Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cuddle-pillars the Pom Pom Way!

I cannot seem to get off of the Pom Pom much so that the conductor isn't even asking for my ticket anymore?!!  I suppose it will be a lifetime trip!

Today's installment of Pom Pom love involves a very special friend of mine...the Cuddle-pillar!! You may be thinking I have gone off the deep end. And indeed, you may be correct. 

The Caterpillar is an extraordinary creature. They meander across the earth in what appears to be slow motion...creeping not nearly as deftly as their peers, the ants and pill-bugs, yet they make their way with purpose and intention. It is only when they retreat into secrecy that the real magic happens. 

After a lifetime (caterpillar timeline, of course), of seeming to get nowhere, content in their journey, the caterpillar begins to weave a cocoon in which to hide itself. One might think, if unaware, that this was a self-imposed death sentence for the lowly caterpillar, as he wraps himself up in hiding.  

Oh how wrong one would be, to think so!

For in the next magical moment, somewhere in that hidden place...the cocoon begins to crack. The creature labors and breaks longer a lowly has been re-gifted as a glorious butterfly with wings that have been supernaturally knitted together in a secret place, now transformed to fly!!

I am inspired and humbled by the journey of a caterpillar, for many reasons. Theirs is a tale of intution and transformation! But I am getting ahead of the train here...

All of this really has nothing to do with the project...but it makes me smile to think about caterpillars and their supernatural transformation...does it do that for you too? I hope so :)

You can make your pom poms in whatever size you prefer. I like to use Clover® Pom Pom Makers for the easiest process. They are available in about 7 sizes from 3/4" up to sbouty 6" or 7" (depending on how full you wrap the tool). They are reasonably priced (under $10 US dollars for a set of 2 sizes) and I find them to be the easiest of all ways to make pom poms.
The link to where you can purchase them is Here or you can also find them on Here.

 You can also use a cardboard template to make your pom poms
Here is a link to an excellent Free Template to make pom poms : 

Another way to make pom poms is simpley to use your fingers on one hand and wrap around them until a full mound is formed, then tie a strong thread/yarn tightly around the center (between your fingers), then cut the loops. Voila! You now have a pom pom. Just trim it to the round or oval shape you desire. The fuller you wrap your fingers, the fuller the pom pom will be.

To make mini pom poms, use the tines of a dinner fork, wrapping the yarn/thread around the width of the tines until a full mound is formed. Then using a strong thread, tie around the center area of loops (going through the center tines) and tie off securely. Slide off the end of the fork then cut the loops to form the pom pom. The size of fork will determine the general size of the pom pom. Try using an appetizer mini fork to get really tiny pom poms.

And now for our Cuddle-pillar....

Supplies Needed:

Red Heart® Yarn (any weight)
(in various colors, or yarn brand of your choice)
If you choose to do a Rainbow Cuddle-pillar, you will need 7 colors of yarn, one for each pom pom: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (dark blueish/purple), & violet (or any variation you prefer, but that is the official scientific ROY G BIV of rainbow reality.

To make multi-colored pom poms you can combine colors in whatever choices you prefer to create a unique critter, by simply changing yarn colors as you wrap the pom pom maker. This is a great project to use up scraps and random yarn leftovers.

The Cuddle-pillar in the photo is made with my faux glass eyes (Free Tutorial: Here)

 *You can also use 8mm-10mm (or larger) beads for the eyes and sew or glue them into place (NOT if the toy is for small children under 8 yrs. old!!) 

**To make eyes for toys that are intended for babies or toddlers, you can glue felt shapes for eyes which are safe for young children. However, the pom poms can shed yarn fibers so they really aren't suitable for very young children who are putting toys in their mouths. Use your careful judgement!)

Tacky Craft Glue: I prefer Aleene's® Tacky Glue 

Waxed cord, Bead Thread, or strong cording to tie poms
Chenille Stems for legs
Embroidery thread in desired colors (to thread-wrap legs)

Tools Needed:
Pom Pom Maker: I used Clover® brand size 2.5" 

Or you can find various sizes of Free Cardboard Templates: Here

Sharp Scissors
Large eye needle (plastic or metal)

Let the Crafting Begin!!

Make Pom Poms in the desired colors and sizes you have decided upon by wrapping your pom pom tool with yarn, as directed in package instructions. 

I loaded my Clover® pom pom maker with random colors to create a wild and whacky color blast. You can play with your own yarn to and see what you can come up with. Making one using lime green and bright yellow would look more like a real caterpillar, which would be fun...or maybe a pink one would fit into your favorite little princess's room? There are no rules in the pom pom universe, just wanted you to know! ;)

The Cuddle-pillar pom poms are all the same size, so trim each of your pom poms to a similar size and round shape. I used my Clover 2.5-inch pom pom maker (the light green one) to make my Cuddle-pillar pom poms. 

I used a variety of colors to create a bullseye pattern. It would also be adorable to do a "shaded varigation" with colors ranging from darkest to lightest as you go to each next pom pom. A solid color Cuddle-pillar would be adorable too.

For the "bullseye" pattern, pick the color you want at the center of your bullseye, then wrap a very small amount of that color yarn at the center area of half of the pom pom maker (making approx 10-12 wraps in the upper centertrim the yarn then add the next color, wrapping over the cut end of the previous color to secure it from unwrapping. 

Wrap over the center mound of color and on each side of center color, covering the initial color wraps completely and making sure to have a thick wrap over it. This creates the second color of the bullseye which encircles the first color. With practice you will learn how much to wrap over each of the colors to get an even balanced pattern on your pom pom. Continue this process with each additional color of your choice, until it is full. 

Trim pom pom wrapping (as described in Clover package directions); then using waxed cord/thread, tie through the pom pom mechanism using a surgeons knot. Be sure to tie VERY TIGHTLY so the yarn pieces are secured and will not pull out of the pom pom. 

*I like to use a surgeons knot to tie my initial knot, making sure to pull it as tightly as possible. If you don't know what a surgeons knot is, it is merely an extra over & under wrap, of a regular square knot; so instead of just going "over and under" the opposite thread once in the initial half of hte knot, you go "over and under" twice before completing the lock stitch of the knot. This, plus using waxed cord/thread will give you the tightest knot possible and make your pom poms nearly indestructible....I did say nearly!!

Most often, (if you have wrapped your pom pom maker fully), you will end up with an oblong or oval shape of fluff. When you pull it out of the device (or cardboard template) be sure to grab the tied knot strings and shake the pom pom vigourously in the air, bobbing it back and forth to fluff it up. I tend to do this naturally, so you may find yourself doing it without even realizing it, just to get a fluffy puff. 

You can now trim the pom pom into a round shape, (as we need for our Cuddle-pillars), OR you can trim it into an oval shape or other sculpted shape you desire. GO SLOWLY!! 

You cannot add yarn back once you have cut it, so cut small amounts at a time. Roll it around in your hand and look for the lumps or bumps or unsmooth areas and start snipping. This will be the most laborious part of your project, and it will make the most difference to the quality appearance of your Cuddle-pillar. I trim with a rounded move of my large scissors, following the contour of a ball that I am looking to achieve. Be patient and meticulous! 

The shorter you trim the pom pom, the fuller it will be, just be sure to initially wrap the pom pom very full when you make it, so you will have the ability to trim as much as you need, to get the shape you desire. 

Once you have gathered a nice pile of finished pom poms, its time to assemble the Cuddle-pillar. This could not be more simple to do. 

I chose to glue the eyes on prior to assembling the body, but you can attach them after, if you prefer. It might be easier to control the facial expression if you add the eyes after the body is fully assembled.

Glue eyes in place, setting into the fibers by separating them with your fingers prior to adding a spot of glue, then placing the eye in to secure it in place. Allow to dry completely before assembling together with body pieces.

Thread the large-eye needle with a long double-strand of matching yarn; knot securely at the end with several knots (so it will grab well as you stitch through the pom poms to connect them). 

Begin with the pom pom you have chosen for the "head"; with your fingers separate an area to safely insert the needle without snagging the ends of the pom pom threads; (directly between the eyes if you have already attached them, as I did). Run the needle & thread throught the center of the pom pom, making sure it grabs hold securely, and the knot hides itself deep into the center

If you end up snagging yarn fibers with the thread on the way through, don't fret! You can easily trim the offending fray or pull it out completely!

See? Its gonna be okay!

Keep adding pom poms to the body, separating the fibers to make it easier to insert the needle and thread without damaging the ends.

Continue adding each pom pom, one at a time, separating the pom pom threads and running the needle & thread through the center of each pom pom, adding it to the string. 

Once you have added your last pom pom, take the needle and thread back through that last pom pom and pull thread snuggly, making sure your pom poms are not floppy and loose. 

We don't want a loosey-goosey Cuddle-pillar, do we?!! 
Heavens no!

Pass the needle and thread back through that last pom pom a few times to make sure its well connected. Knot off at the center of the pom pom where it will be hidden. 

If you want legs for your Cuddle-pillar, these are the cutest there could ever be. It will keep him from being super cuddly, but it will give him character that makes him come to life!

Using your fingers, separate yarn fibers on the center underside of each pom pom, gluing a chenille stem across the center, from one side of the Cuddlepillar to the other.

The excess amount of glue that overflows the chenille stem should be enough to help you hide the chenille stem and secure yarn fibers by pulling them together from each side of the chenille stem.

Repeat with each of the body pom poms, attaching a chenille stem that overhangs to either side of the body. 
(Do not attach legs to the head)

Using embroidery thread in colors to match or contrast your pom pom colors, thread wrapping the chenille stems will create exactly the whimsical look I'm going for!

Starting about one-inch from the end, place a tiny dab of tacky glue and attach the end of the embroidery thread of choice. 

Wrap almost entirely to the end, then bend upwards to form a small "U" shape, keeping embroidery thread attached. Place a tiny dab of glue at the meeting point of the end and just above the wrapped end; wrap the embroidery thread around both the end and the main chenille stem, creating a loop. Continue wrapping up the leg towards the body, covering the chenille stem completely. *If you want to secure the wrapping even better, place a scant dab of glue on the chenille stem and spread thin, prior to initial wrapping of colored embroidery thread.

To make a thicker upper leg, continue wrapping embroidery thread in layers, until you like the look of it, finishing the end by trimming the embroidery thread end and and gluing it at the top end, hiding it inside the body pom pom with a tiny dab of glue. 

Repeat this process for each of the legs, using various colors of embroidery thread to coordinate with your colors.


If you want to add more whimsey to your Cuddle-pillar (not that its necessary  of course!) you can add a ribbon bow to the neck or tail-end, knit or crochet a tiny scarf,  Perhaps a bow tie for a special occasion your Cuddle-pillar plans to attend? Its all up to you!

You can add hearts or flowers or tiny ladybugs and any special trimmings you can think of...There is no wrong way to dress a Cuddle-pillar!! 

With Sugarplum Hugs & Rainbow Kisses!

Be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions! 

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