To keep your hands warm when temperatures drop well below freezing, its time to add that extra touch of warmth. This technique is known as thrumming and it works to create an extra layer of insulation. Thrum is sheep’s wool that has been separated into wisps rather than being spun into knitting yarn. You may purchase this unspun wool at your local yarn shop or farmers market and it isn’t expensive. A 2 ounce package of roving or thrum wool supplies a sufficient amount to cover the interior of both mittens.
Photo Credit: KnitPicks Bare Gloss Roving
Some knitters buy thrum in lots of hand dyed yarns to make mittens that “pop” or you might want to use a natural thrum to blend with the knitting yarn you’ve chosen for the main body of the mittens.
Photo Credit - Dianne Faw
Its important to chose thrum that sticks to itself and is a fine to medium gauge of wool. Rip all the thrums by hand. Do not cut them with scissors. This way the unspun wool will stick together better to make the nice lining you’ll want on the inside of your mittens. When you’ve knit the thrum into your mittens it will not give you a lumpy interior that your fingers would stick to, and overtime it will meld together as if it had been felted and feel like a soft comfy blanket for your hands.
When preparing to knit your mittens, the most efficient method I’ve found is to prepare your thrum first, before you begin to knit the body of your mitten. To do this, pull chunks of thrum apart and then tease off wisps of thrum, gently pulling and teasing it apart to introduce air between the fibers. The lengths of thrum should be about five to 5 ½ inches, larger if you prefer up to about 7 inches. Fold the ends inward to create a figure “8”.
Twist the lengths of thrum (unwoven yarn) until they are the same thickness as the yarn you’ve chosen to use for this project. Smooth the rough ends of the thrum together and fold each piece in half.
You can roughly calculate the number of thrum pieces you’ll need by counting the rows and number of stitches per row, that your pattern requires, assuming that you’ll add the thrum in a systematic way that covers the interior of your mitten.
Usually, if you place a thrum every fourth stitch of every fourth row, you will get a nice, warm and thorough covering for the entire surface of your hand. As depicted below by KareKnitsblogspot, when you are ready to knit the thrum into your row of stitches pick up the individual piece, wrap the thrum around the needle and pull it through as the stitch.
Photo Credit: KareKnitsblogspot
Some people knit the thrum along with the working yarn into the stitch. Others prefer to drop the working yarn, loop the thrum around the needle and pull it through the stitch by itself.
Photo Credit: KareKnitsblogspot
Either method works, however, the thrum will be more loosely knit if you use it without the working yarn. This issue is resolved when you’ve knit the next few rows of stitches. The thrums will then be knit upon as if they are regular stitches. This process secures them to your mittens. Decrease the placement of the thrums in areas like the thumb, where the width decreases in size.
If you find this process to be somewhat intimidating, there are videos online which are a great learning tool to give you the skill sets you need to successfully complete the thrumming process. This video is very helpful :
Once you’ve worn the mittens a few times the thrum will become compact and feel like a smooth blanket. The process of knitting the thrums into the mitten creates a charming heart-shaped pattern or adorable dots on the exterior, depending on how you knit the thrum into the mitten. Dropping the working yarn and pulling through only the thrum will give you the heart-shape, and you can see the charm and appeal from this beautiful picture below by torontoknitcafe. Pulling both the working yarn and thrum through, as one stitch, will create the dots. Inside is a sea of puffiness that will provide the warmth you seek.
Photo Credit: torontoknitcafe
Knitting anything with added thrumming is not an easy task, but the results are well worth the effort. If you want and need warmth, you will definitely get it by using this technique. Many newbies at thrumming like to use a kit for their first attempt. This way they have everything they need and can concentrate on the stitches and get a great result.
Once you have mastered the process you can become even more inventive with your yarn choices, and if you wish, you can increase the number of thrums you knit into the mittens which will create a very unique pattern. The mittens will not only be warm, but also they will become eye candy as an accessory for your favorite cold weather apparel.
When you’ve mastered mittens, don’t forget to try thrumming on your knitted headbands, hats, and those adorable slippers you’ve been wanting to knit to keep your feet toasty too. Enjoy this process and congratulate yourself for your continued advancement in knitting expertise.