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 (as always, amazon links are affiliate links), 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 (as always, amazon links are affiliate links).  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!

Goldilocks and the ever-increasing number of pompoms

So you might remember a while ago I went and got Very Excited About Pompoms.  As often happens when I get excited about something, I got some tools (I’m a very firm believer in having good tools).

I found myself in possession of both the large and small pompom makers from Clover (as always, amazon links are affiliate links).  They work great…they totally make tidy pompoms with relatively little swearing.

But here’s the thing…the pompoms that the large set makes are, well…large.  Rather larger than I can sport on the top of my hat and still consider myself a proper grown up.  And the ones the small set makes are, alas, a bit too small.  What I needed was something in between.

Well, if you look closely at middle of the white part of the makers, you’ll see some little numbers.  Those give the diameter of the pompom maker in millimeters.  So the ones in that top picture are 85, 65, 45, and 35 mm across.  And what I really seemed to want was a 55 mm size.

And yes, you totally could make a larger pompom and trim it down, but that takes a surprising amount of extra yarn, and it relies on my ability to evenly trim down the thing and maintain the sphere.  That would do away with the ‘relatively little swearing’ benefit I mentioned above.

So instead I did a bit of googling, and behold, such a creature totally exists.  Now, I’m not at all sure why, but it seems like Clover only makes this size for the Japanese market.  But that’s fine with me, amazon sends it to me just the same!The model number seems to be Clover 58-641 if you want to try and track down your own.  I found mine here, but as of when I’m writing this, that listing is sold out…it also seems to come in this kit that includes some needle felting supplies.  There’s a different brand’s set here that includes a 55mm size and looks remarkably similar. I don’t have these exact ones, but they do have that size if you want it right this very second.

It is almost the same as my other ones, just with the addition of ridge lines dividing the circle into 30° sections.  This is genius, and I suspect I’ll be drawing similar lines on my other makers.  They come in handy for making multi colored pompoms or getting all crazy with the cheeze whiz and making flowers or ridiculously adorable little animal faces.  Not that I’d be into that sort of thing.  Nope, not at all.  I’m totally a grownup and would never be that distracted by shameless cuteness.

And the pompom festivities are not over.  I believe I’ve found the best way ever to attach a pompom to a hat so it stays on firmly (and isn’t floppy), but can be removed whenever you’re not feeling the pompom magic.  I need to do a bit more testing (and take a lot of pictures), but that’s totally coming up in the near future!

A sickness I tell you

So when last we left the hat it had gotten pleasantly tall.  But it whispered to me that we weren’t quite done…it needed one more little thing…

Yes, it’s true, I’ve fallen prey to the dread pompom sickness.

From what I can tell there’s no cure.  Luckily, with the right treatment, it’s a fairly manageable condition.

And the symptoms aren’t even that bad when the yarn is this pretty!

For anyone wondering, the purple one is Entrapment, the pink one just came out this week and is called is Misprision, and the blue one should be out later this summer, possibly even next month.  If you want to hear when it is, you can make that happen here.  And the yarns are all by Madelinetosh (vintage in smokestack for the background, various shades of Tosh Merino Light or DK for the contrasty bits).

Once you pom…

Sorry folks, didn’t mean to leave you hanging on the pom pom front!

The first round went pretty well.

Though I did learn a few things.  Namely, you want to fill that pom pom maker up as full as you can, and you want to be nice and tidy and keep your wraps straight and even as you go.  Also…the large pom pom is, well, rather large.

Hence a slightly smaller pom pom for the second go round…

I suspect the pink and gray hat will have this perched proudly on top from time to time!

I may end up getting the next smallest size of pom pom maker at some point…I’ll have to try wearing these and see just how comfortable I am having a yarn-y tennis ball perched on top of my head or if I’d feel more at home with something a wee bit more restrained…

This should be fun

So I keep seeing folks putting adorable pom poms on top of hats.  And I have sort of a lot of hats.  And now?  Now I also have a pom pom maker…

I have this one, which makes what they call large pom poms, but there are lots of other sizes too.  I watched a couple of youtube videos (this one was handy) and jumped in.

There was a bit of this.

Then a bit of this.

Then it was time to do this. (By the way, this whole project reminded me just how much I love my tiny, sharp scissors…I’m not actually sure how you do this without them…)

And in a moment here, I’ll do some trimming and see where we are.  I’ll report back later, but I suspect this could be habit forming!