Plarn Tutorial

 “Plarn” is a neologism meaning “plastic yarn”. I’ve been wanting to try this for a long time but some pins on Pinterest gave me a little nudge.

I save plastic bags. I have these beautiful canvas holders my mother gave me…hold on…let me grab a photo…

Shove the bags in the top (yes, we like garlic and onion).

Elastic around bottom – just pull the bags out.

I use them for garbage bags in small trash cans, keep a few in the van for trash bags, wad them up and use instead of packing peanuts, etc. I try not to ever throw them away unless they’re beyond use. Sure, I should use some of those large cloth shopping bags but I’ve never actually seen anyone at our store using them and I have the feeling that the checkers wouldn’t know what to do. Plus, I don’t actually have any at the moment. So.

Back to the plarn. Once I followed a tutorial and saw how easy it was to make I knew I had to try it. Here is a step-by-step photo tutorial of how to make the plarn. It’s really easy, but verbal descriptions only seem to take one so far so I decided to do one with photos.

1. Start with a bag. Lay it out flat allowing the sides to fold in they way they did when it came off the assembly line. 

2. Fold it in half length-wise.

3. Fold in half length-wise once more.

4. Cut off the very bottom (where it’s fused together) and the top (where the handles are) so that you have an even rectangle. Discard those pieces.

5. Cut the rectangle into about 1 inch segments (a pox on you if you actually measure it).

6. This is what you should end up with.

7. Unfold the little pieces and you will have several large loops of plastic. Now comes the fun part (and you can do this either way depending on left or right-handedness): Lay two loops in front of you, overlapping the left loop over the right.

8. Reach your hand under the loops and pinch the far loop.

9. Pull that loop under the near loop and keep pulling.

10. (At this point I had to grab a random child since I don’t have three arms.) Put your right hand over the piece on the right, holding it open. Continue to pull with your left hand.

11. Pull…

12. Now you will see that the knot is being formed. The reason you are holding the right part down with your right hand is so that it won’t get snarled as you pull it tight. (Experience talking)

13. Gently tug it a little more until your knot is this small:

Taa Daa!! You’ve just made plarn! Keep doing that, adding one loop to another until you have quite a long string. Some people prefer to roll it up like yarn and then work from the rolls. Some people prefer to start crocheting, then add more loops as they need to.

As far as the actual crocheting part, it takes a little getting used to if you’ve only ever used yarn. It doesn’t slide quite so well and it isn’t so elastic (although it does have a little stretch). I figured out that one key to happy crocheting is to pull your needle away from the work to create bigger loops. You will not be able to adjust the loop size once it’s made so this is a continuous process. Don’t worry, it becomes second nature. 

I’ve used single crochet throughout to create a tighter weave, but the stitch you use will depend on what you’re trying to make. Notice that you can use the colors to your advantage to create stripes. 

I’m not going to give a tutorial on how to crochet the rug part because there are plenty of those online. Plus, many of you crocheters out there may already know how to do it anyway. This is going to turn into a rug for our front porch – nice and weather-proof!

Maybe I’ll finish it by fall…

4 thoughts on “Plarn Tutorial

  1. That is very cool! I use the heck out of those plastic bags too. Btw, I was reading recently that the cloth bags can harbor lots of lovely bacteria, especially salmonella and the like.


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