Yearn Worthy Yarn: Plarn

plastic bag
We’ve already covered the mysteries of fusing plastic, but did you also know that you can knit with it too?! To continue my what to do with my overflowing bag of plastic bags kick, here is a quick tutorial on making your own plastic yarn or “plarn.”

1) Gather your bags. I separated mine by color, but why not go crazy and mix and match?

2) Start by cutting off the handles and the bottom of the bag. The result will be a nice smooth rectangle, as the bottom gatherings will have been removed.

cutting the bag3) Cut the bag into long strips of “yarn.” You can do this two different ways. One is to cut the bag in one continuous spiral or the other is to cut the bag in a zig-zag pattern as in the picture. Then cut along the yellow lines to get one long strip of plastic.

The spiral method makes a more uniform strip where the zig-zag cut makes the yarn more free-form and lumpy. I like this best because it gives the final project a bit more character.
center pull, ball of plarn
4) Ball your yarn. I made a center pull ball with my yarn which was no different than with other yarns and the pieces easily tied together with simple square knots.

5) Begin knitting! plarn swatch

Words of wisdom: This yarn is a bit unpredictable. Casting on it’s a bit stiff and doesn’t stretch and move as easily in the process as real yarn. Be careful not to pull your stitches and make them too big. Once you get going, it is relatively easy to use, though. If you are a tight knitter, you might want to double up on your needles or use a bigger needle for your stitches as the yarn is a bit hard to move on and off the needles. It can be both slippery and un-slippery at the same time.

You can also find plarn for sale on Etsy from smallboxdesigns and silverblayze, just to name a few. Use your new plarn with some amazing patterns from My Recycled Bags, a blog that we all love. Try the cute Ribbon Sling Bag or how about a dishcloth?

Have other ideas that plarn would be good for? Leave them in the comments!

Written by Kelly Rand

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting.

Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.


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  1. what an awesome idea. There should be way more of this, to make purses and totes with. I recently saw on eco-chick that someone made a really beautiful purse out of black garbage bages – looks like they may have knitted it too! They even added a decorative flower make of the garbage bags too.

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