Morning orangutans with your frozen fingers! If you’re the Christmasey type, I hope you had a nice one full of snacks and presents and as little football and family crazytime as possible. Ours was lovely, although we’re not quite done yet, having scheduled make-up Christmas with Mr. Bug’s parents in a few weeks – we were with my family this time around.
There is yet another potential blog-visit to Santa’s Workshop in store for you monkeys – I have a few projects I didn’t show you, since the recipient occasionally checks my blog. Also, I remade our Christmas stockings this year. Complete with appliques and a paw-shaped stocking for Lucy. But that will have to wait, because left with the vacuum of no more last-minute holiday gifts to finish, I found myself sucked into the vortex of selfish sewing, errrr, knitting, and have been obsessively plotting and working on what I hope will to the warmest mittens known to mankind.
During my Christmas shopping I stopped by a local fabric/yarn shop (what? I’m not allowed to get myself a gift?) and saw a pair of THRUMMED mittens – they were a shop sample for an upcoming class. Do you guys know what thrumming is? I didn’t. It’s CRAZY! And super simple. It’s just a regular mitten where every few stitches and rows you wrap the needle with a bit of wool roving (that’s what wool is before it’s made into yarn – sort of like stuffing, for you non-knitters. The same stuff I stuffed my Uggs with, incidentally!) Anyway, every few stitches you include a bit of the roving – the piece is about 3-4 inches long and most of it stays on the inside. The result is a SUPER WARM mitten that very, very puffy. Here’s what it looks like from the outside (that pile of orange is the roving.)
I finished this white and orange mitten (well, finished as shown, thumb still in progress) on Christmas day, pretty much – it’s a fast knit. After getting this far I realized I was having some doubts. As usual, I’m working with my own personal constraints – make it white so the Lucy-fur doesn’t drive me insane or make it darker so the dirt (aka Lucy SLOBBER) doesn’t show? In addition, I have a very oddly colored winter coat. It’s a pinkish coral down jacket that defies being nailed down to any one color. I love it, but it’s hard to find a good accessory color. I decided to go with white for the mitten and found some machine washable cashmere/merino/acrylic blend at Joann’s ( I know, right?) It’s Lion Brand Cashmerino for those interested and it’s merino 72%, 15% nylon and 13% cashmere. The roving is a ball that I found at a local artist consignment shop – so who knows how THAT will react to washing. I really like the mittens, but as I was working on them I kept thinking about my current gloves – white alpaca that need to be washed about once a week. They’re holding up, but I wasn’t sure if these mittens would be able to stand that much washing.
I probably would have ignored my misgivings, but I also made a mistake while knitting the first mitten – I started the thumb WAY late – I don’t know if it’s obvious in the photo below, but the thumb really should be about an inch lower – towards the cuff. Maybe even more.
It’s OK, and usable, but with two things niggling at me, I decided to shelve the white mittens and look for some new yarn. Besides, it’s possible there was some Christmas cash burning a hole in my pocket….
Before I chose my second round of yarn I looked a lot online at other pairs of thrummed mittens. Honestly, I don’t love how they look. I think the little thrum pattern is just too folksy or kid-like for me, but it’s necessary to the design of the mitten, so I was stuck with it. After scanning through a lot of images I realized that I like the look of red mittens with white thrums the best. So high contrast is my thing, with the thrums being lighter. Also I like the rows of thrumbs offset and spaced out a bit – mine are knit with a thrum every sixth row and I like that. A lot of the mittens I saw online looked like they had a thrumevery 3rd row or so.
Here is a pair of offset, widely spaced thrums – actually this is the image from the pattern that I’m (mostly) following…
As a comparison, here’s a pair of thrummed mittens with the thrums NOT offset.
So here’s what I found for my new mittens yesterday…
Since the cuffs are the only part that really touches my skin, I wanted something super, duper soft. I found some 100% cashmere yarn in the 50% off bin! Score! For the body of the mittens I found some lovely 50/50 silk and merino malabrigo that’s variegated with reds, pinks and corals. I don’t love JUST red with my jacket, but this yarn looks great with it. I’m hoping the silk will help with the warmth and the knitted fabric feels really nice. The white roving is alpaca rather than wool. Alpaca yarn is generally pretty pricey, but it’s supposed to be warmer than wool and it’s definitely softer. After starting my new mittens last night I can attest that it’s WAY more annoying to work with than wool – very slippery, with fibers all over the place. Grrrrr….
I finished the cuff and a few inches of the hand of the new pair last night – they are SO cozy, and I like the colors much, much better than the white and orange version! Yay mittens!
If you are interested in making your OWN thrummed mittens (good gravy, I hate the word ‘thrummed!!) here’s a list of links that I found helpful
Here is a great FAQ about thrumming and how to thrum
Here is the Ravelry page (I searched on ‘thrummed mittens’ I think)
The main pattern I’m following is on Domesticated Human (PDF here) I made a few changes…
- I cast on 40 instead of 36 stitches – I have big hands
- I cast on using US size 3 needles, and then switched to size 6 for the hand. I like the cuff to look like a cuff – knitting the cuff and hand in the same size needle doesn’t really differentiate the cuff.
- My cuffs are 25 rounds instead of 20
- This pattern uses an ‘afterthought thumb’ – you knit the whole hand, then you go back and pick stitches to place the thumb. That seemed hard to me, so I just followed a thumb pattern where you put 10 stitches on a holder where you want the thumb and cast on 10 stitches at the same time. I can’t remember which pattern I used as a guide, though.