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Tutorial: Pompom, Can You Do the Pompom?

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Pompom or pompon, with a hyphen, a space or no space at all, however you spell it, these loose, fluffy balls are simply fun. Make loose long ones out of paper to shake at a football game, create yarn animals with the kids by gluing small yarn ones together and adding googly eyes, or attach a couple of large round ones on crochet chains to add some boho style to your new winter hat. What a great way to use up leftover yarn while creating something new!

Pompom Basics

What is a pompom? Simply put, it is a group of cut strands of yarn tied tightly around the middle. How many strands and how long they are will determine what the pompom looks like. The one shown below was made with leftover bits of bulky and super-bulky yarn, all in shades of blue. Center the cut lengths over a short length of doubled worsted-weight yarn. Tightly tie a square knot around the center. Fluff up the cut lengths. Then trim the pompom (ruthlessly!) to make it the same length all around. Leaving the strands longer will make the pompom floppy like a cheerleader's pompom.

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You can also make pompoms by wrapping yarn around your fingers, or around an object like a fork or a square of cardboard, and then cutting the wraps open. Cut a short length for wrapping around the middle. Holding your index and middle finger apart to the approximate desired diameter of the pompom, begin wrapping yarn around both fingers. When you have a nice thick bundle of wraps, slide the short length between your fingers and around back and front of the wraps, and loosely tie the first half of the knot. Cut the wraps at the top and bottom. Tighten and tie the length around the middle. Fluff and trim.

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Using Pompom Makers

So what if you want to make short, round pompoms bigger than your fingers? There are several gadgets which can help. The first is simply a pair of doughnut-shaped disks with a recessed ridge on one side. Put the ridge sides together. Leaving one end hanging, wrap yarn around the doughnut with the other end until you have only a small space left in the center. I find this easier to do if the wrapping end is threaded on a needle. If you run out of yarn before you have enough wraps, cut another length, leave an end and begin wrapping with the new length. Line up your scissors on the edge where the disks meet and push the bottom blade through the wraps to the recessed ridge. Cut all the way around. Put a doubled short length into the recessed channel all the way around and tie a square knot. Gently pull the disks apart over. Fluff and trim.

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This pompom maker makes nice fluffy pompoms. It's usually sold in a set with three sizes. You could easily make your own pair of disks out of cardboard for a custom size. The down side is having to cut wrapping yarn lengths ahead of time; it would be so much easier to just pull more length off a ball when you needed some! The half-circle gadget below addresses this issue. It consists of four pieces, two with C-shaped feet and two with slots for feet. Put one of each type back to back as shown in the second photo and begin wrapping yarn around the half circle. Wind evenly back and forth, left to right and then right to left. Repeat with the other two pieces. Arrange the two pieces with feet together such that the slots of one are opposite the C of the other; slide the slots into the feet. This can be a little tricky since it has to happen at the same time on both sides; pushing the wraps away from the feet sometimes helps. Line up the scissors at the outer edge and push the bottom blade in to where the half circles meet. Cut all the way around. Put a doubled short length around the cut edge and tie a square knot. Gently slide the feet apart and wiggle off each piece. Fluff and trim.

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And now we come to my new favorite pompom maker. It looks a bit like a yo-yo to me, and like a yo-yo, it has a spindle through the middle. The outer edge is divided into two half circles, each having a front and a back C with a tab. Lift the tabs to open the half circles, one to the left and one to the right. Evenly wrap yarn around one pair back and forth. When the entire half is wrapped, ending on the tab end, close that half. The wrapping yarn should now be at the inner edge, where it can cross to begin wrapping the other pair of half circles (if it isn't, just cut and wrap the two sides separately). When the second pair is wrapped, close that half. Line up the scissors at the outer edge and push the bottom blade in to where the front half circle meets the back half circle. Cut all the way around. Put a doubled short length around the cut edge and tie a square knot. Lift the tabs on both sides to open. Gently pull the two sides apart. Fluff and trim.

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The featured knitting pattern for this update is the Bae Hat from Annie's Signature Collection. A quick knit on big needles, its super-large pompoms remind me of teddy bear ears! What will you put your pompoms on?

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