Charlottes Army Crochet Octopus

In celebration of November being Prematurity Awareness Month, Charlotte and I started a little project.  We dubbed it Charlottes Army and resolved to try and get as many people together as we could muster, to assist in creating preemie octopus, beanies, booties, blankies and clothing for premature babies.

The resulting support and outreach has been surreal and we are blown away by the offers to assist.

I’ve scoured the internet for various patterns for the preemie octopus pattern in particular and have tried a few out, some worked for me, others did not and one in particular worked well after a few modifications to suit my style of crochet.  So I’ve taken a few minutes out of my day and written down a pattern specially for Charlottes Army Octopus, with some images attached which I hope will help if my instructions are a little unclear. Forgive me, but this is the first time that I’m writing down a pattern, so if you see a glitch, please let me know!

But, let’s not dilly dally any longer! Here is what you are actually here for!  The pattern:

Charlottes Army Crochet Octopus

These adorable little crocheted octopus toys are specially designed for premature babies in mind.  Their curly tentacles mimic an umbilical in the womb that the babies often grab hold of in order to comfort and sooth themselves.

Quite often premature babies are not allowed to be held by their mothers for various medical reasons.  It is essential to allow them to feel as secure and safe as possible whilst in their incubators and isolettes.

For this very reason I’d recommend crocheting these little octopus in pairs.  While baby is nestled snuggly with one octopus, mom is making sure that the second one spends a few hours on her skin, absorbing her unique scent that her baby will recognize. A very similar concept to having blankets or an item of clothing placed safely with the baby that smells like their mom.

When choosing your yarn remember that a newborn and especially a premature babies skin is wafer thin and incredibly delicate. They are incredibly sensitive to touch in the first few weeks and their skin can irrirate and hurt them very easily.  It is for this reason that it is recommended to stay away from scratchy yarns such as animal based yarns (wool and mohair are good examples), synthetic based yarns that are made from polyester are also not advisable.  The only animal hair based yarn that is acceptable is Alpaca as it is non allergenic due to the lack of lanolin in it’s hair follicles.  The best types of yarns to use are cotton, bamboo or acrylic based, the softer the better. The thickness of yarn does not make a difference, as long as your choice of yarn thickness is suitable to the pattern and hook size that is required for your project.

Other considerations for crochet projects for premature babies are to keep your stitches nice and tight with no large gaps in the design.  Gaps are spaces for little hands, fingers and limbs to get stuck in and pose an injury risk for preemies and newborns, stuck limbs can result in oxygen depravation and can have devastating permanent consequences.  Avoid any embelishments on your crochet items such as buttons or any other items which have sharp corners that can scratch and break skin or hurt their fragile eyes.  No loose threads, long ties, bows, ribbons, etc should be on any items placed with a preemies or newborns.

But, back onto our octopus pattern!!!

The best crochet hook size for these little gems is either a size 3.0mm or a 3.5mm, I use a 3.25mm, but they are not often available in South Africa it seems.

Your yarn of choice should be suitable to the hook size that you have selected.  I love using the Nikkim range of Bamboo yarns as well as the Elle Premier natural cotton yarns, either in the double knit or in the four ply.  Elle Pure Gold in four fly also works really well.  But the choices are endless so have fun looking in your local craft store for a yarn that you love to work with!!!

For this pattern and images I used the Elle Premier Double Knit as it’s a nice smooth yarn that allows me to try and take some images that will hopefully assist you in creating your octopus.

And here is the pattern:

*American terms are used for this pattern

Hook Size:           3.00mm – 3.5mm

Yarns:                    Cotton, Bamboo, Acrylic or Alpaca

Special notes:     This pattern can be used by working in normal rounds and ending each row with a slip stitch before commencing with the new row, or worked (as I have in this pattern) in a continuous circle/in the round.  I prefer working in a continuous circle as there are no visible seems and joins with this method.

Special tools:      You will need scissors, a thick needle to sew your octopus closed, a stitch marker of your choice and soft stuffing to fill the body.

Finished size:      The body length of the octopus should be between 7-9cm, the head circumference between 15-17cm and the length of the completed tentacles stretched out should be no more than 22cm.  If you find the completed tentacle is longer than this, reduce the number of chain stitches from 50 to a lesser number that accommodates your crochet tension.

Abbreviations:

MC——–Magic Circle

SC——–Single Crochet

CH——–Chain

2SC Tog—2 Stitches Together

ST——–Slip Stitch

*Remember to keep your stitch marker handy to help keep track of your number of stitches and rows*

Body:

Start your pattern with a magic circle.

 

R1

6 SC into magic circle, pull tight.  Do not slip stitch to close first row;  (6)

R2

2 SC in each SC of previous row                                                                            (12)

R3

2 SC in every second SC of previous row.                                                         (18)

R4

2 SC in every third SC of previous row                                                               (24)

R5

2 SC in every fourth SC of previous row                                                           (30)

R6

2 SC in every fifth SC of previous row                                                               (36)

R7-14

(8 rows in total), 1 SC in every SC of previous row                                      (36)

R15

4 SC, 1 2SC Tog;  repeat 6 times across row                                                  (30)

R16

1 SC in every SC of previous row                                                                          (30)

R17

3 SC, 1 2SC Tog; repeat 6 times across row                                                   (24)

R18

1 SC in every SC of previous row                                                                         (24)

R19

2 SC, 1 2SC Tog; repeat 6 times across row                                                   (18)

R20

1 SC in every SC of previous row                                                                        (18)

R21

7 SC, 1 2SC Tog; repeat twice across row                                                        (16)

R22

1 SC in every SC of previous row                                                                        (16)

Tentacles:

Step 1:

Chain 50 stitches from the last stitch of Row 22.

Step 2:

On the second chain from your hook insert 2 SC, on the third  chain insert 3SC and repeat this process until you complete all 50 stitches.

Step 3:

SC on the next stitch of the octopus body to secure your first tentacle.

Step 4:

SC onto the next stitch to start the next leg.

Step 5:

Repeat steps 1-4 until you have completed 8 tentacles.

Complete your tentacles by forming a slip stitch with the edge of the first tentacle created.

Stuffing and closing:

Remember to keep the stuffing soft and loose to allow NICU staff to ‘squish’ the octopus into comfortable and safe shapes for the babies to sleep with.  You should be able to push them reasonable flat but the stuffing should be able to puff back out to the original shape when weight is removed from the octopus body.

I prefer at this point to cut my yarn to a suitable length and use a nice chunky needle in place of a crochet hook to sew around the inside post of the stitches and pull the thread/yarn tight to seal the hole. Ensure you have created a solid, tight knot and work the loose thread into the octopus to ensure that it doesn’t work loose.

And there you have it!  The worlds cutest preemie Octopus

I have some images attached to assist in creating these little marvels.  For my octopus I like to work with the back post of a stitch or the front post, it creates nice textures, but crocheting by using the full stitch works just as well for this pattern.

I hope you enjoy making them as much as I do!!!

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