This yarn octopus is easy to make (it takes about twenty minutes) and requires only a bit of yarn and either two pony beads or two googly eyes. No special skills needed! I did most of the work, but my 4-year-old daughter Lily helped me with some tasks and was very excited by her completed toy.
Yarn is available at the dollar store if you don’t have any yourself (or don’t know someone who has some scraps she wants to pass on).
How to Make a Yarn Octopus
1. Wrap yarn around a hardcover book. The bigger your book, the bigger your octopus. Hardcover is necessary to give you space to tie the octopus up when you’re done wrapping. I used a book that was about two inches thick. Lily helped hold the book and wrap yarn around (until I ran out of patience and just wrapped it all myself more quickly).
2. When you think you’ve wrapped enough yarn (depending on how fat you want your octopus to be—remember he’s going to need 8 legs), cut the yarn. Cut another piece of yarn that is twice as long as your book is wide. Slide this yarn underneath the edges of the book and tie a tight knot around the wrapped yarn. (Lily helped again here.) This will be the top of your octopus. Let the long ends of the yarn hang down with the rest of the wrapped yarn.
3. Slide the yarn off the book. Hold the knot and slide a pair of scissors into the loop of yarn opposite the knot. Cut. Turn the octopus inside-0ut so that the knot is now in the center of the yarn.
4. If you are using pony beads for eyes, pick three strands of yarn and slide a pony bead onto them, pushing it up close to the knot. Pick another three strands of yarn close to the first eye and add the second pony bead. (If you want to glue on googly eyes later, ignore this step.)
5. Cut another piece of yarn twice as long as your octopus is tall. Wrap this yarn around the octopus, about an inch from the knot, to create his neck and head (see above). Tie tightly and let the long ends fall down among the other long ends.
6. Divide the yarn into eight sections. Braid each section into one octopus leg. Lily helped me hold the octopus’ head while I braided and held the yarn so I could cut small sections to tie the end of each leg. An older child might be able to braid the legs themselves. Make sure you braid the ends from the head and neck knots into the legs, to help ensure that the octopus won’t fall apart later.
7. If you didn’t use pony bead eyes, you can now glue googly eyes onto your octopus. You can also trim the yarn at the ends of each leg to be more even.
I like this craft because it didn’t make a mess! If you use the pony beads for eyes, then it also doesn’t involve glue or small parts that my 1-year-old daughter would swallow. The first yellow octopus we made went through the wash in someone’s pocket and came out slightly shrunk but still okay.