Instructions for Crocheting Recycled Plastic Bags

Written by pollyanna royal
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Instructions for Crocheting Recycled Plastic Bags
Don't let plastic bags clutter the earth. (Martin Poole/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Crafters all over the Internet are recycling, upcycling and designing items for sale and daily use from plastic bags. Knitting and crochet crafters call the plastic bag yarn "plarn," for plastic yarn. Plarn is designed by making it all one solid colour or variegating it by tying different coloured plastic bag loops together. Many popular colourful items made out of plarn are market bags, purses, beach bags, outdoor rugs (because they are waterproof), but are certainly not limited to those.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Plastic bags
  • Sharp scissors
  • Large crochet hooks (N or P)

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  1. 1

    Separate bags by colour and flatten them out as you stack them. Keep the side pleats intact. Items will be crocheted in a solid colour or variegated, depending on how you make the plarn. Ask family, neighbours and friends for donations if you need specific bag colours.

    Instructions for Crocheting Recycled Plastic Bags
    Flatten and separate the bags. (Martin Poole/Lifesize/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Cut off the bag handles and the bottom about 1/2 inch up with sharp scissors. Reserve them for another use, such as for packing material.

  3. 3

    Accordion-fold each plastic bag horizontally in approximately 1-inch sections and then cut 2-inch intervals in the strip to make four to six loops.

  4. 4

    Unfold the loops and knot them together end to end by placing one loop end over another loop end and slowly grabbing the under loop through the upper loop all the way through till it "grabs" and knots. Don't do it too hard or it will break. This will take some patience and practice.

  5. 5

    Knot together the plastic bag loops until you have one very long piece, then roll the plarn into a ball like regular yarn to make it easier to manage while crocheting with it.

  6. 6

    Use bigger-sized crochet hooks such as N or P to crochet items. Practice making chains with various sized hooks until the gauge is correct. When you run out of plarn, just add more cut loops to the end and keep going till your item is finished. Keep the plarn loose as you crochet.

  7. 7

    Pay attention to the type of bag when making plarn. Some bags are sturdier than others. Plastic bags made with cornflour don't last as long as those that are not. If you are making an outdoor rug, remember that shoes and the elements will break down the cornstarch ones faster than other ones. A good plarn doorstep rug can last up to three years.

  8. 8

    Stick to a single or double crochet stitch when starting out. When you've mastered those easier stitches and your items look great, make granny squares and try other stitches for even prettier items. The Internet is full of ideas for this; start with a site such as Crochet Pattern Central (see Resources).

    Instructions for Crocheting Recycled Plastic Bags
    Practice a lot. (Ben Bloom/Digital Vision/Getty Images)
  9. 9

    Be inspired to upcycle plastic bags into good use and maybe make a little money, too. Go to Etsy or other selling sites to see the endless possibilities and colour uses of plarn.

  10. 10
    Instructions for Crocheting Recycled Plastic Bags
    (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Tips and warnings

  • If needing many bags for a charity or community project, ask local stores for unused stacks of bags.
  • Don't let plastic bags near babies or small children, as suffocation could occur.

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