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I mainly use a reusable grocery bag (these, to be precise)…but I generally don’t have enough to do the job (with two kids in tow, I try to get all my shopping done at once), and inevitably have a stash of plastic bags since quite a few stores no longer have paper as an option (which stinks–the kids love to color on it). Now don’t get me wrong, plastic bags have plenty of reusable uses–they are a great wrap for breakables you might be trying to store or move, and there is no better car trash bag…but my cupboard under the sink can only hold so many of them.

And so, I have recently discovered plarn. Plastic yarn made from grocery bags, bread bags, newspaper bags (and victim of the Brangelina naming phenomenon). Great for knitting and crochet…

First, you need raw materials: the plastic bags. In San Francisco, and like-minded cities, that’s actually getting a bit difficult because grocery stores aren’t allowed to use them anymore. Fortunately, there’s still the protective blue plastic bag from the New York Times, and any number of pink bags from the “variety” stores and bakeries in Chinatown. Color is key, as is weight and texture. Remember, what you put in is what you get out — if all of your bags are dingy grey, the final product will be dingy grey!

fromGreen Daily–Everybody Wants a Fabulous Plarn Bag

From what I have found on Ravelry, there seems to be two techniques to make plarn–double loop or spun (which can be from a double loop strand or single strands). Now I haven’t tried these (yet), but from what I have read and seen, the double loop plarn looks easier to do and the handspun looks nicer in the finished product. A drop spindle can be used to spin the plarn, though if anyone happens to have a spinning wheel, there seems to be plarnty of fun there as well (the link in the blog takes you to a youTube video of the process).

Double loop method:

Hand spinning a single strand slideshow:

I’m finding this totally fabulous (as opposed to partially fabulous???) because hemp cord can be fairly expensive once you get into larger diameters (my welcome mat has now run me about $26 for 3 skeins). This looks like you could easily make a larger diameter plarn for cheap, that (with brown bags) has the general appearance of hemp. While it also looks like you can adapt any pattern that you think would translate to alternative yarns to plarn, there are some patterns with pics for the visually learner like myself. Something else to keep in mind is that most plarn project patterns seem to be for crochet rather than knitting (but there is no reason you can’t knit plarn).

Crochet Plarn Patterns:
Tote Bag
Plarn Snowman
Plarn accessories
Plarn Dishcloth Scrubbies
Plarn Curtain
Plarn Scrubbies

And for the knit/crochet challenged, why not try making a fused plastic “fabric”? I think this would be an awesome way to make some reusable sandwich bags (and cheaper than oilcloth), and awesome tote bag, or anything else you can think of (like a rain coat).