Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thrummed Mittens, After the Fact

I woke up the other morning and was shocked to discover that I was in fact chilly. It was such a strange sensation. The windows had been open all night long, with the fan blowing on us in the usual Summer in Philadelphia way but when I awoke Clyde was nestled under my chin with is shockingly cold feet buried in the blankets. It was awfully cute and reminded me that Fall is right around the corner. When I got to work I put together our Fall Class schedule which you can find in your inbox if you are signed up for our newsletter, or you can download it here. (FYI, Thrummed Mittens is on Sunday November 15th from 1-5 pm).
One of the classes I really wanted to do this season was a thrummed mitten class. I love these mittens. They are so warm and cozy, and I'm going to tell you a disgustingly saccarine story all about them now. The first year I was in college was the year I decided I was going to learn how to knit, for real. I had learned garter stitch from my Grandma as a kid and couldn't really remember how to do anything except a backwards loop cast on. That winter my boyfriend at the time and I went to his family's house in Maine. They lived in this picturesque seaside town on the mid-coast that was so small it had no police, fire or school. There wasn't even a store. Well, I should elaborate, there WAS a store but the people who owned it disappeared one night and the store was locked up so you could SEE the food inside but couldn't get to it. In typical Mainer fashion no one was concerned about this and they couldn't understand my incredulity at the situation. Equally concerning to me was the amazing house near theirs, an old clapboard farm house with a windmill and 1940's car out side. No one was sure whether the old man who lived there was still there or not. I commented on how sad it was that the house had been abandoned and they assured me it wasn't although my boyfriend admitted that when he was a kid the man who lived there was really old and that no one had seen him in years. I think is skeleton is still in that house. See, this is why I don't live in New England, Kate. But back to knitting. My boyfriends mom was a knitter and I tried to get her to teach me to knit, she handed me a copy of Knitting Without Tears and said, "If you can't learn from this book then no one can teach you." I took the book and poured over it for days with needles and yarn in my hands and cried. I didn't get it. It was all words, and those damn drawings that make no sense if you don't already have a vauge idea of what you're supposed to be doing. I let her think I lost interest instead of admit that I was a lost cause. On the bright side, for Christmas that year she gave me this amazing pair of mittens. Mittens like I had never seen before. They had little colored dots
and the inside was all fluffy and warm. I now know they were thrummed mittens. I wore them all that winter in freezing cold Chicago and now I'm not sure what black hole they got lost down but maybe now it's time to make my own.

We have friend visiting this weekend, which means lots of hands to hold the baby so I managed to cast on and knit this entire mitten last night while doing the social thing over dinner. I don't think everyone realized what was happening until towards the end someone said, "Did you just knit an entire mitten?!" Well, yes, I had but unfortunately I hadn't looked up in advance how to actually thrum the thing so I invented this "Afterthought Thrum." It's really just like doing duplicate stitch with roving and a crochet hook, because that's exactly what it is.

Start by deciding what stitch you are going to thrum. In the stitch BELOW that one pull a little 3-4 inch long tuft of raw wool or roving from the inside to the outside, leaving a 1-2" tail of roving inside the mitten.
The crochet hook is inserted above into the stitch that you are working the duplicate stitch on. See how the roving is coming out of the center of the stitch underneath? Now insert your hook in the same manner as above into the stitch ABOVE the one you are thrumming. Pull the roving through, behind the stitch from right to left.
Now put your hook back in to the original spot where you pulled the roving out of in the first step and pull the end down and into the inside of the mitten.
Voila! An afterthought thrum. Not the best way to thrum a mitten, but works if you want to make an existing pair warmer, or just give an old pair of mittens a face lift for the coming season. It gives them a nice vintage folkloric feel, I think, which is a great look this winter. If you want to take a stab at making a more sensicle pair of thrummed mittens sign up for our one day workshop on Sunday November 16th from 1-5.

They Yarn Harlot also has a great blog post with links to a tutorial (check the second link, the first is knitting mittens flat, silly IMHO) here on thrummed mittens, which I looked at this morning, after the fact.


Anonymous said...

Courtney -- now I, too, feel safe in admitted that Knitting Without Tears made zero sense to me when some helpful person handed me that book in college. And it took almost 15 years for me to try it again, this time by taking a class, with a person instructor. At Rosie's. And the stash proves how well that worked!

Courtney Kelley said...

I love Elizabeth Zimmerman now, don't get me wrong. But it definitely wasn't tearless then.

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Knitting Rose said...

I need to make an existing pair of mittens warmer - will it matter that they aren't oversized? Will the Thrumming be able to stay? Should I thrum a little less?

knithappy said...

Hi! The general rule of thumb is that you would make your thrummed mittens bigger to accomodate the thrums but I would go for it. I thrummed this mitten after all was said and done and they fit fine. I didn't put super bulky thrums in, so that helps. One thing I would change about these is that I often think about taking out the cast on and knitting the cuff a bit longer. Now that they are so puffy they seem to ride up a bit and don't stay in my coat sleeves as well. So, that said, go for it!

Christine said...

Thanks so much for posting your after the fact thrumming. I love the look of thrummed mittens but I live in Georgia. I want to make some using some angora yarn instead of the roving. Do you think that will work? I am going to just go for it. Worse case is I have new mittens.

Anonymous said...

Ohmygoodness! This changes everything! I have a pair of mittens I've been dreading learning how to line. I figured it'd be easier to make a new pair, and also learn how to make them with thrums as I go. This is WAY better. Thanks so much!
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