Thrumming

16 Feb

Thrumming was something that was on my knitting to-learn list for a long time.  It seemed complicated to me so I shied away from it, but once I dove in and did it I realized it was not.  The actual act of knitting with these fluffy bits of roving was easy.  The harder part, in my opinion, is making the thrums.  There are a wide variety of opinions and instructions out there.  Some say make them small and thin, others saying the thicker the better.  Also there are various methods preferred on how to work the thrums.  I have fudged my own method and wanted to share it, hoping that I could add to the mix and help someone who maybe needs a little extra input/photos/explanation.

The first thing to start with is a good chunk of roving.  Most mitten and slipper patterns will call for around two ounces but always over buy just to be sure.  Nothing ruins that almost-to-the-end excitement of a WIP like running out of material.  This ball here is probably about five ounces of wonderfully soft merino.  I bought lots since I wanted enough for two projects and I thought this pale color could be dyed if need be.

I start by splitting the roving into three strands…

… then six.  You can see that the roving is still pretty tight together but you can start to see through it.

Start breaking off segments from the strands, each approximately six inches long.  You don’t have to rip forcefully, just tug slightly and it will slowly give way.

Gently pull and stretch this piece, thinning it out until it’s about 8 or 8 1/2 inches long.  Fold it over in a sort of squashed oval to be about four inches.

Now give the whole thing a little twirl to keep the ends together.

Here I have to stop and give a shout out to my trusty flexible stainless steel ruler, who has been with me through thick and thin of crafting adventures for over 16 years.  How far we’ve come from the days making leather jewelry for cigarette money!

Okay, so there are your thrums.  Uniformity isn’t a big deal here; it’s okay to have slight variation among the thrums.  The bigger worry would be if your thrums changed thickness over the course of your project, leaving you with uneven mittens, slippers or whatever item you are working on.  To avoid this I like to make a big batch of thrums before starting a project.  Give that pile a good toss and you’ll get a good balance.

Here is the thickness of my thrum (with a good twist to it) compared to my working yarn which is Lambs Pride bulky.

Here is how I like to place the thrums in my project.  On the stitch where you’d like a place the thrum, knit normally but don’t slip the left-hand loop over the working stitch yet.

Take one of your thrums, fold it in half and wrap it around the right-hand needle the same way you do the yarn.

Pull the loop on the left-handle needle over the thrum and the working stitch.  On the right hand needle, the thrum should sit to the left of the stitch just worked.

On the next round when you come to one of the thrummed stitches, work the stitch as a normal knit stitch, inserting the right-hand needle into both the thrum and its respective stitch.

And now the thrum will be in front of its stitch.  After I finish this round I like to give all the thrums a little tug, making sure that they’re tightly in there and to make sure they aren’t too puffy on the right side.

If you’re working an item flat and will be purling this second row work it just like a purl stitch, inserting the right needle into the thrum and then its stitch.

Oooo, and look at that squishy result.  I really wish I could share with you just how luxurious this feels.

Today’s not really a day to be thinking about thrums around here, though. It’s about 60 degrees and sunny.  A good porch-sitting day.  I’m off to go join Esther the cat out here in the sunshine.

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4 Responses to “Thrumming”

  1. Kat February 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Oh, that looks so yummy. Like a cloud to wrap around your hand. I have to try this some time, but it’s hard to think about mittens when the weather feels like spring.

    • wattsolak February 16, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

      I know, we were out in t-shirts today! I’m doing sunhats next.

  2. Jane February 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Ahhh! Thank you so much for posting this! Of course, now I’m going to have to head out to buy roving…

    • wattsolak February 16, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

      You will love it.

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