At my first Rhinebeck, in 2010, my friend Ann turned me on to the wonders of handmade shearling slippers when she took me to the Shepherd’s Flock booth. I felt a little guilty buying slippers when I could easily knit my own, but I was also feeling self-indulgent – they were so gorgeous and soft and warm and cushy, and I had just broken my ankle (36 hours before flying to New York for the festival), and wanted to give myself a little extra TLC. It was the single best purchase I made at Rhinebeck that year, and one of the best purchases I made anywhere that whole year.
I had never had real shearling slippers before, and they were a real treat (and chances are, if you’ve only ever bought retail, you haven’t had 100% real shearling either). They are so cozy and soft and warm. They are unbelievably well-made. And the cuff can flip up for extra warmth around the ankle (though I always wear mine down because I love seeing that fluff). I got a pair with hard soles, because: a) I wanted to be able to wear them outside to take the trash out, etc., and b) I am very clumsy and have learned through experience that I will slip on our hardwood floors if I don’t wear real soles around the house.
I loved those slippers beyond what is reasonable. They lived on the floor next to my bedside so I could slip them on as soon as I got up in the morning, and I wore them every morning before work and every night after work and all day on Saturdays if I could. And then one day this summer, my cat peed in them.
It was a hard summer for all of us, and maybe it was for her, too, and I think she was actually trying to pee on a pillow which had fallen on top of the slippers. But still. They were kind of ruined. I was really sad and mad about it at first. But then I realized it would give me an excuse to go by the Shepherd’s Flock booth at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival this year. So for July, and August, and September, and half of October, I settled for wearing flipflops around the house. And each time I slipped on my flipflops, my anticipation of the day I would buy myself some new shearling slippers was heightened. And then, finally, that day arrived.
On Saturday morning last month, as soon as I had finished up at the Jennie the Potter booth, I made a beeline for the Shepherd’s Flock booth. And what to my wondering eyes did appear? Not just shearling slippers, but chocolate shearling slippers. Chocolate! Oh, I love a rich brown. If I understood correctly, each year, the couple offers one color other than the usual tan (which I believe on the website is called “tonka”). Last year was black, this year was chocolate. I couldn’t wait to snap a pair of these up. The owner helped me determine the right fit – turns out that all this time I’d been wearing a size larger than I should’ve (which I adjusted to by using inserts all these years).
I have never been so grateful that a cat peed on one of my possessions. Because as much as I loved my old slippers for these past five years, I love these new ones even more – the color, the fit, the fact that I am newly grateful after making do with flip-flops for all these months. And today is Saturday, which is a writing day for me, which means I expect to sit at my desk all day long in my slippers, which is fine by me.
[For the record, I have absolutely zero affiliation with Shepherd’s Flock and I am not getting anything from them or from anyone else for raving about their product. I just needed to gush about my slippers. Because in addition to the fact that they are deliciously comfortable, cozy, and cute, they are handmade and made in America and the couple who makes them are old school and have a wonderful sassy presence online, and I just love them.]
Also, I now keep my slippers on top of a tall chest instead of on the floor. But if you don’t have a pair of real shearling slippers and would like to arrange for your own slippers to meet with some sort of accident so that you can justify a new purchase, I have a couple of old cats to rent out.