For the fourth edition of the Selvedge Staff Picks, our Head of Communications Clare Bungey celebrates the enduring power of the pom pom...
The winter season calls for warm hats and the best varieties are always adorned with a pom pom; from rib knit beanie to the modern take on the traditional Scottish tam o' shanter (where the pom pom is actually know as the ‘toorie’). On my wish list this year is Toft Alpaca’s ultimate fluffy pom pom which comes with a special brush to make sure you don’t get in a tangle.
It’s difficult pin down the very first use of the pom pom, but in 1904 a statuette of Viking god Freyr, discovered in Sweden's Södermanland and dated to the 11th century, shows a pom pom atop of his hat. The word pom pom however is said to originate from the French ‘pom pon’ and was in use in the 19th century. In France and many other European countries, pom poms were often seen on military uniforms, signifying regiment and rank.
Bright and colourful pom poms are plentiful across Latin America… Anne Menke took a beautiful series of photographs in Mexico, featured in the Southern issue of Selvedge, no. 71, which inspired me a few years ago to make some pom pom bunting for the arrival of my baby niece. Last year I added pom poms to all of my presents and this year I’ve made all the children in our family pom pom headbands for the festive season!
It doesn’t take long. A simple mini pom pom can be made with just a ball of yarn and a pair of scissors…
How to make a pom pom
- With your index and middle finger slightly apart, start to wrap yarn around them, and when you’ve wrapped the yarn around at least 30 times, making sure you leave a gap at the top, close to your palm, (the more you wrap the more voluminous and full the pom pom will be), then cut the yarn.
- Cut a new piece of yarn, approximately 15cm long. Slide the end of the yarn through the small gap at the top of your fingers, close to your palm. Once through, you might need to ask someone to help you tie a knot.
- Then slide the wrapped yarn off your fingers and cut through the loops on the top and bottom (you might need to tidy it up a little).
- If you’re attaching your pom pom to something, then the longer yarn will be useful. Otherwise, trim this off to the same length as the rest of your pom pom. Bunting can be made by using a tapestry needle to thread the pom poms onto a longer length of yarn or ribbon. You can slide them along until you’re happy with the placement.
Happy pom poming!