Archives for posts with tag: thrummed

Sooo my trip planning is going kind of poorly. One of the airlines I have tickets with (Siem Reap Airways) got blacklisted by the EU for inadequate safety standards and suspended all flights about 6 days after I bought the tickets. Supposedly we can still fly with their parent carrier (but is that any better?) And then tonight, at Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, I broke my glasses! The earpiece just snapped right off. We’re leaving on Monday and tomorrow and Friday we’re supposed to get 6-12 inches of snow, so I’m not sure I want to venture out to the optometrist until the weekend. Not sure what to do about this, and I can’t find my spares. For the moment, I’m supergluing the broken pair back together. Things are not going well!

But I do have something knitting-related that I’m happy about, at least. More than one thing, but I don’t know how many of them I’ll get a chance to write up before I go.

Some background: my absolute favorite mittens are my Bird in Hand mittens (pattern available here.) The only problem is that when it gets down to below zero, like it was here in Madison the other day,

stranded worsted weight knit at a fingering weight gauge, while plenty warm, just isn’t quite warm enough. I wanted a pair of thrummed mittens like the ones I made Rahul (see the guts? I didn’t have a picture of them last time)

but I also wanted to wear my favorite mittens.

So I decided to retrofit my mitts with afterthought thrums!

They are invisible from the outside (aside from the mitten looking a little puffy, and fitting tighter than it used to) and super warm.

Here’s how to do it:
Gather your supplies:

  • one pair of stranded mittens, preferably a pair with more ease in them than mine have,
  • a couple of ounces of nice woolly roving, matching or not–mine is indigo and osage-dyed Corriedale from Handspun by Stefania, and really I should have used the random bright pink and orange roving I have lying around that I’ll never make anything with, rather than the expensive natural-dyed stuff, but I couldn’t resist the matching green. Whatever color you pick, it won’t show. The important thing is that the fibers should be at least a couple of inches long, and have some crimp, so they’ll stay in the mitten. There was a thread on Ravelry about thrummed mittens where someone suggested cashmere thrums. This is a bad idea, because down fibers are so short, they’ll never stay in place. You want something where you can pull off a decent-sized lock.
  • a crochet hook of a decent size (I don’t know much about crochet hook sizing, but I think I used a G hook. Something a reasonable size for worsted-weight yarn)

Turn the mitten inside out.

Pull off a piece of wool about the width of your finger and a few inches long. This is your thrum.

Stick your crochet hook under a couple of floats. Do not go through the main part of the knitted fabric, just under the floats.

Fold the thrum in half and loop the middle over the crochet hook (sorry, this is a little blurry, but you get the idea).

Use the crochet hook to pull the center of the thrum under the floats.

Now go over the floats with the crochet hook and grab the tail ends of the thrum with it…

And pull these through the loop formed by the folded middle of the thrum.

Voila, a thrum attached invisibly to the inside of the mitten, after the fact!

Continue to attach thrums evenly across the back of the fabric so you have a nice woolly layer. I have a short attention span and a lot of Christmas knitting to do, so my mittens are still pretty much in the partially-thrummed state you see below, but it has really improved their insulating powers. (For one mitt. I have part of one mitt thrummed. But on Monday I will be in a place where it’s 80 degrees out, so I’m not in a huge hurry to get this done.)

Pretty awesome, right?

I hope this trick is useful to my fellow knitters in similarly fiercely cold climates!

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.