Little Friendly Lion Free Knitting Pattern

Jun 23, 2016 | Knitting Pattern |

knit lion toy free pattern

Knit this quick easy Little Friendly Lion Toy with scraps of yarn from your stash. He works great as a personalized gift for a kid, or a cute figurine to sit on your desk and bring a smile to your workday.

Lions seem like such a summertime animal to me. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because of their bright color, yellow like the sun. Or because I picture them on a hot dry day on the savanna. Whatever the reason, I felt like knitting a lion this week.

lion free knitting pattern

This particular little lion is no aggressive predator. With his braided tail and smiling face, he’s more of a cuddly, squishy friend to make you smile.


He’s definitely a quick and easy knit (I made him during the course of 2 toddler nap times, amid a half dozen baby interruptions). My favorite part is the mane which uses a fun little trick to make those big loops. (In fact, I’m trying to come up with other patterns I could use this trick on. Maybe it would work to make daisies, or a tutu for a ballerina doll…) I plan on keeping him for me, on my desk, for now, although my toddler was with me while I was doing the photoshoot, and grabbed him up in a quick second, so it probably won’t be long before Friendly Lion makes his way into the toy box.

lion free knitting pattern for kids

To make your own Little Friendly Lion: You first knit the body in-the-round. Then you knit the mane flat and sew it on. Third, you knit the underside of the lion flat and attach it to the stuffed body (if you skip the stuffing and the underside, the lion makes a great finger puppet). Finally, you braid the tail and embroider the face.

Little Friendly Lion

Materials needed:

~ Scrap worsted weight yarn in yellow and brown (around 20m of yellow, and 5m of brown)

~ stuffing

~ brown embroidery thread

~ 4 Double Pointed Needles (DPNs) in size 3.25mm (US size 3)

~ 1 tapestry needle for finishing

~ 1 embroidery needle

A note about gauge: exact gauge is not important for a toy, however you should choose yarn and needles that combine to create a firm, stiff fabric, so that your fish holds its shape and the stuffing remains well hidden. This often means picking a needle one or two sizes smaller than that recommended on the yarn label.

Abbreviations used:

CO = Cast On

k = knit

p = purl

ssk = slip, slip, knit. Slip the next two stitches onto the right-hand needle as if to knit, stick the tip of your left-hand needle into both, and knit them together as one. A decrease stitch

k2tog = knit two stitches together. A decrease stitch

kfb = knit into the front and the back of a stitch. An increase stitch

BO = bind off


With yellow yarn,

CO 24 stitches and divide them evenly over 3 DPNs. Join to knit in the round.

Rounds 1-14: k 14 rounds

Round 15: [ssk, k4, k2tog] three times (18 stitches)

Rounds 16-23: k 8 rounds

Round 24: [k2tog, k1] six times (12 stitches)

Round 25: [k2tog] six times (6 stitches)

Cut yarn and pull through the remaining stitches to secure.


With brown yarn,

CO 27 stitches

Row 1: k26 wrapping your yarn 3 times around your needle every stitch, k1

Row 2: k across, letting the extra wraps fall off the needle (creating extra long stitches) every stitch

Row 3: BO, Cut yarn leaving a yarn tail about 12 inches.

Your mane now looks something like this:


Use the tip of your DPN to pull at the upper loop of each stitch so that the knit fabric rearranges itself with the loops around the outside (see photo below):


Use the yarn tail and a tapestry needle to sew the mane into a loop and then to sew the loop onto the lion’s head, framing what will become his face.


With yellow yarn,

CO 4 stitches

Row 1: kfb, k1, kfb, k1 (6 stitches)

Row 2 (and all even rows through 10): p

Row 3: kfb, k3, kfb, k1 (8 stitches)

Row 5: kfb, k5, kfb, k1 (10 stitches)

Row 7: ssk, k6, k2tog (8 stitches)

Row 9: ssk, k4, k2tog (6 stitches)

Row 11: ssk, k2, k2tog (4 stitches)

Row 12: BO, Cut yarn leaving a yarn tail of about 12 inches.

Stuff the lion’s body (don’t overstuff, or he won’t stand securely). Use yarn tail and a tapestry needle to sew the underside to the stuffed body.


With yellow yarn,

Cut 3 pieces of yarn about 10 inches each. Use the tapestry needle to pull them through a stitch at the back of the lion. Pull them through so that they are even. Braid them and tie the braid with a scrap of brown yarn. Cut the ends of your tail to the desired length, and if your yarn allows, unravel the ends a bit.

Finishing and Face:

Use the tapestry needle to hide any remaining yarn tails inside the body.

Use 3 strands of brown embroidery thread and an embroidery needle to embroider the face as shown in the photo.

I’d love to see your knit lions. Show them off on Instagram, Facebook (#yarnbirdy) and/or Ravelry

What toy or animal screams “SUMMER!” to you?


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