Friday, January 25, 2013

Thrumming Along

When I was out walking last week I realized I was back to looking like the dog's breakfast. I was wearing my new purple headband and my bright red 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic mittens. (I guess there's nothing wrong with wearing red and purple together if you belong to The Red Hat Society, but I don't.) It was a cold day, and as I walked along thinking about mittens and cold hands and my yarn/fibre stash I suddenly knew what I needed to make - a pair of thrummed mittens.

I realize a lot of people don't know what thrummed mittens are. Here is a brief description from the wonderful book Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen.

Fleece-stuffed mittens, also called thrummed (or drummed) mittens, come from Labrador and northern Newfoundland, but they belong to the same tradition as Maine Fisherman's Wet Mittens...they appear to be made according to the same set of directions, except that twists of unpsun fleece are knit into the fabric every few stitches every few rounds in a distinct pattern. The ends of the bits of fleece, fluffing to the inside, are thick and woolly and mat into an almost continuous lining with wear...

As soon as I got home I dug in the stash and found a skein of purple wool and some roving. I searched for a free pattern and settled on this one.

The first thing you need to do is divide your roving into skinny strips.


Then pull off pieces about five or six inches long. Make the piece into a little circle. Repeat this process over a gazillion times until you have a pile big enough to keep you going for awhile. I realized the importance of the pile after my first couple of thrums. It is a pain to have to stop and make them every couple of stitches. Trust me, you need a stockpile.



To make a thrum you insert the needle as if to knit. Then pick up one of your circles and give it a little twist, pop it around your needle so the ends are to the inside of your mitten, wrap the yarn around the needle and beside the thrum, and finish the stitch by pulling the yarn and thrum through together. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. On the round after your thrum round be sure to knit into the back of the thrummed stitches.



I am really happy with how these turned out! (Details here.)




My cold hands are happy too. A peak at the inside of the mittens will show you why.




These make some of the toastiest mittens ever. If you aren't a knitter, but live in a cold climate, you need to ask one of your knitting friends to make these for you. I promise your hands will never be cold again. I'm sorry to have to say this, but I won't be that friend. I don't plan on making any more little circles for a very long time.


36 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Don't you mean WAY warm? Sorry, I couldn't resist. :-)

      Delete
  2. Oh, they turned out beautiful! My thrumming is wimpy in comparison. LOL on the circles ... I *still* find them around the house (from when they fell off the couch and turned into dust bunnies).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean about finding them around the house. There are bits of fibre everywhere, especially around the kitchen table where I was working on them. I think there will be extra fibre in our food for quite some time! :-)

      Delete
    2. Could I save time by just collecting dust bunnies?

      Delete
    3. Ha! Possibly, but if they are regular house dust bunnies the warmth factor won't be nearly as good as if you use fibre sourced dust bunnies. :-)

      Delete
  3. I was thinking of making a pair of thrummed mittens for a friend who lives in Montana, who could really put them to good use - but I may not have the stamina to prep the roving. Thanks for the warning!
    -- stashdragon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I hope I haven't put you off making them. They weren't awful to make, just not the kind of thing I would want to do again anytime soon. Montana gets very cold. I think your friend would love it if you knit some for her!

      Delete
    2. Not entirely put off - I just won't expect these to be as quick to knit as their gauge would suggest!
      -- stashdragon

      Delete
  4. I have a thrummed mitten kit somewhere in my stash...haven't seen it for a while. You are inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Next time we meet for coffee I expect to see those mittens on your needles!

      Delete
  5. These are wonderful - I had never heard of them before, though you might think there would be a Scottish version...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Freda! I have never heard of a Scottish version, but it's entirely possible. Many people from Scotland settled in Newfoundland and Atlantic Canada, where these mittens are from.

      Delete
  6. Love these! Thanks for illustrating the process, as I've often thought I'd like to have a pair but the idea of digging up some instructions that are easy to understand put me off the whole idea. After reading this, I think I could possibly do it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are some better illustrations out there if you Google. I think there are some YouTube clips too. They really aren't hard at all, just a bit tedious. Okay, maybe more than a bit. :-)

      Delete
  7. I have never heard of thrummed mittens the end result looks wonderful and they look as if they will keep your fingers so warm. How long did they take you to meet.
    Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are super warm - so warm that I can't wear them right now because it's not cold enough outside! They took me five evenings to knit. The mitten pattern itself is very basic. The extra time is due to the making and inserting of the thrums.

      Delete
  8. This is why I read knitting blogs....to learn about unique projects like these. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is why I read knitting blogs....to learn about unique projects like these. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Una! I thought there might be quite a few knitters out there (and non-knitters too!) who had never heard of thrummed mittens. I'm glad I could introduce you to something new!

      Delete
  10. It's working up the thrums that has always put me off, and the fact that it's rarely that cold here. But your mitts are wonderful Kristie, well worth the effort!

    Thank you so much for the get well wishes, they were much appreciated, and I promise to try and remember to post more whippety pics :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Working up the thrums is worth the effort, but only if you live where it gets cold enough to be able to wear the finished product. I'm looking forward to seeing more whippety pics!

      Delete
  11. Those are amazing! It's hard to imagine them being completed by hand, It's blows my mind to see what people (other people, not me) can make without the aid of technology.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes the no-tech things are better than the high-tech things. :-)

      Delete
  12. I love them! I had heard about these mittens and decided that it was something I desperately WANT but won't do!!! lol Ah, what a lazy sot eh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see lots of hand knitted items that I feel the same way about. I would love to have them, but there is no way I want to knit them. I have learned the hard way that if I don't like the process there will never be a finished product.

      Delete
  13. I'd never heard of this technique but those mittens are just amazing! They look so, so warm on the inside and the on the outside they are so pretty :) xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Elisabeth! This technique is also used on socks - well, they would really end up being slippers or bed socks. I think it would be great to try on a tea cozy too. It would keep the tea steaming hot!

      Delete
  14. These came out great! I've always been too intimidated to try thrums.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Susan! And don't be intimidated - they aren't hard to do, they are just time consuming. And once you get into the rhythm of making the thrums for your stockpile it doesn't take too much extra time. It's well worth the effort when you slip on the mittens!

      Delete
  15. I made three pairs of thrummed mitts as gifts for Christmas, and I have two more pairs planned. They're so much fun to knit! One of my future pairs will be purple, and I'm glad to see how beautiful the combination turns out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am impressed! I don't think I could have knit three pairs and then have plans to knit two more! I love the dark purple, but one word of warning. Because it is such a dark colour the thrum fuzz really shows up on the yarn.

      Delete
  16. They are great and all but not near as fashionable as my thrummed hat. Just saying. ;) Seriously, I am sort of thinking that I would like a pair of mittens to 'match' my hat because I know firsthand just how warm these thrummed accessories are. I may even have enough roving from the hat leftover. Hmmmmm....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have been meaning to tell you that every time now I see a "rather unique" hat I think of you and your thrummed hat. I have been tempted to take a few pictures to show you that you would fit right in. :-)

      Delete
  17. Ohmygoodness! These thrummed mittens are a trip! Beautiful too!

    ReplyDelete