Category Archives: Knitting

Afterthought Thrums

A couple of years back I was asked to teach a class on thrummed mittens. Naturally, I experimented with heaps of patterns in my quest to concoct the perfect mitten– but ultimately found that the most important thing is the construction of the thrum. I thought I’d share my recipe for the perfect thrum, plus a neat trick to replace missing thrums in your finished object.

How I make my thrums

My method is based on the Yarn Harlot’s technique, but there’s one important difference: instead of twisting in step 3, I use two fingers to roll the center of the thrum against the palm of one hand until it’s lightly felted.

This creates a much more durable thrum than the twisted technique, and keeps the inside of the mitten from getting scraggly with wear. The poor half-mitten pictured below has been much abused as a teaching model, but the thrums are still as soft and puffy as when I made them. (Once washed and worn, they’ll felt and stick to one another a bit more.)

Your thrums should be a little bit thicker than the yarn you’re knitting with, but not so much that they distort the shape of the stitches. Once you knit them into the mitten, they’ll compress down to about the same size as the yarn and look like neat little hearts.

Inserting a thrum after the fact (i.e., “afterthought thrumming”)

Because the Perfect Thrum is neatly felted, you can treat it as if it were a short piece of yarn, and insert it into your knitting even after the mitten is complete. Reasons you might want to do this:

  • You accidentally left out a thrum while knitting.
  • You accidentally pulled out a thrum while knitting.
  • One of your thrums was mangled in a tragic accident, and you yanked it out in pity.

To fill in the empty spot on your mitten, you’ll need a crochet hook in a size suitable for your yarn (or slightly bigger) and a spare thrum.

  1. Find the stitch where the missing thrum belongs, then insert the crochet hook under both legs of the stitch immediately above that one.
  2. Catch one end of the thrum and pull it through.
  3. Put the crochet hook inside the mitten and bring up the hook at the base of the stitch you’re thrumming.
  4. Catch one leg of the thrum and pull it down inside the mitten.
  5. Repeat with the other leg.
  6. Smooth the fabric around the thrum with your fingers.7. Admire your handiwork!

More thrumming tips

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  • To take your thrum knitting out on the road, prepare a batch of thrums in advance and carry them in a small organza gift bag– the fabric is stiff enough to protect your thrums from squashing, and keeps any fuzzy bits from escaping.
  • Whether you’re working from a kit or following a pattern, you probably have a bit of commercially prepared top or roving with which to make your thrums. Don’t cut your fiber– just grab a pinch from one end and pull! If the fiber won’t come apart, make sure the roving isn’t twisted and move your hands farther apart. You can also strip it down lengthwise to help keep the width of your thrums consistent.
  • You can insert afterthought thrums with a very short tapestry needle using duplicate stitch, but I find this rather more fiddly than the crochet hook method.

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Spring wardrobe, part 3

The saga continues!

While my summer sewing plans are perhaps overambitious, I have a conference coming up in May that I’d like to have a couple of outfits ready for. It’s being held in a warmer climate than the one I inhabit, so I’m not quite sure what conditions to expect, but I should be able to cover my bases with a couple of sundress-and-shrug ensembles.

Planned Outfit One is a Hazel in a rose-colored linen. Current challenges include moving the bust darts and increasing the back width. (I am a very beginner sewist, so this is requiring an embarrassing amount of effort.) I’m planning to top it off with Aynia in both the recommended yarn and the recommended colorway (!), which is the very light silvery blue pictured below left:

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Planned Outfit Two is a Crepe in an indigo batik print, to be trimmed with gold bias tape and covered by the Wispy Cardi in the gold Malabrigo above right. This colorway was the closest match I could find for the very specific shade of yellow I imagined. I’ll save this knit for last, since I should be able to wear the Aynia with both dresses. (It will also be nice to knit on the plane.)

In other news, I’m scrambling to finish my Flemish(ish) garb for upcoming SCA events, and a weaving project for a very patient friend. The latter project has been a tangly mess in the corner for a depressingly long time. I finished my other commisison, however, and here’s a glimpse:

A woven bag
More details on my Weavolution page.

I also finished my post-holiday present-to-myself project. It sat on the needles a bit longer than  intended, but I’m quite pleased with the outcome. It’s a Cowboy Cowl modified to include the cable from the Hayden Shawlette. I had only a vague plan for finishing off the cable until I actually knit it, but this seemed to work:

Of course, my favorite part is on the back.

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Dorset buttons!

And one day, when all these projects are under control, I’ll be able to tidy up.

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Right?

Tasty Things

(I’ve been sitting on this post for ages, trying to take new photos with better lighting. Since it’s February, I’ve given up.)

My friends and I talk about yarn the same way normal people talk about food.

“I broke my diet again, but the MadTosh was too delicious to resist.”

“Eh, it’s little bland, but the texture is unbelievable!”

Perhaps not coincidentally, one of my more frequently used comparisons of weaving and knitting is as follows:

Knitting is like cooking. You’re always moving around, keeping track of five things at once, and it makes me immensely frustrated. (Note that this aspect of knitting is less true the more I practice. I’m getting better at the juggling act.)

Weaving, on the other hand, is like baking. All the hard work is at the beginning, and once everything is set up and running smoothly, it’s only a matter of time before you have a delicious finished good.

I suppose spinning is equivalent to making tea, all soothing and repetitive. And bobbin lace… is confectionery?

Sorry. I’ll quit torturing the metaphor. Here’s a guinea pig.

Back in the game

I am pleased to report that last weekend’s band weaving workshop was a success!

This is the setup I asked my students to use. It’s not my favourite weaving arrangement (I prefer using my floor inkle or a backstrap), but it worked very well for demonstrating the technique.

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Incidentally, do you like my new-to-me table loom? I do! It’s a Good Wood Slant loom in cherry (the makers of which disappeared from the web the day after I happened upon this one, so I sadly cannot provide the link).

One of the guild members gave me a book of Lithuanian sash designs in exchange for her heddle, so that will keep me busy on this front for a while (say, several centuries). Stay tuned.

In other news, here’s the belated Christmas roundup! I planned to stick to a few small knitted gifts after the woven insanity of last year, and didn’t break my resolution too badly.

First, a griffin hat for my mother:

IMG_1064I used this kit but substituted griffins for the birds. Why griffins? My mother’s dog is named Gryphon, and if you’re interested, she keeps a blog of his sledding, hiking, and canoeing exploits. Also featured in the blog, of course, is…

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HERE, EDGAR THE DOG SAILED.

…Griff’s partner in crime, Edgar! My dad is something of a medievalist (at least, he likes Brother Cadfael) and I thought he might enjoy a little Bayeux Tapestry featuring his dog. This also gave me an opportunity to practice the Bayeux stitch in pleasantly authentic wool on linen. (I did fix the gap in Edgar’s harness, but didn’t take a picture after that.)

Other gift projects included finishing a sweater for my grandmother (pictures to follow), concocting an amigurimi gastropod for my boyfriend (pictures possibly to follow), and whipping up a hat on commission for a friend (picture follows).

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In exchange, she’ll help me make a muslin!

Once all that was done, I made a little something for myself: EXTERMINITTENS!

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Who and a what now?

And then, some socks. This week I made a sock knitting kit out of ah Altoids tin and wool felt to contain my stitch markers, measuring tape, tapestry needles, repair hook, 4″ DPNs, and snips. I’m sure it’s been done before, but I’m  still quite proud of it.

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Happy New Year to you all. Thanks for following the blog!

Still here, still crafting

It’s time for the annual Christmas gift roundup, but it’s going to have to wait until after the workshop I’m giving this weekend to my weavers’ guild. In the meantime, here’s a sock I accidentally made.

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Oops.

Started just this weekend and finished… yesterday. Amazing! I gave those tiny Addi Turbo circulars a try, and I don’t think I’ve ever knit anything (certainly not a sock) so quickly.

I’ll post again after the workshop. Wish me luck!

Country Living

And we’re back!

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Over the last two months, I have:

  • Hugged a chicken (live)
  • Stuffed a rabbit (knitted)
  • Made a Honiton lace pillow
  • Watched two baby doves hatch, grow, and fly away
  • Introduced guinea pigs to the wonders of fresh grass
  • Learned new recipes
  • Spent time with family
  • Knit things

I’ve been staying with family since the beginning of April while I recovered from surgery. Fortunately, my hands were unaffected, so here are a few highlights from the crafting front:

1. A second Henslowe, shown above.

2.The Christmas coverlets. Remember that big, mysterious project with the giant cone of yarn? Here’s what it turned into:

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Here’s one folded across the back of a chair. Each mini-coverlet is about 30″ x 40″.

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3. A rabbit.

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4. A snail.

4. A little bird.

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And, okay, I admit it– I took a fence shot of the Henslowe:

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More to come on both the finished-object and work-in-project fronts. Stay tuned!