Sea Anemone

two anemones and clownfish

Sea anemones are awesome. Knit one.


About 5 inches (13cm) wide


Note: You can use any yarn, really. The yarns listed are what I used for the pink anemone in the photo. If you use a yarn that is not worsted weight, choose needles that will give you a fairly tight gauge. This would look lovely in any smooth yarn.

Stitch pattern

Loop stitch: * Knit 1, Make loop, repeat from *. To make a loop, knit one stitch but do not slip stitch off left needle. Bring yarn to front between needles, wrap it around your thumb, and then knit the same stitch again, slipping it to the right needle as usual. Of the two stitches now on your right needle, pass the first over the second as in binding off. Confused? There is a helpful diagram here.

Overview of Construction

anemone construction diagram

You'll start at the bottom edge, and begin knitting the anemone from bottom to top as a straight cylinder. To form the top of the anemone, you'll work in Loop Stitch (see above) to mimic tentacles, while decreasing to shape a flat top.

Then, you will pick up stitches on the inner edge of the anemone, about 4 rows from the bottom (the idea is to let those 4 rows curl a bit to let the purl side show). You'll decrease to form a flat bottom. Before you finish knitting, you'll stuff the anemone. There is no seaming.

The contrasting-color tentacles are added as for fringe. The clownfish is also knitted in the round, and you'll cut pieces of white felt for her stripes. Sew them on with a sharp embroidery needle and white thread, and then tether her inconspicuously to the anemone with a strand of CC1 yarn.

Here's a secret: I fudged the particulars. I made the pink anemone, couldn't remember how it worked, then made the blue one. They're different. The pink anemone uses an oval-shaped top and bottom, while the blue anemone uses a rectangular top and bottom. They both look great, don't you think? Although I've reverse-engineered the two methods for this pattern, I haven't test knitted them yet. Feel free to improvise.


Cast on 70 stitches. Join and begin working in the round. Knit plain for about 12 rows. Working in Loop Stitch, perform Rectangular Decreases or Oval Decreases (see below). You have now completed the top portion of the anemone.

Turn anemone over. Working on the inside bottom edge, about 4 rows from cast-on, pick up 70 stitches. While knitting all stitches (do not use loop pattern), work Rectangular Decreases or Oval Decreases. Before weaving the bottom seam, stuff the anemone.

At the top of the anemone, locate the last row of plain (non-loop) knitting. With a crochet hook and a short length of CC1 (about 4"/10cm), pull half of the strand through one stitch of this row. Secure the strand by tying the two ends with an ordinary overhand knot. Repeat, working one CC1 strand into every stitch OR into every other stitch.


closeup of clownfish

Cast on 8 stitches. Join and begin working in the round. It is easiest to do this on two needles plus one working needle. If "ladders" develop between the needles, that's OK.

Note: Kfb = Knit into front and back of same stitch. This produces an increase.

Row 1: (Kfb, K3) twice. 10 sts.
Row 2: K plain.
Row 3: (K4, Kfb) twice. 12 sts.
Row 4: K plain.
Row 5: (Kfb, K5) twice. 14 sts.
Rows 6 and 7: K plain.
Row 8: (K2tog, K5) twice. 12 sts.
Row 9: (SSK, K2, K2tog) twice. 8 sts.
Row 10: (SSK, K2tog) twice. 4 sts.
Row 11: (Kfb, Kfb) twice. 8 sts.
Row 12: K plain.
Break yarn leaving a long tail. Weave tail closed with kitchener stitch.

Cut stripes out of white felt, and sew them on to your little orange fish. Try to arrange them to look something like a real clownfish. You could even add black stitching around the stripes if you want to be extra fancy. Embroider eyes with a French knot in black thread.

To secure the clownfish to the anemone while still allowing her to swim around a bit, use a short length of CC1 (about 4"/10cm long, or whatever looks right). Tie one end to a stitch in the fish's tail, and the other end to a stitch near the center of the anemone. The tether blends in with the other tentacles and is pretty inconspicuous.

Rectangular Decreases

Round 1: Place marker, k2tog, K 10, k2tog.
Place marker, k2tog, K17, K2tog.
Place marker, k2tog, K10, K2tog.
Place marker, k2tog, K17, K2tog.

Following rounds: Continue in this manner, decreasing before and after every stitch marker until only 14 stitches remain.

Using tapestry needle, weave center seam together with kitchener stitch.

Oval Decreases

Warning: untested. I think this should work.

Row 1: * (SSK, K2tog, K5) 4 times. K 7. Repeat from *.
All even rows: Knit plain.
Row 3: * (SSK, K2tog, K3) 4 times. K7. Repeat from *.
Row 5: * (SSK, K2tog, K1) 4 times. K7. Repeat from *.
Weave center seam closed with kitchener stitch.

The End

I'd love to see your finished anemone or nautiloid! Drop me a line: beth (at)