Halloween Shrunken Head (Free Knitting Pattern)

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Shrinking heads is a messy process. First you remove the skull, then scoop out all the flesh and fat, and fill the cavity with seeds and wood before boiling the skin in water. This fashionable home accessory can then be adorned with decorative beads and hair. Alternatively, skip the decapitation and knit one instead.
These shrunken heads are knitted in the round from the neck up. The head is then stuffed before the hair and features are stitched into place. You can use a stitch marker to remind you where the end of the round is, or use the cast-on tail as a visual guide. lf you have a large glass cookie jar to display it in, a thick piece of stick inserted into the neck opening will help the head stand up for display. Alternatively, you can squash your shrunken head into a smaller jar for a distorted look. You could even squeeze two or three heads into the same jar for a more terrifying effect!

Step 1

- Size 5 (3.75mm) double-pointed needles (dpns)
- Brown or dark tan Double Knitting (DK) yarn for head
- Black or gray fuzzY mohair or 2-plY yarn for hair
- Polyester fiber toy stuffing
- 2 x 4-hole buttons for eyes 3/4 in (l8mm)
- Felt for lips
- Tapestry needle
- Sewing needle and thread
- Glue
- Hairspray
- Large cookie jar for display
- Stick

Step 2

Make the Head:
Cast on 18 stitches and divide between 3 needles. Join for knitting in the round.
Knit 6 rounds.
Kl, klf&b, k2 repeat from * to * until 2 stitches remain, k lf&b, kl (24 st).
Knit 1 round.
K1f&b, repeat to end of round (48 st).
Knit 11 rounds.
K2, k2tog, k2tog, knit to last 6 stitches then ssk, ssk, k 2 (44 st).
Knit 2 rounds.
K2tog to end of roun d (22 sts).
K2, k2tog, knit to last 4 stitches then ssk, k2 (20 st).
K2 tog to end of round (10 st).
Cut yarn and thread through remaining stitches, pulling gently to close the top of the head.

Step 3

Attach the Hair:
Stuff and shape the head evenly and firmly. Using a tapestry needle and yarn the same color as the yarn for the hair, sew large (1 in/2.5cm) backstitches around the crown of the head, marking the hairline.
For each 1 in (2.5cm) backstitch, cut ten to twelve 12in (30cm) lengths of mohair (or whatever yarn you are using for the hair). Thread these lengths through the backstitch until the stitch lies in the center and smooth out the yarn evenly so that it "fills" the whole stitch. Using a regular sewing needle and cotton, sew the section of hair into place, working parallel to the original backstitch.
Repeat for each section, working all the way around the head until all hair is in place. The hair can then be gathered up and secured into a loose ponytail on top of the head. When you have a style you're happy with, you can give it a light spritz of hairspray to keep it in place.

Step 4

Decorate the Head:
To finish, you can accessorize your shrunken head with chicken bones and feathers threaded into the hair.

Step 5

Cut a thin strip of felt for the lips and glue it into place. When the glue is dry, sew over the mouth with several long stitches using a lighter colored yarn.

Step 6

Using a contrasting yarn or thread, sew the buttons in place for the eyes. lf you like, you can sew a large "X" over each button to enhance the effect of the eyes being sewn shut.

Step 7

Reprinted with permission from "Knitmare on Elm Street" © 2012 by Hannah Simpson, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

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