Straw Knit Hawaiian Yarn Lei Tutorial

Due to a lack of tropical flowers growing anywhere near me, I am unable to make flower leis for May Day. Such a bummer because flower leis are gorgeous and smells wonderful. So I make due with yarn leis. A while ago, I did a tutorial on finger knit yarn lei. Today, I’m teaching you how to do a different kind of lei, still using yarn, but this time we’re using straws to knit it.

This is an easy enough craft where the older kids can make and keep their fingers busy for a while. And try it with lots of fun, bright colors for the summer. And a great thing to have at any Hawaii or luau party you will be participating in this season. If you make something inspired by Simply Modern Mom, please upload pictures of it to our Flickr group to show it off to everyone. You may be featured on Simply Modern Mom.


  • lots of yarn
  • 3 straws
  • tape

1. Cut the three straws each 3 inches off one end.

2. At one end of the longer part of the straw, cut a slit. It’s to hold the yarn in place.

3. Thread the yarn through the straw. If you are having a hard time, you can try to suck the yarn through the straw with your mouth.

4. Put the end of the yarn through the slit so it stays in place. Then measure the yarn length around the neck to see how long you would like it and add 5-6 inches to tie when finished.

5. Do steps 2-4 for the other two straw. Then tape the yarn tips down. This is an optional step, but I like to have it taped so the ends of the yarn doesn’t stick out while I’m knitting. When done, you should have 3 straws with 3 same length yarn (the length of your lei) through the straws.

6. Tape the ends to the table or something stationary so the knitting doesn’t fall off this end.

7. Tie the end of the remainder of the yarn spool over the 3 strands of yarn that’s in the straw. This is where you will use a ton of yarn, so make sure you have a large spool. So the strand that is tied is still attached to the remainder of the yarn spool. We’ll call this the knitting strand. Don’t cut this until the very end.

8. Take the knitting strand (the one that’s from the spool) and wrap it around each straw. The straws should be grouped together in a triangular shape (see picture below). Wrap the knitting strand counter clockwise once around straw 1, then do the same around straw 2 and 3. And you just do this over and over again for a long time.


9. Once you have quite a bit of the knitting gathered on the straw, slide it off the straw. And keep going with the wrapping around each straw. Until you have knitted enough to cover the length of the entire lei.

10. When the knitting covers the length of the entire lei, take the straws off one end and tape (that kept it stationary on the table) off the other end. Then tie the two ends together so it’s like a necklace. And done!

» Tell me… What do you think? Easy enough? Have you made leis before?

Don’t forget to check out The Salty Pineapple for more celebration of May Day.


4 Responses to “Straw Knit Hawaiian Yarn Lei Tutorial”

  • Susan Brooks

    Love this. Don’t suck the yarn through with your mouth. The Mill Girls in Lowell called this the “kiss of death”. They knew you inhale fibers deep in your lungs. Other than that great tutorial, as always

  • Dominique

    I knew about the yarn lei method that wraps around your fingers so I wanted to look up a new style.
    This was exactly what I was looking for.
    Thank you!


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