You can never have too much information when it comes to selecting a quality pumpkin. To ensure freshness, remember to test the pumpkin's stem by tugging on it lightly; it should be firmly attached. It's also a good idea to feel the outside of the gourd for soft spots, which can sometimes be difficult to see. Soft areas and blemishes indicate a muture pumpkin, which may not last as long as fresher ones.
1. Attach your printed TMI pattern to the side of your hollowed-out pumpkin with clear tape. (Hint: If the pattern is too large or small for your pumpkin, resize it with a copier to fit.) Pierce the outside of the letters with a pin, creating closely spaced holes in the pumpkin's skin. Take down the stencil after outlining the pattern.
2. Carve the pattern with a thin woodcutting knife, sawing gently along the pin holes. Press on carved pieces from inside the pumpkin to nudge them out.
3. Light up your design with a battery-operated candle.