Ann Graham’s Instagram feed, @loritimesfive. It’s a magnificent chronicle of a life well knitted. Recently, Lori posted this image:
Then she upped the ante and made a tiny pair:
The pattern is Icelandic Soft Shoes, from Hélène Magnusson’s book, Icelandic Handknits. I cannot explain why this book is not already on the shelf next to my well-worn copy of Knitting with Icelandic Wool by Védis Jónsdóttír, but I have taken measures to rectify that immediately.
The inserts make the knitted shoes even softer and warmer. They work like this:
(Was life in Iceland ever so gentle that people wore knitted shoes? I think not. On the Ravelry pattern page, the designer writes that the slippers “are called ‘soft shoes’ because they mimic in knitting the soft shoes made of sheep and fish in the Old days in Iceland.” I saw a fish-skin coat in a Reykjavik shop when we visited in 2012. Fish leather is still a thing.)
A final glimpse from Lori’s feed:
Talk about propaganda from the Intarsia Lobby. This is not what my intarsia-in-progress looks like. Lori is a witch. She twinkles her nose at those strands, and they get in formation.
I’ve avoided knitted slippers up until now—I fall down frequently enough due to ordinary gravity, without enhancing the slippification of my wood floors—but I think it might be time for me to figure out a solution. Or maybe just create New York’s first Museum of Icelandic Shoe Inserts, by hanging them on the wall. Thanks for all the inspiration, Lori.