How to Make Plarn - Plastic Yarn Tutorial

01
of 07

How to Make Plarn

Make Plarn
Plarn is easy to make and a great way to recycle grocery bags. Rain Blanken

If you are anything like me, then you have a container somewhere in your house dedicated to the sole purpose of holding plastic bags. Making plastic bag yarn, or 'plarn', is a great way to repurpose these bags that would otherwise take over 1000 years to decompose in a landfill.

 

What You'll Need

  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Scissors [recommended scissors]

Once you have these few materials, it's time to get started.

 

See Plarn Creations and Patterns

More Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

02
of 07

Prepare the Bag

Make Plarn
Flatten your bag by folding it correctly. Rain Blanken

Plastic bags are usually found wadded up or inside-out. To make the plastic yarn correctly, you need to straighten and neatly fold the plastic bag.

Tuck in the sides so that they lay flat as shown.

Next, you will cut the bag in strips.

 

See Plarn Creations and Patterns

More Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

03
of 07

Fold Bag and Trim Handles

Make Plarn
Make Plarn. Rain Blanken

Fold the bag lengthwise, in half, then fold again. Folding the bag means less cutting and straighter plarn pieces.

Snip off the handles on the end.

Time to cut up some plarn pieces.

 

See Plarn Creations and Patterns

More Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

04
of 07

Cut Strips of Plarn

Make Plarn
Make Plarn. Rain Blanken

Cut strips according to how strong you want the plastic yarn to be. Strips that are 1" or thicker are the strongest and great for making bags and blankets, while those that are 1/2" or less are going to be a more delicate yarn suited for doilies and lace projects.

Different plastic bags will behave in different ways as plarn. The white Meijer bag and yellow Dollar General bags here are standard plastic bags that are smooth and have little give. The brown Kroger bag is much softer and thinner, while the blue bag my morning paper arrived in is very stretchy. Keep in mind the texture of your bag when clipping strips.

Clip all the way down the bag and discard the bottom piece. Open the strips and you will discover that you've made a bunch of plastic loops.

Next, let's join the loops together.

 

See Plarn Creations and Patterns

More Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

05
of 07

Join the Plarn Strips

Make Plarn
Make Plarn. Rain Blanken

To join the strips, you will perform a basic larks head knot. This is a really easy knot that I've broken down into steps in the above photo.

Overlap two loops. I've used two different bag colors to make this easier on the eyes. You can combine colors for a variegated yarn, or stick to one color.

  1. Where the loops intersect, reach over the yellow circle, under the white circle, and grab the other side of the yellow plastic.
  2. Pull the yellow strip through the white loop.
  3. Pull the yellow to the right so that it overlaps the white loop.
  4. Keep pulling!
  5. The knot will form.
  6. Tug to tighten, but don't pull too hard, as some bags will rip at this point.

This is actually a very quick and common knot to make and when you've made it once, you'll never forget how to do it.

Now, keep joining pieces to form a ball.

 

See Plarn Creations and Patterns

More Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

06
of 07

Repeat and Create a Ball

Make Plarn
Make Plarn. Rain Blanken

Link more loops together, being sure that your knot is centered on the end of the last loop before you pull it tight. If the knot isn't centered, then the two sides of the loop can be uneven.

Begin to wrap your plarn into a ball by starting to wrap on two fingers and then snowballing it up to the desired size.

Next, find out how to use your plarn.

 

See Plarn Creations and Patterns

More Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

07
of 07

Using Your Plarn

Make Plarn
Plarn is a durable material when used in crochet and knitting projects. Rain Blanken

Each strip from an average grocery bag is about 15" long, so keep this in mind when you are figuring out how much plarn you will need for a specific pattern. For other bags, measure the plarn strips, not the folded bag.

The strips may look flimsy on your plarn ball, but the plastic yarn will be much stronger once you have crocheted or knitted with it. You can make everything from a stiff plarn hat to reusable and durable grocery bags. Depending on the kind of grocery bag you've used, some plarn will be stronger than others.

This may go without saying, but I have to say it. Don't ever try to make a potholder or hot pad from plarn. If you give a plarn goodie as a gift, be sure to notify the receiver that it's plastic and will melt.

Visit our Knitting Guide and Crochet Guide for plenty of projects to use your plarn with.

Need some inspiration? Check out these plarn creations.

 

More Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags