CraftSanity on TV: Making plarn (plastic yarn) out of shopping bags

by jennifer

If you love free yarn AND green crafting, it’s time to cut up some plastic shopping bags and make some plarn.

On this week’s Take Five & Company craft segment, I showed off some impressive creations including crochet hats, bags, a one-piece, vintage-style bathing suit, and a long dress all made out of plastic yarn by Betty White of Caledonia, Mich. (Check back here Sunday for a link the newspaper column I wrote about Betty.)

Betty spent months making the dress you’ll see in the video clip, but you don’t have to invest that kind of time to have fun crocheting with plarn.

Here are some basic instructions to make a small shoulder bag like the one I made for my 3-year-old daughter. (Please, let me know if anything needs to be corrected or clarified.)

– 8 to 10 plastic bags (They can be from the same store or, for a striped effect, use bags from a variety of stores.)
– Scissors
– Size K crochet hook
– Large yarn needle

Plarn Making 101: Lay the bag flat and cut across the very bottom of the bag, removing the seam. Then cut the handles off even with the top of the bag. You will be left with what looks like a plastic tube. Starting at the top or bottom edge, make your first cut on an diagonal, cutting about 1 to 2 inches from the edge. Continue cutting parallel to the edge on a spiral to form one long continuous strip. Roll into a ball. Repeat this process for each bag.

Crochet Bag Pattern
Grab a size K crochet hook and chain (ch) 20.
Row 1: Single crochet (sc) in top bar of second chain from hook. Stitch to end of chain, then continue around base chain working sc in each bottom bar.

Rows 2-24: Continue rounds of sc, working up in a spiral for 24 rows, or until the bag reaches the desired size. (When joining new pieces of plarn, simply knot the ends together and continue stitching. The ends can be woven in later, or covered with stitches as you work. You decide what works best for you.

Rows 25 to 31: On these rows, sc across one side of the bag only, ch 1 at the end of each row, then turn and sc back to other side to create a flap. Slip stitch to secure, cut and weave in end with a yarn needle.

Bag strap: Using a double thickness of plarn, pull up a stitch on one edge of bag just before the flap and ch 90. Fasten chain strap to opposite side of the bag with a knot or a few stitches. Weave in the ends and load up your bag with goodies.

These bags are guaranteed conversation starters, so plan on having some interesting conversations when you use your plastic bag made out of plastic bags. And when it wears out, toss it in your recycle bin and make a new one.

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