My Material Life

Make a Knit Pumpkin (or Even a Pouf!)

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I received one of those marketing emails from Etsy the other day and it included a photo of some pumpkins knit with a combination of stockinette and garter stitch. The stitch combination resembled vertical pumpkin segments. It made me wonder if I could get the same kind of effect using a chunky yarn in garter stitch only. And if this worked it would allow me to reveal the surprising secret to knitting a pouf (without having to go to the trouble of knitting one myself). You see this pumpkin is really a miniature knit pouf in disguise.

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The secret is revealed in the photo above. To knit a pouf, you need only knit a rectangle in garter stitch, albeit with some hefty yarn or rope and some equally hefty needles. Then seam the short ends to form a cylinder, gather the bottom together, fill with your choice of stuffing, and gather the top. The knitting is the simplest part. But how to stuff your pouf – what to use, whether it needs a cover, whether it will be at all washable – to me these are the real questions for the diy knit pouf enthusiast. I’m sorry to say I can’t answer them for you. Not today anyway.

But if knitting a pumpkin sounds like fun, stay with me. It’s easy to do and will be great practice for whenever you do get around to knitting that pouf. For a pumpkin, you actually need to create two shapes – a sphere for the base of the pumpkin and a cylinder for the stem. Both of these shapes can be created from a rectangle (though I used a spool knitter for my stem). You can create a cylinder from a rectangle by seaming two opposite ends (in this case the short ends) like you see in the photo gallery above. My pumpkin base was knit with some leftover Lion Brand Alpine Wool. I cast on 15 stitches and knit until I ran out of yarn. I’d say my finished piece was about 4″ by 7″.

Once I converted my rectangle to a cylinder, I used a yarn needle to thread my yarn tail through stitch loops on one end of the cylinder. When I made it all the way around the circle I pulled that yarn tail through all the loops to gather them together until the hole you see in the gallery photo at right above was closed. I wove in that yarn tail on the inside. I should note that weaving in ends is one of my least favorite knitting activities, so I keep my yarn tails long at my cast on and bind off locations so I can use them for sewing. With no extra pieces of yarn for sewing I have less weaving in to do.

I stuffed my pumpkin with kapok. That’s a messy business, but I have a big bag of it and it squashes nicely. It’s not washable and that’s alright because I’m not planning to wash this pumpkin. Once I filled the now bowl-shaped pumpkin base completely I gathered the open edge and pulled it closed using the same method described above.

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And here’s your knit pouf, in miniature form anyway. But it’s not a pumpkin base yet, is it? For that we need to give it a little shaping. This is where a doll needle comes in handy.

A doll needle is a long, thin needle that allows you to pass your needle through a stuffed object, so you can sculpt it. Try that with a regular length needle and it will just get lost inside your piece. But I was still using my wool yarn tail at this point so I used the needle shown in the middle of the photo on the left above because it had a bigger eye. I wonder if this is some kind of  leather needle. I’m pretty sure I inherited it from my Aunt Kay. Anyway I used it to thread the yarn tail that I’d just used for gathering down through the center of my pumpkin, out and back up to the center top again. Pulling on it gave me the pumpkin shape I was looking for.

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Then it was time to weave in that tail and sew on my stem. My stem was knit on a stick loom – six regular-sized craft sticks on a cardboard tube slightly smaller than a toilet paper roll. I used two strands of a leftover Debbie Bliss wool. Just a few rounds were all I needed. Remember that without a stick loom you can create a cylinder from a rectangle that you seam. You might try a stockinette stitch if you go that route.

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This would make a charming gift, wouldn’t it? And I must say that knitting a miniature pouf did help with some of my questions about stuffing a full-sized knit pouf. You know, maybe I could use my kapok to stuff it. It’s not like it’s exposed or coming out of my mini pouf. And really, why would I need to wash my pouf? That’s just silly of me. I mean if the cat throws up on it (or heaven forbid – one of the humans!), it will just be a loss. We can’t not do things we otherwise might like to do because of all the what ifs, right?

So tell me, have you ever knit a pouf? And if so, please do tell how you stuffed it and whether it’s working out.

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