My first mistake was using a needle to poke out the pattern. I thought it would be a good idea; the pattern was intricate, so the holes outlining it should be small. Sure. Trust the Pumpkin Masters, people. If they give you a poking tool, use it. I poked the whole damn outline, and when I removed the pattern... I had some teeny tiny nearly-invisible dots on the pumpkin skin. I couldn't make out much of it. I thought perhaps I'd start on the part I knew best and carry on from there, since re-poking the entire pattern would be so much work. Carve, carve.. where the hell is that line? Compare to other print of pattern. Uh oh. Clearly, I am not getting anywhere. I peeled a little chunk of pumpkin next to the irregular blob I'd cut out, just to see how the peeling technique looked (ok, I guess), and contemplated giving up entirely. This was obviously too ambitious a project, and I lacked the patience, and I sure as hell wasn't starting over with a new pumpkin the next night even though I'd kind of ruined this one with the irregular blob I'd cut out of it more or less freehand.
But no. I took my second print of the pattern, and taped it to the pumpkin, and started poking with the proper poker. I simplified the pattern in some places, because of the size of the holes and the increasing certainty that I wouldn't be able to carve anything that detailed anyway. I got back to carving, carefully, and played with the peeling technique. I had no idea how much to peel, and the pumpkin is rather inconsistent in that regard. Sometimes I was chopping more than peeling, and I didn't get a nice even surface underneath by any means. (Okay, I was persevering, good for me, but my patience was still shot.)
The actual carving and peeling took less time than I thought (so I could've slowed down). The end result is... well... interesting. It somewhat resembles my pattern, which somewhat resembled the moon. The irregular blotches suggest continents more than anything else to me, but if you back off there is something moony about the orange glow. I definitely see the possibilities of the peeling technique, which I got somewhat better at toward the end. So.. at least I finished it, and I feel better about it than I would have if I'd tossed the pumpkin after the first abortive attempt at carving. It's not as neat as the bat-pumpkin last year, but that one had the advantage of being immediately identifiable to anyone who looked at it. That's an advantage in a design. Next year I'll have this experience behind me, so I'll have a better idea of what makes a good (or at least carvable) pattern.