Knit Octopus

I can't say that I've ever felt the desire to hug an actual octopus, but a stuffed one has a distinct appeal: eight embracing arms! With such magnanimity, a Knit Octopus makes a pretty sweet companion!

What I didn't know about designing an octopus was that it would put me on a deep-sea exploration of knitting's inherent intelligence. Knitting, like the ocean itself, answers to an inscrutable essence, part natural law and part mystery. Bound by the mathematics of eight, this Knit Octopus practically created itself, and so to me, the result feels magically inevitable.

And for mathematical magic there's nothing better than the purity of warm white. Blue Sky's Sport Weight Alpaca in Natural White brings a lovely serenity and simplicity to the Knit Octopus, while the wonderful softness of 100% baby alpaca (doubled!) brings us back to all that hugging I was talking about. Get all six skeins of alpaca, plus stuffing and scrap yarn for the eyes, all in one place with our Materials for Knit Octopus kit!

I hope, like me, that when you create your Knit Octopus you feel a little bit like the Jacques Cousteau of knitting, probing the fathomless world of knits and purls, learning a little something along the way! -Whitney


The Materials


Our Materials for Knit Octopus kit includes...

  • 6 skeins of Blue Sky's Sport Weight Alpaca - Solids, 100% baby alpaca. This color is Natural White. PLEASE NOTE: This pattern uses just about all of the 6 skeins. So if you're worried about running out of yarn, please buy an extra skein. You can exchange it if you don't end up needing it (click right here for Purl Soho's return policy).
  • A 12-ounce bag of Fairfield's Poly-Fil stuffing

You'll also need...

The Pattern


4 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch, with the yarn doubled

Finished Size

Circumference around widest part of Body: 20 1/2 inches

Height of Body: 7 1/2 inches

Length of each Arm: 10 inches


You will use the Sport Weight Alpaca doubled throughout this pattern. The easiest way to do this is to pull from two balls at once.

The Body

Using two strands of the Sport Weight Alpaca, cast 6 stitches onto the double pointed needles.

Join for working in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Round 1: Knit into front and back (kfb) 6 times. (12 stitches)

Round 2: *K1, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (18 stitches)

Round 3: *K2, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (24 stitches)

Round 4: Knit.

Round 5: *K3, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (30 stitches)

Round 6: Knit.

Round 7: *K4, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (36 stitches)

Round 8: Knit.

Round 9: *K5, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (42 stitches)

Round 10: Knit.

Round 11: *K6, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (48 stitches)

Round 12: Knit.

Round 13: *K7, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (54 stitches)

Rounds 14 and 15: Knit.

Round 16: *K8, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (60 stitches)

Rounds 17 and 18: Knit.

Round 19: *K9, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (66 stitches)

Rounds 20 and 21: Knit.

Changing to the 16-inch circular needle...

Round 22: *K10, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (72 stitches)

Rounds 23-25: Knit.

Round 26: *K11, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (78 stitches)

Rounds 27-29: Knit.

Round 30: *K12, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (84 stitches)

Knit for 2 1/2 inches.

Next Round: *K12, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (78 stitches)

Knit 2 rounds.

Next Round: *K11, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (72 stitches)

Knit 4 rounds.

Next Round: *K11, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (78 stitches)

Knit 1 round.

Next Round: *K12, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (84 stitches)

Knit 1 round.

Next Round: *K13, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (90 stitches)

Knit 1 round.

Next Round: *K14, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (96 stitches)

Set the Body aside without cutting the yarn.

The First Arm

With the yarn doubled, cast 6 stitches onto three double pointed needles.

Join for working in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Round 1: Knit.

Round 2: K1, make 1 left (m1l), knit to end of round, make 1 right (m1r). (8 stitches)

Round 3: K4, p1, knit to end of round.

Round 4: K1, m1l, k3, p1, knit to end of round, m1r. (10 stitches)

Rounds 5 and 6: K4, p1, k1, p1, knit to end of round.

Round 7: K1, m1l, k4, p1, knit to end of round, m1r. (12 stitches)

Round 8: K6, p1, knit to end of round.

Round 9: K5, p1, k1, p1, knit to end of round.

Round 10: K1, m1l, k4, p1, k1, p1, knit to end of round, m1r. (14 stitches)

Rounds 11 and 12: K5, (p1, k1) 2 times, p1, knit to end of round.

Round 13: K6, p1, k1, p1, knit to end of round.

Round 14: K1, m1l, k5, p1, k1, p1, knit to end of round, m1r. (16 stitches)

Rounds 15 and 16: K6, (p1, k1) 2 times, p1, knit to end of round.

Round 17: K5, (p1, k1) 3 times, p1, knit to end of round.

Round 18: K1, m1l, k4, (p1, k1) 3 times, p1, knit to end of round, m1r. (18 stitches)

Rounds 19 and 20: K7, (p1, k1) 2 times, p1, knit to end of round.

Round 21 and 22: K6, (p1, k1) 3 times, p1, knit to end of round.

Repeat Rounds 19-22 until piece measures 10 inches from the tip, stuffing the Arm lightly as you go. End 5 stitches before the end of a Round 20. Cut a 12-inch tail.

Slip the next 11 stitches onto one double pointed needle and arrange the remaining 7 stitches onto another double pointed needle.

Now weave in the cast on tail to encourage the slight curl at the tip of the Arm. Weave the tail up the center stitch of the stockinette side.

And weave it back down toward the tip to secure.

Attach Arm to Body

Returning to the Body, knit 12 stitches.

**Flip the Body over so the circular needle is on the bottom and the knitting is on the top.

With wrong sides facing each other, hold the double pointed needle with 11 stitches parallel to the left-hand circular needle.

Using the 12-inch tail from the Arm, work Kitchener Stitch to graft the 11 stitches of the Arm to the next 11 stitches of the Body. (There will be one stitch from the Body remaining. Leave it on the circular needle.)

Put the Arm's remaining 7 stitches on a piece of scrap yarn.

Flip the Body over again and with the right side facing you, knit the next 12 stitches.

Set the Body aside.

More Arms

*Knit another Arm identical to the first.

To attach it to the Body, repeat from ** of the Attach Arm to Body section.

Repeat from * until you have made and attached a total of eight Arms (Do not knit 12 stitches after attaching the final Arm).

You should now have 8 stitches on the circular needle, one between each Arm. Make sure the end-of-the-round marker is still in place.

The Bottom

Now working with the circular needle and the yarn that is still attached to the Body...

Round 1: Pick up 1 stitch from between the last Arm attached and the next stitch on the needle. The red dot in this photo shows you where.

*Purl the next stitch, then pick up 1 stitch from between the stitch you just purled and the next Arm.

Slip the 7 stitches from the next Arm onto the left end of the circular needle. Remove the scrap yarn.

Working those 7 stitches, (p1, k1) 3 times, p1. Then pick up 1 stitch between the last stitch purled and the next stitch on the needle.

Repeat from * to the end of the round, finishing with the 7 stitches of the eighth Arm. (80 stitches)

Round 2: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round.

Now is a good time to even out any tension issues from grafting on the Arms and to weave in the remaining ends.

Round 3: *(P1, k1) 3 times, p2tog, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (64 stitches)

Changing to the double pointed needles...

Round 4: *P1, k1, repeat from * to end of round.

Rounds 5 and 6: Repeat Round 2.

Stuff the Body so it is nice and plump, and keep adding stuffing as you finish.

Round 7: (P1, k1) 2 times, p2tog, k2tog, repat from * to end of round. (48 stitches)

Rounds 8-10: Repeat Rounds 4-6.

Round 11: P1, k1, p2tog, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (32 stitches)

Rounds 12-14: Repeat Rounds 4-6.

Round 15: *P2tog, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (16 stitches)

Knit 2 rounds.

Next Round: K2tog 8 times. (8 stitches)

Cut a 12-inch tail and thread it through the remaining stitches. Then sew the tail through the center of the Bottom up to the top center of the Body, causing the center Bottom to pull in a little bit. Weave in the tail.

The Eyes

Using a tapestry needle and scrap yarn (I doubled a scrap of Blue Sky Sport Weight Alpaca's Natural Light Gray), backstitch a sleeping eye onto the Body, a few rounds above the first round of decreases.

Make another eye to match the first.

Give your octopus a squeeze and you're all done!

43 Responses to Knit Octopus

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  1. Laurence says:

    This is adorable! And I can't imagine how soft it must be with this yarn!

  2. Laura says:

    Oh my goodness, there are no words to express how much I love this octopus! Thank you very much for posting this; I can't wait to make it! xoxo

  3. Suzanne says:

    I always get a little jolt of joy when I visit your blog. The photos are just wonderful and the octopus is adorable.

  4. Bailey says:

    I love the detail of the texture on the bottom of the tentacles!! How adorable :)

  5. lis says:

    Is there a formula to maybe shrink this down? I'm planning on decorating with an under the sea theme for baby #4 coming in October and I think a knit octopus would be the perfect addition for a growing baby to love on, but 20 inches circ with 10 in legs would be a bit big for a tiny little one :).

  6. pog says:

    i love the octopus and will probably make one. I have made almost two hedgehogs; i didn't put eyes on them because when i reached that point i liked them plain. did you make that pattern too?

    my octo will be eyeless as well,I think.great work–i can't imagine being able to create such patterns!

  7. emily says:

    Hi! Can you recommend any substitute yarns? In particular I'm curious what the appropriate weight yarn would be if you weren't going to work with a double strand. Thanks!

  8. Eileen says:

    Very cute! Do you recommend this project for an infant/baby toy?

  9. Emily Q says:

    This is soooo lovely! I am going to make this for my niece! thanks for sharing!

  10. Pink says:

    I love the textured bottom! That's a quick and easy toy to make, and not a lot of yarn if you use a worsted weight. Super cute!

  11. Nicole says:

    Omg. This is so stinking cute! I love it! What stitch did you use to create the "suckers"?

  12. Cristina says:

    I think this is the first time ever I've wanted to knit something just because of the designer's write up!

  13. Lisa says:

    Also…. a baby octopus pattern would be nice as a previous poster suggested. All those arms would make great grips for babies but at this size it might be a little too big. Any chance of getting a follow up baby octopus pattern? Please? With a cherry on top?

  14. Silvia says:

    Thank you Molly for yet another wonderful project! Having a 2-month old baby boy also means not having a lot of time for crafts anymore so I do agree with a couple of previous posts: would it be possible to have a baby octopus project? Please? It would look great in my baby's pirate-themed room! :) Thanks again Molly!!!

  15. purl bee says:

    Hi Silvia-

    Thanks for the suggestion I will pass it along to Whitney. And just to clarify- this is Whitney's adorable pattern, not mine. I do mostly sewing projects and I am the comment mediator but unfortunately I'm not a very good knitter : )

    Thank you for writing in!


  16. Silvia says:

    Hi Molly, I stand corrected: thanks Whitney for this beautiful octopus! :) Anyway, I spent my pregnancy sewing amazing things for my baby such as the penguin, the burp cloths and the hooded bath cape so many thanks to you, Molly for your sewing patterns as well! :) I just love your website because although I am not too bad at sewing or knitting, I am uncapable of creating a pattern so you girls are lifesavers! Keep up the good work ;)

  17. purl bee says:

    Thank you Slivia! It's so nice to hear that you made some of my patterns for your little one! I have an 11 month old so I've been making (and re-making) those things right along side you for my daughter!


  18. Lisa says:

    Hi. I'm having real trouble casting on with this pattern. I can't figure out how to divide them between my dpns and when I tried with the circular needles they were too long to join in the round. I'm very new to knitting so any help would be appreciated.

  19. Karen says:

    Thank you so much for posting the instructions. He is adorable!

  20. purl bee says:

    Hi Ils, Lisa and Sylvia,

    To make a smaller version of this octopus you could use thinner yarn (like a fingering weight). Make sure to also adjust the length of the body and the arms. Should be cute! Let us know how your baby octopi turn out!

    Thanks for asking!

  21. purl bee says:

    Hi Emily,

    Any yarn that normally knits up to about 4 or 3 1/2 stitches to the inch would be great (since the gauge of this pattern is 4 1/2 stitches to the inch and you usually want to knit stuffed toys a little tight). A couple of good choices would be Cascade's Baby Alpaca: or Manos Del Uruguay's Maxima:

    But you don't have to get too hung up on the exact gauge of the yarn you use since no one's going to be wearing your octopus! So just make sure you pick something soft and cozy that you love…

    Thanks for your question!

  22. purl bee says:

    Hi Eileen,

    Sure! I think babies would love to tumble around with this guy (of course, not when the baby is sleeping, but that's true of all stuffed toys!).

    Thanks for asking!

  23. purl bee says:

    Hi Nicole,

    The "suckers" are what some people call a double seed stitch, which is two rows of k1, p1 alternating with two rows of p1, k1.

    Thanks for your question!

  24. purl bee says:

    Hi Lisa,

    You should cast 2 stitches onto each of three double pointed needles. Then you'll kind of want to flip the needles around so that the working yarn is coming from the right needle and the first stitch you cast on is on the left needle (with a third needle in between). Then join to work in the round by knitting the first stitch.

    Starting out with so few stitches can be a little awkward. If you can't sort it out, just cast on 12 stitches and start the pattern with Round 2. The hole at the top of the body will be a little bit bigger, but you can easily sew it up at the end!

    Thanks for your question and good luck!


  25. purl bee says:

    Hi again Lisa,

    The photo shows a circular needle because when there are too many stitches to comfortably fit on three double pointed needles, you switch to circular needles. The pattern mentions when to do this.


  26. Kristel says:

    Is there any reason to double the yarn or could I just use a thicker yarn? I ask because I'm allergic to all animal products but I like the Blue Sky Alpaca cotton, so I'm wondering if that would work?

  27. Sabine says:

    Dear Whitney,
    thank you very much for this nice pattern!
    Having already started with a blue yarn I am now asking myself how to stuff the octopus? The white filling material would look through. Have you got any suggestion for me?

  28. purl bee says:

    Hi Kristel,

    Yes, you can use a single strand of Blue Sky's Worsted Cotton. Sounds awesome! Just make sure that the gauge of 4 1/2 stitches to the inch will be tight enough to hide the insides of the octopus. If you have to knit it a little tighter, that's okay, your octopus will just be a bit smaller!

    Thanks for asking and good luck!

  29. purl bee says:

    Hi Sabine,

    Usually people knit stuffed toys at a pretty tight gauge so that the stuffing won't show through, regardless of the color. If you've already knit yours on the looser side, then there's not too much you can do, except maybe dye your stuffing to match your yarn! Our Bamboo Fiber Fill would probably take dye better than the Poly Fil.You cn find it right here:

    I hope this helps! We'd love to see your blue octopus when it's done!


  30. Silke says:

    That's absolutely wonderful! Any idea when the color "citron" will be in stock? My daughter would like to habe the octopus in green and liked this color the most.

  31. purl bee says:

    Hi Silke-

    A green octopus would be beautiful! Please email our customer service department and they can let you know when we're expecting more and email you once it's back in stock. customerservice AT purlsoho DOT com

    Thank you for writing in!


  32. Nana Joyce says:

    My wonderful DIL asks for for so little, but loved this pattern and asked me to create this for my soon to be born first grandchild. As an avid and experienced knitter I willingly said I'd make it. Two legs down, six to go. I know my new little grandson will love this! Thanks for this adorable pattern.

  33. Nana Joyce says:

    A post that I wrote on a pattern correction was incorrect. I was a row ahead of myself. I have removed that post

  34. Aaron says:

    That octopus is adorable! Thanks for posting the instructions, I can't wait to try making one myself!

  35. Vivianna says:

    I want to knit the underside a different color than the rest of the body. I am not sure how to do this in the round.

  36. Jillian says:

    I am attempting to graft my first arm to the body but when I flip the body over so that the round needles are on the bottom after knitting the 12 stitches, my working yarn is now on the left needle that I need to use to graft. I'm so confused as to what I am doing wrong to keep my working yarn on the right needle away from the grafting. Please help!! Thanks

  37. purl bee says:

    HI Jillian,

    You're correct that the working yarn should be on the left needle. You should then line up the double pointed needle holding the live leg stitches parallel to the left needle (where the working yarn is.)

    In the first photo of the Attach Arm to Body section, you can see the working yarn tucked out of the way behind the right circular needle so that you can graft with the 12-inch tail from the leg.

    I hope this answers your question. Please let us know if you're still confused, and we'll work it out! Thanks for asking!


  38. Martha says:

    How very strange. I made this exact octopus for my daughter in 2011, down to the eyes. Except it is yellow, she still loves it today, and have gotten so man compliments on originality, so creepy, it's like a long lost twin

  39. purl bee says:

    Hi Martha-

    Great minds think alike I guess : ) We would love to see a photo of your octopus. If you get a chance maybe you could send a pic to Molly AT purlsoho DOT com

    Thanks for getting in touch!


  40. Irene says:

    Decided to knit this with multi-coloured arms. We have a 2 year old grandson and I figured a colourful one might be interesting. As I am not an experienced knitter I didn't want to use expensive wool so just used cheap and cheerful DK acrylic. I found the instructions really easy to follow. I had never done the Kitchener stitch before and it was brilliant – and surprisingly easy. I did struggle with how to do the eyes and tidy up the ends. As I hadn't tied off the body I just went in from underneath and finished it that way. I have a photo which I will try and send to Molly at the above address.
    Thanks for the pattern – I had a lot of fun doing it.

  41. Kiki says:

    Wow, I made this for my aunt (a former marine biologist) and she absolutely loved it! Thanks again for all your great patterns :)

  42. Emily says:

    This is gorgeous. I'm not sure I've ever wanted to knit something so badly. It's a strange desire. There is just something so aesthetically pleasing about this little guy.

  43. Anna says:

    I just finished my personal octopus. Everybody loves it! What great pattern, thank you so much for it.!

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