I typically wait a long time to do the non-knitting parts of a knitting project. Sewing on buttons is not knitting, and I’d always rather be knitting. So I have in my collection at least one finished cardigan that still needs buttons, and will probably remain button-free when I shuffle off my mortal coil.
Ditto for pom poms. I love pom poms, don’t get me wrong. I really, really love them. They are so fluffy and festive, so full of simple joy.
But making a pom pom is not knitting. And attaching a pom pom to a hat is even more Not Knitting than that, if you can believe it.
I think I am also held back by Fear of the Unknown. It’s more fun to do something you’re fairly good at than something that feels like a shot in the dark. I like to know the Proper Way to do something, and with pom poms I’ve always been guessing.
I was greatly inspired by this fine photo that you took:
It’s a puppy pile of Stranded Diamond Hats and Slip-Stitch Caps, all of them photography samples for MDK Field Guide No. 8: Merry Making. I keep going back to look at this photo. Pom pom pulchritude! I want a stack of hats with pom poms that looks just like this picture. I need that in my life, dang it.
Inspired by your photo, I screwed my courage to my Loome Tool. And you know what? Now I’m a fool for pom poms. I want to turn every random half-ball of yarn around here (and there are plenty) into pom poms, until I live in a pom pom-rich environment.
I really admire what Vilasinee Bunnag, the inventor of the Loome Tool, has done. To help people use her tool, she has gone deep into every detail of making pom poms and tassels. Vilasinee’s simple, friendly and to-the-point videos really help you succeed. (The one I used to make my orb pom pom is up top.)
A pom pom is a small thing. It’s a detail. But if it’s raggedy or misshapen, it can make a beautiful handknit hat look homemade instead of handmade.
With Vilasinee’s videos, you feel like you’re sitting with your smart friend who has high pom pom standards. All of a sudden, YOU GOT THIS.
That Extra Something-Something (Steam)
When a pom pom is fresh off the Loome Tool, it looks like the one on the left.
Winsome, but with a pretty serious case of bed head.
Then you trim it to achieve a tidy, dense orb shape, as Vilasinee demonstrates in the video at the top of this post. The trick: using a round template to guide your trimming. I used a small roll of washi tape as my trim guide, because I like to do things Ingalls-style. At the end of the trimming, I get a pom pom that looks like the one in the center of the photo, above my trusty Loome Tool. (This model is called the Robot).
This is a good pom pom. It’s better than any pom pom I ever made in the darkness of my pre-Loome Tool days. The shorter you trim it, the more carpet-y it gets. I like mine medium carpet-y.
But I wanted more. A kindly commenter suggested that a pom pom looks even better when it’s steamed.
So I got a kitchen strainer, plopped a pom pom in it, and applied steam.
If you would like to witness this moment of extremely satisfying ridiculousness, it’s right here. (It takes a few clicks to get to the tiny video.)
Post-steam: That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!
Steaming really takes a pom pom to the next level. It’s a fully-leveled pom pom. I would like to hold one cupped in my hand at all times.
You don’t need to have a stand-up steamer like my beloved Jiffy in the video. Holding your strainer or slotted spoon over a kettle of boiling water will do the job perfectly. Be careful not to burn your hands!
After making my practically perfect poms, I procrastinated for another three days before sewing them onto the hats. Why? 1. Weak character. 2. Not really knowing how to do it properly.
Vilasinee to the rescue! Anticipating my need, Vilasinee has made a video on how to attach pom poms.
It’s as simple as a thing can be. Just do it. When you’re done, there’s nary a wobble twixt pom pom and hat.
Good news for gift-knitters: I got all three hats from two skeins of Enzo Aran, with enough left over for one nice pom pom, or an egg cozy. Red yarn is from my stash. The small hat is the 12-month size, the other two are the largest (adult) size.
Voila! Three sock monkey-inspired Stranded Diamonds Hats: Baby, Mama and Papa, each with a securely attached topiary of fluff on top. Ready to wrap.
I’m gonna need more hats.