How to Decorate Knits with Japanese Bobbles

I couldn’t find a name for this type of bobbles, so I coined term “Japanese bobble” because I learned to make bobbles this way from a book of Japanese stitches. 

So I decided not to fuss about the name too much because what really matters is the bobble itself. And this one is a beauty. It looks more like a pine cone than a berry and works great for decorating any knit creation.

But first things first – before we get to adding bobbles to our projects, let’s see how to make a bobble like this.

If you are a visual learner, click here to watch a video tutorial that shows how to make Japanese bobbles.

This bobble looks best on a background worked in reverse stockinette stitch, like the one shown in this photo:

For the first two rows we’ll be working in reverse stockinette pattern – purl all stitches in one row and knit all stitches in the next one. If you are working in the round, purl all stitches in every round.

In the third row or round work to the spot where you plan to place a bobble. Then do the following:

1. Insert the tip of the right needle from front to back into a stitch that is two rows below the first stitch on the left needle. Wrap the tip of the right needle with the working yarn and pull the wrap to the front of the work. Make a yarn over.

2. Insert the tip of the right needle again into the same stitch (the one that is two rows below the first stitch on the left needle), wrap the needle with the yarn and pull the wrap through. Make another yarn over.

3. Insert the tip of the right needle into the same stitch one more time, make a wrap and pull it through. Don’t tighten the wraps. Make them quite loose. This way the bobble will be puffier.

Now we have 5 extra stitches on the right needle (3 wraps and 2 yarn overs). These stitches will form the bobble.

4. Drop the first stitch from the left needle and let it unravel all the way to the spot where we inserted right needle in the previous 3 steps. Click here to watch how to do it. It helps to pull the fabric below the bobble to even out the wraps and to centre the bobble.

5. Turn your work and purl the 5 stitches we’ve just created.

6. Turn your work again. Insert the tip of the right needle into the first 3 stitches of the bobble from left to right (as if you are going to knit 3 together) and slip them from the left needle to the right needle.

7. Knit the remaining 2 stitches of the bobble together = 1 stitch.

8. Insert the tip of the left needle into the 3 stitches we slipped in step 6, and pass the slipped stitches over the knit stitch we created in step 7. 

Now we are back to one stitch, and you can see a beautiful bobble right underneath it.

In the next row knit all stitches. Purl all stitches if you are working in the round.

Because a bobble doesn’t change the overall gauge of the project by much, we can easily use bobbles to give a simple project an outstanding look. There are three main ways how to do it.

1. ARRANGE BOBBLES IN HORIZONTAL STRIPES

A stripe of bobbles will look best on a hat, cowl, at the bottom of a sweater or on a cuff. 

To make the horizontal stripe shown in the photo above, work in reverse stockinette stitch for 4 rows/rounds. In the next row or round make a row of bobbles (follow steps 1 to 8 described above to make each bobble). Leave 2-3 stitches between bobbles to make sure they are not too crowded. Then work 3 more rows or rounds in reverse stockinette stitch.

2. ARRANGE BOBBLES IN VERTICAL STRIPES

If you’d like to decorate the front of a cardigan, edges of a scarf, or any project made in wide ribbing, it’s better to arrange bobbles in a vertical stripe, like the one shown in this photo:

To make this stripe, work 7 stitches in reverse stockinette stitch for 4 rows/rounds. In the next row or round purl 3 stitches, make a bobble from underneath the 4th stitch and purl the remaining 3 stitches of the stripe. For the next 5 rows or rounds work the 7 stitches of the stripe in reverse stockinette stitch. Then make a bobble again.

3. MAKE A CLUSTER OF BOBBLES

This way works great if you want to add a focal point to an otherwise simple project, like a plain hat. In the photo below you can see how a cluster looks on stockinette stitch and on reverse stockinette. 

Decide where you’d like to add a cluster and place a marker on each side of the 3 stitches that are at the centre of that spot.

Rows / Rounds 1 and 2: Work stitches between markers in stockinette or reverse stockinette stitch depending on the main stitch pattern of your project.

Row / Round 3: make a bobble, work 1 stitch, make a bobble.

Row / Round 4: work all stitches in pattern (stockinette or reverse stockinette stitch).

Row / Round 5: work 1 stitch, make a bobble, work 1 stitch.

Row / Round 6: work all stitches in pattern.

Use this pattern as a guideline for creating bigger clusters using 4, 5 or more bobbles. The sky is the limit 🙂


If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:

“Neat Side Edges” Book

Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.


Happy knitting!

Maryna Shevchenko - www.10rowsaday.com

Let’s be friends on GoodReads 🙂

Japanese bobbles | 10 rows a day
Three ways to use Japanese bobbles | 10 rows a day
How to arrange bobbles in a horizontal stripe | 10 rows a day