With Halloween just around the corner, I’m very excited to share the latest piece of my yarncrafting costume adventures with you — an octopus headpiece. Costuming is a year-round experience for me, and I love that Halloween invites everyone to join the fun!
For a costume party held right after my birthday, I wanted to create an intricate piece to ring in my new year in grand fashion. The theme for this party was an interesting mashup – horned creatures and “under the sea,” with a steampunk flair!
Upon taking various sea creatures with tentacles, horns, and tusks into consideration, I decided to design an octopus headpiece. The octopus arms would be fun to shape into “horns” sticking out of my head, and would create the combination of drama and whimsy that I love.
After exploring images of octopuses (octopi?), including cartoons and stuffed toys in my search, I was most drawn to the spherical octopus shape. I knitted a sphere in the round using Vanna’s Choice® in Aqua, working with US 5 needles. A few rounds away from creating a fully closed sphere, I started increasing rapidly to create more of a flat circular shape. This would form the octopus base, where the tentacles would attach.
Once the body of the octopus was complete, I placed the live stitches on scrap yarn and started creating the tentacles separately. (Technically speaking, octopuses have “arms” rather than “tentacles”, but the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. I became very fond of calling them tentacles!)
The construction of the tentacles prompted more debate than that of the relatively simple body. At first I wanted to knit in the round, and yet I also wanted to use multiple colors for two-tone tentacles. The prospect of fiddling with intarsia in the round didn’t seem appealing, and so I opted to knit the tentacles flat. I used the intarsia technique to incorporate both colors. Bobbles on the underside of the tentacles were perfect as suckers! (Here I was inspired by Anna Hrachovec’s Squidpocalypse pattern from Huge & Huggable Mochimochi.) Using the long tail I left while casting on, I mattress stitched each flat piece into a tube.
To add lights to the piece, first I turned the body of the octopus inside out. I ran a string of wire LED lights along the inside of the sphere. Then I anchored the wire through a stitch every so often so that the lights would stay put. Then I turned the body right side out and stuffed it with fiberfill. To hold the stuffing in place, I knit a small circle out of the main color and seamed it to the underside of the octopus body. I left a small opening during seaming so that I would be able to access the battery pack to turn the lights on and off.
For the octopus’s eyes, I chose a pair of gears to fit the party’s steampunk theme. I found two points of light that were aligned closely enough to serve as eyes, and stitched the gears in place using fine-gauge floral wire.
With the octopus head complete, my focus turned to attaching the tentacles. Using Kitchener stitch, I grafted the tentacles to the wide base of the octopus. Thick-gauge floral wire would give structure to each tentacle. I took a length of wire and bent the edge back on itself about half an inch. Then I wrapped the end with floral tape before inserting the wire into the tentacle (so that the wire wouldn’t poke through). I repeated the process for each tentacle.
I wove a length of wire around the underside of the base of the octopus, forming a circle. This functioned as an anchor for the tentacles’ wires. I affixed that evenly around the wire circle.
The final step was to attach the octopus to a headband. A rubbery lace headband worked perfectly, with holes throughout as anchor points where I could stitch the underside of the octopus.
And voila! A knitted octopus lights up the underwater world, creating costume whimsy for Halloween and all year long.