It’s February, which (on the northern hemisphere) it means it’s cold outside and mittens are a must. At least if you’re biking to work like I am. Even when it’s sunny out, early morning biking is no fun with frozen hands.
Let’s talk thrummed mittens. If you’ve never heard of it, you might have seen it. It’s a technique in which little pieces of roving (thrums) are knitted along, giving your work cute little heart shaped stitches on the outside, and a nice, fuzzy and warm feeling on the inside.
It looks complicated, but it’s really easy once you’ve got the hang of it. When you find out I promise you’ll want to add thrums to a lot of different types of knitting.. like slippers, or hats…
First things first, to make thrummed mittens you’ll need your favorite type of needles, a courser type of non-superwash yarn, and preferably roving that’s also non-superwash. The thrums are meant to felt into the knitting on the inside, making it windproof and warm. If you choose superwash yarns and roving you might not get this effect, since they will not felt into eachother. Of course it’s still possible to use either a superwash yarn or superwash roving (and the sample below is made with superwash yarn). I’m using 3-tråds strikkegarn from Rauma for this first version.
I’m also using the Worlds Simplest Mittens pattern by TinCanKnits. This is a great pattern to start out knitting mittens with. It’s well written, very easy, and it has instructions for multiple sizes and different yarn weights. All you have to do is choose the yarn weight you’d like to use and we can start thrumming!
You can use any type of wool you’d like for your thrums. It can be carded, combed, sliver, top or roving, it doesn’t matter. For the version above I’ve chosen a carded wensleydale mix, and for the sample below I’ve used our own mixed color roving.
Before I explain how to shape the thrums, I’d like to show you what the inside looks like. It’s very fuzzy, and might feel a little chunky, but the thrums will felt together with the knitted fabric after a few uses and it’s going to be much warmer and more windproof. The more you use it, the more comfy it becomes. This is why it’s best use non-superwash fiber so it can actually felt.
This sample is the space top roving we sell at the shop. You can see that the roving is compact and quite chunky compared to the thin, pink yarn I’m using.
You can’t use the roving as is, so you’ll need to prep it before you can start. It’s important to take your time for this step.
Pull a chunk of about 8-10cm off the roving, and start pulling off strips that are about the same size as your yarn (or maybe a little thicker).
Fold the ends towards the center and roll the middle part between your index finger and thumb until smooth. You’ll now have loops at both ends of the little thrums you’ve made, and the center part is about the same size as the yarn you’re using.
Fold the little thrum and place it over your left hand needle right next to the stitch you’ll be knitting. Knit the stitch and the thrum together. When you use a superwash yarn, knitting the thrum and the stitch together will help hold the thrum in place.
The knitted thrum usually sits right on top of the knitted stitch, but sometimes you’ll need to shape it a little bit. You can also only knit the stitch using the thrum with the yarn in the back, but I’d only advise doing so if your yarn and roving are both non superwash, and if you’re using a slightly thicker yarn than I’m using for this sample.
The pink mitten I’m making here is made of superwash, fingering weight yarn on 3mm needles. If I were to skip the stitch and use only the thrum, the fabric wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the thrums in place.
There’s also no rules as to how many or how thick or long the thrums should be. If you choose to knit a stitch and thrum together it doesn’t matter how many thrums you add. The only limiting factor is the chunkiness. The more thrums you add, the chunkier the fabric becomes, and you’ll need to be able to put your hand in there.
Other than that, the possibilities are endless.. think thrummed hats, joggers, sweaters!