How to Make a Yarn Doll

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In the story Esperanza Rising yarn dolls are an important feature and represent a turning point for the main character, Esperanza. That is why we included them in our Esperanza Rising Book Guide.

They are simple to make and the perfect craft project to accompany this excellent book.

All you need are a few simple supplies, a little bit of time, and you can make dozens of these festive little dolls.

yarn doll collection

How to Make a Yarn Doll


  • 5″ x 3″ piece of cardboard
  • 1 skein of yarn
  • Scissors
How to Make a Yarn Doll supplies

Step 1: Cut yarn pieces

Cut 7 small pieces of yarn about 10″ in length each. Set aside.

cut pieces of yarn

Step 2: Wrap around cardboard

From the skein, wrap yarn lengthwise around the cardboard exactly 40 times.

yarn wrapped around cardboard

Step 3: Tie off top

Grab the wrapped yarn in the center, lift gently, and slip one of the 10″ pieces of yarn underneath horizontally.

Pull it to the top of the cardboard and tie in a square knot. Snip the ends.

tie at top

Step 4: Remove cardboard

Cut the yarn at the bottom of the cardboard. Remove cardboard.

Note: It may be necessary to adjust the tie at the top so that both sides are even.

take yarn off cardboard

Step 5: Make the head

Take another 10″ piece of yarn and tie a knot around the yarn about an inch down from the top to form the head. Snip the ends.

doll head

Step 6: Make the arms

Separate two groups of 20 strings, one on each side, to form the arms. Note: It’s a good idea to loosely tie one of the arms while you make the other one.

With 10″ pieces, tie square knots in the middle of each arm and trim ends.

Trim excess yarn from the ends of the arms to about 1/2″ from the knot.

make arms

Step 7: Make the body

The remaining 40 pieces of yarn will form the body of the doll. Tie a 10″ piece around the center of the yarn. Trim the ends.

doll body

Step 8: Make the legs

Separate the yarn hanging below the middle tie into two sets of 20 to form the legs. Note: It’s a good idea to loosely tie one of the legs while you make the other one.

With 10″ pieces, tie square knots near the bottom of each leg and trim ends of knots.

Trim excess yarn from the bottoms of the legs to about 1/2″ from the knot.

make legs

That’s all there is to it. Now you can make lots of different of yarn dolls and enjoy.

And try some variations like not making legs which will give your doll have a dress. Or, try braiding the arms and legs.

Mix it up a little by using variegated yarn or thicker yarn.

Th possibilities are endless.

This tutorial is a companion to our Esperanza Rising Book Guide.

Esperanza Rising Book Guide

With our Esperanza Rising Book Guide, you’ll discover historical layers that impact the story and explore fun and fascinating elements about:

  • Mexican history and geography
  • Cultural elements mentioned in the story
  • Great Depression-era context
  • Story-related nature study
  • Plus, delightful (and delicious!) activities, discussion, & more!

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