There is, as is often the case, more than one way to tackle this knitting project. The yarn pompom finds its way on top of hats, dangling on accessories, and part of little pompom snowmen the world over. In stores, they sell plastic pompom makers, which work well and make quick word of pompoms. However, if you're like me, you may not want to make a trip out to the store to buy an obscure crafting device. You've finished your winter hat and you want to make a pompom NOW! I'm here to help. This is a step-by-step tutorial to help you create a marvelous pompom using things you likely have laying around your house. It is quick and easy, start to finish taking less than an hour, and the results look as good as any pompom created on a store-bought apparatus.
Circular object or Compass
1. The first step is to find some nice, pliable cardboard. I used an empty cereal box. I would stay away from corrugated cardboard as it might be more difficult to work with, but if it is all you have, it will work just fine.
2. Once you have tracked down your piece of cardboard, find a circular object that you can trace that is roughly the circumference of the pompom you would like to create. I found a mug in my cabinet that was the size I wanted. This is a great time to say- the pompom apparatus you create does not need to be perfect. This project is so low stress, nothing has to be worked in exactness. However, I do know some people find it less stressful to work things in exactness, so I will try to be inclusive of everyone. If you would like to make a measured size pompom, you can use a compass for this step, or even a pin and a measured piece of string to make your arc. In my efforts to demonstrate to you, gentle reader, that a lovely pompom can be created with a less than perfect pompom maker, these photographs show the less exact approach.
Using a marker, trace around half of your circular object, making an arc on your cardboard.
3. This next step can be worked freehand. (If you are the compass wielding sort, you can use your compass for this step as well.) Using your marker, you will want to give your arc some width. Draw a second arc at least a thumb width away from your first arc, but make sure you leave space between the ends of your arch. Then, draw tabs at the base of the arch you have created. These tabs will be rectangles that are slightly wider than the arch itself. There should be at least a finger width of space in the inside edge of these tabs, as well. If this is confusing, please refer to the photograph below. Your end result should look something like a rainbow sitting on bricks. As you can clearly see in the photograph, nothing in this step needs to be perfect.
4. You can cut out this arch and use it as a template, tracing three more of the shape on your cardboard. (Or you can repeat Step 3 three more times. Whichever is easier for you.) Cut out all of your shapes. You should have four funny little rainbows. Fold the tabs outward so that they are perpendicular to your arch. After all of your tabs are folded, take two of your pieces and put them together with the arches lined up and the tabs, still perpendicular, pointing away from each other. Using a small piece of tape, you can secure the ends as shown in the picture. Repeat this for the remaining two arches. You should be left with two freestanding arches.
5. Take one of your new arches in hand along with your yarn. Starting on the left side, begin winding your yarn around the arch. Work from the left to the right side of the arch, and then work back to where you started. Repeat this back and forth winding until your inner arch nearly disappears. I wanted a two-colored freckled pompom for my project, so I held two contrasting strands of yarn together as I wound my pompom. As you see how the mechanics of this pompom maker works, you can have a lot of fun with colors and make some awesome, customized pompoms that meet your specific needs.
6. Once you have completed one arch, move on to the second arch. You should now have two arches wound with your yarn.
7. Put the tabs of your two wound arches together so that your half circles come together to make a full circle. Using small pieces of tape, fasten the outer left and right edges of your tabs together, as shown in the photograph below.
8. Orient your circle of yarn so you are looking down its spine. With the opening that is created between your two arches, slide your scissors in and begin cutting around the spine. Your scissors will be cutting between the arches you secured in Step 4. You will need to snip through the tape that held these arches together-that's okay. Also, you may end up cutting some of the cardboard as you wiggle and cut your way around the circle. That's fine, too.
9. As you cut all the way around the spine of your circle, you will be able to see your pompom take life.
10. Orient your pompom so that the arches are pointing side-to-side and the diamond shaped opening is facing you. With a scrap piece of yarn, approximately a foot long, secure your pompom. You will accomplish this by sliding this yarn around the "waist" of your pompom, sliding it between your arches and all the way around your creation. You can double wrap around the pompom to make it more secure. You will feel the pompom become more structurally sound as your tighten this yarn. Secure the yarn with a double knot.
11. It is now safe to remove the cardboard! Clip any lingering pieces of tape that might still be holding things together. Now the pieces of cardboard should slide right out of your pompom. If your cardboard is in good shape, you can save them and use them for a future pompom. However, the beauty of this project is that if you snipped or bent your cardboard in the creation of your pompom, you can just throw them away and not be sad about it.
12. Once all of the cardboard is removed, you have a perfect pompom. At least it is almost perfect. Your pompom should be spherical in shape, but it might look a little wonky. You will need to give your pompom a haircut, trimming around the pompom to tidy up the shape. Like those shrubs in your front yard, your pompom will look wonderful after a good trim. Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a custom and utterly awesome pompom!