Plarn (or plastic yarn) is an eco-friendly way to turn plastic shopping bags into other useful items like this plarn coaster.
Hello, Ideas for the Home readers! I’m Pam from The Birch Cottage, and I’m back again this month sharing an easy tutorial on how to make plarn. What’s plarn? Plarn is what you call plastic yarn and it’s made out of plastic shopping bags.
What Is Plarn?
Plarn is basically using plastic bags as yarn.
Plarn has seen a resurgence since COVID-19 made its presence known here in the USA and around the world. With a pandemic running rampant, many states, municipalities or health departments have temporarily banned the use of reusable shopping bags in grocery stores and shopping venues.
This means that plastic shopping bags are filling up in peoples homes and recycling bins. Plastic shopping bags aren’t exactly very reusable as shopping bags (plus, we’re not allowed to re-use them right now), but they do have other uses, especially when you turn the plastic shopping bags into yarn or “plarn” and put it to use as a crochet medium.
How to make plarn
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I’ve already shared that plastic + yarn = plarn, but there are a few things you should know about plarn before you begin working with it.
Tips for making & Using Plarn
- One plastic shopping bag makes about 9 yards of plarn.
- There is a continuous method of cutting the plastic bags that makes for longer strands, but it’s not as sturdy and you still need to double the strands. So, I recommend using the loops instead.
- Keep your stitches on the loose side.
- Don’t pull too tightly especially when attaching the loops or the bags will rip. If the strands rip, simply knot them together.
- Use clean bags.
- It takes a lot of bags to make some projects.
- You can use a rotary cutter instead of scissors
What you need:
To make plarn you really only need two things.
You will also need a crochet hook, but the size of the hook will vary depending on the pattern and project.
1. Flatten plastic bags
Flatten the plastic shopping bags and lay 2-4 bags on top of each other. If you are using a rotary cutter you can cut up to 6 bags at a time, but you may find the bags slip around. If they do slip, simply stack fewer bags.
2. Fold Bags
After you have stacked 2-4 bags on top of one another, you’ll want to fold one long edge over to meet the other long edge.
3. Fold bags again
Then you will fold the plastic bags again.
4. cut away the ends
Make a cut across the bags to cut away the handles. Then make another cut near the bottom of the plastic bags to cut away the bottom seams. Discard the handles and bottom seams (or save for some other project).
5. cut strips
Now that you’ve cut away the handles and the bottom seams, fold the bags one more time and make cuts approximately 1″ apart. (NOTE: Pay attention to the pattern you are following. Some patterns instruct you to cut the strips into 1/2″ or other widths.)
2. knot loops
Knot loops together to form a long strand of plarn. It’s really more of a chain – kind of like linking rubber bands together to form a long chain.
Refer to the above Video Instructions for more help on making a chain with the plastic loops.
How to Crochet Plarn Coasters
Now that you know how to make plarn, how about an easy crochet tutorial to put your new skill to use? I created this simple crochet plarn coaster pattern just to give you an idea of not only what you can create with plarn, but how easy or tedious you might find it to work with.
ch – chain
dc – double crochet
st(s) – stitch(es)
sl st – slip stitch
Beginning Chain: Ch 4 and sl st to beginning chain to form a ring.
NOTE: Ch 2 does not count as stitch throughout this pattern.
Round 1: Ch 2, 12 dc in ring created by the beginning ch. Sl st to beginning dc. (12 sts)
Round 2: Ch 2. 2 dc in each st around. Sl st to beginning dc. (24 sts)
Round 3: Ch 2. *2 dc in first st, 1 dc in next st, repeat from * around. Sl st to beginning dc. Fasten off and weave in end. (36 sts)
More Plarn Project ideas
I really hope that you’ll give this plarn crochet coaster pattern a try. It will introduce you to crocheting with plarn and give you a feeling of whether crocheting with plarn is for you or not.
Here are a few plarn project ideas that you might want to consider:
- Operation Bed Roll from Greensboro, NC
- The Ultimate Recycled Market Bag by Amanda Steves for Ravelry
- Giant Plarn Rug by Crochet is the Way
You could even try a crochet pattern that uses traditional yarn, like this cute pot cover from Sincerely Pam.
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If you enjoyed learning how to make plarn, you might also like these crochet patterns and tutorials from The Birch Cottage blog:
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