Look, I made thrummed mittens! (Ravelry page.) And the picture is really terrible because I can’t take good pictures at night. I’ll have to try and wrest the mittens back for a proper photoshoot at some point.

If you’re not familiar with thrummed mittens, they are mittens with little tufts of wool (thrums, originally bits of yarn left over from weaving, but here referring to little bits of unspun roving) knit into the fabric to make a warm, fleecy layer on the inside that keeps the wearer extra-super-duper warm. The Yarn Harlot’s Thrum FAQ has more info and a great photo of an inside-out thrummed mitten. The mittens I made didn’t look nearly as fluffy and nice on the inside, unfortunately.

Pattern: Basic Mitten Pattern from The Knitter’s Book of Patterns, by Ann Budd

Size made: Used the cast-on and increase/decrease numbers for Men’s Large (to allow extra ease for the thrums), but knit to the specified lengths for Men’s Medium, 5 sts per inch gauge

Yarn used: Patons Classic Wool (looks like they don’t call it Merino on the label anymore) in 00231 Chestnut Brown, a little bit less than 1 skein; charcoal gray 70% superwash merino/30% alpaca  roving from River’s Edge Weaving Studio, about 2 oz.

Needles used: US size 7/4.5 mm 40″ circulars (Options)

Date started: December 6, 2008

Date finished: December 8, 2008


  • Knit the cuff in twisted rib (knit every knit stitch through back loop, purl every purl stitch)
  • Thrums! I added thrums to these mittens by pulling off about pencil-width pieces of the roving. It was slippery and wouldn’t pull into short enough pieces, so I ended up knitting two stitches with each thrum, stranding it across the back of the three intervening stitches like for stranded knitting. I used more or less the following chart, where | = plain knit stitch, T = thrummed stitch. I had to kind of fudge the thrum pattern on the thumb and top decreases where the stitch counts didn’t quite work out right.
| | | | | | | | 8
| | | | | | | | 7
| | | | | | | | 6
| T | | | T | | 5
| | | | | | | | 4
| | | | | | | | 3
| | | | | | | | 2
| | | T | | | T 1

Notes: I made these as a birthday/Christmas present for Rahul because it’s cold here, and I thought they would be good to keep him warm on his way to school. I meant for them to be a surprise but, as it turns out, I’m really terrible at keeping things secret. He came home while I was knitting them and I decided to go on working on them anyway since he usually doesn’t pay attention to what I’m knitting until I’m done, and he usually sits in the other room to study.

He came and sat by me to study and I decided to act natural and go on knitting the mittens anyway.

Then I finished them and thought as I was weaving in the ends that perhaps I should block them and wrap them up nicely before giving them to him, but that sentiment lasted about 2 seconds before I burst out with “Guess what, I have a present for you!”

“Wow!” he said, laughing, when I presented him with them. “Why, I haven’t seen you working on these at all.” They fit him perfectly, and he says they’re warm.

The fiber I used wasn’t that great for thrums–I would try to avoid it next time in favor of a more curly, woolly yarn. I guess I can’t quite say “crimpier” since the superwash merino has crimp, but it’s so fine that along with the superwash process, it makes the whole fiber come out seeming quite straight and silky rather than in curly, fluffy locks. In its favor, it’s very soft, I had it lying around in a nice manly color that coordinated with the yarn, and the staple length was way shorter than the natural Icelandic roving that was my other choice (though still a bit too long, as it turned out).

My hope is that as the mittens see some use, the outer shell will felt a bit while the superwash roving knit into them will stay warm and fluffy.