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.
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.
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.
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?
- Robin Hansen, Favorite Mittens, (Down East Books, 2006), p 54
- Lela Nargi, Knitting Around the World: A Multistranded History of a Time-Honored Tradition, (Voyageur Press, 2011)
- The Yarn Harlot gives a GREAT overview on how to thrum: http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/thrumfaq.html