How to Make Thrummed Mittens
Thrummed Mittens (or fleece-stuffed mittens) originate from Newfoundland and Labrador. Twisted bits of unspun, carded fleece wool are knitted into the fabric to create a fleecy lining. With wear and use, the fleece inside felts into an insulating layer. Traditionally, they are knit of wool in natural colours. However, the pattern created by the thrums looks particularily striking when hand dyed fleece is used.
TO MAKE THRUMS
Preparing the fleece: Pull (do not cut!) lengths of fleece/roving about 5-6" in length. Separate the lengths into smaller strips. To determine the thickness of your thrum, twist the strip between your fingers - it should be at least the same thickness of the yarn you are using. Don't worry if the thrums are thicker - you'll just end up with warmer mittens!
Fold the ends of each piece to the center, overlapping the ends. Give the strips a little twist in the middle.
Now you are ready to incorporate the thrum.
**TIPS** Make a stack of thrums ahead of time, so you don't have to prepare bits of fleece while you are knitting. Also, split your stock of fleece in half, so that you will have the same amount for each mitten. You don't want to run out of fleece while you are making the second mitten (which I've done!).
INCORPORATING THE THRUMS
When you come to a thrum stitch, drop the main yarn. Take a prepared piece of fleece, twist it a couple of times in the middle, and then hold it over your forefinger. Insert the right-hand needle into the stitch on your left-hand needle as if to knit, place the thrum over the end of the needle you just inserted, keeping the tails at the back.
Keep a firm hold on the thrum tails so that the fleece doesn't come undone. Now wrap the yarn over the needle too, locking the fleece in place. Knit both at the same time - this means you knit the stitch normally, bringing both your working yarn and thrum through.
On the next round, when you come to a thrummed stitch, the thrum and yarn stitch it was worked with will be sitting side by side. Knit the yarn stitch and thrum together through the back. Knitting through the back makes the thrum look like a V stitch. If you knit through the front, it will look like a round bobble. Give the tails of the thrums a gentle pull on inside of work. The thrums are now quite secure and locked in place by the yarn. When you are finished your mitten, you can always poke at the little V's with your needle to adjust them, if you need to.
THRUMMED MITTEN PATTERN
Makes 1 pair of Ladies small/medium size mitts. To make other sizes, I suggest pattern "Family Thrummed Mittens" by Briggs and Little.
YARN: 100g/200m of worsted weight 100% wool. The mittens above were knit with 1 ball of Galway worsted wt. yarn (col#1330).
FLEECE: 50 grams of carded fleece or roving. I used 50g (1 braid) of Fleece Artist hand dyed 100% Merino Sliver.
NEEDLES: 3.5mm and 4mm double pointed needles. The 3.5mm needles are just for the cuff.
NOTIONS: Stitch marker, stitch holder, and tapestry needle.
Cuff: With 3.5mm needles, loosely cast on 40 sts and divide evenly onto 3 needles (i.e. needle 1 - 12 sts, needle 2 - 16 sts, needle 3 - 12 sts). Place marker and join into round without twisting the sts. Work K2, P2 ribbing (k2, p2, k2, p2,...) for approx. 3 inches. Once cuff is finished, proceed to Round 1.
Thumb Opening: Knit 1, slip next 8 sts onto a stitch holder (or safety pin). Cast on 8 sts and knit to end of round. Knit until mitten covers the tip of your small finger (approx. 9.5" from beginning -- smaller mitts may need just 8.5", larger 10.5").
Thumb: With RS facing, pick up the 8 sts from the holder onto a needle. Rejoin yarn, pick up 2 sts from side of thumb opening, pick up 8 sts along top of opening and 2 sts from opposite side - 20sts. Arrange sts evenly on your 3 needles. Work in thrum pattern until thumb is long enough (3-3.5" approx.) K2tog all the way around, for 2 rounds. Break yarn and thread through remaining sts. Fasten securely. Darn yarn at base of thumb, closing any holes. Darn in remaing ends.
Second Mitten: Knit exactly as the first!