bad pom/good pom

Can we talk about pompoms please? I mean, this is a serious blog after all!

Hey, nice pompom!

Hey, nice pompom!

It is my heartfelt opinion that there is nothing sadder than a lame, limp, wimpy little wad of yarn attempting to pose as a pompom. Pompoms should be regal! Full! Grand! Awash in splendor! I mean, if you are going to have one, you may as well have one, y'know what I mean?

I know this story well because, friends, I used to suffer from lame-pompom-syndrome, also known as LPS. It is true. But those were in the dark ages- pre-internet (gasp!)- when we were mostly left to our own devices on figuring out how to do things. I used to wrap the yarn around my fingers until they turned purple, then bravely attempt to somehow tie them together (not to mention extract my fingers from the whole business). The last step was to trim the living hell out of the thing to try to coax it into a shape roughly resembling a ball, and use the string I wrapped it with to tie it to the top of the hat. Let's just say I have a drawer full of hats with misshapen, falling-off pompom facsimiles. 

NO. Never again. Please also ignore my dye-stained fingers. I cannot help it.

NO. Never again. Please also ignore my dye-stained fingers. I cannot help it.

But, thank heavens, this needn't be your fate! Because now we live in the glorious future! And there is literally no excuse for lame, loser-y pompoms anymore. Literally. You've spent hours knitting or crocheting a beautiful toque (hi, Canada!), it deserves proper topper! (Sorry!) So let's make a good one!

RECIPE FOR A REALLY GOOD POMPOM

INGREDIENTS:

These are the things you need. Except for the yarn. And the darning needle. Oops!

These are the things you need. Except for the yarn. And the darning needle. Oops!

YARN- A healthy amount. Typically, for a hat I like a pompom to use about 25-35 grams of yarn (I use a digital kitchen scale to weigh my yarn. It is sooooo handy! You can calculate your yardage based on the weight!). I find that I usually have just the right amount of yarn left after making an adult-sized hat to make a perfect pompom. If you don't, a contrast colored pompom might be just what you need! Or you can mix what you have left with another color. Go nuts. Check the pictures below to get a rough idea of the amount you'll need if you're more of a guesstimator. You can use one color or many, just hold the strands together as you wrap.

EXTRA YARN: You'll need some extra scraps of yarn to tie the thing together and attach it to the top. Keep 2 arm-length pieces aside for this purpose.

CARDBOARD- I used an empty cereal box, as the weight is just about perfect for this task. Easy to cut, but sturdy enough to handle a metric ton of yarn.

CIRCLE-SHAPED THING- I used a 3.5" diameter coffee mug for a mid-sized pompom, but you can make it as big as you want. Use a glass, a bowl, whatever circle-thing you've got handy! You also need a smaller circle-shaped thing, like a quarter. I used a medicine cup. You also need a pen. I didn't think a pen warranted it's own section in the list, so I am putting it here. Get a pen. 

SCISSORS- Sharp scissors. Trust me. Don't try to use your kid's craft scissors. 

DARNING NEEDLE- Or tapestry needle. Whatever you prefer.

Like so!

Like so!

STEP 1: Trace 2 circles on the cardboard. Cut them out. Now draw another, smaller circle in the middle. If you don't trust yourself to eyeball this, use a quarter, but don't stress about it too much. We are only making pompoms here. Now cut straight into the middle of each of your circles and cut out the littler circle. You can cut a little wedge opening on the side- I like to do this as it makes wrapping a lot easier. You can see the wedge I cut in the next picture.

STEP 2: Now start wrapping the yarn around the form. Move along the form so the yarn is evenly distrubuted as you go along, but again, don't worry about it too much.

This is just the beginning.

This is just the beginning.

STEP 3: Keep wrapping. Then wrap some more.

If you stop here, your pompom will be pretty lame.

If you stop here, your pompom will be pretty lame.

STEP 3.2:  Think you're done? No! Keep wrapping! More!!

See how the hole in the middle is pretty much filled in? That should be your goal.

See how the hole in the middle is pretty much filled in? That should be your goal.

STEP 4: Ok! Now that you are almost out of yarn, you are done! Here comes the scary part. Cut your tail(s) off, the grip the pompom tightly with your non-scissor hand. Now cut, slipping the scissors between the 2 pompom forms. If you did everything right, this won't be that easy, but you'll be so glad you have sharp scissors! Because how much would this suck with dull scissors!?!? Ugh! Anyway, whatever you do, DO NOT let go of your pompom!

Look! It's ALIVE!

Look! It's ALIVE!

STEP 5: So, now that your pompom is cut open and you are still gripping it like a mad person, grab one of your extra yarn pieces and slip it between the 2 cardboard forms. Start releasing the pompom with your gripping hand as needed to get the yarn around. Then wrap the yarn around 5-6 times, and tie the 2 ends off- I just do a square knot.

Sorry for the blurries. At least the scissors are in focus?

Sorry for the blurries. At least the scissors are in focus?

STEP 6: Trim! Use your awesome sharp scissors and trim trim trim! I usually take a really long time with this, and end up cutting off too much. Don't be like me. Walk away from your pompom.

Your sharp scissors are your best friends for pompom trimming.

Your sharp scissors are your best friends for pompom trimming.

STEP 7: Sew it to your hat! Thread your second piece of scrap yarn onto your darning needle. Now thread the thing through the inside of your hat and tie it securely. Stick it back through to the right side. Now you may stick your needle right through the center of the pompom, and then back through and into the hat! Do this 3-4 times and fasten off inside. And voila! No more lame pompoms for you! 

Bonus points for matching your darning needle to your project. 

Bonus points for matching your darning needle to your project. 

That's the whole story! Now you can have trillions of glorious pompoms around you at all times! I'd love to see your poms- tell us your horror stories or successes in the comments and share them on instagram, just tag #boylandknitworks! Happy knitting!