Feb 13 2017

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Octo Project – Crochet Octopus for Preemies in NJ

A few days ago, a dear friend and a crochet student of mine had sent me this article, The Incredible Way a Crochet Octopus is Changing the Lives of Preemies. The Octo Project originated in Denmark and over 21 thousand octopuses have been delivered to preemies since 2013 world-wide.

The secret of these crochet octopuses are the tentacles that remind babies of the umbilical cord and their time in the womb.  The feeling of the womb is very comforting to babies and I remember spending the first 4 months of Zoe’s life trying to recreate that feeling just so she would sleep!  It is especially important for preemies to have the comfort of the womb as it helps them develop.

Preemies have a soft spot in my heart. My nephew was born too soon just at 19 weeks gestation, a little angel.  In his honor, I walk with March of Dimes as every baby deserves a strong start in life.  I even designed this little cardigan that I’ve named after Jeremiah and all proceeds from this pattern are donated to March of Dimes.

The Octo Project for me is different in a way that you can “see” the immediate result.  It is not collective research in the future but it is help and comfort for one baby/one family right now.  I guess I am thinking more like a mom than a scientist.

Crafters in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, The Faroe Islands, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, France, Italy, Turkey, Croatia, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and Australia have donated Octos.  In the US the project only took off in two states so far: California and Florida. We are going to take on NJ starting with the hospital where my little girl was born and spent a few days in the NICU.

Through the powers of social networking and great friends, we were able to get in touch with NICU manager and one of the nurses who took care of my little one.   As it turns out there is a need at the NICU for those creatures. Since I’ve shared the article on my Facebook wall a lot of people have expressed their interest in volunteering so we will be going ahead with using the magic of crocheting to help little fighters.

The original pattern provided by the Octo Project is written to be used with thinner yarn which is a little harder to get in the US.  I have created a sample following the original pattern and I felt like it was too big.  I created several prototypes to modify the pattern to make it work for the yarn that is more readily available and will be posting an updated pattern for it shortly.  The modified pattern can be found at CrochetforBabies.com.

I have also have recorded a video on how to make one so anyone with very little crochet skills but a big desire to help can make one (or ten, seriously, it is very hard to stop making them, very addictive).  Once the videos are edited, I will share it too.  The video is below.

So what yarn should be used to make Octos? The main page states 100% cotton yarn. I would recommend not using mercerized cotton as it is treated with chemicals to make yarn shinier. I would also recommend not using yellow color for preemies (bad juju). I have used Sugar n’ Cream which can be purchased at any big box craft store. It’s inexpensive, readily available and comes in a lot of colors. It could be a little hard on your hands as it needs to be crocheted at a tight gauge. Another great option that I will mostly be using is Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Cotton, very soft, great color selection.

If you would like to make it here is the link to the pattern and the video tutorial.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.anastasiapopova.com/2017/02/octo-project-crochet-octopus-preemies/


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  1. Crystal

    Is the hospital in NJ definitely going to accept the octopi? I’m working on some right now from the original pattern published on the Denmark site. I’m excited about finding something a little more local than Florida or California.

    1. Anastasia

      Hi Crystal, thank you for making octos! Yes, our local hospital will accept them. My understanding is that most hospitals would. There just might be different requirements for delivery. Try contacting your local NICU, ours asked that octos are individually packaged in ziplocks and washes in gentle fragrance-free detergent.

  2. Cissy Hunter

    Do you know if there are any groups in Alabama crocheting the octopi?

    1. Anastasia

      Hi Cissy, unfortunately I don’t know. But there is a Facebook group for Octo Project in US. maybe try asking there?

      Good luck,


  3. Candice

    Great stroy! Thank you for sharing. I’m looking forward to making these cute little guys for the Octo Project! (Also, it’s “octopuses, by the way; the word is Greek in origin so the plural is different than if the word were from Latin.)

  4. Carolyn

    Does anyone have the pattern?

    1. Anastasia

      Hi Carolyn, the pattern and video tutorial are linked above. I have two slightly different patterns and tutorial now. Both are located at Crochetforbabies.com. Here are the links http://crochetforbabies.com/2017/03/04/octopus-for-preemies-2-0-free-crochet-pattern-octo-project/ and http://crochetforbabies.com/2017/02/13/octopus-preemie-free-crochet-pattern-octo-project/

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