Local crafter has created an annual patch of pumpkins for nearly 20 years
Carole Duh knits, sews and needle-felts seasonal gourds
People don’t want to smash Carole Duh’s pumpkins, and that’s a good thing because it would also be difficult to carve these yarn-based squashes into jack-o-lanterns.
For nearly 20 years, Duh, a local crafter, has hand-knitted enough of these pumpkins to create her own pumpkin patch many times over.
“I usually try to knit between 250 and 270, each year,” Duh said. “I have several part-time jobs. So that’s the maximum I can usually do.”
Duh’s creations will be on their annual display at the First Friday Artist Opening starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, at Artique, 283 Main St. in Kamas. The showcase continues through Thanksgiving, and additional pumpkins are also available through Duh’s company’s website, dodadsforyou.com.
In addition to the knitted pumpkins, Duh will also showcase her hand-sewn needle-felted ones.
“The ones that are sewn are dyed with coffee, vanilla and sprinkled with cinnamon and overpainted with acrylic,” she said.
Needle-felting is a whole different process that is done with a barbed and “mean-looking” needle, Duh said.
“After I have knit, sculpted and embellished the pumpkins I want to needle-felt, I take some of the pre-dyed yarn and separate the fibers with my fingers so the fabric looks like a mass of colored cotton,” she said.
After the fibers are prepared, Duh, who is married to local photographer and former U.S. Ski and Snowboard spokesman Tom Kelly, uses the needle and attaches and covers the pumpkin with the fabric.
“This way the pumpkins have contours,” she said.
Once Duh finishes the knitted, sewn or needle-felted gourds, she highlights them with organic pumpkin stems and leaves.
“When I first started making my own knitted pumpkins, I immediately started to take my own spin on things,” she said. “Sometimes when Tom is doing his photography, which sometimes takes forever, I’m out looking for pumpkin stems. And that is really fun.”
Duh began knitting pumpkins when she worked at Rocky Mountain Baskets, a gift-basket company that was in Park City for many years, she said.
“I had an amazing mentor at the shop, and after I met her, I felt that I really needed to get my act together and do a lot of things, including knitting the pumpkins,” Duh said.
Duh mostly knitted pumpkins for friends and family members at that time, and also sold them at the basket company, and another store called the Paisley Pomegranate.
“I’m the kind of person who doesn’t follow patterns, so I just freeform it,” she said. “The pumpkins aren’t just made out of one type of yarn, with the exception of the hand-dyed ones. I use two to four different yarns, so no two pumpkins are alike. And that makes it so none of the pumpkins can be replicated. After doing so many after all of these years, I came up with my own way of doing this.”
A few years after Duh began selling at the gift shops, she met Artique owner Katie Stellpflug, and started her annual September exhibit eight years ago.
“Katie really gives local makers opportunities to shine, so she started carrying my things,” Duh said.
Keeping small businesses in mind, Duh supports small yarn stores around the country.
“The main one is Blazing Needles, in Salt Lake City, where I work as a merchandise displayer,” she said. “I also like to find small yarn stores when Tom and I are traveling. Because I’m a very tactile person, I can’t order yarn online. I have to see it and feel it. And that inspires me.”
Duh usually starts making her pumpkins for the year in February, after she finishes her hand-crafted yarn, twig, ribbon and string display nests.
“I’m constantly inspired by the seasons and other objects that are around me like paper or silk,” she said. “I always have another thought to put into action, and there is nothing like the motivation I feel when something I have thought about works out.”
Throughout the years, Duh, who is 79, has created a small fan base of pumpkin collectors, so she knows she has to take care of her hands to continue knitting.
“I do have arthritis, so if I don’t knit when I first wake up in the morning and right before I go to bed, I’m not certain that I’d have as much dexterity as I do,” she said. “And I’m not willing to stop and take that chance.”
When: 6-9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3
Where: Artique, 283 Main St. in Kamas
Web: facebook.com/artiqueartandgifts and dodadsforyou.com
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