Top

Tag Archives | needlecrafts

Lion Brand Pom Pom Makers

Reported by Susie Ziegler

Pom poms are so cute! I know that you can buy them by the bag at craft stores, but it is way more fun to make them yourself and use up your yarn stash. I was browsing around the craft store looking for a tool to review for you, dear readers, and I found this Set of Three Pom Pom Makers by Lion Brand. Only $3 and I have a coupon? Perfect! I want to see how this pom pom maker compares with the sublime perfection of the Clover Brand Pom Pom Makers I reviewed recently for Craft Critique.

Cool! It stores flat! This is already an advantage over the bulky Clover brand tool. The Lion Brand Pom Pom Maker reminds me of the old-fashioned handmade cardboard template technique, except that this tool is made out of flexible, durable plastic. There are two matching halves and there is a little wedge cut out. This wedge will guide your scissors later in the pom pom making process. The package has directions right on the back. Once you know how to make pom poms, it’s like riding a bike and you probably will never forget, so the brave and confident can discard the instructions.

Honestly, it was not immediately evident to me how this thing makes three sizes of pom poms, but then I realized that the whole thing pops apart. Neato! Another storage advantage!

Let’s start with the larger yellow size. Pop out the inside templates and put the two halves together with the wedge cutout to the inside. You’ll need to cut off a length of yarn to thread through the tool. Since I don’t know how much yarn to use, this could be wasteful. With my Clover tool, I could work right from my ball of yarn instead of cutting off lengths. I used multiple strings because that seems to be the way it is pictured in the instructions.

All wound up! I found that springy yarns work better than slick ones. This is an inexpensive acrylic yarn.

The next step is scary. You have to carefully cut around between the two circles using the cut out wedge as a guide. If you aren’t careful, all your pieces will fall out and you have to start over. Tie it up with the template still in place.

Yipes! It’s pretty shaggy, but a little haircut will take care of that. Hmm.. it is considerably smaller than the template. This is the largest pom pom, but it is only 1 3/4 inches across.

On this even smaller pink and orange one, 1 1/4 inches, I had a very hard time tying the string really tight so there is a gap in the center.


Finally, how about the itty-bitty blue template? I had to thread my yarn on a needle to wind up this one. Yipes! This thing is less than and inch! I can do it. The pom pom I made with this size was about an inch in diameter.

Here is what happens when you can’t tie the string tight enough. The whole thing comes apart and you have to discard it. Alas.

Pros:

  • Space-saving flat design is easily stored in a crafter’s crowded supply drawer.
  • Inexpensive for a set of three sizes.
  • It’s nifty how the colorful sizes snap together for storage.
  • It occurs to me that you can probably make larger pom poms if you use two or three of the sizes snapped together.

Cons:

  • There is no way to know how big the pom poms you make will be. The sizes aren’t even marked on the packaging.
  • Awkward and fiddley in your hand. Binding up the pom pom is a delicate operation.
  • Makes only smallish pom poms.
  • You have to cut off a length of yarn to thread around the tool instead of just wrapping it.
  • Shaggy poms will need a haircut.
  • *sigh* I want to use my other pom pom tool instead of this one.

After struggling with a few pom poms using this Lion Brand tool, I found myself longing to break out my other tool. When I used the Clover Brand Pom Pom Maker, I probably made about 20 fun, large poms before quitting. Interestingly, I think Lion Brand knows that some crafters might prefer the other tool and they offer the Clover product at their yarn website. I think maybe this one is for traditionalists.

I don’t recommend this tool for serious pom pom enthusiasts. I highly recommend the pricier Clover Pom Pom Makers, but if you are determined and looking online, you can buy this Set of Three Lion Brand Pom Pom Makers directly from Lion Brand, Amazon, or JoAnns.

Gosh, pom poms are fun. I like to use them with my gift wrapping. What do you use yours for?

DMC Linen Embroidery Floss

Reported by Susie Ziegler

I’ve been investigating the specialty embroidery flosses that are available. In my last article, I played with the shiny, modern satin embroidery flosses by DMC. This time I went traditional with the lovely linen threads offered by this popular manufacturer.

Linen is one of the oldest textiles in the world. It is a sturdy natural fiber from the flax plant, is stronger than cotton, and has a lovely natural luster. Linen is highly absorbent, and gets softer with washing. Linen does not “pill” as do many other fibers. The fibers of linen have a low elasticity. They do not stretch and are resistant to damage. You may have noticed this characteristic when ironing out stubborn wrinkles in your linen garments or table linens.

During my research for this review, I found that the United Nations declared 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibers. I am not quite sure what to do with that information, but as Craft Critique Fabric Crafts Specialist I thought I should share that nugget of trivia with you.

This DMC floss comes in 24 beautiful colors, all coordinated, but limited to muted “natural” tones. I purchased a multipack at Michaels. The full price was $17.99 for 12 skeins. Two multipacks are available. I chose the one with more color variety… and pink. I like pink.

The multipack I purchased came with 10 cross-stitch patterns using their line of linen embroidery threads. I don’t have enough time as a Craft Critique reporter to finish an epic cross-stitch pattern like these, so I’ll keep these pretty patterns in my stash for some time in the future when my urge to cross-stitch returns. Still, it might be fun to try one of those butterflies or a single flower as an embellishment somewhere.

Instead I opted to use a pattern from this lovely book, Doodle Stitching by Aimee Ray. The muted tones and simple, whimsical designs in this beginning embroidery book will look lovely on the linen fabric I purchased for this project.

It is simple to trace a pattern onto your fabric. Since you will be covering up your lines, you can use a pencil, but if you make a mistake tracing, you might always be able to see your pencil marks. I prefer to use a disappearing ink marker and trace in a sunny window. The water soluble markers are preferable to the air soluble ones. You don’t want to lay your work down overnight only to find that your pattern lines have disappeared. Don’t ask my how I know this, but sometimes I am a slow learner.

It is not necessary to follow your lines exactly. No one will know that you improvised your stitching a little bit because the lines will disappear with a little spritz of fresh cool water.

My favorite stitch is the chain stitch, but I worked on some other stitches in this design like satin stitch and the long and short stitch. I found that this floss worked these stitches easily.

Sometimes the floss showed little thick slubs. They did not occur often and did not seem to show up in my work. This thread frays a bit as you work, so it is preferable to use short lengths (about 18 inches is what I prefer) when you stitch and not run the needle up and down the thread tail too often. In this photo you can see the little slubby “flaw” in the floss.

Unlike the slick satin floss I stitched with before, I found this floss to be sturdy and reliable. It behaved nicely and laid just where I wanted it to. My satin stitches were lined up nice and flat. I think it was even more cooperative because I was stitching on a natural linen fabric from the fabric store.

It took me two days to stitch this project for you and it looked perfect when I finished it, but I thought it was important to see how this floss stands up to the laundry. Into my regular washer and dryer it went with all my kids socks, kitchen towels, and other household laundry. I am happy to report that my piece laundered beautifully. All the fibers have the luster they started with. In fact, ironing enhanced their subtle shine.

Pros:

  • Natural, premium fiber is perfect for heirloom stitching that will last generations.
  • Beautifully coordinated colors.
  • Sturdy, cooperative threads with a soft natural sheen.
  • Launders like a dream
  • Multipack comes with inspiring, easy to read, large patterns

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to regular floss
  • Limited array of colors
  • Not easily found at all embroidery retailers

I found this package of floss at Michaels for $17.99. Individual floss skeins are available for about $1 each. DMC Linen Embroidery Floss is available online at HSN.com, JoAnns, or directly from DMC. I still love my regular cotton embroidery floss collection. I set aside my slick rayon flosses for some time in the future when hell freezes over. I determined that these linen flosses are lovely for heirloom work, and I might purchase the second set color pack so I have the complete set of colors.