We first met Vilasinee Bunnag a few years ago at the TNNA yarn industry trade show. We stood transfixed in front of her booth as she used her patented Loome tool to make perfect pom-poms, tassels and cords, all while chatting and having a great time. (We covet her neat enamel tray for catching stray pom-pom floof.)
Vilasinee is what they used to call a real go-getter. Her enthusiasm for pom perfection, for making small gifts that contain big cheer, and for tweaking her Loome tool design to its highest state of usefulness, is apparent the first time you meet her. For a glimpse of what we saw, watch the video up top, and learn Vilasinee’s technique and tips to make a dense, round pom-pom on the Loome tool.
Vilasinee is the author of a brand-new book from Abrams, Loome Party: 20+ Tiny Yarn Projects to Make From Your Stash. It made us feel like kids again. It’s bright, fun, and useful, and it comes with a Loome tool.
We wanted to know, how did Vilasinee get this job? Where do you get a degree that leads you to be a Pom-Pom Ambassador-at-Large? Here is her answer.
(At the end of Vilasinee’s article, stay tuned for a giveaway. Three lucky readers will each win a copy of Loome Party, courtesy of Vilasinee’s publisher, and a batch of Premium Pom-Pom Fixings, courtesy of Mason-Dixon Knitting.) Over to you, Vilasinee!
–Ann and Kay
Vilasinee Bunnag at world pom-pom control Center, aka her desk.
Have you ever seen a pom-pom that you didn’t like? Me neither. Perhaps it’s in our DNA, since pom-poms have a long history among us. From Peru to Poland to Japan, they’re a part of nearly every culture. No matter when or where, pom-poms are instant happiness that can be made in a jiffy or with a long, meticulous technique. They’re also the best way to use up your yarn stash; make someone a simple pom-pom, or attach it to a knitted hat, and spread pom-pom happiness!
How did I get into the pom-pom business? It was a happenstance of timing, borne out of my love for crafting and design.
I have been drawn to design since I was a kid, always tinkering and making things for people. In 2003, I bought my first copy of Illustrator to teach myself digital design. I loved it so much that I started taking on side projects that helped me test my own skills. (My day job was private wealth management, then philanthropy and community engagement).
Fast forward to 2014. I was trucking along with my day job when Loome started materializing in my life. Designing the Loome tools brought together the craft and design-related interests toward which I had been channeling so much of my time. Now, thousands of pom-poms and hundreds of tassels, weavings, cords and friendship bracelets later, it’s so nice to look back and see this intersection.
The inspiration for the first Loome tool design was the y-shaped braiding device called the lucet, which goes back to medieval times. To design a new tool, I knew that the end product must be simple, modern, and useful. As with knitting and crochet needles, design and utility stand the test of time. The shape was modified to look modern, and notches were added to expand the tool’s functionalities.
I spent the next six months tweaking the prototype and testing its capabilities with a few friends; from sizing the depth of the notches, to curving the corners, to making actual things. From this phase, new designs took shape too.
The more I used the tool, and with each design tweak, the excitement built. To me, to design a tool that people can use to make a variety of things was so motivating and made me totally happy and absorbed in getting it right.
Once I got the tool to the right place in 2015, I filed the patent papers. Up until this point, few people had seen the tool, and I couldn’t talk about it. This worked out because once the patent papers were filed, I was beyond ready to get it out there without restraints. Launching the Loome tool was super fun, and it joined the pom-pom renaissance that was already happening – true happenstance.
The pom-pom thing took on a life of its own. I’m so much better at making pom-poms than when I started. I never get sick of sharing tips and tricks for making a round, dense pom-pom that makes everyone happy. I owe it to the pom-pom! Today, Team Loome is three people and many Loomenaries spreading pom-pom happiness.
Prepare to Pom: A Loome Party Giveaway!
Three lucky readers will each win a copy of Loome Party, which includes a Loome tool, courtesy of the publisher + a batch of Premium Pom-Pom Fixings, courtesy of Mason-Dixon Knitting.
1. Leave a comment on this post, mentioning pom-poms.
(For the pom-pom shy, here are a few prompts: Have you ever made a pom-pom? Has anyone ever returned a handknit hat to you for pom-pom repair? Were you in the pom-pom squad in high school? Do you have a favorite pom-pom tool, tip or technique?)
2. Sign up for Snippets, our Saturday email newsletter, which is more fun than a newsletter has any right to be. (Really! We hear from happy Snippets readers, and it fills us with joy.) If you’re already signed up for Snippets, you’re in, and thank you!
On Saturday, March 24, at 9 p.m. Pacific Time (U.S.), we’ll do a random drawing and notify the three winners by email.