Explore Yarn Craft Gadgets: Pom-Pom Makers and French Knitters
Pom-poms and knitted cords have long adorned knit and crochet accessories, garments, and homewares. They can add a fun and exciting detail to anything you make, but they can also be the star of the show and not just a decorative finish to another project. Making pom-poms or knitted cord is the perfect entry into yarn crafts for children and can also provide hours of fun for adults and the whole family.
The gadgets you can use to make pom-poms or knitted cord have come a long way and it is now easier than ever to make beautiful unique projects. Below we explore new ideas on what you can make with pom-poms and French knitters and the handy tools and yarn we recommend to use.
Pom-poms are fun and cheerful and can be more than just the finishing touch for your beanie. One simple and effective way to decorate your home with pom poms is to create a pom-pom tree. In our Melbourne store we have pom-poms of various sizes tied onto branches so they look like they are fluffy little buds, similar to cherry blossoms. We then put all the branches in a tall glass vase, so it looks like a beautiful yarn-based flower arrangement.
Another idea is to create a tree entirely out of pom poms, spiralled on top of each other like a tall Christmas tree. You can make the tree pom-poms all one size and colour and then decorate it with smaller different coloured pom-poms or you can stick to all one size of various colours or various sizes and colours. The possibilities are endless. We love the look of these beautiful ombre pom-pom trees by Frankie.
To create a pom-pom tree like these you will need either a cone shaped mould to glue the pom poms to, usually made from Styrofoam, or a piece of heavy-duty cardboard that you roll into a cone and glue in place. You will also need a hot glue gun, scissors, and of course pom-poms!
Pom-poms can be a great use for leftover yarn but if you’re planning a large tree or want a new colour combo we recommend using our Morris Estate yarn to create your pom-poms. Softer yarns will generally make a floppier pom-pom and sturdier yarns a more compact one. Thinner plys will also make a more compact pom-pom than thinker yarns. We like the look of a tighter pom-pom and therefore prefer the 4ply and 8ply Estate but if you want a chunky less dense pom-pom you could opt for the 12ply or 14ply Estate. If you want to make a tiny baby pom-pom or achieve intricate detail in a multi-coloured pom-pom you could even consider using 2ply yarn for your winding.
Now it’s time to get winding! Gone are days of fighting with cardboard and still ending up with a lopsided or loose pom-pom. Clover Pom-Pom Makers help you quickly and easily make a perfectly shaped and sturdy pom-pom. The makers are easy to use with instructions included and perfect for kids to use. For our pom-pom tree photographed above, we have used the small pom-pom maker from Clover's Small Set, which makes approximate finished size of 35cm (included in this set is also a medium maker which makes a pom-pom of and 45cm and our choice to put atop your next beanie.) We also used the Extra-Small Set for our tree which makes tiny pom-poms of 20 and 25mm. You can also make large pom-poms with Clover's Large Set of makers that are 65mm and 85mm and an Extra Large Jumbo maker at 115mm! The jumbo maker is perfect to make pom-pom trees and shrubs.
When winding your pom-poms in the makers we recommend winding them tighter and fuller than you would expect to make a dense and neat pom-pom. The trick is then to trim the pom-pom once it is out of the winder by gently shaving off little bits of yarn with scissors while holding it over a rubbish bin or bowl to collect all the scraps. You can trim as much or as little off until you reach your desired shape and size.
Here is a great video of how to use the pom-pom makers. There are also detailed instructions included with each pom-pom maker set.
Once you are comfortable with the mechanics of the pom-pom makers, you can branch out and make more intricate and detailed pom-poms that use numerous colours to resemble animal heads, fruit, or even popular animated characters. You can then use them to create key-chains, earrings, or any other jewellery or decorations you like. We have two great books that will show you step by step how to make these adorable pom-poms.
The first book Pom Pom Pom, by Vietnamese artist Henry Le, has over 50 fun and fashionable designs, from animals and emojis to sushi, cakes, and fruits. Each project is accompanied by simple instructional diagrams and beautiful photography. Plus there’s step-by-step text and photographs for when you need to learn something that’s extra to the basic pom-pom techniques covered at the start of the book. There are both motif pom-poms recommended for a beginner, such as flowers and stars and there are the more complex animals once you’re ready to wind at a more advanced level.
The second book Pom Pom Animals, by Trikotri, is truly inspiring what can be achieved with a pom-pom maker. It has 45 easy and adorable animal projects, including bears, rabbits, sheep, cats, dogs, squirrels, birds, hedgehogs, sloths, and more. They are so life like and bound to make children and adults smile with joy from creating them.
French Knitting Bee
French Knitting Bees, sometimes called a knitting dolly or knitting Nancy, are also excellent to introduce younger children into the world of yarn crafts because they are much easier to manipulate than knitting needles or a crochet hook. They produce a smooth sided cord, similar to an I-cord, that can be created as long as you would like. With the cords you can create jewellery, bookmarks, sew them together into cushions or rugs etc.
You can also make some very cute holiday decorations! The cords are perfect to turn into garlands for a tree, fireplace mantel, or staircase banister. If you’d like your garland thicker than the French knitter makes on its own, you can braid together numerous strands of cord. You could even treat the cords as if they were strands of embroidery floss and tie a more intricate garland that is inspired by macrame friendship bracelets. For more on friendship bracelets visit our blog post here.
In addition to garlands, you can tie French knitted cords into bows to decorate gifts or your tree. You can also create a wreath with them where you wrap a single or braided cord around a ring, generally one made of Styrofoam from a $2 shop.
Like pom poms, we believe our Estate yarn is the best to use with the French knitter as it will be the easiest to handle. Softer yarns will slip more and could be a little hard to manipulate. We also recommend a thinner yarn to use with traditional sized French knitters because they will be easier to work with. Estate 4ply will be the easiest but Estate 8ply could also be used.
The Clover Wonder Knitter is extremely easy to use and faster than traditional French Knitters because of its rotating disk. As you turn the disk the thread automatically comes into place making it much quicker. It is our French Knitter of choice but we also have a cute Knitting Bee that will work just as well but take a little longer.
Pom-poms and knitted cord can become so much more than just a trim for another project and with the latest gadgets available they are easier than ever to make. We hope we've inspired you to get creative these school holidays and make something completely new and unique with a pom-pom maker or French knitter. Your next masterpiece is just waiting for you to wind! Please share all of your fun creations with us in the comments below and by tagging us on social media.