Shrunken Head (Free Pattern)

Howdy. A day later than usual I know, but forgive me – I was re-jigging a totally awesome pattern for you.

Earlier in the week, I was watching the ever fantastic QI, a British TV panel comedy show based around general knowledge and random facts, presented by the wonderful Stephen Fry. The episode featured shrunken heads, and Mr Fry gave out some genuine fake shrunken heads from Ecuador (I think – I may be wrong with the location!). They were made from goats skin, not humans, but straight away I wanted to crochet one.

Here’s the result:

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (1)


Close up:

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (36)


I played around with hook sizes a bit, so the one on the left is bigger since it’s made on a 3.5mm E hook and is more true to life, fills the palm of your hand size, whereas the one on the right uses a 2mm hook and is slightly smaller, so would be less distracting to say, hang from your car’s rear view mirror. Add a lavender sachet and it becomes a creepy air freshener.

I spent ages frogging and shaping them, only to remember near the end that Wooly Toons has an excellent pattern on her site too. But her’s are based on the Beetlejuice characters, whereas mine are more aimed towards the real ones. One can never have too many option when it comes to tiny noggings though, it must be said 😉

Free pattern for your own totem after the jump.

The Essentials:

Hook: 3.5mm for life size, 2mm for smaller (personally I think the smaller one looks the best)

Wool: Any DK. I went for slightly dead looking colours – mouldy greeny brown, grey, white – but it’s up to you. I recommend some kind of fun fur or fuzzy wool for the hair though like on my larger head because it looks brilliant.

Also needed: Black and a coloured embroidery thread; jump rings (optional).

Finished Size: approx 3″ tall by 2″ wide (3.5mm) or approx 2″ tall by 1.5″ wide (2mm)


CH = Chain

Sc = Single Crochet

INC = Increase

DEC = Decrease

SL ST = Slip Stitch

BLO = Back Loops Only



Real shrunken heads were made by removing the skin from the skull, then they boiled it until it shrunk to the correct size. The flesh was then moulded around a wooden ball.

We’re going to use yarn. Less illegal. And less gross.

Our head is crocheted from top to bottom.

Magic ring in whatever colour you’ve chosen.

Round 1: 6sc into the centre of the ring
Round 2: INC around [12]
Round 3: {1sc, INC} around [18]
Round 4: {2sc, INC} around [24]
Round 5: {3sc, INC} around [30]
Round 6: Sc around BLO [30]
Round 7-9: Sc around [30]
Round 10: 2sc, INC x3, 20sc, INC x3, 2Sc [36]
Round 11: 3Sc, INC x5, 20sc, INC x5, 3Sc [46]
Round 12: 3Sc, DEC x5, 20sc, DEC x5, 3Sc [36]
Round 13: {4sc, DEC} repeat around [30]
Round 14: Sc around [30]
Round 15: DEC x3, 18Sc, DEC x3 [24]
Round 16-19: Sc around [24]
Round 20: {2sc, DEC} repeat around [18]
Round 21: {1sc, DEC} repeat around [12]
Round 22: DEC around [6]

Finish off and weave in the tails.

You should have something that looks vaguely skull like, but not as sharply defined. You will have some nicely chunky cheeky bones though. To make sure it’s the right way up, look for the line of BLO stitches from round 6 at the top – they’ll be important in a bit.

Front 3.5mm

Front 3.5mm

Front 2mm

Front 2mm

Cheek bone detail

Cheek bone detail






Magic ring in same colour

Round 1: 6sc into the centre of the ring [6]
Round 2: 4Sc STOP. Ch1 and turn [4]
Row 3: 4Sc BLO. Ch1 and turn [4]
Row 4-7:  4Sc. Ch1 and turn [4]
Row 8: 4Sc [4]

Finish off leaving a long tail for sewing. You’ll have something that looks like this:

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (005)


The magic ring forms the base, the rows of 4Sc should stand up at a right angle. The base will look sort of triangular, one side formed by the rows, and two open sides. Pinch together one of the open sides of the base and the side of the stood up rows.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (05)


Sew this together using the tail from the magic ring (NOT the Finish off). Very lightly stuff it, and you’ll have a 3D triangle with an open back. Sew it in place between the cheek lumps, magic ring down and in line with the bottom of the cheek lumps.

I hope that makes sense!

ignore the head shape in these photos - it was frogged not long after.

ignore the head shape in these photos – it was frogged not long after.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (6) Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (7)


In same colour

Ch15, join with a SL ST, and finish off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Use the chain tail to sew one side of the mouth in place below the nose and just to the left.

Ignore the nose - I sewed it on upside down and on realised afterwards...

Ignore the nose – I sewed it on upside down and only realised afterwards…

Stretch the mouth over to the right, and sew in place with the finish off tail. Sewn through a few stitches along both lips too for security.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (10)

Look how upside down that nose still is... *sigh*

Look how upside down that nose still is… *sigh*

Ears (x2)

Magic ring in same colour.

Round 1: 4sc into the centre of the ring
Round 2: {1sc, INC} around [6]
Round 3: INC around [12]

Finish off leaving long tail for sewing.

Sew the ears either side of the head, placed bottom of the ear in line with the cheek lump.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (12) Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (13)


When real shrunken heads are made, the eyes and mouth are sewn closed, so embroider two closed eyes on in black embroidery thread, and then sew up the mouth using your coloured thread. Make sure to sew round both sides of the chain to squeeze them together.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (15)

That’s your base head done. Any decoration from this point is really up to you – if you google shrunken head images, real ones tend to just have hair, maybe  a beard, whereas fake ones are made to look fancier with piercings and skewerings with bits of wood. So it depends what look you’re going for.

Here’s how I added my hair.

Cut 49 lengths of yarn, twice as long as you want your hair to be (so if you want hair 15cm long, you need a 30cm long length of yarn). Separate them into sets of 15, 13 10, 7 and 4.

Your set of 15 will be used first. Fold a length of yarn in half.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (17)

Starting at one ear and working towards the other, find the row of BLO stitches across the forehead. Stick your crochet hook up through the stitch and grab the fold of the yarn.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (18)


Pull through an inch.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (19)

Make sure your ends of wool are equal length, then thread the ends through the loop.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (20)


Pull tight and you’ve secured your first strand.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (21)

Only 48 to go! Place the rest of the set (14) round the BLO row. Your set of 13 will be looped through the row above, then your set of 10 above that, your set of 7 above that and your set of 4 above that. You should have reached the magic ring by then.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (24) Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (23) Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (22)


When I made my bigger head using fuzzy yarn (really, what else could I have used such horrible, scratchy yarn for?!) I just left it as that, and it poofed out excellently. I plated some strands of khaki wool to hang my head from.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (34)

The smaller head, I wanted to hang by the hair, so I separated out the bottom layer:

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (25)

Then I took one of the two strands looped through the second layer and smoothed them down too:

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (26)


Then I plated the hair left and tied another bit of yarn round the end to keep it secure.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (27)


(Side note – that umbrella in the background contains a GIANT spider who has decided to crawl inside. It will now NEVER be moved for fear of it falling in my hair…)

The final bits of decoration I’ve used are jump rings. Mine are 10mm, and I went for through the ears, nose, mouth and eyebrows.

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (33) Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (35)


I would LOVE to see what people come up with for these. I feel a Halloween yarn bombing coming on…

Amiguruthi Shrunken Head (36)


18 thoughts on “Shrunken Head (Free Pattern)

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  4. These are the best! I like how they look like lovebirds in a macabre sort of way lol

    Would you be opposed to my daughter using this pattern to sell? We’d be more han happy to credit you and directing any interested ones to this page.

    • Hi Jodie – sorry for the late reply!

      Yes absolutely go ahead with selling! If you could link back that’d be great – good luck! I always think of them as lovers as well – glad to hear there’s someone else as odd out there 😉

  5. Hi I’m making this now and I’m having problems with the nose. I’m a bit confused about the magic ring being the base of the nose. Can you clarify please? Thank you.

    • I can try – its a while since I made these.

      When you do the nose piece you make a magi ring then only crochet into three loops of it, before doing flat crochet to form a wall of stitches at a right angle. So it should look like a capital L when you’re done. One side of that wall then gets folded downwards and sewn to the magic ring to make a curved nose bridge.

      I hope that makes a bit more sense? I’m not sure how to explain it better! x

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