Protective tentacles for prematurely born babies

10:56 AM

What's the latest fad in Finnish crochet world? It's protective tentacles ("Turvalonkero" in Finnish) without a doubt. What's all the fuzz about and why is everyone suddenly crocheting amigurumi octopuses?

These octopuses are crocheted for babies that were born prematurely. The reason is the tentacles, something safe that a little hand can hold on to. Babies have the need to grab something, and in an incubator there is always the danger that little hands grab a tube that's there to help them grow stronger. With a little octopus by their side, preemies can hold on to something safe. They find comfort in holding the tentacles and the important equipment stays safe.

Check out this video by Yle (Finnish Broadcasting Company). It's in Finnish, but you can see how the octopus toy works in the incubator for Nelli who weighs a mere 830 grams. It must have been after this video that everyone in Finland started crocheting little octopuses!

There was one hospital in Finland that called for crocheters to help them by making these protective tentacles, and it kind of escalated from there to a nation wide phenomenon. Annika Pakkanen gave birth to a child 3,5 months premature. With her little preemie at the hospital in an incubator, she learned about protective tentacles and made the first one for her own child. Unfortunately, her child did not make it, but died at the age of 2,5 months. To help in her sorrow, Annika has since then crocheted 118 octopuses more for the hospital. She shared her pattern through Yle so other people could crochet more protective tentacles for other hospitals in Finland and keep the memory of her child alive. And with her permission, I have translated the pattern so those of you who don't speak Finnish can make some for a hospital near you! However, please inquire at the hospital for any safety issues first. For example, in Finland hospitals require that the tentacles have been washed in 60'C before donating them. There is a Danish Octo Project that can be contacted for more information.

Protective tentacles

You need:

  • Crochet hook size 2 and 3.5 mm
  • Tapestry needle
  • Black and white yarn for the eyes
  • Fiber fill
  • Colorful yarn for the octopus: cotton/bamboo or anything that you can wash in 60’C and that won’t emit dust (pictured: Novita Miami and Novita Puuvilla-Bambu)


R1: With colorful yarn, 6SC in magic loop using 3.5 mm hook
R2: 2 SC in each st around (12 sts)
R3: *SC 1, 2 SC in next st* rep 6 times (18 sts)
R4: *SC 2, 2 SC in next st* rep 6 times (24 sts)
R5: SC around (24 sts)
R6: *SC 3, 2 SC in next st* rep 6 times (30 sts)
R7-9: SC around (30 sts)
R10: *SC 3, dec 1* rep 6 times (24 sts)
Break yarn.

Bottom and tentacles

Work rows 1-4 as in body, using 3.5 mm hook. Start working on the tentacles without braking yarn. Chain 40, skip 1st ch, sc in following 39 (to make tentacles curly, add 1-2 sc in every few chains). Tentacles should be max 22 cm in length for safety reasons. Sl st to next SC. Repeat for a total of 6 tentacles, more or less. Break yarn.


Using black yarn and 2 mm hook, 6SC in magic loop, close loop with sl st, break yarn. With white yarn, 2SC in each sts around (12 sts). Break yarn and make another one (leave long strand on the second eye for sewing eyes in place).

Sew eyes on body, pull loose ends to WS. Stuff body with fiber fill. Attach bottom to body starting between the eyes and between middle tentacles. Weave in ends.

Alternatively, you can crochet the octopus in one piece:

Work body as above, but do not break yarn. Sew eyes on body and continue with tentacles as in bottom above. After 6th tentacle continue with SC for rest of the row.
R12: SC around (24 sts)
R13: *SC 2, dec 1* rep 6 times (18 sts)
R14: *SC 1, dec 1* rep 6 times (12 sts)
Stuff with fiber fill.
R15: dec 1 around (6 sts)
Break yarn. Weave in ends.

Edit April 29: Corrected history of the pattern.
Edit Feb 21: Added link to the Danish project and safety notice.

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7 kommenttia

  1. This is so sweet... Thank you for sharing the pattern and kindness, dear Katrine!

    1. Thank you Alina! I thought it was such a great idea that I wanted to translate the pattern into English as well.

  2. Very sweet! Can you please tell me what each sized crochet hook is for?

    1. The smaller one is for the eyes. Thanks for asking, I seem to have forgotten that from the translation!

  3. Katrine, are you aware that there is an octopus project that originated in Denmark in 2013? It slowly spread to lots of other countries in Europe and beyond. The project is run per country , each with their own safety rules in place. One of the universal rules is to never go drop of a crocheted octopus at a hospital, outside of the official project in the country. This is mainly for safety and quality purposes, because the recipient is often a very vulnerable, premature baby.
    I would recommend that you contact Denmark about this, and that you also remove you pattern from your blog for the time being, because it would not pass the safety inspection that is in place in the countries that have an octopus project.
    Maybe this would be an opportunity for you to start the octopus project in Finland with the proper support from Denmark.

    1. Thank you for the link and information! I wasn't aware of the Danish (or any of the other) projects, so it's nice to know more about the background. I'm not affiliated with the Finnish project in any way, but I'll share the link with them so they can contact the Danish project. I also added a note about the safety issues to this blog post.

  4. Thank you in return for sharing the Danish the link and for adding it to your blog. I hope it will help spreading awareness.


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