Warm Paws Thrummed Mittens Pattern

Warm Paws is an easy to follow knitting pattern for making thrummed mittens.  What are thrummed mittens?  I’m so glad you asked!

Warm Paws Thrummed Mittens pattern

The term originally comes from weaving, where thrums are the leftover warp on the loom after a project has been cut off.  What to do with all that leftover yarn??

Thrums are traditionally loom waste

For knitters, thrums are tufts of wool knit into your project to create a warm, fleecy lining.  Thrums are great for mittens, slippers, hats, and headbands.  At first your mittens (or whatever you choose to make) will be really puffy, but, with use, the air is pressed out of the tufts of wool and you’re left with windproof, insulated mittens.

Inside the Warm Paws thrummed mittens

Materials for Your Thrummed Mittens

To make these mittens, you need about 200 yards of worsted weight wool and about 2 oz of unspun wool.

Materials for knitting thrums

Combed top is the easiest to work with — that’s the really smooth fiber preparation that is often sold in beautiful multicolored braids.

Hand painted combed top for making thrums

Roving will work too, if you want to use what you have around the house.  Because the fiber prep for roving is intentionally disorganized (for making woolen-spun yarn), it can be a bit more challenging to control, but I have done it and it’s not so hard that it’s not worth trying.

Wool roving can be used to make thrums

I also know someone who used a two-ply bulky yarn and cut it into short lengths to use for thrums.  She still wears those mittens, so it must have worked!

The pattern calls for US 6 and US 8 needles, but your mileage may vary depending on whether you’re a tight knitter or a loose knitter or winging it with something other than worsted weight yarn.

Heard enough?  You can buy the Warm Paws Thrummed Mittens pattern for $5 through Ravelry.

button to buy now

Warm Paws Thrummed Mittens in progress

5 Ways to Show Your Knitting Who’s Boss

Project funks are a fact of life. Sometimes work gets busy or life gets life-y and you come home and mind meld with the couch. Even the comfort of knitting is no fun if you have a lot of stress in your life and the self-imposed deadline to finish that hat before your friend’s birthday is just too much. Or knitting while laying down is just too uncomfortable (I’ve tried!) and horizontal wins yet again.

Why should your hobbies stress you out?

Well, that’s a question for philosophers to debate. I don’t have all the answers.

Sometimes you get in a funk because every project around you seems to fail. Your WIP pile is woolly madness.

Be the Boss of Your Knitting

Elizabeth Zimmermann taught me to be the boss of my knitting and now that’s my motto.  It’s just yarn. You can get frustrated. You can throw that POS in the corner when you find a glaring mistake 14 rows down and you don’t know how to fix it. Or you don’t want to.  Or you just want to be petulant for a while before you go back to being an adult and fixing the mistake.

You can cry. You can give up. But remember: you are still the one in charge, not the twisted hair of farm animals dyed in luscious colors that you can’t resist touching, much less buying.

Here are five options to consider when the wool doesn’t go your way:

Get Help

Be the boss of your knitting by getting help at knit night

Sometimes a pattern isn’t working and a second set of eyes makes all the difference. This is one of the awesome aspects of Knit Night!

Put It in Time Out

Be the boss of your knitting by putting it in time out

Out of sight, out of mind for a day (or more…) will help reset your expectations, or give your unconsciousness a chance to work through a problem so you can suddenly stand up and say “Ah ha! I’ve figured it out!”

I often go from Time Out to the next option…

Rip It Out

Be the boss of your knitting by ripping it out

Knitting is your hobby, not your job (probably). If what you’re making isn’t bringing you joy, make yourself a comforting beverage, sit down in front of your favorite TV show and rip, rip, rip. It might seem scary at first, but it is VERY cathartic.

Give It Away

Be the boss of your knitting by giving bad projects away

If you can’t bear to look at it, give your project a new home, finished or not. There are always knitters grateful for something new to play with, or non-knitters happy to score a handmade item.

Get Creative

Be the boss of your knitting by getting creative with things that don't work out

That hat coming out too small and you’re not sure you like the yarn anyway? With a sewing machine and some moxie, you can turn that . . . thing into bean bags or microwavable hand warmers or cat toys or . . . well, if I gave you all the answers, there’d be no room for creativity.

Be Sentient and Proud of It

I am a big fan of #2, time out. My WIP basket is currently at ## projects — and that’s just the knitting.  Once a year or so, I take an inventory and discover what I’m ready to let go of and what I still love and want to finish.

What are your solutions to misbehaving projects?  Share in the comments!

Sew Simple Cloth Gift Bags

We switched over to cloth gift bags several years ago.  I was inspired by my friend Katy, who grew up with cloth gift bags thanks to her crafty mom.

We mostly use our bags within our household so that we can keep reusing them.  I do give some gifts away in cloth bags and I hope those bags continue to be reused.  Many of my friends sew; I really hope this catches on!

How to Sew Simple Cloth Gift Bags

Materials for Making Cloth Gift Bags

Materials for making a cloth gift bag

Woven cotton is the best because it is abundant, inexpensive, and durable.  You probably have some in your stash.  You could also repurpose old button down shirts with a stain or a tear.  Of course, you could contribute to the economy and buy some fabric.  AVOID knit fabrics!  They’re stretchy and will sag once you put something inside the bag.  No one wants saggy bags, my friends!

Thread of any color you like.  You can go neutral with black and white, or go wild with all those spools of bright red or purple that got used once for a project, then tossed into the stash for a nebulous future.  AVOID anything that isn’t mercerized cotton or polyester thread unless you are experienced with them.  You can thank me later.

Ribbon.  I like grosgrain ribbon best for cloth gift bags.  It’s very sturdy and comes in a lot of colors and patterns.  I also use the inexpensive satin ribbon that comes in a lot of colors.  It frays more quickly at the end, but cutting the tips at an angle seems to help slow down that process.  AVOID paper ribbon (aka curling ribbon) or wired ribbon.  They just don’t last!

Tools for Making Cloth Gift Bags

Tools for making a cloth gift bag

  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors. If you don’t have a pair for fabric use only, now’s the time to start.  Seriously.  Paper makes scissors dull very quickly.  You can mark the handle with a handy reminder, like “Fabric Only” or “Don’t Even Think of It!”
  • Flexible measuring tape
  • Seam ripper. Just in case!

How to Sew Simple Cloth Gift Bags

Measure and cut two squares of fabric that are the same size.  I like my bags a little longer than they are wide because they need some room to gather at the top.  I think 12” x 18” is a good starting place, but you can make whatever size you need or have fabric for.

Cut out fabric for cloth gift bag

Put right sides together so your proto-bag is inside out.

Decide which end will be the opening — don’t sew that side!  Sew down one long side, across the bottom, and up the other long side.  Seam allowance doesn’t matter.

Sew up your cloth gift bag

Trim the corners.

Trim corners from inside of cloth gift bag

Fold the opening down about three-quarters of an inch.  Or whatever works for you.  If you’re a little fussy, you can pink the edges.  If you’re insufferable, you can do a fold over hem.  You can always iron down the hem (or pin it) if that makes it easier for you.

Sew the hem down with whatever stitch and thread color makes your day. This is your chance to play with those decorative stitches on our sewing machine!  Whee!

Hem your cloth gift bag

Turn bag right side out.

Cut a piece of coordinating ribbon that’s about 30” long.  Cut the ends at an angle, which looks tidy and prevents fraying.

Cut ribbon for gift bag

Find the halfway point in your ribbon length.   About two inches from the top of the bag, attach the middle of the ribbon to the bag at one of the side seams.  I sew over that spot with three or four passes since it gets tugged on a lot.

Attach ribbon to gift bag

Fill that bag with a lovely gift and tie it shut.  A nice piece of card stock  punched with a hold puncher makes a simple and lovely gift tag.  I thread it onto the ribbon while I’m tying the bag shut.

Make your own gift tags

For our gift tags, we’ve been gluing together old business cards, which are then really thick and weighty tags.  We’ve also artistically cut up old greeting cards to make tags.  Tags can be reused, depending on what you write on them.

Homemade cloth gift bag

Benefits of Cloth Gift Bags

  • They are so attractive and luxurious!
  • Cloth bags save money. After a one-time investment of effort and a little money, you will have all the gift bags you ever need for your household.
  • Cloth bags save time. It’s a lot faster to plop a gift into a bag and tie it shut!
  • Cloth bags reduce your carbon footprint.  Using less paper is better for the environment and produces less waste for your municipality to handle.  Could it reduce your taxes?  I don’t know, but maybe.
  • Cloth bags are quieter.  This one came as a surprise, but the first year we did cloth for Christmas was so peaceful and relaxing for me.  Loud noises overwhelm me — little did I realize how much I disliked all the ripping paper until it was gone, gone, gone.  For the record, our kids have yet to show any sign of mental anguish because they don’t get to rip everything open.  I think the moral superiority of cloth bags spared us that defect.

Who’s in?!

Do you use cloth gift bags already?  What do you like best about them?

Great Lakes Fiber News for January & February 2018

Great Lakes Fiber News January 2018

Here are the fiber events happening in the Great Lakes region in January and February.  This is not an exhaustive list!  If you have fiber news for the Great Lakes region that you’d like to share, click here to tell me about it.

Shawl Knit-a-Long at The Yarn Stop

Saturday January 6 — Saturday February 10, 2018

The Yarn Stop
25 S Main St, Clawson, MI 48017
The Yarn Stop in Clawson, Michigan, is hosting a KAL to make a beautiful shawl.  There are prizes!  You can register on the website; yarn must be purchased at The Yarn Stop.

Cascades Trunk Show by Quince & Co

Monday January 8 – Monday January 22, 2018

Yarn Harbor
4629 E. Superior St, Duluth, MN 55804
“The Cascades Trunk Show by Quince arrives on January 8 and runs until the 22nd.  This Pacific Northwest inspired palette is a showcase of five knits in Quince’s arresting blue hues, from darkest Slate to pale Mist.”

Yarn Party Pop Up

Friday January 12, 2018, 12pm-7pm

2722 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912
“Yarn Party is a combination of trunk show, stitch n bitch, and demonstrations hosted by Icemelon’s Stash, V Yarns, Mint Rain hand dyed yarns, Anomalous Mind, and Chasing Acorns. The fabulous Lexy Carl will be teaching mini workshops on how to make your own spindle and how to spin yarn as well!”

Spinner's Flock guild meeting

Spinner’s Flock January Guild Meeting

Saturday January 13, 2018, 10am-1pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
Spinner’s Flock monthly guild meetings are a great way to connect with area spinners, weavers, needlefelters, and shepherds.  There is a learner’s circle for spinners every month with wheels provided by the guild. Guests and new members are always welcome!

Warm Paws thrummed mitten

Thrummed Mittens Class

Wednesdays January 17 & 24, 2018, 11am-1pm — SOLD OUT

407 N. Fifth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
I am teaching my popular class on how to knit thrummed mittens using my Warm Paws pattern. Spun is a wonderfully warm and inviting yarn shop located in the Kerrytown district of downtown Ann Arbor.

Shibui Trunk Show and Yarn Tasting

Saturday January 20, 2018, 11am-2pm

The Purple Purl
1162 Queen St. E. Toronto, ON. M4M 1L4
“We are delighted to be carrying a selection of the decadent and delightful Shibui yarns! We will be hosting a yarn tasting event so you can get your hands on this lovely stuff and try it out on the needles to see what you may just NEED to make of it next!”

Winter Wine and Wool at Sandhill Crane Vineyards

Winter Wine and Wool

Saturday January 27, 2018, 10am-5pm

Sandhill Crane Vineyards
4724 Walz Rd, Jackson, MI 49201
What could be a better pairing?  This is an awesome event full of delicious victuals, beautiful fiber products, and welcoming community of vinters, dyers, designers, and customers.

Sauder Village Knitting and Fiber Arts Retreat

Friday February 9 – Sunday February 11, 2018

The Sauder Heritage Inn is a cozy environment for a fiber retreat.  There’s plenty of space, a great breakfast, a hot tub to soak in, and Sauder Village right next door for a ramble through living history of the area. Registration is available for 2 or 3 day attendance.

Spinner’s Flock February Guild Meeting

Saturday February 10, 2018, 10am-1pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
Spinner’s Flock monthly guild meetings are a great way to connect with area spinners, weavers, needlefelters, and shepherds.  There is a learner’s circle for spinners every month with wheels provided by the guild. Guests and new members are always welcome!

Buckeye Alpaca Show

Saturday February 10 – Sunday February 11, 2018

Arena Complex
Summit County Fairgrounds, Tallmadge, OH
The Buckeye Alpaca Show celebrates all that is camelid with a fleece competition, live auctions, and — or course — vendors.

Winter Fleece Fair

Saturday February 17, 2018, 10am-4pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
I’ve been going to this sale for 20 years and it doesn’t get more local than this.  The Fleece Fair is a GREAT place to buy fleece (raw and washed), roving, combed top, fiber tools of all kids, and books from local makers and shepherds. That room full of color and wool in the middle a Michigan winter is a truly a balm for the soul.  The prices are really good too.

Learn to knit with these simple fingerless mitts

Beginning Knitting Class — taught by me!

Thursdays February 22 & March 3, 2018 11am-1pm

407 N. Fifth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
I love to teach beginning knitters. There’s nothing like that moment when everything clicks together!  In this class, taught over two sessions, I guide you through the basics of how to knit and we work on making a simple pair of fingerless mitts that incorporates these essentials skills.

Roving Indiana: Yarn Crawl

Friday February 23 – Sunday March 11, 2018

Encompassing 13 yarn shops in 10 cities, the Roving Indiana Yarn Crawl is 17-day celebration of all things woolly!  Check out the website for special events, limited edition yarn for the crawl, project ideas, and a pattern to knit your own passport holder.

Open Knitting at Skeins on Main

Thursdays, starting at 6pm

428 S. Main St, Rochester, MI 48307
“Join us for an evening of laughter, friendship, and maybe even a little knitting or crochet.  There’s no fee to attend.  This is not a class, so no instructor is provided.”

Sit & Knit at The Village Yarn & Fiber Shop

Thursdays, 6:30-9pm

350 W Commercial St, East Rochester, NY 14445
“Come join us on Thursday evenings with your current project to socialize and make some new friends! We’ll have treats and coffee to enjoy while you relax and work on your projects. Knitting, crocheting, spinning – everything to do with yarn and fiber is welcome!”

Got a tip on a fiber event in the Great Lakes region that you’d like to share? Drop me a note using this contact form.

Maker Ennui

To make things from raw materials has long brought joy to humans. It is creativity and capability. It is craft and cleverness.

But sometimes we find ourselves at loose ends. We finish a big project and… just… peter out. We get bored or frustrated with what we’re working on and turn away from it. And the ennui sets in. Nothing captures the attention. Projects waiting on the “to make” list suddenly aren’t so appealing. Excuses set in. You get started, but the project has no heart.

Photo of knitting being ripped out.
I like to rip out languishing projects when I don’t know what else to work on.

Maker ennui goes with the territory. It isn’t a failing. We make, we unmake, we reflect — this isn’t a rigid cycle, but instead different stages that we can be in at any time. Probably simultaneously too. Sometimes the reflection stage can feel transcendent, as one explores a new theme in freewriting or takes photos of a beautiful landscape stumbled upon and unplanned for. But sometimes our creative self needs to retreat and rest. I believe, in our busy modern lives, that feels like ennui. The brain doesn’t know how else to make us stop except to pull the plug. The instinct and habit to create is there, but the conduit that gives it meaning is temporarily shut down.

When you have maker ennui, this is a good time to:

  • take a nap — sleep is healing.
  • read a book — something light and fun, unless you’d really rather that academic discourse on Georgian townhouse architecture. Who am I to judge?
  • learn something new — if you’re a knitter, try woodworking; if you’re a writer, try canning jam. Beginner mind is a beautiful thing.
  • deep clean your house or studio or office — this either fills you with dread or excitement; run with it.
  • spend time with a friend you haven’t seen in a long time — reconnect, stir up old ideas, make new ones.
  • get your hands dirty in the garden — whether it’s pulling weeds or planting flowers, soil is good for you. Don’t have a garden? Go help someone else with their yard.
  • move your furniture around or make a decor change. Hate your bedroom curtains? Now’s the time to freshen up!
  • cook and bake — stock up your freezer with homemade soup and bread. It’s great insurance against those days when you’re too wrapped up in your making to stop to cook.

Some people are cyclical in their making, gardening in the summer and quilting in the winter. Maybe that’s you. Maybe it’s not ennui, but it just time to shift gears and sew a summer wardrobe.

Maker ennui can last hours, days, or even months. Go with the flow, try to determine what your body is telling you it needs, rather than feel frustrated. Your creativity and drive to make will return and you will have the energy to run with it if you let yourself rest.

How do you like to recharge?