Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to Make Plarn

Recently I posted about why plarn (plastic bag yarn) is a good way to craft without making a dent on your pocketbook or on the environment. To prepare for Earth Day which is coming next month (April 22) I thought I would show you all how to make plarn. Maybe you can prepare a plarn project to celebrate the Earth's special day.
I recommend acquiring a lot of plastic bags from your friends and family members. However, I do not encourage you to ignore your reuseable bags when you take a trip to the grocery store just so that you can acquire more plastic bags to make plarn; that would defeat the purpose of being eco-friendly. What I did was I sent out an email to all my friends and posted as my status on facebook (or what social network that you may use) what my intentions were and what my request was. You will probably get funny looks or comments about asking people to save and give you plastic bags, but don't worry about it because once they understand what you are about then they will be your greatest benefactors of plastic bags.

I would like to give a special shout out to all the family members and friends who gave me their plastic bags to use. I hope you are relieved to have your plastic bag cabinet or drawer free from plastic bag clutter. It really help me out. You know who you are.
The process is very simple, so simple in fact that you can get your kids to help you (under close supervision, of course). Here is what you will need:
  1. One pair of scissors
  2. Bunches of plastic bags (I recommend at least 30 so that you can make a nice ball)
  3. Paper and Pencil (I make a bag tally so that when people ask how many plastic bags are in a particular project I can just tell them)
Step 1: Spread out your plastic bag so that it is smooth. Make sure the bag is not inside out.

Step 2: Fold the left side of the bag one quarter of the way towards the center

Step 3: Repeat step 2 for the right side of the bag

Step 4: Fold the left side to the middle of the bag.

Step 5: Fold the right side to the middle of the bag.

Step 6: Fold the left side on top of the right side of the bag

Step 7: Cut the handles and the bottom of the bag off and discard the handles and bottom.
(I recommend making a plastic bag into a plastic discard bag. All you have to do is drop it off at your grocery store. They usually have a recycling bin or box, where you can have your plastic bags recycled. I know Target and Pick n' Save does this). 
Step 8: Cut the folded bag into 1 inch rectangles

Step 9: Unfurl the 1 inch rectangles. It will make a loop. Kind of cool, right?

Step 10:  Tie the ends of 2 plarn loops together by overlapping one end to another end of another plarn loop. Take the underlapping end (Loop #1) and fold it around the overlapping loop (Loop #2) so that it is on the top.

Tread the other end of Loop #1 through the end of Loop #1 that is folded on top of Loop #2. Hold Loop #1 with one hand and hold Loop #2 with the other and pull gently until makes a knot.
Try not to pull to hard or you might stretch the plastic or perhaps even snap the loop altogether. This will compromise the integrity of your plarn so be cautious

These pictures will illustrate
what I clumsily tried to expalin

Step 11: Repeat tying the loops together until you have connected all your loops like a giant chain.

Step 12: Start wrapping your plarn chain into a ball. What I do is I grasp one end of the plarn while I wrap it into a ball to sort of keep sort of make the two plies of the yarn together (you can liken this to spinning in a way)

This is what the finished product looks like.

You can do so much with plarn. You make reusable grocery bags, purses, and rugs. Basically anything that can be crocheted, knitted, or weaved, plarn can be used as your medium for any project. This is a great activity while you are watching television. The next post will include a crochet pattern for a large reuseable grocery bag (that is easy on the eyes) that will sure get people to say "How did you do that?" I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial have a great week!


  1. Do you recommend washing the bags first? I'm really not a germaphobe. Also, can you wash the finished bags?

    1. I recommend soaking the bags in warm soapy water (I use dawn) and then I hang dry them.

      With the finished bags I would just say hose it down esp. if you are using my beach bag pattern for a beach bag. However, for grocery bags I would recommend handwashing them, but do not wring it dry. Rather let it air dry. Under no circumstances should you try putting in the washer or dryer. It is after all plastic.

      You could try dilluted bleach solution (1/4 bleach to a gallon of water) and soaking it in that if there is a spot that just won't come out. However, before bleaching try the dipping some unused plarn (the same as the plarn used in your purse) to see if the dye comes out as the bags are made differently in regards to dyes. I managed to wash my Pick n' Save Bag Purse with no real trouble of the dye leeching out. Also if you have ribbon in it, before bleaching I recommend removing the ribbon first. Otherwise you will bleach your ribbon, and that would certainly be a sad story.

      If you use the beach bag idea that I posted, I would recommend just hosing it down because beach bags are made for the beach.

  2. Dear,

    My name is Bianca Fanelli, I work at SM Editora (http://www.edicoessm.com.br/), a spanish publisher, I am part of the research group iconographic in Brazil.

    We would like to reproduce the image of the plarn to illustrate our textbook of the english as a foreign language calls "Alive High 1".

    However we need to ask your permission to use it, and the image in high resolution.

    How should we proceed?

    I look forward to.

  3. My grandmother did this YEARS ago making oval kitchen rugs. They're great because they're easy to do, can be adjusted in size by just stopping when its the size you want, and the plastic bags make a "cushy" surface almost akin to memory foam, unlike fabric or thread crochet, because they encompass air. I don't have a specific pattern, but you start with a chain of about a foot and a half in length, then sc into it down one side, several sc's in the end chain, and back down the other side. When you get to the beginning, make sure you have the same number of sc in that end as the other, close the round by slip stitching into the first sc if you want, or simply lose the rounds altogether and keep going round and round. Stop at will(when its the size you want). These hold up well, just rinse in the sink and hang in the shower or something to dry. they do not "stick" to the floor so can slip and may need an anti-slip pad beneath, as with many rugs. Happy crocheting!

  4. It makes great hats to wear at the swimming pool as the plastic does not seem to be damaged by the chlorine in the water.

  5. i think i found something to do while Iam home sick.. thanks for the idea

  6. Is this as durable now that the plastic bags are made so that they break down after time and sun exposure?

  7. Think of it like this Dorothy. Rope gets it strength from the many strands that it is composed of. A single strand of the hemp the rope is made of is brittle and weak. You could easily snap it by firmly pulling on. Plarn works this way as well, especially when you have crocheted it together. A single strand of plarn can be weak and brittle, but when crochet with it the combination makes a durable media to work with. Like any bag you will have to repair it eventually, but not for many years. Plarn is actually easier to repair too because the strands are actually loops. If a part breaks you can reloop the broken portion with a new strand and repair the problem. I have never had to do this as none of my bags have broken (yet), but I have thought it through a bit. Also the plastic will break down in time, but spinning it into plarn will actually lengthen the time as it made strong by layers of plastic. I would wager this could last a very long time.

  8. I made mine without the ribbon or lining and it is great for all sorts of things. It is the same size as the grocery bags from the supermarket here, so I plan to make a few of them to use instead.


  9. Thanks for sharing this.I agree with all of the points keep up the good work.
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