Just Thrumming Along

While watching the Canadian Men’s Snowboarders take both the SILVER and the BRONZE MEDALS Saturday night, I was keeping my hands busy trying a new pattern and new technique – thrumming.

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The start of my thrummed mitts, two rows of thrums complete

In case you haven’t heard, it’s been a miserable Canadian winter.  There’s been snow, and lots of it, and on some days, the temperature has dipped to the mid -20s°C.  In short, Canada’s been Canada-ing. I’ve been wanting warmer mittens for a while now and have been rather intrigued by the idea of thrumming.  So, after a visit to my LYS and riffling through my stash, cast on.

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Preparing the roving to make thrums

This technique has its roots in Newfoundland and Labrador, because, Canada.  Joking aside, the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador has long been tied to the fishing industry, and these mittens would have been excellent for fishery workers, spending time hauling nets and working on the northern Atlantic coast.  A ‘thrum’ refers to waste yarn/fibre from weaving and spinning, and engineering knitters ‘from the Rock’ realized they would make an amazing insulating layer inside the mitt when the thrum is knit with a regular stitch in the pattern.  Some sources say this technique has been in use for hundreds of years; today, I’m quite happy it’s still around to help me combat this Canadian cold.

The pattern I used was Thrummed Mittens by Tanis Lavallee.  If you’ve never done this technique before, I’d recommend either watching a video or two, or perhaps giving this article by the Yarn Harlot a read.

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A peak inside the mitten – just look at that fluffy warmth!

In all, I wouldn’t recommend this pattern, and when I thrum again, I’ll find a different one to make.  It’s written as if you know exactly what the designer means when they say ‘Knit 3, Thrum, repeat to end.’  Never having thrummed before, I had to google to ensure I was doing it right.  It uses the afterthought technique for the thumb, certainly not my favourite (exhibited by my cursing and repeated ‘I hate this’ while removing the waste yarn), and I think I prefer the fit that a gusset provides.  Finally, if you knit the pattern exactly as written for both hands, you’ll end up with two right mitts.  Long story short, the pattern needs updates, but once finished, I’ll certainly have warm fingers.


Want to read more about thrumming and its history?

 

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Oh, The Weather Outside is… Canadian?

Yes, I am Canadian, and proud of it.  I love my country, its history, its diversity, its beauty.  However, the one thing I could live without is our winter.  I don’t have too much of a right to complain.  I live in Southern Ontario, so our winters aren’t as bad as, say around the 60th parallel, but still, our winters can get a little frigid. Yes, the inner child in me loves the first snowfall, and I love having a white Christmas, but the adult driver in me curses the snowfall and having to travel in it!

This week, the weather got cold.  Waking up one morning, it was -10°C (or, for any American readers, about 14 Fahrenheit).  If anything, this weather has given me the push I need to get knitting, because, really, no knitter worth their salt should be cold.  A few years before I truly learned the craft, I was gifted a pair of mittens, and while they are nice and toasty, the quality was lacking, and after a short time, they were falling apart.  After far too long, I’ve made a replacement.

Rest in pieces, white store bought mitts...
Rest in pieces, white store bought mitts…

I made my mittens, a variation from Kate Atherley’s Alcazar Mittens.  One thing I loved about the falling apart mittens was the cable along the back, so I included a 6 stitch cable on my mitten.  For the right mitten, the cable is worked at the beginning of the round, and for the left, it is worked at the end.  As well, rather than decreasing to 4 stitches, then drawing the yarn through, I decreased to 16 stitches, then re-arranged the stitches and did a kitchener stitch bind off.  If I was to make another pair like this, I would decrease another 4 stitches before the bind off, but hindsight is always 20/2o.

Completed warm mittens
Completed warm mittens

I chose to use Loops and Threads Charisma yarn for this project.  I’m wool intolerant, so I often do gravitate to acrylic yarns, and although it can pill, I find Charisma soft and warm.  And for these mittens, it hasn’t let me down, as they are soft and keep my fingers warm.  I’m also not very patient, and it is bulky and knits up fast, so these mitts were a quick, satisfying project.

I’m hoping later this winter to make more of these quick mittens and donate them.