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How To Insert Thrums: Knitting

Feb 6, 2009

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How to Thrum a Mitten: Knitted Instructions



Knitted Thrummed Mittens by Jennifer Appleby
available in our pattern store

Crocheted Thrummed Mittens by Marlaina Bird
from Interweave Crochet, Winter 2009

Related information:

What is a thrum and why is it in my mitten?

How to make thrums

How to Thrum a Mitten: Crochet Instructions


Step 1:

Insert right needle into the stitch where you wish to place a thrum.

Drop your working yarn to the side.




Step 2:

Pick up a thrum and loop it over the right needle, with the tails at the back.

Tug on the tails so they are of even length.



Step 3:

Hold the tails of the thrum to the back of your work.

Some people find it easier to hold the thrum between the fingers of the left hand, as shown here; while others find it easier to hold the thrum in their right hand.

Find the method that feels most natural to you.



Step 4:

Pull the loop of the thrum through the stitch on the left needle, just as you would pull a regular stitch through.

Drop the old stitch off the needle.



Step 5:

You should now have a loop of thrum on your right needle that looks just like an ordinary (if somewhat fluffy) stitch.



Step 6:

Give the tails of the thrum a gentle tug once it is on the right needle to even the "tension" of this stitch.

If the tails are uneven, give another gentle tug to the shorter tail so that they are the same length.



Step 7:

Pick up the working yarn again and proceed to work the next stitch as usual, carrying the working yarn behind the thrummed stitch, making sure to strand the working yarn firmly over the back of the thrum.

Note that some people like to strand the working yarn under, rather than over, the thrum at this point. This is a matter of personal preference.



Step 8:

Here is what your work will look like after you've worked several stitches.

Note that the thrums line up just like any other stitches on the needle; their fluffy tails ought to point towards the back of the work (the inside of your mitten!).



Another shot of what your work will look like after you have finished an entire round of thrums.





Step 9: The next round

Knit the yarn stitches as usual until you come to a stitch formed by a thrum.

Then knit the "thrum stitch" as you would any other stitch: Insert right needle into the loop, wrap your working yarn around the needle, pull the yarn through the thrum loop, and drop the old stitch (thrum) off the needle.

Repeat until all stitches have been worked.

This is what your thrummed mitten will look like on the inside.




And this is what your mitten will look like on the outside!





Related Posts
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LindaD wrote
on Feb 16, 2009 9:23 AM
i saw an article re adding thrums to a completed mitten but can't find it now. But I know it can be done. I would also like to know how you adjust guage to a favorite pattern to accomodate the thrums. I would like to make a pair of thrummed earmuffs. Linda D
NancyM@6 wrote
on Feb 15, 2009 7:38 PM
I made thrummed mittens several years ago from a kit by Peace Fleece. Don.t know if they still have such a thing but you can look Peace Fleece up on line. The mittens are toasty warm!
none@2 wrote
on Feb 10, 2009 6:03 PM
I have enjoyed the tutorials on thrum knitting and can't wait to try it! Since I live in SF Bay Area of Calif. & do not need mittens that warm, I thought I would start with a pair of thrummed bed socks as my feet are always ice cold in the winter. Once I've learned the technique, then I'll try the mittens for my friend in Maine.
ShelleyS@4 wrote
on Feb 10, 2009 4:02 PM
I've been wanting to try thrummed mittens for awhile now. Thanks for the tutorial! I'm a visual learner and this will help me out a lot!
Julie@10 wrote
on Feb 10, 2009 1:20 PM
I am an alpaca farmer and once sold SURI fiber to a woman in Canada who was making "thrummed mittens" and selling them for $80 a pair!. They must have been incredibly warm as alpaca is by itself, very, very warm! Your tutorials were great and know I know how to make (crochet) these wonderful mittens. I've made two pair already! Anyone looking for "thrums" might check out The Farm Store on our website at I have natural and hand-painted SURI fiber! Suri fiber grows in dreadlocks, works great for making thrums, and it is soft and luxurious to work with.
Katherine@2 wrote
on Feb 9, 2009 9:35 AM
For chopperchick_16 in Nova Scotia, a handy place to start would be - the Atlantic Spinners' and Handweavers' site. There's a contact on the page for the Spindrifters group, the spinners, plus shops and other interesting fibrey things.
Katherine@2 wrote
on Feb 9, 2009 9:28 AM
For those who want to "find" thrums: We who weave consider 'thrums' to be the leftover yarn that isn't woven at the beginning or end of a project on the loom ('loom waste') because it is too close to the frame of the loom. If that yarn happens to be a soft, fluffy wool, it can be added into knitted/crocheted into mitts/sock/hats. ----- To some of us, 'thrummed' knitting uses little tufts pulled from washed and combed fleece, that otherwise would be used for handspinning Now-a-days, stranded unspun fleece is offered for sale, rolled onto large balls or into skeins and called "pencil roving", possibly dyed in many colours, - pencil, for it's diameter, and 'roving' is fleece drawn out into thin lengths ready for spinning. ------ If you want to find fleece, which I happen to think makes fluffier and warmer mitts, and is more traditional, find some weavers and spinners - maybe a guild - in your neck of the woods and ask them. They are likely to have the small quantities you need and it wouldn't be expensive compared to commercially prepared and marketed pencil roving. Or a business that sells weaving supplies or equipment. Enjoy!
JillW wrote
on Feb 9, 2009 8:21 AM
For anyone who has done this before, can you please answer AnneliseC's question above? I have the same question - do you use the thrum as a loop or can you use a single strand, and if as a loop, which part is actually knitted in the stitch? Another question, do you use one thrum per stitch, or carry the thrum along the back and make two or three stitches with it, letting the ends hang loose at the beginning and end? Thanks for any additional help in this technique!
MargaretM@11 wrote
on Feb 9, 2009 6:35 AM
Think I will use this to insert thrums at the toes of my socks!
DebbieR wrote
on Feb 8, 2009 5:38 PM
Love the instructions! I have lots of wool in baskets that need someone to play with it---can't wait to give Thrum Mittens a try :) thanks
ClaireB@2 wrote
on Feb 8, 2009 12:04 PM
How much bulk do thrums add? Since I don't knit with a pattern but just work from gauge and do the math, I need to know roughly how many inches I should expect to add to my finished circumference.
Barb Rickman wrote
on Feb 8, 2009 11:39 AM
I watched crochet version of how to add thrumms and then looked at the visual tutorial for knitting. I find that I like the crochet version much better for securing the thrumms to the work. That extra looping of the working yarn around the thrum will most certainly keep the thrum inside the work. This is important if you are making mittens for children..who tend to pick at something when they are bored. The knitted version would not hold up if a child decided that they wanted to pick the bits loose.
Esther wrote
on Feb 8, 2009 10:15 AM
Anita L. & Carol A. I wondered about that myself, about whether you could add thrums to a finished pair of mittens... what about using a rug hooking technique? That would secure the thrums quite nicely. Something to experiment with!
SharonB wrote
on Feb 8, 2009 5:07 AM
In order to thrum, you need roving, which they can dye in various colours. If you don't see it at your yarn shop, then I'm sure they could get some in for you.
TeresaM@3 wrote
on Feb 8, 2009 4:01 AM
WOW I didn't know how easy thrums could be. I can't wait to try knitting this way. Thanks for the tutorial.
GinaN wrote
on Feb 7, 2009 7:12 PM
where do I get the fleece or thrums? I am new to this and would like to try making a warmer mitten.
JoanneL@2 wrote
on Feb 7, 2009 3:20 PM
I have a pair of thrummed mittens that I have been wearing for years--all the same colour--I love them. No thrums have fallen out--when you wash the mittens, the inside gets somewhat matted but I like to play with that when I am waling ing the dog or whatever. The outside stays exactly as you made them.
JackieS wrote
on Feb 7, 2009 7:26 AM
jale, what happens when you wash the mittens ? i'm afraid they would felt together. the tecnique looks like something I could have some fun with.
CarolA@2 wrote
on Feb 7, 2009 6:06 AM
I don't know of a way to add thrums after a mitten is knitted, unless you could devise a way to hook themthrough with a crochet hook. Sounds more like your mittens need a lining, AnitaL, which is done by making another mitten in a thinner yarn, fingering weight alpaca is a very warm choice. I have also seen thrum-like mittens made with bits of bulky yarn rather than the fleece, there is a pair in the Maine State Museum from 1903 that Robin Melanson featured in her book of traditional Maritime mittens, Fox & Geese & Partridge Feet. She called them Loggers Mitts. The technique is the same and could be a choice if fleece is not readily available to you.
AnitaL wrote
on Feb 7, 2009 3:57 AM
Can you add thrums to a mitten (in some fashion) after it is already made? I have a pair of mittens that I love, but the wind blows right through them. They could use some help.
catherine@2 wrote
on Feb 7, 2009 3:00 AM
What a great idea. Can't wait to start making thrummed mittens. Thank you for the directions
on Feb 7, 2009 2:09 AM
do you have to use thrum or could you use bit of left over spun wool or yarn? I never seen thrum in my hunt for knitting supplies in my area and I live in Nova Scotia.
JudyG@4 wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 5:15 PM
Sue_gleiner you're not actually adding a stitch; you add the thrum in place of a regular stitch and pass your main yarn behind the thrum stitch to make the next stitch.
Sue_gleiner wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 5:08 PM
Why don't you end up with more stitches on each succeeding row if you add a thrum stitch every 3 sts?
LeslieB@2 wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 3:29 PM
I have made two pair of thrummed mittens and have knit the thrum along with the working yarn. I worried about the potential of the thrum pullng out and dropping the stitch if I didn't also use the working yarn. Although I haven't had a thrum pull yet, I do feel more confident in "abusing" my mittens. I also Ktbl on the row after the thrum to twist it and more firmly hold it in place. You can't see the working yarn and the "V" of the thrum is still shaped perfectly.
MargretT wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 2:27 PM
For the question about "continental" knitting I knit as my Icelandic ancestors did which is the continental style I guess, although to an ilander using continental as a descriptor seems odd, and have not had any problem with thrums. One just has to hold the thrum in the left hand at the back of the work as the yarn would ordinarily be held for the knitting stitch. The movement of the active needle is then very similar to using a crochet hook.
AnneliseC wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 12:35 PM
There's a beautiful pattern for knitted mitten's with thrums in Robin Melanson's great book, "Knitting New Mittens & Gloves" (2008, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang). Happy knitting!
KatherineC@2 wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 12:22 PM
Thank you for such an excellent tutorial! I was looking at a book of knitting patterns recently that had a pair of mitten I thought were cute, but odd. When I rec'd the e-mail about what is a Thrum, the light went on. That's what I had been looking at. These look fun and I can hardly wait to try them. I knit continental style and find the instructions very clear. THanks again, Sandi.
DotteeC wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 12:19 PM
Can't wait to try these. Like NatAleaH, tho, I too wonder about a thrum pulling out. Wouldn't that cause a drop stitch? Is this something to be concerned about? Thanks for all your great ideas, Sandi. Heidi...I'm going to look for that book. DotteeC
cbmommacat wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 12:12 PM
You know, I got this big fluffy cat walking around the house, leaving 3-4 inch hanks of fur every where he lays....just think, a constant supply of white thrums:)
GillianB wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 12:08 PM
Some of us knit the thrum and the working yarn through the stitch together just like a regular knit stitch. If you are making two needle mitts then on the return purl row you purl into the back of the yarn/thrum stitches to put a slight twist on the stitch and firmly hold the thrum in place. Looks exactly the same on the both sides as Sandi's mitts.
sara wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 12:08 PM
I am going to try this it looks like fun and the mittems are really super cute!! Since I am still learning to knit I am going to try the crochet pattern first.
sara wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 12:05 PM
this looks like it could be a lot of fun i think iI'll try the crochet version first since i am still learning to knit
Miryom wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 12:03 PM
The tutorial is FABULOUS!!!!! Tried it with no trouble at all. Question for Sandy: can I knit mitts WITH thrums ONLY on the inside in other words just one colour on the visible side? Thanks Sandy - for everything. Cookie.
PatR wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:57 AM
I am definitely going to try this on work socks for my son-in-law! I have so much left over fleece this will be a great recycling method. Thanks so much for the great pictures.
Zaz wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:47 AM
Hypatia, it's EXACTLY the same, you are knitting your thrum instead of knitting with your working yarn "that one stitch" where you want another color. then the next round you knit your thrum stitch with your working yarn, it gets stabilized. no problem whatsoever.
Nat AleaH wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:41 AM
Hi Sandi!!! I was wondering if you've heard of anyone pulling out the thrums? And what would you do if it happened? I'd love to try it but am worried that my rings would catch on the thrums and pull them out. Or will they felt by the friction of putting your hands in and out? They are beuatiful though and can't wait to try it. I don't know if I'll be able to wear them in OK weather, since it's 70's now. thanks for the great pictures. Nat Alea from OK
AnneliseC wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:40 AM
Thanks for the photos! I have a question: Earlier in the week you showed us how to make thrums, and the result was little butterflies or bowtie-shaped fluffy bits, with the center slightly felted (after you'd rolled it between your fingers). So my question - when you put a thrum in the knitting, do you lay the felted portion over the needle with the little butterfly wings hanging in back? That's what it seems to me, but I couldn't be sure from the photos. Thanks for any explanation (and sorry that my description of butterfly wings and bowties comes out sounding a little non-sensical!). I can't wait to try knitting up a pair of mittens!
Hypatia wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:27 AM
This is a good tutorial, but unfortunately it doesn't help me because I am a Continental knitter. I wish the demonstrations were in both Continental and English/American.
FluffyOne wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:20 AM
I made myself a pair of mittens once but they weren't very warm, so I never made another. I think with this technique, I will try again. Angora thrums, anyone? Those should be toasty enough!
heidi@4 wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:18 AM
There is a wonderful description of thrumming in the novel "The Birth House," by Ami McKay. It's about a midwife in rural Nova Scotia in the early 20th century. When she's not tending to the women of her community, she and her friends spend their spare time knitting thrummed socks and mittens for Canadian soldiers serving in WWI. I've wanted to learn more about thrumming since reading that book a year ago. So thanks so much Sandi for teaching me how it's done!
prisann1929 wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:11 AM
Where do you get Thurms?prisann1929
BeverlyH@2 wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:09 AM
This was so very helpful. I have been wanting to do this but could not quite understand how to insert the thrums.Thank you so very much
Mary AlyceH wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:08 AM
I had never heard that the Inuit used grass, but of course that makes sense. The thrummed mitten as shown here is thought to be traditional in Newfoundland Labrador. Originally the thrums were the bits that were clipped off to neaten the edges of a woven fabric. It is definitely a waste not, want not technique.
DianeD wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:07 AM
Hi - wondered if you have to trim the thrum wool inside after you are finished, or do they just "felt" eventually? Thanks again Sandi, for making something that looks complicated, look as easy as pie. Di
tatterbat wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 11:07 AM
Fabulous tutorial! The methods I've seen before work the thrum along with the yarn through the stitch, but I think this method would be a bit neater in appearance on the right side. Can't wait to make myself a pair!
JoannaD wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 8:03 AM
I think most really arctic climate people have been doing this forever. The Inuit who didn't raise sheep put fine grass thrums into sewn skin mitts and boots, and if you think about it, a thrummed mitt is a lot like a skin mitt, fur side in. Art imitating nature again!
ZassZ wrote
on Jan 29, 2009 5:28 PM
Hey - a fun way to use up little "shorties" as I like to call them. Really cute! Tell me, if you know, where did this start - is it an age old technique?