Crocheting with Plarn
("Yarn" from Plastic Bags!)
This is one of my favorite crafts: using grocery bags to create plarn for crocheting.
I've been faithfully using my canvas bags for quite awhile, but every now and then I'll forget or I'll acquire plastic bags from friends or family who have forgotten their canvas bags. I can't bring myself to throw them out. So I was saving an ever-growing pile of plastic bags with no idea how to use them other than occasionally as shipping material.
I was introduced to this technique by a friend. She inspired nearly every mama in our local group to begin crocheting with plastic bags (or "plarn" as it's called). I tend to just make more reusuable bags but you can also make purses, rugs, backpacks, etc. I'm giving these explanations under the assumptions you already have a basic understanding of how to crochet (but not as though you're an expert, because otherwise you probably wouldn't need these directions; it's super simple for you pros!). If you don't it's a simple, fun technique to learn and there are plenty of online resources to teach you how to do it (although the best teacher tends to be a good friend).
Here's how to crochet a bag out of plastic bags (plarn):
Take your plastic bag and flatten it out. Then fold it in half (bringing the two handles together and the two bottom corners together) at least two times keeping it as flat as possible. Here it is flattened and folded once:
Cut off the bottom edge, then begin cutting one inch strips all the way up to the handles (the handles and the bottom edge become your only waste). This creates a ring.
Knot two rings together. I only knot two or three at a time, crochet those, then add more using something similar to a reef knot. I have no idea how to explain it. Here's a video to help you knot your plarn if you need better visuals.
Step Four (for making a bag)
Using a J/10 crochet hook or something around that size, create your chain as long as you want the base of your bag to be. When I make a bag, I tend to make the base a bit smaller since the plastic always seems to stretch as I begin to make the sides of the bag. Once you have the chain to the length you want, turn and begin crocheting as normal.
Step Five (for making a bag)
The easiest way is to crochet your base as a square if you're making a bag but you can also crochet a circle as well. I use a single, double, or half double stitch depending on my mood, but usually gravitate to a single for a tighter stitch. Once you have the base to the size you prefer, begin working around the base (instead of back and forth). I usually skip a stitch here or there along the length of bag to pull the sides up a bit. Here you can see my base and the beginning of the sides.
Continue working around until you reach the bag depth you prefer, then begin making your handles/strap(s). Some people create their handles seperately and sew them on with more plarn. I usually start it on the bag itself so that I'm only crocheting on one side of the handle. (I actually think this leads to more stretching, though, so I prefer to make the handle separately now.) I make my handle about 8 stitches across, which comes out to be about 1.5-2 inches wide. You can make one or two handles/straps.
Here is the end of the bag and the beginning of the strap: I simply stopped, ch 2, turn and crocheted 8, ch 2, turn, crochet 8, etc:
Here is the end of the strap "sewn" into the other side with more plarn.
Viola! A new bag crocheted from plastic bags! This size is perfect for going to the beach or park.
Keep one thing in mind when making your bag: The plastic will stretch with anything too heavy in it, so making a bag that is very big then filling it with groceries may have you dragging it across the parking lot. If you're making grocery bags, make them smaller and crochet two handles for support.
I hope these directions are clear enough. Feel free to ask me any questions you have about the technique. The options are boundless, so this is only one way of creating one type of bag. I'm currently working on a yoga bag made only from solid yellow bags...not such a "bright" idea; solid yellow is hard to come by. But I may have it done by next year! (Update: Finished that bad boy! I get mad compliments on it!)