Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Humuhumunukunukuapua'a Knitting Pattern

Last January, Keith and I went to Hawaii to visit my Grandparents. During our visit to Maui, we had many excursions including camping in the caldera of the volcano Haleakala, a helicopter ride, driving to road to Hana and snorkeling. I purchased an Underwater Camera Case for my digital camera, and it worked great to photograph the Trigger Fish (or Humuhumunukunukuapuua'a). All of pictures that I used for this pattern (shown in this post) are ones that Keith and I took on our trip.

I decided to knit a humuhumunukunukuapuua'a for Keith as a gift. I am happy to share this pattern with you on the day that I give him the knit fish. The body of the fish is knit similar to the top of a mitten, with increases and decreases being close to the edge. Take care to keep the floats for the color changes really loose so you don't create an artifical dimple in the side of the fish. Enjoy!

You will immediately notice a very big difference between the photographs of the humuhumunukunukuapuua'a and the knit version. I forgot to continue the main, central black stripe down through the body of the fish! I will include an updated chart at the end of this post.

  • Fingering weight wool in seven colors (see below)
  • Size 1 (2.5 mm) double pointed needles
  • polyfill stuffing or extra yarn
  • yarn needle for embroidery and weaving in ends.
  • sewing needle and thread for attaching fins
  • Gauge is not important for this project. You could make a larger fish using a bigger weight yarn. You want the stitches to be tight enough so the stuffing is held into the body.
  • Finished Size - 4.5 inches nose to tail, 3 inches tall, <1>

  • A: Tan (top of head, shown as pink in chart)
  • B: White (bottom of head/body. Shown as grey in chart)
  • C: Black (shown as dark grey in chart)
  • D: Orange (top of Body)
  • E: Pale Blue (accents and fins)
  • F: Grey (eye accents)
  • G: Yellow (accents)
The colors that I used in this project were hand dyed fingering weight KnitPicks Peruvian Highland wool. I used KnitPicks Palette White (B), Black (C), and Marble Heather (F). For color substitutions of my hand dyed colors, I would recommend Suede (A), Masala (D), Sky (E), and Semolina (G).


Follow the written instructions to the body, but that could get confusing. Compare the written instructions to this chart to understand where the increases/decreases and color changes come in. Remember to keep the floats VERY loose when you switch colors or else you'll end up with pulls in the middle of the fish.

Embroideries for the fish. In these instructions, I do some of the embroidery as I knit the body of the fish since it was easier than dealing with the finished stuffed fish.

Row 1: With A , cast on 6 sts. Join and knit 1 round even.
Row 2: B [K1], A [Kfb 4 times], B [K1] (10 sts)
Row 3: B [Kfb], A [K2, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K2), B [Kfb] (14 sts)
Row 4: B [K1, Kfb, K1], A [K2, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K2], B [K1, Kfb, K1] (18 sts)
Row 5: B [K1, Kfb, K2], A [K3, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K3], B [K2, Kfb, K1] (22 sts)
Row 6: B [K5], A [K4, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K4], B [K5] (24 sts)
Row 7: B [K1, Kfb, K3], A [K5, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K5], B [K3, Kfb, K1] (28 sts)
Row 8: B [K6], A [K4], Join C [K8], A [K4], B [K6]
Row 9: B [K1, Kfb, K4], A [K4], C [K2, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K2], A [K4], B [K4, Kfb, K1] (32 sts)
Row 10: B [K7], A [K4], C [K10], A [K4], B [K7]
After row 10 you can break color A.
Row 11: B [K7], C [K7, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K7], B [K7] (34 sts)
Row 12: B [K1, Kfb, K5], C [K20], B [K5, Kfb, K1] (36 sts)
Row 13: B [K7], Join D [K3], C [K12], D [K3], B [K9]
After row 13 you can break color C.
Row 14: B [K9], D [K7, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K7], B [K9] (38 sts)
Row 15: B [K1, Kfb, K7], D [K20], B [K7, Kfb, K1] (40 sts)
Rows 16-17: B [K10], D [K20], B [K10]
Row 18: B [K10], D [K8, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K8], B [K10] (42 sts)
Row 19: B [K1, Kfb, K8], D [K22], B [K8, Kfb, K1] (44 sts)
Row 20: B [K10], D [K24], B [K10]
Rows 21-22: B [K9], D [K26], B [K9]
At this point I started the pale blue (E) embroideries and eye (F) on the head of the fish.
Row 23: B [K8], D [K28], B [K8]
Row 24: B [K8], D [K11, K2tog, K2, SSK, K11], B [K8] (42 sts)
Row 25: B [K1, SSK, K5], D [K26], B [K5, K2tog, K1] (40 sts)
Row 26: B [K7], D [K26], B [K7]
Row 27: B [K6], D [K28], B [K6]
Row 28: B [K6], D [K11, K2tog, K2, SSK, K11], B [K6] (38 sts)
Row 29: B [K1, SSK, K3], D [K26], B [K3, K2tog, K1] (36 sts)
Row 30: B [K5], D [K26], B [K5]
Row 31: B [K4], D [K11, K2tog, K2, SSK, K11], B [K4] (34 sts)
Row 32: B [K1, SSK, K1], D [K26], B [K1, K2tog, K1] (32 sts)
Row 33: B [K3], D [K4], Join C [K1], D [K16], C [K1], D [K4], B [K3]
Row 34: B [K3], D [K4], C [K1], D [K5, K2tog, K2, SSK, K5], C [K1], D [K4], B [K3] (30 sts)
Lightly stuff the head of the fish. I also started the yellow (G) embroideries at this point in time while I could still fit my fingers on the inside of the fish.

Row 35: B [K1], D [SSK, K4], C [K1], D [K14], C [K1], D [K4, K2tog], B [K1] (28 sts)
Row 36: B [K1], D [K4], C [K3], D [K12], C [K3], D [K4], B [K1]
Row 37: B [K1], D [K4], C [K3], D [K3, K2tog, K2, SSK, K3], C [K3], D [K4], B [K1] (26 sts)
After row 37 you can cut color B.
Row 38: D [K1, SSK, K2], C [K3], D [K10], C [K3],D [K2, K2tog, K1] (24 sts)
Row 39: D [K3], C [K5], D [K1, K2tog, K2, SSK, K1], C [K5],D [K3] (22 sts)
Continue the yellow (G) embroideries here.

Row 40: D [K1, SSK], C [K5], D [K2tog, K2, SSK], C [K5],D [K2tog, K1] (18 sts)
I stuffed the body a bit more here.
Row 41: D [K2], C [K5], D [K4], C [K5],D [K2]
Row 42: C [K1, SSK, K3, K2tog], D [K2], C [SSK, K3, K2tog, K1] (14 sts)
After row 42, cut color D.
Row 43: C [K across]
Row 44: C [K1, SSK, K1, K2tog, K2, SSK, K1, K2tog, K1] (10 sts)
Row 45: C [K across]
Finish stuffing the body (the tail fin won't get stuffed at all). Finish the yellow (G) embroideries on the triangular portions.

Row 46: Join E [K1], C [K3], E [K2], C [K3],E [K1]
Row 47: E [K1], C [Kfb, K, kfb], E [ K2], C [Kfb, K, kfb],E [K1] (14 sts)
Row 48: E [K1, Kfb], C [K3], E [Kfb, K2, Kfb], C [K3],E [Kfb, K1] (18 sts)
Row 49: E [K1, Kfb, K2], C [K1], E [K2, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K2], C [K1],E [K2, Kfb, K1] (22 sts)
After for 48 break color C. Finish the yellow (G) embroidery around the tail tip.

Row 50: E [K1, Kfb, K7, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K7, Kfb, K1] (26 sts)
Row 51: E [SSK, K9, K2tog, SSK, K8 K2tog] (22 sts)
Row 52: E [*SSK, SSK, K3, K2tog, K2tog* repeat 1 more time] (14 sts)
Row 53: E [*Slip 2, K1, PSSO, K1, K3tog* Repeat 1 more time] (6 sts)
Break yarn. Bind the final 6 stitches with a grafting technique (Kitchener stitch).

Dorsal Fin

Using E (pale blue), cast on 6 sts.
Row 1: *K1, P1* across
Row 2: slip 1, P1, PSSO, K1, P1, K1, P1 (5 sts)
Row 3: K1, P1, K1, K2tog (4 sts)
Row 4: slip 1, P1, PSSO, K1, P1 (3 sts)
Row 5: K1, K2tog (2 sts)
Row 6: S1, P1, Psso (1 sts)
Cut yarn, pull through remaining stitch.
Anal Fin (bottom lower fin)
Using E (pale blue), cast on 8 sts
Row 1: *K1, P1* across
Row 2: *K1, P1* across, casting off as you knit this row.

Adapose Fin (second top fin)
Using E (pale blue), cast on 13 sts
Row 1: K1, *P1, K1* across
Row 2: P1, *K1, P1* across, casting off as you knit this row.

Pectoral Fins (Side fins, Make 2)
Using E (pale blue), cast on 6 sts.
Row 1: Kfb, K1, P1, K1, P1, Kfb (8 sts)
Row 2: *K1, P1* across
Row 3: S1, P1, PSSO, K1, P1, K1, P1, K2tog (6 sts)
Row 4: SSk, P1, K1, K2tog (4 sts). Bind of as you complete this row.

Pull the fins until you are happy with their shape to attach them to the fish.

Stitch the fin to the body of the fish using a needle and thread. (The parts are pretty small, and it is easier to sew the fins on with smaller yarn.) In most cases you will be attaching the cast on edge, but based on the final shape, feel free to attach the edge that you feel would look the best to the fish body. Thread the loose ends into the body of the fish.

I am not an export on fish anatomy. I have done my best to appropriately name the different fins to distinguish them from each other.

Updated Chart (With the full black stripe!)

Corrected chart that contains the black stripe. I have not updated the written instructions to include the stripe, feel free to modify the other chart (that has both sides of the fish) to include this stripe.

I am embarrassed that I forgot this stripe in the fish that I knit. I was planning the fish so carefully, so that I would be able to include the subtle details, that I left out something major! Sometime this year, once I have dyed more yarn, I will make a humuhumunukunukuapua'a version 2.0. This will have a longer body length and the appropriate black body stripe.


Abbreviations Used in this pattern:
Kfb - increase by knitting into the front and back of a single stitch.
K - knit
P - purl
PSSO - pass slipped stitch over
SSK - decrease by slipping two stitches then knitting them together. Alternatively, you could slip one stitch, knit one stitch and pass slipped stitch over.
K2tog - decrease by knitting two stitches together.

This this pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. This pattern is not to be replicated, sold or redistributed without permission from ChemKnits. © 2010 ChemKnits


  1. I can't believe you knit this whole thing without me knowing. It looks amazing!

  2. Absolutely wonderful! I'm from Hawai'i and you did a fabulous job on the humu.

  3. I don't know you guys, but I would like to say that this piece of knitting is a labor of love (to Keith..and the fish). ^_^

  4. This is adorable. Than you for sharing the pattern with us.

    I once got a free drink in a restaurant in Kona for being able to say Humuhumunukunukuapuua'a. I'm from north Idaho. I had to practice a lot beforehand.

  5.'s great! You could duplicate stitch the rest of the black stripe on him.

  6. Check out this post to see a photo of the humuhumunukunukuapua'a that contains the bottom stripe. (thanks, Clare!)

  7. This is my all time favorite fish! Thanks for the pattern!

  8. You're very welcome! I'm glad that you enjoyed it. :)

  9. I just can't wait to knit this.
    We are going to Maui in June/July and I
    want to surprise my grandkids with this.
    Thank you so very much.


  10. Yvonne,

    Thank you for stopping by! And happy knitting :)

  11. I love it! My husband and I got married on Maui, and the Humuhumu (as we call it) is kind of our mascot. Thanks so much for sharing!

  12. *gasp* It's big lips!! We saw this fish in Rarotonga but had no idea what it was so we called it big lips. I am so knitting this for my sister. Thank you!!

  13. ... Did you ever see High School Musical 2? There's a song about the humuhumunukuapua'a.

  14. I have not ever seen High School Musical, but now that I know they have a song about my favorite fish I just might have to!

  15. This is amazing! Are you going to submit it to the " Hawaii's Hyperbolic Coral Reef Project? If you go to their website, HyperbolicCoralReef, it will tell you about how they are going to have a display in June 2011 in Honolulu's China Town at Mark's (or Mike's?) Garage GALLERY. All proceeds go to saving Hawaii's coral reefs.

  16. Unfortunately I don't know how to crochet, but that project is really fascinating! I'll absolutely have to write a feature about this in my next (not yet launched) knitting blogging project.

  17. And people couldn't spell MY name! LOL

    I know it's years ago that you did this ... but today is 8March2015 and I need something to add to a gifit for a Bar Mitzvah afghan. The young man loves the ocean - and where better than something from Hawaii.

    Now all I have to figure out is the rest of the afghan.

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  22. Thanks for sharing all this hard work. Did you ever do a "Humu 2.0"?