Here is just what you need on a cold night like this.

Phentex slippers

Classic two-tone Phentex slippers – and some Phentex yarn! Photo by Araignee via Flickr.

If you’re anything like me, you are finding the sudden return of deepest winter that we’ve been experiencing here in Eastern Canada to be a bit discouraging. Happily, I may have the solution. What does one need for comfort and coziness when one is chilled by bitter March winds and snow? I’ll tell you what: Phentex slippers.

Do you remember Phentex? And Phentex slippers? I’ll bet you do, if you’re somewhere in my age range.

Phentex slippers pattern

Three pairs of slippers, but if you look closely I think you’ll see they’re all the same style …

As I recall, Phentex, marketed as a kind of miracle yarn – and inexpensive at that! – burst onto the scene somewhere around when the 1960s became the 1970s. It was heavily promoted in TV commercials, though I can’t remember the attributes those ads trumpeted – probably Phentex’s durability and washability and wide range of colours. The ads worked: everybody, and I mean everybody, with a pair of knitting needles latched on to Phentex. And what did they all make? Phentex slippers!

I believe the reason Phentex was so durable was that it was made of a synthetic material that was so synthetic that it put all other synthetics – like, say, polyester – to shame. I have discovered that this material – which, if you can recall Phentex, you’ll surely also recall felt kind of nasty to the touch – was called Olefin. Olefin, people! One thing I can tell you about Olefin is that it is a long, long way from sheep’s wool. “Olefin’s advantages,” says its entry in Wikipedia, “are its strength, colourfastness and comfort, its resistance to staining, mildew, abrasion (and) sunlight(,) and its good bulk and cover.”

Actually, “bulk and cover” is a pretty fair description of Phentex slippers. Because, you see, as far as I can tell there were not a whole lot of different patterns for Phentex slippers. I think there was only one, so that every pair looked like every other pair, the sole difference being the colour. (Or colours – some jazzy models mixed more than one colour.)

(Here is a lovely and informative piece called An Ode to Phentex Slippers on the blog Pinney and Pnut.)

Phentex slippers were quick and easy to knit, so much so that I am fairly sure that even knitting-challenged adolescent me, growing up at the Manse, produced a pair or two. I certainly remember having and wearing at least one pair – red, of course.

They were the least elegant things one could ever imagine. And I shudder to think what would happen if a pair of Olefin-based Phentex slippers were to get near an open flame. But, you know, they were comfy. They kept one’s toes warm.

And on an unseasonably cold night like this, what more could one ask?

6 thoughts on “Here is just what you need on a cold night like this.

  1. Gayle says: I had a white Phentex shawl that was a thing of beauty. I wore it for real formal occasions with a stunning long dress. Come to think of it, it may be still in the kids/grandkids dress-up box. Totally wear proof.. I never did own a mauve or pink toilet roll cover like many. They were quite IN at one time. Grants comment: They quite making the yarn as there were so few olefins left in the wild. You know how these environmentalists are when they have a cause.

  2. I have a soft spot for these, but not to wear around a house with wood floors, where I’d no doubt slip and kill myself. I think it’s pretty much died out now, but for much of my curling “career”, people would wear these slippers over their slider shoe to keep it from getting grit on it in the clubhouse. When you walked out to the actual curling area, you’d take off the slipper. But I think with more people using grippers instead of sliders, you’ll see less of that. I used a Phentex slipper–in colours not known in nature–knitted by my late mother-in-law for the purpose, and I still have it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s