Pompons are soft and fluffy balls commonly made from wool.

They are incredibly useful for a number of projects so I decided to make a spin-off tutorial for them instead of explaining their making with each in-depth project.

Pompons can be used to decorate all kind of clothes - typically bonnets but I've also seen them on legwarmers, bags, gloves etc - and you can even make small toys and decorations from them.

For a pompon you need the following materials:

- wool in whatever colour and strength is required or to your liking

- cardboard. Although medium thickness is best you can abuse anything from an empty cereal box to a moving box. If you feel like your cardboard is too thin and rips you can simply add another layer and glue them together if needed. Don't buy cardboard for this, as it will just end up in the trash.

- a big darning needle

- scissors

To make a pompon first cut two equally sized "doughnuts" from the cardboard. The finished pompon will have approximately the same size as the outer measure of the ring. The bigger the inner hole is the fluffier the pompon will be. Don't make that hole too small or your pompon will look very poor.

Basically a pompon is a round ball but you can somewhat influence its shape by using oval or even triangle shaped cardboard rings. This comes in handy when making pompon animals or other objects rather than when you make a pompon for a woolie.

To start the pompon put the two cardboard rings on top of each other and take a piece of wool. It should be long enough to last for a bit but not so long that you get tangled up. While the hole is still big you can fold the thread to have 2 or even 4 threads at once for faster progress. Hold one end of the thread against the cardboard rings and start to wrap the wool tightly around them. Follow the ring in any direction and keep wrapping. Make sure to wrap all parts of the ring evenly. When you reach the end of the thread cut a new one, hold it in place with your fingers as before and keep wrapping. Sooner or later loose ends will vanish beneath new layers of wool and you can forget about them.

Keep doing this until the hole gets too small for your fingers, then use the darning needle for the rest. Put on more wool until the hole in the middle is completely gone and you have a nice woolen UFO.

Now you need some good scissors or a sharp blade. When using a knife or scalpel remember the regular safety precautions! DON'T do it like in the picture when handling a sharp blade, put the thing down on a sturdy surface that's protected against scratches!

Anyway, use the scissors to open the UFO on its brim while holding it tightly in your hand. Keep cutting until you find the cardboard, then use the space between both rings as guidance for your scissors. Cut the pompon all the way around.

Almost done! Take a sturdy piece of thread, e.g. two layers of wool or thick string, squeeze it between the cardboard rings, wrap it once around the pompon and make a tight knot. Better be safe than sorry and wrap it around another time to make a second knot.

Now it's time to remove the cardboard rings. Gently rip them off or if they are too sturdy cut them with the scissors. See, told you they are trash. I hope you made yourself a paper template first if you wanted several pompons of the same size.

All that's left to do is take some scissors and trim the pompon into shape.
It's recommended to not cut off the thread you used to fasten the pompon - it's perfect for sewing the pompon in place on the woolie or animal you're working on.

Some concluding tips:

- If your finished pompon falls apart your knot wasn't tight enough.

- If your pompon falls apart while cutting the sides of the UFO you didn't use enough wool to close the hole. Don't be stingy.

- If your pompon is supposed to be multicoloured carefully check the instructions or your horse might end up with two white shoulders instead of a white belly. If you want a truly colourful, mixed pompon I recommend using all colours at once, e.g. by wrapping with a four-ply thread. For single dots in a different colour wrap a short single thread of wool randomly and loosely around the rings and repeat that every few layers. If you do a whole layer in a different colour your pompon won't be dotted, it will have a coloured ring on each hemisphere - kind of like a billiard ball.


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