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.