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Pom-Pom Yarn Glossary, Tips, and Tricks

As universal as tassels, pom-poms have adaptable little personalities: They can go serious (atop the hats of clergymen), jubilant (in the hands of cheerleaders), or sweet (as homemade chicks or bunnies). Here, we show off the fuzzy tufts' sophisticated side, using pom-poms to bring bursts of color and texture to bedspreads, lampshades, pillows, and more. Making them is a great way to use up remnants of yarn from other projects, and with the help of one magic little tool, the process is easy, bordering on addictive.

Not sure what to do with all the pom-poms you create? See our Pom-Pom Home Decor for ideas on how to use them throughout your home.

Yarn Glossary

Silk

Smooth silk yarn is best for making medium-size pom-poms, such as the ones on the lampshade. The yarn is soft and becomes a pompom that is drapey and a little loose.

Silk Purse 100 percent silk yarn, in Bronze, $32 for 50 g, alchemyyarns.com.

Mohair

Strands of this yarn tend to be downy, which makes for pom-poms that are extra-fluffy.

Kidsilk Haze yarn, by Rowan, in Brick, $15.50 for 229 yd., annieandco.com.

Alpaca

This yarn is made from the fleece of llamalike animals and behaves similarly to wool but feels even softer.

Alpaca-blend yarn, by Martha Stewart Crafts, in Coral Pink, $10 for 100 g, joann.com.

Silk-Wool Blend

Both silk and wool fibers are long, so this blended yarn feels spongy and ties well into dense, shiny pompoms. The puffs look very different depending on how short you trim them.

Trio yarn, $5.50 for 14.4 yd.; and Silk & Ivory yarn, $5.50 for 28.8 yd.; by Brown Paper Packages, annieandco.com.

Wool

Thick wool yarn is loosely twisted, and puffs open for palm-size pom-poms such as those on the blanket, opposite. Very thin yarn is better for small, tightly packed pom-poms. Handdyed yarn adds another dimension: When it's cut, the snipped strands have color outside and a natural hue inside.

Roving wool yarn, by Martha Stewart Crafts, in Cherry Blossom, $5.50 for 50 g, joann.com.

Tips and Tricks

You can create your own pom-pom maker from two disks of cardboard, but manufactured versions, such as the ones by Clover, yield better results and save time. If you don't have a lot of any one color of yarn, you can make striped versions.

Want step-by-step instructions? Watch crafter Silke Stoddard demonstrate pom-pom making.

Pom-pom makers, from $6 for 2, clover-usa.com.

Follow the instructions on the pom-pom tool's package, but also keep these things in mind.

  • The more times you wind the arched arms, the denser and fuller the results. (You may want to wrap four or five times for thicker yarns and at least six to eight times for thinner yarns.)
  • It's normal for a pompom to look imperfect when it comes out of the maker -- trim it to give it a tighter appearance.
  • To make stripes, wind one color around a portion of the arm, right, and cut yarn. Switch color and repeat for as many stripes as desired. Repeat process in reverse color order on the other arm.
  • Tie off the center with a length of the same yarn, if it's strong enough to be pulled tightly. If not, choose a fine, strong yarn (or even embroidery floss).
  • Once it's knotted, you'll have a two-strand tail -- leave this long if you plan to attach the pompom to something.
  • To sew a pom-pom onto fabric, stitch straight through the pom-pom, being sure to pierce through the tied yarn at the center.

Comments (4)

  • 21 May, 2014

    I remember making Pom-Poms when i was a young girl. We made templates from cardboard, cut them like donuts {the larger the template, the larger the pom-pom}, & wrapped the yarn around them... Cannot remember all of the details now {it has been more than 40 years!}, but we made terrific ones, without the use of the then-non-existent pom-pom machine. ;-)

  • 30 Jul, 2013

    If you don't have a pom pom maker, just wind the yarn around your fingers. 2 fingers creates a smaller pom, 4=larger, etc. Alternatively, use a fork in place of your fingers for a tiny one. Have your 6-10" string already placed between your fingers (or fork tines) so you can easily tie it around your loops, once wound. Carefully slide the yarn off, tighten your knot, clip your loops, trim your pom. Voila! Happy pom-pomming without a pom pom maker!

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    wishing we had a hands on tutorial here, instead of buying your own pom pom maker set.

  • 8 Aug, 2012

    Seriously? Who has a pom pom maker?! I was so looking forward to a tutorial using cardboard rings. Oh well :(