Until lately, pompoms only brought to mind children’s crafts and cheerleaders. I mark my conversion to fascination with pompoms and fringe to the Vesterheim 2013 Textile Tour to Norway. It seemed that everywhere we visited, everywhere we turned, there were more colorful textile embellishments: fringes and tassels and pompoms. The beautiful bands woven for costumes often ended in fluffy tassels.
For my North House class on Scandinavian embellishments, I’ve been testing pompom process and materials (only one of many techniques which we’ll learn in class). Which wools puff up best and make the nicest tight, enticing orbs? One day my five-year-old granddaughter Madeline came to my studio and I made a small, white, wooly pompom. She peered at me steaming the ends to fluff it up. She then gave me a full half-hour of weaving time as she played with the pompom, tossing it up to the ceiling fan, for instance. Between that experience and learning about all of the colors of markers in my desk drawer, she is eager to return.
What else can you do with one perfect pompom? I combined a pompom, used like a large bead or stone, with strips of a Swedish sweater to create a necklace. I first used a solid red, as black/white/red is a favorite combination. However, I worried that it would look like I was carrying a clown nose around my neck. When I tried it on the finished piece, it was difficult to stop patting my rib cage.
This wins the “cutest use of small pompoms” award. Back in 2013 (or 2014) my friends Mary Skoy and Jan Mostrom and I spent an afternoon learning about fringe and pompoms. Recently Mary used her small pompoms to decorate a knitted bird.
I took a scarf from a drawer last month, one that I pieced using wool from a shawl I wove in weaving school in Norway, a long time ago. The scarf never seemed quite cool enough to finish, but now I knew the answer–it needed pompoms!
In other posts, I’ve shown I’m crazy for the kavelfrans technique, pompom-like fuzzy strips that were often found on mittens, like these wonderful gloves from the Nordiska Museet in Sweden.
Another darling pair of Swedish mittens from the Nordiska Museet, with fringe and pompoms.
The fun of preparing for my class is the combination of research into materials, technique, history, and design–and making.