Emil: the Preemie Octopus Crochet for Charity Pattern

Crochet Octopus free pattern

Do you knit / crochet for charity? Have you heard about preemie octopus before? They’re cute little crochet octopus (or jellyfish) looking amigurumi (stuffed crochet toys). Yes, they are adorable but that’s not all. Scientific research has shown they actually help preemies get better.

“The purpose of the crocheted octopuses is to promote comfort and development for the pre-term babies while in the hospital. The tentacles of the soft octos mimic the feel of the umbilical cord in their tiny hands and have been found to soothe the babies and help prevent them from pulling on wires and tubes.”

Octopus for a Preemie-US Project Ambassador Randi Palm of Lonsdale

When I heard my local hospital back home was looking for someone to make premie octopus for their NICU, I knew I had to step in.

This is quite different from my usual patterns but it’s a lot of fun to make. They look complicated but are actually beginner-friendly. I taught my mom to crochet by teaching her to make these, she made the yellow one from start to finish (I’m really proud of her!). The best part, you can actually make a difference to a tiny baby’s health by donating these.

To me, that’s just magical.

Scroll down for the free version but I recommend you purchase the ad-free PDF Pattern to get all the instructions and pictures in a nice PDF you can print and take notes on without relying on your phone or an internet connection, I’ve got you covered!

As my way to help support all crochet for charity, the PDF pattern is 50% off my usual price (no code required). You can purchase it here on Ravelry or here in my Etsy shop.

Check with your local hospital if their NICU is in need of preemie octopus. Otherwise, there are a lot of charities collecting and redistributing these adorable preemie octopuses!

No time right now? Pin this preemie octopus pattern for later!

Crochet Octopus Pattern FREE

*This post contains affiliate links (only for products I love, use and spend my own money on obviously). This means I earn some yarn money if you make a purchase through one of these links (of course at no extra cost for you!), which I promise to use to create more awesome patterns like this one. All opinions are my own. See my full disclosure here

Before you Start Making your Preemie Octopus Pattern


  • 2.5 mm / B1 crochet hook. I love this simple basic set.
  • Cotton fingering weight yarn: I used this cheap yarn from Amazon I had leftover from the Candy Potholder pattern. For one octopus you need about 56 m / 61 yd of yarn (8 m / 9 yd per tentacle and 16 m / 18 yd for the head).
  • Stitch marker to keep track of the start of the round
  • Tapestry needle to weave in the ends. I love this set as it has different eye sizes for different yarn thickness and it comes in a small tube which is very convenient so I don’t lose them.


This pattern follows US notations.

  • st = stitch
  • ch = chain
  • sc = single crochet
  • inc = increase = 2 sc in the same stitch.
  • dec = decrease = make 1 sc in 2 stitches. I recommend using an invisible decrease.

Repeat instructions between ** the indicated number of times or until the end of the round.

Each increase or decrease is worked in a separate stitch throughout the pattern.

My gauge is 34 stitches by 40 rows for a 10cm by 10cm / 4″ square.


The Octopus for premies is much smaller than you would think. The head has a circumference of about 15 cm / 6″ and height of 7 cm / 2 3/4″. The tentacles are about 18 cm / 7″ fully stretched.

Tips and Tricks

Because these cute little octopuses are designed to help premies there are strict guidelines to follow. Please read the following carefully if you plan to make these for charity. You can find more details on the Octopus for a Premie charity website.

  • Use only cotton yarn. Animal fibers and synthetic fibers are not recommended as they could cause irritation to the baby’s skin.
  • There is a small range of flexibility on the shape and size. Please follow the pattern carefully and check your gauge. Tentacles cannot be longer than  22 cm / 8 ½” when fully stretched.
  • Use hypoallergenic synthetic filling that can be washed at 60°C. Don’t replace the stuffing with yarn scraps or cottonwool.
  • The eyes are optional but can only be embroidered. Don’t use safety eyes or other types of eyes.
  • Colors: Any color is fine except red and black. Red can be confusing for the nurses and doctors and black can overstimulate the babies. Don’t use small scraps of yarn, make stripes or color patterns. Try to minimize the number of junctions between threads of yarn.
  • Better to crochet too tightly than too loose. It is important that the stuffing cannot come out, loose ends are woven in and every part is seamed and secured tightly.

The Actual Crochet Octopus Free Pattern

The Crochet Octopus Body

Make 6 sc in a magic circle. Crochet in the round.

crochet octopus free pattern step 1

R1: inc 6 times (12 st)
R2: * sc, inc * 6 times (18 st)
R3: * 2sc, inc * 6 times (24 st)
R4: * 3sc, inc * 6 times (30 st)
R5: * 4sc, inc * 6 times (36 st)

Premie octopus crochet for charity pattern step 2

R6: * 5sc, inc * 6 times (42 st)
R7: * 6sc, inc * 6 times (48 st)
R8: * 7sc, inc * 6 times (54 st)
R9: * 8sc, inc * 6 times (60 st)

Premie octopus crochet for charity pattern step 3

R10: *8sc, dec* 6 times (54 st)
R11: sc around
R12: *7sc, dec* 6 times (48 st)
R13: sc around
R14: *6sc, dec* 6 times (42 st)
R15: sc around

crochet octopus free pattern step 4

R16: *5sc, dec* 6 times (36 st)
R17 – R18: sc around
R19: *4sc, dec* 6 times (30 st)
R20 – R21: sc around
R22: *3sc, dec* 6 times (24 st)
R23: sc around

Premie octopus crochet for charity pattern step 5

Start stuffing the head. Keep stuffing while you work the next rounds.

R24: *2sc, dec* 6 times (18 st)

Amigurumi octopus pattern free step 6

R25: *1sc, dec* 6 times (12 st)
R26: dec 6 times (6 st)

Preemie Octopus Pattern Tentacles

There is no minimum or maximum number of tentacles required. I think 5 looks cute and is not too much work but you can adapt if you want.

You can start with either a starting chain or a foundation single crochet. As illustrated below both give a very different look to your tentacles. With the foundation single crochet, the tentacle looks shorter but stretches more. I actually like to mix tentacles made with both techniques. This way I get varying lengths of tentacles on the same crochet octopus.

Amigurumi octopus pattern free step 7

Ch40 + 1

R1: sc in each st (skip R1 if using foundation single crochet).

crochet octopus free pattern step 8

R2: 2 sc in each st

Amigurumi octopus pattern free step 9

R3: 2 sc in each st

Amigurumi octopus pattern free step 10

Leave a long tail for sewing.

Sewing the Crochet Octopus

With a tapestry needle, sew each tentacle to the head around the bottom of the head. I like to use one of the tails of the tentacle to sew and then make a tight knot with the other end before hiding both tails in the head.

Make sure everything is secured.

Amigurumi octopus pattern free step 11

The last step is to embroider the eyes. This is completely optional. I find them cute with and without eyes.

Congratulations, you’ve finished your crochet octopus! Make as many as you want and donate them to your local hospital.

If you enjoyed this preemie octopus pattern, share it with your yarn loving friends!

Octopus Amigurumi Free Pattern

free knitting and crochet cheatsheets

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