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Tips For Making Thrums

Feb 4, 2009

On Monday, I showed you two fabulous pairs of thrummed mittens--one crocheted, from the Winter 2008 issue of Interweave Crochet, and one knitted, originally published in Interweave Knits Winter 2006 and now available in our pattern store. I even turned one of the mittens inside out so you could see those magical little fluffy bits of woolly fleece that, when worked into your mittens, give you a superb layer of insulation against winter cold.

Of course, mittens are not the only garment where you can use thrums. Hats, slippers, even a jacket--the key is to make sure the garment itself is loose enough so that when you add thrums, there is room for all that fluffiness inside.

 

Tips for Working with Unspun Fluff (Roving)

1. Roving comes in long thick bands. Tear off a length (about ten inches) by holding your hands a couple inches apart and gently tugging until the fibers separate.

2. Peel off strips lengthwise. Start by peeling them in half lengthwise, then split the halves themselves into thirds, or whatever seems to work best for your roving. The goal is to get strips that are slightly thicker than the yarn you are using for the project.

3. Take each thin strip and starting at one end, with your hands a couple inches apart, gently tug the fibers lengthwise to "draw out" the strip. You want the fibers to slip past each other enough to make the strip thinner and longer, but not so much that the strip comes apart. Repeat for the whole length of the strip.


4. Tear the strip into short lengths--about four inches.


5. For each thrum, fold the ends into the center so that a loop forms at each end.

6. Hold the middle of the thrum between thumb and forefinger and gently roll--you're felting the middle so the thrum holds together where it will be on the needle (or hook).

7. Toss the thrum in a plastic food container with a lid and go make another one!

That's it. Easy!


If you have never seen unspun roving before,
go on over to your local yarn shop and ask to look at some. Roving is interesting stuff--because of course, it's where yarn comes from! It comes in a rainbow of colors and as many different types of fibers as there are sheep. Once again, though, I must warn you: Handling roving to make thrums is a gateway drug. Once you start with the thrums, it's just a short distance from there to a spindle or a spinning wheel. And making your own yarn--that gets to be a pretty powerful addiction once you've tried it.


 

On Friday, we'll show you how to get the thrums into your mittens! Marlaina Bird, designer of the crochet version of Thrummed Mittens, will show us how to do this using a crochet hook, and I will show you how to do it with knitting needles.

 


 



Links to Thrummed Mitten patterns

For knitters:
Thrummed Mittens by Jennifer Appleby
available in the pattern store

Thrummed Mittens by Rita Buchanan
Spin-Off, Winter 2001 (Subscribe here)


For crocheters:
Thrummed Mittens by Marlaina Bird
Interweave Crochet, Winter 2008 (Subscribe here)

 

 





Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? I finished a quick hat over the weekend; and am one-quarter the way through a pair of mittens. (My sister's Central Park Hoodie is on hold temporarily. My sister lives in Chicago, so she totally understands and doesn't mind waiting until the mittens are done.)

 


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Comments

teryjojo wrote
on Feb 16, 2014 9:15 PM

Can you tell me why my pattern to make the thrums states to not cut the fleece?  I am finding it very hard on my fingers to pull the pieces of fleece from the roll I have.  Any clarification would be appreciated!

Lynda@2 wrote
on Feb 12, 2009 11:47 AM
If you want to make roving from left overs get 2 small wire brushes for cats as they are like tiny carders and card the wool yarn.
on Feb 6, 2009 5:03 PM
Has anyone tried making thrums from (100% wool, of course) pre-cut yarn lengths made for latch-hook rug-making? I think I'll try it, since I've a few bags of them and no desire to make a rug.
SueW wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 6:43 AM
Brilliant!! The only use for thrums I've ever experienced was for use in rug making but it never occurred to me to use them in knitting. Doh! Well done y'all. Sue from Oswestry, UK.
Ann@3 wrote
on Feb 5, 2009 5:02 PM
Actually, you can buy roving/top online. Just Google "roving" or anything similar and you can get any type, any color, sometimes a small bag of samples. Try it. You'll like it.
cmwarner wrote
on Feb 5, 2009 9:11 AM
What happens when the thrummed garments are washed? Don't the thrums felt up into little masses and lose their fluff?
MelanieD wrote
on Feb 5, 2009 3:06 AM
I have been so interested to read about this and to learn a new word, too - thrums! When I first lived in Eastern Switzerland in 1984, I was living with a very ecologically aware family who made whatever they could themselves and generally lived very simply, which has had a lasting effect on me. We had quite a lot of late snow and the mother of the household, late 30s at the time, was just making some mittens for her 10 yr old daughter at the time - and she was attempting to make them even warmer and more snowproof (without going out to buy manmade fibre mittens) by using thrums. Hers, however, were not actually made of roving. She had thick homespun wool anyway, and just cut short lengths, which she looped into the mittens for this effect. I was quite fascinated by the idea and never forgot it, although until now I have never heard of or seen it again... ... and now it even has a name! Goodness knows what the Swiss called it!! Does anyone know how it originated or where the name comes from??
HelenD wrote
on Feb 4, 2009 9:19 PM
I've made thrummed mittens before, but I've never made up a pile of thrums ahead of time. I just pulled the roving into little bits as I went along. Rather than create a piece with loops at both ends, I just fold the length of roving over my finger (like a very short unspun piece of yarn) and knit it in with the yarn for the mitten. I would think the loops would catch finger tips, unless they're very small. But, since it's 10 degrees tonight and going to be at a high of 18 tomorrow, maybe some warmer mittens or even slippers are in order.
Lisa@8 wrote
on Feb 4, 2009 3:41 PM
I crochet far far more than I knit, but I found "thrums" to be fascinating. Thanks for the information so far. I am looking forward to tomorrows email. I also like seeing both crochet and knit patterns. We crafters can enjoy more than one addiction.
AmandaD wrote
on Feb 4, 2009 3:33 PM
Hi in England we call Roving 'wool top', if this is the same material you would use to make felt with.
maryalma wrote
on Feb 4, 2009 3:26 PM
I bartered for raw wool from 3 pet sheep, breed unknown, I figured if it didn't spin well I could use it for felting. Could it be used for thrums? Thank you, Mary Alma cmcs78@hughes.net
InaH wrote
on Feb 4, 2009 2:46 PM
please tell me where i can find the lace cardigan you picture with add for store and dvd of Knitting daily tv show??? thank you ina- dharding2@stny.rr.com
PatriciaD wrote
on Feb 4, 2009 2:21 PM
Roving needed for the Thrum mittens, can be found at most Weaveing Shops..it is called Pencil roving..works wonder for the mittens..also can be used for socks/hats using the same method.It works great.
JayelF wrote
on Feb 4, 2009 2:20 PM
Okay, Sandi, now I have to try this! I have all this roving sitting around with my felting needles, waiting for inspiration. Thrummed mittens, here I come!. I'll bet unspun or pencil roving would work too, just not quite as fluffy.