Crochet Pumpkin DIY October 17 2012

For three years now, my sage plant has been quietly thriving. As the seasons changed, other plants came and went, but the sage bush just sat there, calmly and slowly getting bigger and bigger. It has now reached what I would describe as “enormous”.

So what should I do with so much sage? In Germany it’s used a lot for its medicinal properties, so I have taken to drying it and making it into teabags. Very simple to make, just dry the leaves for a few weeks until they’re crispy then crush and use one teaspoon per bag/cup. The most wonderful remedy for sore throats. Add some lemon balm or peel if you can’t deal with drinking what tastes quite like liquid stuffing.

Niki Segnit’s Flavour Thesaurus helped to some extent. Sage has one hell of a scent, so needs to be paired with some strong contenders to avoid it overpowering; bacon, chicken, apple and onion all work well. The book suggests combining sage with tomato to make the wonderful fagioli all’uccelletto, a delicious mix of cannellini beans, tomato and sage, or as an addition to the cheeseboard; dried and sprinkled over hard cheeses.

But the true companion to the sage is the pumpkin family. A butternut squash risotto is garnished perfectly by frying sage leaves in butter for a few minutes until they are practically black. And have you tried them on a pizza yet? Try it this week, for a perfect, autumny dinner.

I’ve tried these recipes and they are delicious, but they haven’t made a dent in my sage stocks.

So, all that remained was for me to get creative and make something pretty in celebration of my favourite season.

I came up with this wreath, combining sage (which will dry nicely and last for ages) with some tiny crochet pumpkins that are super easy to make and which you can use to decorate all manner of things this autumn.

They’re made by using the ribbing technique of crocheting into the back of the stitch only, and by increasing each piece around its midriff by using hdc to add some height.

You will need:

Your choice of yarn in pumpkin colour. Choose a cottony Double Knit.

Yarn in a shade of green for the stalk.

Here’s how you do it:

Row 1: In pumpkin colour, cast on 19 stitches,

Row 2: sc into the 2nd stitch from the end, sc 4 more times, then hdc for 8, then finally 5 sc to the end of the row. 18 stitches 

 

Row 3: Ch1, 5 sc into the back of the stitch from previous row, 8 hdc, 5 sc. These should all have been into the back of the last row’s stitches.  18 stitches.

Rows 4 – 30: carry on as row 3. Only stitching into the back of the last row of stitches. You will create a long rectangle of crochet which bulges around the middle. 

Fold the piece in half and crochet the two ends together using sc into each of the 18 stitches. Pull the final stitch through and leave about a metre of yarn for finishing off.

 

With a needle, thread in and out of the edges to gather up the sides, pull tight to close the hole and stitch to fasten, tying it to the tail at the beginning of the work if this helps. Turn the pumpkin inside out and stuff. Take the needle through to the opposite end of the pumpkin and again, thread the yarn around the top to gather the sides and close the pumpkin. 

 

Take your remaining yarn around the outside and back through the core to create some texture to the pumpkin and make it bulge out a bit. You normally need to do this around 6 or 7 times to get the shape right. Tighten them as much as you need to and try to space them a bit randomly. Fasten off.

The instructions for the stalk are as follows:

Row 1: Cast on 7 stitches

Row 2: sc into the 2nd stitch from the end. Sc into next 5 stitches. 6 stitches

Row 3-6: ch 1, 6 sc

Fold in half and stitch the two ends together.

Then chain 20 stitches and sc all the way back, this will create a natural twist, which is what pumpkin stalks do! End with a slip into the stalk. 

The next bit is slightly more freestyle, you’re going to stitch around the bottom of the stalk as if you are making a crochet flower. So dbl crochet into the spot that you’ve chained from and then dbl again into the same space, then slip stitch into the space as well, finally select your next space and begin with a slip into that space. You need to do this 4 more times selecting different spaces to work into all around the bottom of the sort of tube you’ve just made. It’s not easy to work out where to place them so use your judgement to space them out. Once you’re back at the beginning it should look something like this.

 

Fasten off and sew top ends in but leave a tail of yarn which you can use to sew onto the top of the pumpkin. Once your stalk is attached, leave a last bit of yarn free and separate the threads out, twisting them around the crochet hook a few times until they become what looks like curly tendrils for a lifelike effect!

 

For the wreath I found inspiration from Vic Brotherson’s Vintage Flowers. Either buy a wire frame, they only cost a couple of pounds, or make your own from gardening wire.

I made mine by creating two circles, one bigger than the other and attaching them with some more wire zigzagging in between. This will be quite a bit smaller than your finished wreath so don’t make it too big.

Begin to place your sage leaves into the frame, attaching with yarn to fasten as you go. Start in one place and layer the branches so that you keep covering the bottom of the previous branch with the new one. Be generous, it’s really not worth scrimping, and besides, what else would you be doing with all that sage anyway? Don’t worry that you can still see so much yarn. Insert some smaller pieces to cover it up at the end.

Once you have created a full-looking wreath you can carefully add the pumpkins. Work out where you are going to place them and use yarn and a needle to attach the pumpkins one by one to the wreath, wrapping them around the back. Finally, as a finishing touch, take some small sprigs of sage and poke them quite firmly into the wreath to cover up any intrusive pieces of yarn.

 

The great thing about this project is that you can create pumpkins in different shapes, sizes and colours so that no two look the same. Use different yarns and hook sizes. Instead of using the 5,8,5 formation you could try 4,7,4 with 24 rows or 3,6,3 with 20 rows. As long as you have hdc in the middle, your pumpkin will be the desired shape. Experiment with heights too, altering the number of rows to make your pumpkin taller or more squat. And you can create a pumpkin of more than one colour by trying 4 rows in one shade then switching to 2 rows in another. Or simply use a wraparound yarn in another colour instead.

Add some twine to the top of your wreath to hang and you’re done! A quick Autumn project that’s simple, useful and pretty too. 

If you do create some pumpkins of your own, be sure to drop us a line on our Facebook Page, we’d love to see your pictures!