I have, for several years, been totally fascinated by the idea of a "wunderkammer," or cabinet of curiosity, which was the name given to the earliest of natural history collections. A wunderkammer was quite literally the most amazing, shocking, and befuddling specimens of the natural world -- real and imagined -- jammed together in a room or ornate display case. The viewer, I imagine, was supposed to get the sense that they were beholding all corners of the earth at once, in one glance -- sea shells (once a rarity) displayed next to preserved two-headed lambs, saintly relics, and "unicorn horns."
I got my mitts on a copy of Albertus Seba's Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, and it was only a matter of time before I made the connection between the beautiful red coral branches pictured in it and a few forlorn balls of red yarn I had earmarked for armwarmers —Quoted from the great interview with Jessica Polka on CRAFT magazine
This mini-pattern is much shorter than most in the Wunderkammer, but will give you an idea of their format and style.
Using a G hook and worsted weight yarn, these take just a few minutes to make and measure in at around 2" long, legs fully extended. They look adorable squished into sample-size jam jars.
You could experiment with adding rows (try duplicating row 3, for example) to make the body longer, or by adding stitches in the early rows to make it wider. It's good to end up with 8 stitches in the last row, however, so that you can easily attach the correct number of legs.
When starting the double loop start, leave an extra long tail - we're going to turn it into a leg later!
1.............Double loop start with 6 stitches.
2.............Increase in every stitch (12 stitches total in this row)
3.............Single crochet in each stitch (12 stitches)
4.............Decrease in the 1st and 6th stitch of row 3 (10 stitches)
5.............Decrease in the 5th and 10th stitch of row 4 (8 stitches)
Slip stitch three times to smooth out the edge of the body.
(Note: the directions below assume you are making your chain stitches pretty loose. If you make them tight, or if you want the octopus to have longer legs, try increasing their length to 6 or 7 chain stitches)
With your hook still in the last slip stitch, chain 5, then tie off and trim the end. Tie an extra knot to secure.
Pull the "tail" from the double loop start to the inside of the body, if it isn't there already.
Cut 3 segments of yarn about 2' long. Fold one in half. Insert your hook into the a stitch in the final row of the body, next to the last leg you made. Instead of using the top-most, outermost loop, use the one that is on the interior of the octopus, closer to you. The hook in this picture is being inserted into this interior loop.
Pull a short length of the doubled-up yarn through so that you have a loop, and feed the ends through that loop. You've now knotted the yarn to the body, and you should have 2 tails of equal length. Use these tails to make legs as described in the stitch the knot is made in as well as the adjacent stitch.
Repeat this with the other two lengths of yarn. You now have an eyeless octopus with 8 legs!
There are a variety of ways to make eyes, but I like to use the method that follows.
Cut two circles of felt about 4 mm in diameter. Sew a seed bead to the middle of each, and attach this, in turn, to the last row of the body of the octopus, at a spacing you find pleasing. If you sew only in the middle of the felt, the seed bead will give the appearance of being set deep within the felt.
This pattern is © 2007 Jessica Polka.
From Jessica's blog Wunderkammer.
G crochet hook
worsted weight yarn
If you feel the baby octopus needs a legal guardian, you can find a full-sized octopus pattern in my Etsy shop.