I can’t wait to needlefelt them! I just have to figure out what I’m willing to live with indefinitely.
I first saw these crazy felt boots in a Russian museum years ago. Those were miliary boots and didn’t include the rubber galoshi. They looked nutsy at the time (before I was a knitter and understood the warming virtues of wool), but the museum guide said those boots were a big part of the army’s success in the Russian winters of WWII, vs. the Germans, who just had regular leather army boots. Of course, then I didn’t realize how warm wool is, or that it stays warm wet, so I just assumed the Soviet soldiers were crazy frost-proof machines. Now that I’m a wool convert, I really wish I’d've bought some as a souvenir. Thanks to the eBay, I’ve got my own now (under $30/pr incl. shipping).
Here’s how they arrived, with galoshi (rubber overshoes) separate. Apparently these can be worn in snow without the galoshi, but they’re recommended for rainy or street wear. These boots are really awesome. The felt is very dense and rustic, and has a little VM embedded in it.
The two pairs are quite different. The black ones are much lighter, more flexible felt, the little rubber overshoes slid on quite easily. They’re also shorter. I had to work pretty hard to get the overshoes on the brown ones, which are almost twice as thick and VERY stiff. They’re also a size larger, but oddly, both fit just fine. You can see below how much stiffer and thicker the brown ones are below:
The strangest thing about these boots is that there’s not a clear left or right, and they’re semi-handmade, so the two are slightly different shapes. I’m guessing they’ll break in and soften up a bit, and I’m assuming if I’m consistent in my wear, I’ll end up with a distinct right and left boot (or not, if I’m not).
The wool is really coarse and scratchy, so I’ll probably make some merino or alpaca liners to fit inside the boot part. That seems better than socks, which would stay with my foot and abrade against the boot. And liners would only go to the ankle, thus not getting stinky and requiring washing.
Anyway, I dont’ know what to felt on them yet! I think I might have (read: compell) Ron draw on them & then needlefelt whatever he draws.
I may use them as a template to make some knitted then felted indoor ones, something a little softer and more slipper-like. I’m also tempted to buy an extra pair and cut it down to just the size of the galoshi for some cloggy slippers. Hm. Or just a bit taller, then needlefelt on a knitted fair isle border… Hm.
The only downside I see is that they’d be less than ideal for really nasty, wet weather, because I’m guessing they’d take forever to dry. Besides, I have to find a fault, because I already ordered some nice warm boots for the winter (I ordered them right before these, but they haven’t yet arrived).
In the past, I’ve bought kiddie boots from Land’s End (the size 6 big kids fits my women’s 7.5-8 foot & the 7 fit’s Ron’s 8.5-9 men’s foot), and while they’re cheap, warm, and pretty sturdy, I was tired of my purple ones (clearance color) from last year and the pink (also clearance) from the year before, so I decided to Goodwill them while they still had about 90% of their useful life intact and get something a little nicer and more fitted for this year. Sadly, they don’t seem to be making the awesome kids’ Extreme Squall boots anymore, but I found women’s Extreme Squall 7s in magenta on clearance hoping they’d run large. They didn’t, but Marilyn, who has little doll feet, bought them off me. After googling “warmest boots,” I decided to order a couple of these and these on clearance from L.L. Bean (I used code 3004296 for free shipping). I’ll keep the pair I prefer & return the other.