Bosnian Slippers


Aren’t these just the cat’s meow? The bee’s knees? This is high on my personal best slippers pattern list. It’s also what seems to be the closest-to-available authentic Bosnian slipper pattern that isn’t written on crumbly paper with a family member’s cross-hatch marks on it. These are Nelly’s Bosnian Slippers, a free pattern available on Ravelry, attributed to Nelly Thorsnes and Johann Vartdal. Your choice for download will be Finnish or English. I opted for English.

The story goes that Nelly was gifted a pair knit by a Bosnian acquaintance and she reverse-engineered the pattern. So, she doesn’t claim to have designed it without a little help from her friends. Even with fifty-plus years of knitting I’d not have been able to figure these out.

Here’s an in-progress view just before sewing up the back seam.


Surprising, isn’t it?

The pattern is a bit terse by U.S. standards. It took me awhile to figure out what was supposed to happen with that fan stitch in the middle. The center point in each 4th row turns into six stitches. This instruction wasn’t cutting the mustard for me:

“Fan stitch (worked in between 2 st): pull up a loop and put on left needle, work the loop in garter st (it will now be on the right needle), repeat this for a total of 6 times.”

I could not figure out how to work that loop “in garter stitch.” What I did, and it seemed to work out just fine, was I pulled up the thread/loop and knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1 into the thread–as you might do if you were making the first row of a bobble. It worked just fine.

The body of the slipper is a slipped stitch pattern, two rows of color one, two rows of color two.There was something else kind of funky going on as I tried to keep the fleas of the contrast color (white in my pair) stacked atop each other in precise vertical rows despite the 6-stitch increase each 4th row. To keep the fleas lined up vertically, after the fan stitch in row 1, I followed the pattern and slipped the first stitch. But after the second fan in row 5, I knit the first stitch and slipped the second one. That kept the vertical lines of color correctly lined up. But, honestly I don’t know why that alternating thing worked and it’s not what the pattern says. And then I just keep repeating the 8 row pattern. Your mileage may vary. Possibly I misinterpreted something. But I don’t think so.

The pattern does not give a gauge. I used a lightweight worsted, Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash, instead of the DK weight the pattern calls for. I knit 10 fans and otherwise followed the pattern exactly. These fit my size 8.5 tootsies just right. They would fit at least a few sizes smaller (since my bunions are taking up space) or even a size or so larger.

This pattern is definitely worth a bit of stick-to-itiveness. It’s been awhile since I’ve knit something so satisfying.

And my feet like them too.