Not Quite Duck Pins

In the frozen depths of the arctic, very few creatures are equipped to survive the severe conditions by themselves. If you think the weather is bad where you live, just imagine the creatures that have to deal with snow storms that continue to dump frozen precipitation for weeks at a time! Polar bears have their thick fur coats to stay warm, seals have comfortable layers of blubber… but penguins? Though they lack the same degree of insulation, penguins are unique in that their communities are able to band together- Literally- And share body heat to stave off those subzero temperatures.

All squished up close together, penguins are certainly not claustrophobic. The more I thought about this arrangement, though, I couldn’t help but wonder if they ever get bored of the same extreme togetherness. What do they do for fun? Would one ever try to lighten the mood or play games in the midst of that tight circle? Imagining all sorts of ways that a restless penguin might try to make the situation more enjoyable, it suddenly hit me that there was one perfect past time that some penguins would undoubtedly enjoy…

Bowling! Just as your neighbors begin to nod off, one mischievous bird might excuse themselves from the group and wake them up with a lighthearted roll of the bowling ball!


The only thing that might prevent this game from catching on is the risk that the rest of the colony might get tired of your antics, and march off into the sunset without you.

*For a usable set, you will need to make at least 6 penguins, stomachs, and beaks, and 1 bowling ball.


With a F hook and worsted weight yarn of any color, Sc6 in a circle using the magic loop technique.
Sc twice into each st (12)
Sc 1, sc twice into next st* around (18)
Sc 2, sc twice into next st* around (24)
Sc 5 rounds even
Sc 2, sc2tog* around (18)
Sc 1, sc3tog* around (12)
-Insert eyes and lightly stuff head-
Sc 2 rounds even
Sc 1, sc twice into next st* around (18)
Sc 1 round even
Sc 2, sc twice into next st* around (24)
Sc 3, sc twice into next st* around (30)
Sc 16 rounds even
Sc in back loops all the way around
-Stuff the body, and for extra stability, insert a yogurt lid cut to size into the bottom-
Sc3, sc2tog* around (24)
Sc2, sc2tog* around (18)
Sc1, sc2tog* around (12)
Sc2tog* around (6)

Gather the remaining stitches together and tie off, burying the knot and excess yarn inside.


With an F hook and white worsted weight yarn, Ch4
Sc into 2nd ch from hook and once into remaining 2 sts (3)
Turn, ch1, sc twice into first, sc1, sc twice into last (5)
Turn, ch1, Sc even
Turn, ch1, Sc Twice in the first st, sc3, sc twice in last st (7)
Turn, ch1, Sc3, sc twice into next st, sc3 (8)
Turn, ch1, Sc even* for 8 rows
Break the yarn, leaving a long tail to sew with.


With an E hook and sport weight orange or yellow yarn, sc3 in a circle
Sc twice into each st (6)
Sc even for 2 rounds
Break yarn, leaving a long tail to sew with.

Bowling Ball:

With an F hook and grey worsted weight yarn, Sc6 in a circle
Sc twice in each st (12)
Sc 1, sc twice into next st* around (18)
Sc 2, sc twice into next st* around (24)
Sc 3, sc twice into next st* around (30)
Sc 4, sc twice into next st* around (36)
Sc 5, sc twice into next st* around (42)
Sc around for 4 rounds
Sc 5, sc2tog* around (36)
Sc 4, sc2tog* around (30)
-Insert a tennis ball, and while holding it in place, continue to crochet around it. You may need to pull your finished work tightly to get it to cover to completely-
Sc 3, sc2tog* around (24)
Sc 2, sc2tog* around (18)
Sc 1, sc2tog* around (12)
Sc2tog* around (6)
Gather remaining stitches together, break yarn, tie tightly, and bury the knot and excess yarn.

120 thoughts on “Not Quite Duck Pins

  1. OMG they are just too cute and perfect! I hope to one day be as careful and clever with my crafing skills as you, Hannah! =D o= (* Maybe in a million years! Where do you find the time? Are you in collage?)

  2. These are adorable. You are keeping me inspired as I’ve been making some little projects. The cuteness keeps me wanting to make more. :)

  3. Since I cannot even begin to decipher the instructions… I will email this post to my Mom and maybe she can make me some. I’ll watch March of the Penguins in the meantime ;)

  4. usual, Hannah. Is that why they were called duck pins? I don’t think I can really roll a bowling ball to knock out this cute penguins!

  5. Those little guys are adorable! Reminds me of March of the Penguins… and using them for bowling is hilarious. Thanks for sharing the pattern! If my crochet skills ever improve past chaining I may give them a shot!

    1. Honey, these are not knit, they are crochet. In my opinion, an easier art to learn. youtube has excellent videos to teach you at any stage of learning. (old English teacher here.)

  6. I never knew that about penguins… and now to think of the poor little guys around the perimeter of their penguin colonies. I love how your crochet art-work always come with stories :) beautiful work!

  7. Just fabulous, I love your penguins!
    P.S. I still have your little crocheted cake that you sent in exchange for my felt strawberry, it sits on my dresser along with another crocheted cake and various pieces of felt fruit!

  8. Your blog is amamzing… I have recently suffered blogging brain freeze and my site has gone “pooey’.

    you inspire me. Thank you!

  9. these are indeed very cute but surely you know penguins only live in the ANTartic – that is, the south pole.

  10. Hello,
    How lovely your amigurumis are. I would be happy if I may have your permission to translate your patterns and publish them on my blog. Many patterns are in English and many Swedes finds it difficult to crochet English patterns. Of cause I link back to your blog as I have done with the other patterns I’ve translated. You are very welcome to visit my blog before you make your decision.

  11. Hello.
    I stumbled across your pattern the other night, and I instantly fell in LOVE with the penguins. I have made almost one complete penguin, I can’t complete it because I ran out of stuffing….but I moved on to the bowling ball, and I believe I found a problem with your pattern. I tried to follow the directions for the bowling ball to the T, and by the time I got to the end of the ball, my stitches were so stretched out that I could see the neon green underneath my yarn. You say “Sc around for 4 rounds”, after you complete these 4 rounds, if you insert the tennis ball at that point, you will notice that you are exactly in the middle of the ball. If you start decreasing at that point, it doesn’t work.

    I am currnetly working on altering the pattern, so its not complete, but I believe that it should read “Sc around for 8 rounds”. 4 rounds simply gets you to the middle of the ball. But if you think about it, that’s only half…you have to do exactly the same thing, only backwards to complete the other half.

    Like I said, I am working on altering the pattern myself (I unraveled the ball 4 times and changed yarn because the one I was using was getting all frayed from the continual un-doing). I believe changing the 4 to an 8 will be sufficient in allowing someone to finish the ball without the stitches stretching out and looking all janky.

    Please feel free to double check my correction. I love the pattern to death, and I am so excited to get it done. My 15 month old daughter just loves to play with the one semi-complete penguin that I have now, I can’t wait to see how she reacts to the whole set! If I am incorrect, I apologize for the super-crazy long comment, but I don’t think I am.

    Thank you for posting the pattern for free.
    I can’t wait to go check out more of your work, you are very creative!

    Thanks again!
    beginning level crocheter since 08/13/09

  12. Hi I loved your pattern of the penquins and want to make them for my 2year old grandaughter , but I can only print the first page how many pages are there to the pattern please then I can tell my stupid printer how many to print ,though I must admit this is the first time it has done anything like that. Thanks tpisces

  13. I too am enchanted by your penguins. I may try making a set for my husband the “Penguin-holic”. His birthday isn’t until next January so I may have enough time. (tried to get him to attend penguins anonymous (PA) meetings but there are none in the greater Cincinnati area. So, now I enable his bad habit by making more penguins that he can keep.)

  14. Hi:

    I just completed the ball on the third try. All I did was change to an E hook, since it was too loose with an F. It is perfect. Now I just have to work on sewing the stomach on, which I don’t think will be too hard.

    Thank you so much.

  15. Very cute! Penguins don’t live in the Arctic, though, but in the *Antarctic*. Good grief.

  16. These are adorable and now I know what our youngest granddaughter is getting for Christmas! Thank you!

  17. These are so cute. what a wonderful thing for charity gifts for children. I can make these for any ages. Thank you so much. Peace, Lizzy

  18. Hi Hannah, I just love your patterns! I’m going to make this for my great-niece & make the toast& butter purse for my older nieces. (I’m pretty sure that’s your pattern too) i love how you make them understandable to all skill levels. Thanks again.

  19. Sooo cute, and I love the story in pictures. I’ll have to make these for my little cousins for Hannukah!!

  20. Love this! I want to make these for my grown up (but very young at Christmas) daughters. But I can’t find yogurt with plastic tops, they’re all peel off foil. Any suggestions for an alternative? Small pickle jar lids?

  21. Thank you for sharing the sweet penguin pattern. My Grandkids will love them. I have a question about the eyes. They look like animal eyes with the safety back. Is that correct? Are they the 6mm eyes?

    Thank you…Christine

  22. These certainly are adorable but I’m having a problem understanding the pattern. I don’t understand your sc# at the beginning of each round. Can you or somebody who has made these, clear this up for me. I would love to make a set of these for my great-granddaughter.

  23. In place of the yougurt tops one might try using plastic canvas rounds. They can be cut down to size as well. Or any plastic container top might do:ie; cottage cheese, sour cream, etc. I’m anxious to get started on these but have several other crocheting projects to do first!

  24. love these! i used your instructions for the ‘bowling’ ball—-doing the 4 rounds even—it covered the tennis ball perfectly….thanks for the idea of the plastic canvas circles—those will be perfect!

  25. im a beginner so could you help me please
    when it says sc 5 rounds even what does that mean

  26. This if hysterical! Actually the pattern is cute & very sweet. Your idea of the restless penguin is hysterical. I’ll be thinking of that imaginary little guy all day & will have to explain to my family what I am chuckling about…thanks for the giggle and the great pattern

  27. I made these for our grandson for Christmas last year and they were a hit. I used different brands of yarn as I was using up my yarn stash (all four ply), so some were a little bigger or smaller but close enough to make a set and they were adorable. Just like in real families we’re all a little different from one another. Thank you for such a fun pattern. Oh, for the bottoms I didn’t have yogurt lids either so I used cut down hair spray lids and circles cut from Cool Whip lids. Worked great. Everyone that saw these fell in love with them. You’re so creative and nice to share your patterns. Thanks.

  28. I would love to have this “free” pattern of the penguin bowling pins, but when I try to print the instructions they come through as jibberish with something overwriting the instructions. Hope you can help me.

  29. Buenísima idea! Empecé a hacerlos para mis sobrinos pero tengo una consulta. La parte negra termina quedando como un tubo y el estómago se cose por encima? Por las fotos me parecía que no pero cuando lo tejí no queda un espacio para agregar el blanco.

  30. When I copied off the pattern to make for my 2 year old grandson, had to copy your “narrative” also. Such a cute story! When I give the bowling penguins to him, I’ll tell him the story about the penguins. Thank you so very much for sharing! Blessings to you.

  31. What are you using to stuff the little guys with? Since you are using a tennis ball is regular batting enough or do you use sand or beans in the bottom? I notice the directions I have just say stuff head lightly. Then later it states to stuff body. Sorry to be so dense but I am rather new at this but I love your site and your passion to share with all of us who are just learning. It takes time to do this and pics. So appreciate your willingness to share. I learned to crochet recently because my 92 year old Grandmom so wanted me to but it’s taken me a long time to figure it all out. Now I am hooked. But when she wanted me to do it I couldn’t see very well so I stitched by feeling the stitches. The joy she gets from sharing her craft with me was well worth the effort. This would really stretch my ability. I’m not that good yet but each project I have done a little more. My first projects were prayer shawles and lapghans we did for sick, hurting or elderly. I made 3 full size afghans for gifts. One was a star of David and the first time I ever changed colors constantly. I had to have help counting out the graft pattern. (My eye sight) Mom wrote it out for me. Not an easy task! It turned out good for a beginner. I so wish I could send you a picture- don’t know how and I have a very old computer. Then I saw a crochet pattern using a graft from someone called groundhog peggy. She does a reversable stitch afghan. I am going to do a spider afghan for my sister as soon as I can get help converting my graft to writing! I’ve done 3 baby blankets. Yours will be the first animal. I have been a little afraid of them but I so adore your pengins and my grandson loves, LOVES pengins. As a beginner would I be able to finish a set in 5 months for his birthday or will I need more time? Thanks for letting me do such a long reply!!!

    1. I just use regular cotton batting to stuff these. They’re definitely more light-weight than most other toy bowling pins, but that makes them especially good for little kids. Thanks for your comment!

  32. I have another question. After the magic circle and you do the next few rounds- do you do a slip stitch before starting the next CH 1? After the 24 row sttitches do you do a slip stitch each round?

    1. It’s purely an aesthetic decision that could go either way, depending on your preference. I didn’t make any slip stitches before each new round, but it wouldn’t make a big impact on the final product if you did.

      1. Thanks. I am rather new to all this so some things that others would be able to figure out on their own I need instructions for. I’ve not done anything in rounds before. I have been trying to work up the nerve to move from blankets to clothing but the sleeves seem difficult. I am about mid way done my very first penguin. Not too bad but you can tell it’s a first try. I’ll do better with the next one! My Grandmama looked at him and said just think 5 more to go and smiled!!! Can I send you a picture on here when I am done? I’ll have to have my son do it but I would like you to see when I am done- if you don’t mind.

      2. I think it would be great if you wanted to share a photo of your finished penguin, and I bet other readers would enjoy seeing your results as well! If you upload the photo to Flickr, Tinypic, Photobucket, etc and paste the URL in the comment form, it should automatically embed and become visible.

  33. What type of eyes did you use? I’m excited to make these, but am having trouble finding the eyes. Thanks!

  34. I have a question about the two decrease rows at the bottom of the head.After the first decrease row as is in parentheses,you have 18 stitches,next row says to sc1,sc3 together across row,Well that is a mulitple of 4 so when you finish the series of sc,sc 3 together you end up with 2 stitches at the end of the round.Do you just single crochet these two or do you crochet the 2 together.
    This pattern is adorable.

    1. ok I did sc2,sc 2 together and that worked and I ended up with 12 stitches so in your pattern the sc3 together is a typo

      1. ok now I hit the wrong key..I did one sc then 2 together in the last row of the head where you end up with 12 stitches. (instead of sc1,crochet 3 together that is in the original pattern posted above)

  35. Love the crochet game, but having a problem with this row (SC1, then sc3tog – the penguin)this is the row before adding the eyes. After doing the Sc1 then 3sctog I’m should have 12 sc but the pattern is only leaving me with 9 can someone help me here. I have ripped out the head more thank I can count thinking it was me but it isn’t.

  36. you’re welcome,Nikki. I did make this for my dgs for his 2nd bday and it was a huge hit with not only him but his parents and six older siblings..they all “bowled” with it

  37. I found the wording for the instructions hard to understand for the penquin especially for the first few rows. I think I figured it out but not sure.

  38. What kind of eyes are you using? I am new to this and it’s supposed to be easy. There is no list of materials needed. Please help.

  39. I made this toy set in 2009. Its 2017 and its held up to everything from kids to puppies!! I am actually making my 4th set to gift these are so cute and fun. Thank you for sharing this pattern with us.

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