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Hot Skwash offers fun, festive touch



Photo Credit: STAFF PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Hot Skwash stuffed pumpkins, truffles and acorns are a hit around the world.

Who knew a love for crafting could blossom into a bountiful enterprise?

Knowles shows off one of her specialty creations.

That is exactly what occurred for West Linn resident Daria Knowles, founder of Hot Skwash, a family-run business dedicated to bringing joy and beauty to peoples’ lives. Her passion for fabrics coupled with her art history background have led her to creating extraordinary works of art in the shape of pumpkins and other garden produce.

“This all started in my kitchen at home,” she said of her hand sewn velvet pumpkins. “Friends loved them. I’d sell that at home shows and people gobbled them up.” The response was so great she took the velvet pumpkins to R. Bloom’s in Lake Oswego to see if they mightbe sold there.

“Richard (Bloom) said ‘Oh, this is something!’” Knowles said. “He wanted to come see my operation. At this point my living room was filled with tables (for production).” Bloom began carrying Hot Skwash pumpkins at his store, where sales of the velvet pumpkins was brisk. He took a sample with him to a trade show in Atlanta; the response was overwhelming.

“People wanted them,” Knowles said. “Richard took orders — it was epic!”

Hot Skwash employs about 20 people, many of whom have been with Knowles since she began.

The increased sales meant Knowles needed more workers; she hired 13 stay-at-home moms to help in the production of the pumpkins.

“The foyer was the shipping area,” she said. “The school bus would drop all the kids off (of the women working for her). They’d play for a bit and then the moms would take them home. Some would come back and work from 7 to 10 p.m. There were boxes everywhere — there was a single path through the maze. It was literally a fire hazard.”

Three years ago Hot Skwash moved to its current, much larger location in Tigard. And sales continued to grow. R. Bloom’s has been joined by upscale retailers Neiman Marcus, Gumps, Horchow and other boutiques throughout the United States, Canada and Japan in selling the elegant items.

Each Hot Skwash creation is adorned with special items, including Swarovki crystals.

More than 100,000 pumpkins are made each year and shipped to individuals and boutiques around the world.

More than 52 fabrics are used for the pumpkins. Each is hand cut, then hand sewn.

The pumpkins are filled with rice (they go through more than a ton a week) and decorated with a variety of special items, including Swarovki crystals.

Hot Skwash founder Daria Knowles takes a breather during production.

Each is then adorned with a stem, harvested from a local farm. The stem is washed, dried and then attached to the pumpkin before the signature gold “Daria,” is added, marking it as an original Hot Skwash product.

Though pumpkins seem to be the favorite item — more than 100,000 are made each year— Hot Skwash also makes acorns, truffles and strawberries. All are made by hand and come in a variety of sizes and colors. Hot Skwash employees are limited only by their imagination in creating the beautiful art pieces.

A line of infinity scarves is also available.

Today, the company employs 19 to 20 women, and the bulk of the crew live within walking distance of Daria’s home.

“We’ve learned a lot on this journey,” Knowles said.

Hot Skwash velvet pumpkins, acorns, truffles and strawberries are available at R. Bloom’s in Lake Oswego at 267 A Avenue and online at hotskwash.com.

Knowles collects pumpkin and gourd stems from area farms to use on her creations. She washes and dries them before attaching them to the fabric pumpkin.

Contact Barb Randall at 503-636-1281 ext 100 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

All the pumpkins, mushrooms, acorns and strawberries are sewn by hand.

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