Knit and crochet are certainly not new crafts, and neither are re-using materials. What is new is the type of materials that are being recycled and repurposed in ways our grandparents never dreamed of. Plastic bags become plarn, a nearly indestructible yarn that can then be fashioned into innumerable useful as well as fashionable items.
Recycling plastic bags in this manner not only keeps them out of the landfill, but the end product results in one less item needing to be manufactured for purchase.
What is Plarn?
Plarn is the term coined for plastic yarn, that is, yarn made from plastic grocery sacks or bread bags. The bags are cut into strips, much like our grandparents may have cut old clothing to make rag rugs. You can find instructions on how to cut the plastic bags here. Once the plastic bag yarn is knitted or crocheted, it becomes a more solid piece, somewhat rigid and waterproof.
How Does Plarn Differ From Traditional Fiber Yarn?
I found plastic yarn difficult to work with at first, but like most things, it’s easily worked through with a bit of time and patience. I tried using a plastic crochet hook with little success, as the plastic bags more or less stuck to the plastic hook and didn’t allow for a smooth movement while crocheting. I prefer not to use metal hooks when crocheting with traditional fibers, but found that they were the best choice when working with plarn.
Making a practice swatch of basic stitches with the plastic yarn before attempting to follow a pattern will probably save you a lot of grief. Start off with a larger hook and once comfortable crocheting with plarn, switch to the size hook suggested in the pattern.
What Can Be Made With Plarn?
Plastic yarn’s sturdiness make it a great choice to fashion into tote bags and purses, whereas its additional waterproof properties are perfect to crochet outdoor dining placemats, and rugs for your back door or mud room. If you use a large enough crochet hook to result in a piece that is not completely solid but more like a sturdy mesh, it’s ideal for a crochet beach bag that can be rinsed of sand and salt at day’s end.
Here’s a pattern for a plarn market bag that would also make a nice beach tote. Several dozen more pattern ideas of what can be made from recycled grocery sacks can be found here.