Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Comfy Christmas Decorations #2

I've been blogging for a couple of months now and it continues to be a steep learning curve for me, albeit it much fun.  Things that you think will take forever turn out to be very quick and easy; conversely, on occasion, things that you would imagine would be finished in no time at all end up taking an eternity.

This is especially true, I've found, when I'm creating an item for our home, from scratch, that I plan to show you all here.  I've discovered the hard way that a) however long I think I need to make an item I should really double it, and b) I shouldn’t make reference to or promise an item for a future post unless I'm absolutely darn sure I can deliver it on time!

I've been working hard on a decoration to show you that involves little skill or money, but has taken me much longer to complete than I expected it to do.  The actual decoration itself is relatively quick to make, it's just that life has got in the way (isn't it always the case…).  The Boy has his birthday just before Christmas, poor kid, so there's been lots of planning for his birthday party and much discussion of what he might like as a present.  This complicates things for Father Christmas, as we can't include things on Santa's list that he has requested for his birthday - cue much cross-referencing of lists, trawling through the Argos catalogue and general pulling out of hair…  I think, however, that we've got things pretty much under control now (famous last words…), and so I can commit a little bit more time, energy and attention to all things Comfy Marmalade.

The decoration I was hoping to present to you in its completed form today is a pom-pom wreath.  Instead, I'll show you where I'm currently up to, and then next week (I hope!) I'll do a 'ta-dah' moment and show you it in all its finished glory.  By the way, I cannot establish whether it is 'pompom' or 'pom pom'.  Either way, you know what I'm talking about.  I'm going with the latter…

Pom poms have come a long way since I was a kid.  I remember making pom poms at home and at school by cutting out two cardboard circles from a cereal box and sitting for what seemed like hours winding wool through the hole in the centre.  Not any more.  If you haven't come across them yet, a relatively recent introduction to the world of craft is the pom pom maker.  Reasonable in price and incredibly easy to use, these little beauties enable you to churn out pom poms like they're going out of fashion.

The humble pom pom. Simple, effective and addictive

Pom pom makers are available all over the place, in specialist craft shops and online. There are various brands, but the ones I prefer are by Clover, and they look like this:

I've checked online and you can currently buy a set of four like those above for £10.50.  The pom pom makers look more complicated than they actually are; in fact they are a genius bit of kit, so simple but so effective.  The pom pom maker has four arms, two on each side, that open up and enable you to wrap the wool around them at speed. 

So rather than having to try and force a ball of wool through a central hole, you can quickly wrap it around the arms on one side, super speedy, like this:

This is so quick and easy to do; I do mine whilst relaxing and watching TV

I reckon I can finish a pom pom in 5 to 10 minutes.  Yep, that quick.  The aim of the game is to keep the wool even and to wrap as much as you can around the arms - the more wool you use, the fluffier and fuller your pom pom will be. Once you've finished one side, it should look like this:

Cut the wool and do the same for the other side.  It's starting to look a bit more pom pom-like now, right?  Once both sides are done, cut yourself a piece of wool around 30cm in length.  The pom pom makers have a 'ridge' into which you can slide your scissors (smaller scissors are best here - I use sewing scissors):

You want to insert your scissors between the two green sections

Holding each side of the pom pom maker in place, cut through the wool as you would have done with the cardboard ones in your youth.  Then wrap your length of wool around the pom pom maker, pull it tight and knot it to hold all the wool in place.  Then you simply unlever the arms, pull the pom pom maker apart and voila!  You have the most amazing pom pom!

The colours! The fluffiness! The possibilities...

But I must warn you - pom pom making is addictive.  It's so quick and idiot-proof that you'll find it impossible to stop.  Pom Poms are also great fun to make with kids because they're so easy (be careful around the scissors part though).  The Girl got really into pom pom making for a while - I was quite relieved when she lost interest as my wool stash was rapidly depleting.  And there are patterns available online for all manner of pom pom madness - you can make pom pom fruit…

Find these amazing pom pom fruits (and all manner of other amazingness)

(although, ironically, this site uses cardboard to make them!)…pom pom animals…

These gorgeous little fellas are at Molly Moo, a site well worth a visit

…and there are all manner of books available to whet your pom pom appetite.  The possibilities seem pretty much endless!

For now, however, I'm keeping it simple and sticking with a fun, fluffy and festive pom pom wreath which (if I ever finish it) will hang proudly in our home over Christmas.  Here's how you do it:

  • Pom pom maker (or if you're an old-fashioned, retro kinda person, some cardboard circles!).  I've used three different sizes - 35mm, 45mm and 65mm.
  • Wool - you can use all different thicknesses but for this I find DK wool works as well as any.
  • Polystyrene wreath - available online or in craft shops.  Mine measures 25cm across.
  • Scissors and glue

How to:
  • Decide on your colour scheme - I've gone for a riot of colour (so unlike me, I know!) but I've stuck to a palette of jewel-like colours, which will work well with our other Christmas decorations.  You could mirror your own Christmas decorations scheme, stick to all one colour, whatever suits you.
A subtle palette of colours...not.

  • Make the pom poms - I'm thinking that in total I'm going to need 12 of each size of pom pom.  I'm covering the front and sides of the wreath but not the back of it; if you're planning on hanging yours so that the back can be seen you'll need more pom poms.  When you've finished making each pom pom DO NOT cut off the tails of wool - you'll be using these to attach the pom pom to the wreath.  You may need to trim your pom pom to make it look a bit neater and more regular and rounded.
  • Wrap the tails of the pom pom around the wreath and tie securely in a knot.  Do the same for each pom pom and cover the wreath until you're happy with the way it looks.
So near and yet so far... and I so wish I could have completed this wreath in time!

  • Once you're pleased with your layout, secure each pom pom with a dab of glue under the pom pom itself, and also a dab of glue under the knot on the reverse of the wreath.  Once the glue is dry, cut off the loose ends of the tails.
  • Your pom pom wreath is complete!  Or not quite, in my case…

Ah well, you live and learn.  I'm hoping that I can dedicate a bit of extra time to my wreath over the next couple of evenings and that I can reveal it to you in the next couple of days - keep your fingers crossed for me…  And I promise that I'll at least try not to commit to projects I can't deliver in time in future - lesson learned!

Bye for now, and happy pom pom-ing xxx

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