How to Knit a Pumpkin

Bethany holding two finished knit pumpkins

I have so many (probably too many) knit pumpkins and every year around October I make at least one more! These little knit pumpkins are so fun and addicting to make that I thought I would share how I make them. In this knit pumpkin tutorial, I’ll teach you step-by-step how to make your own!

For this tutorial you will need to know some basic knitting techniques such as: the long tail cast-on, knitting in the round, using double pointed needles (or the magic loop method) and a tiny bit of crochet for the stem (I’ve suggested some other ideas when you get to that part).

holding the finished knit orange pumpkin

This is a pretty basic tutorial for making a knit pumpkin and it’s very easy to customize depending on the style of pumpkin you want. It’s also a great way to use up small amounts of yarn in your stash!

You could use chunky yarn, a textured boucle yarn or hold two yarn colors together and size the needle up or down to match the yarn weight. Cast on less stitches for a tiny pumpkin or experiment with height and knit a longer tube for a taller pumpkin – it’s totally up to you!

showing the color yarn used for the pumpkin and a set of double pointed needles with the yarn casted on

Some things you’ll need

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For the pumpkin I made, I worked in a worsted weight yarn on size US 6 (4 mm) needles but you can easily switched up the yarn weight and needle size. I like a tighter gauge for my pumpkins so that the stuffing doesn’t show through, so I experimented a bit until I found the yarn/needle combo I liked.

Let’s get started!

Cast on in the round

We’re working in the round in stockinette stitch (knit every stitch) for this project and essentially making a tube knit to the desired length. If you want to try the magic loop method with circular needles, here’s a video tutorial. I prefer using double pointed needles, so that’s what I’ll be using in my example.

showing the finished knit tube to make the pumpkin knit on double pointed needles

Cast on 60 stitches using the long tail cast-on (video tutorial here) and arrange the stitches so there’s 15 on each needle (for the smaller pumpkin in my first picture I casted on 40). Leave a tail of yarn at least 5″ long. Join in the round and start knitting!

Keep knitting until the desired height – I knit until about 6″ to get the size of the pumpkin in my example (the smaller pumpkin was knit to 3″).

Tip: You can hold the bottom of the tube closed and fill with stuffing to get a rough idea of when to stop knitting your tube. I usually have to knit more rows than I think!

Close the top of the knit tube

Cut your yarn with a long tail and thread it onto a tapestry needle. Work your way through the stitches with the needle and until all the stitches are transfered onto the yarn tail.

cinching the top of the tube close with the yarn tail for the knit pumpkin

Pull on the yarn to close the top of the tube. Thread the needle discreetly through a few stitches on the top and knot to secure. Leave the leftover yarn tail – I find this helpful at a later step.

stuff your pumpkin

It’s time to stuff and give your pumpkin some shape! You can use either fiber fill or even scrap fabric to fill your pumpkin. Both will work fine, but I prefer the fluffiness that the fiber fills gives. The scrap fabric was a little dense and I needed quite a bit to get my pumpkin to the fullness that I wanted.

the closed tube for the knit pumpkin next to scrap fabric and stuffing

Stuff your pumpkin but leave some space at the top to make it easier to close. You can add more in later before the pumpkin is closed up!

Close up the Bottom

Take your tapestry needle again and thread it with the yarn tail that you left at the open end of the pumpkin. With long stitches (you don’t have to go through every stitch) thread the yarn all the way around until you reach the beginning. Before closing, add any more stuffing in to get the pumpkin nice and round.

Pull tight to cinch up the hole and pull the yarn around through a few stitch at the top to secure. Keep the long tail for the next step.

Form the pumpkin shape

Now it’s time to give your pumpkin it’s quintessential bumpy shape 🙂

With the long yarn tail and tapestry needle, poke the needle though the hole on one side through the middle of the pumpkin and out the other. Next, pull the yarn down along the side of the pumpkin and back into the other end pulling taut to make an indent in the side. The tighter you pull the more defined the groove is.

I like to make sure the yarn is positioned in between the knit rows to hide the yarn.

Repeat this step, spacing the bumps out, until you like the shape. I usually do this about 6 or 7 times depending on the size of the pumpkin.

tying a knot at the bottom of the pumpkin to secure

Once you’re done with your shaping, tie a tight knot with the leftover yarn tail to the tail that you left at an earlier step (when you first closed up the tube). You can weave the ends back through the pumpkin and out the side to hide the tails. (see photos below)

Make the pumpkin stem

showing the crochet chain used for the stem of the pumpkin

For the stem of my pumpkin, I made a crocheted chain (video tutorial here) to form a small loop in a contrasting yarn color. You could also knit a small length of I-cord or even braid 3 strands of yarn together. An even simpler stem could be made by forming a loop with one or several strands of yarn and tying a knot to hold them together. Make sure to leave tails long enough to tie together at the other end.

Pull both yarns through the center with the tapestry needle and tie in a double knot to secure.

That dark brown yarn used for the stem above was leftover from my Miles Shirt Jacket and I just love how it looks with the orange! And the pumpkins in combo with my gingham skirt in the background give off such an Autumn vibe.

And you’re done! Now go make more 🙂

holding the finished smaller knit pumpkin with a gingham skirt in the background
holding two knit pumpkins stacked on top of each other

Aren’t these the cutest little pumpkins? I look forward to making these every year and they’re great to give as gifts as well!

You could also skip the knitting and up-cycle an old or thrifted sweater to make sweater pumpkins (the sleeves are great for these because they’re already a tube!). I show how in my tutorial How to Sew a Pumpkin if you’re curious to check it out!

Let me know if you enjoyed this tutorial! Happy knitting 🙂

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