Posts Tagged ‘thrumming’

Thrumming in August

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

I’ve been working on a gift for a now-retired colleague since February.  He had asked for a matching set of thrummed mitts for himself and his significant other.

I had started right away, happy for a way to thank him for his friendship and support over the past 10 years, and also eager to use up some of the sheep fleece that I’ve got!


As the weather got warmer my progress soon stalled.  3 mittens were done, and it just seemed too hot and sticky to be thrumming in May/June.

After experiencing the crazy heat in Japan, it felt cool enough this week to get working on these mitts again.


I am very happy to announce that the mitts are now all complete, and will be mailed soon to the maritimes where I hope they will keep hands warm for many years to come.

A Mountain of Mittens

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

mittensIt’s been a busy fall!  I’ve been working on this pile of mittens for some time now–all Christmas gifts for various friends and family members.  The vast majority of the mittens I make are my slightly modified version of Robin Hansen’s Fox and Geese Mittens.  I started making this pattern when I was in grade 8 when my grandmother gave me Robin Hansen’s book “Fox and Geese and Fences, A Collection of Traditional Maine Mittens”.

My mods are: narrower longer cuff, and using a Latvian braid to stabilize the non-ribbed cuff from rolling.

thrummedAlso from the same book, I learned the technique of thrumming mittens.  This is where bits of fleece or roving is knit into the fabric of the mitten, leaving the ends loose on the inside as extra insulation.thrummedThese mittens are the warmest ones I’ve ever made.  The only issue with them is that there is limited mobility while wearing them.  They’re big, like boxing gloves, when they are first completed.  After years of wear the fleece tends to mat and felt a bit.  I’m using fleece that I washed myself.  It is clean, but has a bit of lanolin still on the fiber (it’s good for soothing chapped hands!).  It is not combed or carded fleece, I’m thrumming with the locks of fleece.

FO: Puffy Mittens

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

It seems like AGES ago that I started blogging about the puffy thrummed mittens I’m making.  This weekend I finished them up, and delivered them to their new owner (who will NEVER have cold hands again!)



  • Handspun wool from Serbia, dyed brown with chestnuts.  I Love the subtle variations that kettle dying gives this wool.
  • Locks of fleece, washed in cold water to preserve some lanolin.
  • 4mm DPNs

Pattern:  Improvised.  Here are the basic notes.  (these make LARGE mittens)

Cuff: CO48 sts.  K1P1 ribbing for 20 rows.

Gusset: Begin thrumming, skipping 3 sts and 3 rows between thrums.  Increase 2 sts every 2 rows to 13 gusset sts.  Continue for 1.5 inches plain.

Hand:  Put 13 thumb sts. on holder.  CO 5 sts.  Knit for 4.5 inches.

Decreases:  Decrease 6 sts per row (2 per needle) every 2nd row.

Thumb: Pick up and knit 13 sts from holder, pick up 8 sts for a total of 21 thumb sts.  Thrum knit for 2 in.  Decrease every alternate row.


Care instructions:

Washing:  Mittens wont need to be washed often, but if they DO need it, this is how it’s done…

Hand wash gently Soak in lukewarm soapy water (they are 100% wool and may felt if they are agitated in hot soapy water)

Turn inside out and dry flat (don’t put them in a dryer!)

If the thrums get matted: Turn the mittens inside out, and comb the locks gently to untangle the matted areas. (NOTE: this only works if the mittens are thrummed with locks of fleece.  If they are thrummed with roving, this will destroy the thrums….so be sure before you try it)


Here’s an action shot….they DO look a little like boxing gloves don’t they!

One Thrummed Mitten

Friday, November 27th, 2009

“What is that, a boxing glove?”

This mitten is looking very absurd.  It is large….VERY large.  I keep looking back at my photos to check that the recipient actually does have big hands.  It is thick and puffy, because it is thrummed with locks of sheep fleece, which eventually should mat down a bit, but right now are VERY puffy indeed. (Thrumming instructions found here)

I did a little knitting on my lunch break today and finished up the fingertips and the thumb.  It really does look like a boxing glove.  I’m sure the recipient won’t mind….I bet he’s tried boxing once or twice before.

I have heard many funny comment while knitting this mitten; the funniest one was “why are you knitting a baked potato?!”

Now that’s a good question!

Knit Night

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Today is Friday the 13th, and it is a good day!

I went to see the Handloom Weavers and Spinners show and sale (still running Saturday and Sunday 10-4). If you are in the Kingston area, check it out. There are some very beautiful items.

My art of the day is the continuation of the puffy mittens, and the appreciation of the complexities of the weaving I saw today!

There were wall hangings, and polar bears…

handwoven bears

handwoven bears

….Felted Angels dressed in handwoven garments…

…beautiful wooly blankets…

…delicately patterned scarves…

…lots of handspun yarn…

…and the cutest little sheep ornaments…

I have belonged to this group in the past, and learned a lot from the knowledgeable instructors who taught me how to spin, and weave

my first weaving

learn to weave workshop--scarf in progres

After getting totally inspired, I headed off to knit at Wool -Tyme, where you will be able to find me on any Friday the 13th.  There were snacks, and coffee and cider, and lots of keen knitters, and beginner knitters.  I enhanced my yarn stash with a lovely skein of Cascade 220 in red.  New mittens are in my future!

dinosaur mitts

dinosaur mitts

There were some interesting projects being worked on this evening:  Dinosaur mittens, a baby bear suit, earflap hats, shawls, a tea cosy, and some were knitting their very first socks.

being mathy

being "mathy"

Anne, at Wool-Tyme challenged us to determine the number of stitches used in this garter stitch afghan.  We were all given an opportunity to be “mathy” and figure it out.  The winner got to choose any skein of yarn, or any set of needles!  (it is now that maybe being swatchless is not the best plan!  I’m not used to such calculations).

puffy mittenthe puffy mitten is getting bigger

The puffy mitten made an appearance, and grew a thumb hole and got a lot longer.  I enjoyed showing others about this thrumming method, and we all marveled at how fast hands heat up when they are surrounded by fleece.  I have to keep reminding myself of how big these mitts need to be!  Lots more knitting to do.

I hope you all had a very productive and creative Friday the 13th!

P.S. Congratulations to Lisa, Noor and Ru who are the three participants in Pay it Forward!

Fleece Lined Mitts

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

After dinner today I met up with some fellow knitters at a local (knitting friendly) eatery. The staff were great! They didn’t balk at the three of us sitting down at the table with our hot chocolate, and pulling out our needles, wool and fleece, and settling in for a few hours. I think many patrons got a kick out of our hobby, and some were even brave enough to come over and ask us what we were making.

L-Bo is making a lovely cabled scarf

L-Bo is making a lovely cabled scarf

Barbie G is making a mitten on 2 needles

Barbie G is making a mitten on 2 needles

And me….I’m making the puffy mittens. Did I mention that they are for someone with large hands? Here’s proof!

to compare handsize

to compare hand size

When we last left the puffy mittens they were only a cuff. Since then they have grown and developed a thumb gusset, and become considerably more puffy as more fleece was added.

Gusset: K1 P1 K1 P1 K to end of round.

The purl stitches mark the boundary of the thumb gusset. All increases will happen between these two stitches. Increases are made on each side of the thumb gusset every alternate row.

While working the thumb gusset, thrumming must also begin. Fleece is knit into the mitten over 3 stitches, then 3 stitches are knit. The thrumming round is followed by 2 rows of plain knitting.

fleece knit into the mitten

fleece knit into the mitten (mitten turned inside out)

Thrumming: Step by step

  1. Separate a small lock of fleece. With the working yarn held to the right, position the middle of the lock over the right hand needle (the working yarn will then come OVER the lock, and fix it in place when the next stitch is knit.)
  2. Knit a stitch (notice how the fleece is now “trapped” by the wool)
  3. Put the top of the lock down over the working yarn, and the bottom of the lock up over the working yarn.
  4. Knit a stitch (the twisted lock is now trapped in place)
  5. With the working yarn to the right, fold the top part of the lock down, and knit.
  6. This is what it should look like. The fleece is affixed in such a way that the locks can be combed out without the lock being pulled out of place.

Progress shot of the puffy mitten.

Disclaimer: This is by no means the ONLY way to thrum mittens. I know of two methods, but the person I’m making these for preferred the “hidden thrums”. The other method I know has white flecks (that to some people look like hearts) that show through to the outside of the mitten.

I learned tonight that not everyone approaches a problem the same way. L-Bo watched Barbie G. wind a skein of yarn into a ball, and saw that it took a long time. She decided that instead of winding her yarn, she’d knit straight from the skein! It was working fine for her so far. I’d be tangled up for sure by now! She surely is a fearless knitter!

Thrummed Mittens

Monday, November 9th, 2009


Park in February

Do you suffer from cold hands?  In Canada, the winter is long, and cold, and dark, and usually snowy so mittens become very important at this time of year.  But, for those very cold days, or for those with VERY cold hands, sometimes regular mittens are not enough.

Thrummed mittens are perfect for days when it is -30 C and you have to be outside, but don’t need a lot of manual dexterity.  What makes them special is that they are lined with sheep fleece that is knit into the mitten itself.  They are puffy mittens, and they are the warmest I’ve come across.  After wearing them for a while my hands got so hot that they steamed!

Several people have asked me to explain how to thrum mittens, and how to knit on 4 needles.  Over the next few days, tune in to see the mittens take shape.  My goal is to finish them before the snow starts to fall.


sidewalk and snowbanks in February


  • set of four 4mm double pointed needles
  • aran weight wool (this wool was spun and dyed with chestnuts in Serbia, and given to me by a friend)
  • clean locks of sheep fleece donated by local farmers (I don’t know the breed of sheep)
  • waste yarn to hold thumb stitches

Pattern is based on Robin Hansen’s pattern from Fox and Geese and Fences.  I am making a very large size for someone with very large hands, but the pattern and ideas are the same for every hand size.  The trick is to knit them bigger than normal because they will be much thicker due to the fleece.

Cast On: Use your favourite method of casting on.  I cast on 48 stitches using the long tail cast on method.  I find it to be a very elastic way to start a project.  Divide your stitches among 3 needles.

cast on and divide stitches

cast on and divide stitches

Cuff: Join in a round, and rib for 2-3 inches.  Use your favourite ribbing.

A little math might be useful here.

  • If the cast on number of stitches is divisible by 2 (if it is an even number), you can do K1 P1 ribbing.
  • If the number of stitches is divisible by 3 (add up the digits in the number, and if that can be divided by 3, the whole number can be divided by 3) then you can do K2 P1 ribbing.
  • If the number can be divisible by 4 (divide it by 2, and if the result is also an even number, then it is divisible by 4), you can do K1 P1 or K2 P2 ribbing.

I chose K1P1 ribbing and knit 15 rows.

So far so good…. next step is to prepare some fleece for the thrumming.

Fleece Information

(left to right) Combed Roving, Carded Fleece, Locks

Fleece comes in different forms.

  1. Combed rovings have fibers all aligned in one direction, it is very easy to spin, and nice to felt, but not so good for thrumming since it is hard to divide it into smaller pieces that will hold together inside the mitten.
  2. Carded fleece have fibers in all directions.  It is spinnable, but not as easy to spin as the combed fiber.  It is not so good for thrumming because it is hard to separate into small portions.
  3. Locks are the least processed of the three.  (You need to wash them yourself usually!)  The fibers are aligned, and the same length.  It is easy to separate into little pieces, and it will stay together inside the mitten.  If you are lucky you can get locks from a local sheep farmer.  I went to see sheep shearing 2 years ago at Topsy Farm and bought half a fleece.  More recently I have found farmers who are trying to give away fleeces….be careful with this, there is often a lot of plant matter involved in free fleeces.

Shearing so fast they are blurry!

Tomorrow I will start the actual thrumming.  Hope you enjoyed my art for the day!