I learned how to make a fun yarn lei with a drinking straw and I thought I would share with you. Leis in Hawaii are made with flowers, shells, feathers, or other items from nature and are worn by men and women for hula or occasions. I needed a lei I could use for hula when I can’t get a real lei. I think it could be a new fashion accessory for me!
Supplies for fun yarn lei
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- 3/8 inch grosgrain ribbon, 53 inches or 1 ½ yards
- wide drinking straw
- 2 skeins eyelash or fun fur yarn, 35 yards each
- loop turner or large needle/a>
- 2 kukui nuts and small cowrie shells, optional or 1 inch wood beads
Making one lei takes about an hour or a little longer. The lei should be 32 – 36 inches in length. The grosgrain ribbon should be 18 inches longer. Grosgrain is better than satin because the yarn will “grab” the grosgrain. I cut one end at a slant and then just keep the rest on the spool to cut when I’m done. If you want to cut both ends, you need to tie a knot in the ribbon 9 inches from the end to keep the yarn from sliding off.
You will need a wide drinking straw, about 9 inches long, such as the ones at fast food places or movie theaters. Fold the ribbon in half lengthwise and push it into the straw. Keep pushing until it is all the way through the straw. Fold over about a half inch and tape to the straw.
Find the ends of the two skeins of yarn. You can use two coordinating colors or two of the same color. Tie the end of each yarn around the straw. It should be tight but still be able to slide the knot along the straw.
Once the straw is full of yarn, gently push the yarn down to the end. You should have made 2 or 3 inches of lei!
Repeat the wrapping and pushing. Now some of the yarn should be pushed off the straw onto the ribbon. I find it helps to always keep some of the “pushed” yarn on the very bottom of the straw. Repeat to make the desired length.
Once the yarn lei is the length you want, cut the ribbon 9 inches from the end of the yarn. Use a loop turner to go through the kukui nut and shells. Hook the end of the ribbon and pull it through the nut. (A large tapestry needle can also work: the eye has to be big enough for the ribbon, the needle has to fit through the hole in your bead. You can use a large wooden bead, or just tie a knot in the ribbon at the end.)
Tie a knot at the kukui nut on both ends. I also tie a knot in the ribbon in the very end to keep it from fraying (you could paint it with fray check or clear fingernail polish instead.)
I made 3 yarn lei to go with my pa’u skirt (hula skirt): pink with white, pink with green, and green with white. I love how they feel!
Resource links for fun yarn lei
- Shell rings and kukui nut beads from Aloha Gifts
- History of the lei from Discover Oahu
- How to make a basic candy lei from The Candy Lei