Snip snip snip

Ok, so if I’ve convinced you to make your pompoms with much more yarn than you would expect (and if I haven’t go read the previous post again), then the next step is to get you trimming them.

There’s really no secret to this other than practice, persistence, and patience.

That and maybe seeing that ALL pompoms look like a shaggy mess when they come off the form.

No really all of them.

Every time.

Every single time.

You just need to trim them into submission.  I do it in a few passes, shape first, tidy up second, and a final pass (often the next day) at the end.  Trimming is easily the most time consuming part of the process.  It always takes me at least half an hour.  But if you do it right, you get something really lovely at the end!

All the details on how to make the striped or polkadot designs (plus everything else I feel like saying about pompoms, like how to make them detachable) will be in the speckled hat pattern (plus, you know, all the stuff about how to do the speckles!).  But I really did want to show everyone that pompoms look a mess before you trim them.  It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, it just means you aren’t done yet!


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You were warned…

I warned you we were going to talk about pompoms this week.  I fully realize that this is ridiculous.  There are actual problems in this world and the last thing we should be spending time on is fluffy yarn balls.  And yet…somehow here I am…full of opinions about pompoms.  Perhaps it’s a distraction technique.

Alright, first things first, I really like working with a pompom maker.  You can technically do it without (something about forks or circles of cardboard or even your fingers), but I’ve never been able to make a pompom I like that way.  So given that I make a fair number of these, and given that I’m unspeakably picky, I want a form.  Specifically, the Clover forms (I’ve tried others, I don’t like them as much, they either broke on me or had rough spots that snagged the yarn and were frustrating to work with).  Even more specifically, the 55 mm one that is The Perfect Hat Pompom Size.  I have no idea why they don’t make this one for the US market or include it in their multi size packs.  I really really wish they did.  But thanks to the glories of the internet, you can find it online (all the stuff I use to make pompoms is over here in one big amazon list if you want to track any of it down, but if you hate amazon links, you can search for it and find it too).

Besides, if you use a pompom maker, you get to enjoy a moment like this, where it looks like you’ve trained caterpillars to march in formation.  And really? I kind of like that.

But the main thing I want to say is that you’re not using enough yarn in your pompoms.  Not nearly enough.  Every time I post pictures of my pompoms, I get folks saying ‘mine don’t look like that.’  About 90% of the time it’s because they aren’t using enough yarn (the other 10% of the time it’s because they’re not trimming them carefully enough, but we’ll talk about that on the next post).

You need to use more yarn than you would ever imagine possible.  Assuming I’m using the same yarn for the hat and the pompom, and assuming I’m using the 55mm form, the pompom easily takes about one third as much yarn as the hat.  If I were using the slightly bigger (and oh so much easier to find) 65mm form, it would take pretty much half as much yarn as the hat does (that’s because the amount of yarn goes up with the cube of the radius of the pompom, so a tiny increase in the size of the form means a huge increase in the amount of yarn you need…another reason why tracking down the right size form is a good idea, it will save you yarn in the long run).  So…use more yarn.  Use LOTS more yarn.  Use so much yarn you can barely close the pompom maker.

Then all you have to do is trim them.  That’s how you get from this…

To this.  We’ll talk about that next time!


Detachable Pompoms

Remember how I said I’d sorted out a clever way to do detachable pompoms?  And how I said it was all in hideous detail in the Wavering pattern, but we’d do a quick rundown here?  Yeah, how about we do that!

So, you’re going to need one tiny extra gizmo to pull this off.  You need a set of toggle clasps (like for jewelry making).  I used these, but you can probably find them at your local craft store or anywhere that sells stuff for making jewelry.

The idea is that you use your yarn tail to sew the ring half of the clasp inside your hat (make sure you leave a big enough opening when you cinch up your live stitches that you can pass the bar half of the clasp through later)

Then make your pompom however you like to make them (I use these pompom makers), but be sure you’re tying it off with about a yard of super strong thread held double (I like the stuff for sewing jeans).

Once it’s off your pompom maker, part the strands around the thread, and tie on the bar half of the clasp (I use a darning needle to tie a series of overhand knots, nothing fancy).  Be sure you’ve got the bar tucked up inside the pompom. That keeps it from being floppy.  You want it to almost disappear inside the pompom because the strands around it stick out farther than it does. Then trim your pompom down (and steam it if you like) and you’re ready to go.

When you want to put it on your hat, just pass the bar half of the toggle clasp through the hole in the top of your hat and through the ring half of the toggle clasp, and you’re all set.  That’s what it looks like on the inside.

The toggle holds it firmly in place (making sure the bar half is inside the pompom keeps the pompom from flopping around too much).  It’s easy to remove if you want to be a bit less exuberant (or swap in a different one) or just if you want to wash the hat.

Doing it this way is less fiddly than sewing it in and picking it out if you change your mind.  It’s a lot sturdier than doing it with a button (because it distributes the force of the pompom over that whole ring instead of just the bit of knitting the button touches).  And it works with a smaller hole at the top of your hat (because the toggle is smaller to pass through the hole than a button is).  You do need to buy a toggle, but I got ten of them for 8 dollars, and you can find them for even less if you want fewer of them.  I just knew once I figured this out I’d be doing it to a lot of hats!

If you want even more detail (or if you want to make the hat), there’s an expanded version of this in the Wavering pattern.  And that yarn is Alegria (in Nickel) and Clara (in Meil), both by Manos del Uruguay (and both absolutely awesome)!

Yup, that’s what it needed

So. That was fun!  I mean really rather more fun than someone who is ostensibly and adult should be having with a pompom.

I probably shouldn’t be this tickled but I absolutely am.

And yes of course you can pop the pompom out if you’re not feeling it.  But I think your day will be better if it’s on there.

Pattern soon.  Very very soon actually…like probably next week.  I basically need to block it and get photos. I’m trying to show you things much closer to when the patterns come out because I’ve heard waiting is no fun.  It’s got all the info you could want on how to do that stripe (no really…it’s easy…I’m scared of colorwork and I can do it, so you can too) and how to do clever detachable pompoms (though we’ll be talking about that here too when it comes out).


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Pompom time

The gray hat with the orange stripe clearly clearly needs a pompom. It’s meant for a pompom.  So let’s do this.

This is the first go on my newly discovered goldilocks pompom maker (not too big, not too small, just right), and so far I’m smitten.

As always, pompom happiness (at least for me…I suppose opinions could vary) comes from making sure your pompom is very very very densely wrapped.  I also like to use a scale to be sure I’m getting the same amount of yarn on each side of the pompom.  And really…I mean it when I say I like them full.  This is about 100 yards of yarn (it’s Clara by Manos in Meil), and it’s totally worth it.  That and sharp, tiny scissors are key.

And I’ve become a big fan of using jeans thread to tie off my pompoms.  It’s super strong, so you’re not going to break it by tying off tightly.  It’s a little thicker so you are not going to slice your yarn when you pull it tight.  And don’t worry…you can trim it down short once you’re done so you can’t tell it’s a different color than your yarn.

Plus it comes in handy for the next bit, which is getting the pompom on the hat in a clever way!  Which I will regale you with in nauseating detail just as soon as the pattern is ready!