Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Attempt at Plarn

That's right, you read it correctly.  I said plarn.  If you've never heard this word before, "plarn" means plastic yarn, made from strips of plastic bags.  Do a quick web search to discover a plethora of amazing things you can make from this fun (and free!) craft material.  Pinterest alone has enough projects to keep your creative gears going for years.  I recently decided to try my hand at making a plarn basket to keep on my kitchen table, and I found this project to be incredibly fun and addictive.  You'll never look at plastic bags the same once you've used them as a readily accessible craft supply.

Plarn (Plastic Yarn) Basket

This tutorial requires a basic understanding of crochet techniques, and I wouldn't recommend it as your very first crochet project because the knots in the yarn and the bulky stitches could be a little tricky for a brand-new crocheter.  But once you practice a bit with regular yarn to get a feel for the motion and structure of crochet stitches, it's pretty easy!  I came up with my own pattern to create a medium-sized basket, but a search for "plarn" will reveal an abundance of other patterns and ideas.

Making Plarn

1. Gather a stack of plastic bags and a sharp pair of scissors (and a crochet hook if you plan to make a basket like mine).
2. Lay a plastic bag flat and cut off the bottom seam and the handles.
3. Carefully fold the bag in half over and over again until you have a thin tube shape.
4. Cut the bag into slices measuring about an inch wide.
5-8. When you unfold the slices, each one will create a loop shape.  Tie the loops together as seen in the photos below and pull tight.
9. As you create the plarn, wind it into a ball or use a piece of cardboard as a spool.
10. Once you have enough yardage for your desired project, take out your crochet hook and transform your plarn into something new.  Color changes can be achieved by simply tying in a new color at the end of a length of plarn.  

Plarn (Plastic Yarn) Basket Tutorial

Crocheted Plarn Basket

You will need:
 10-15 plastic plastic bags (I used 10 white plastic grocery bags and 2 dark blue Gap bags)
 Size J crochet hook

The following is a pattern for a medium-sized basket written in standard American crochet terms.  Here's a guide to the abbreviations used: 
ch= chain
sc= single crochet
st(s)= stitch, stitches
*...*= repeat the sequence shown within the asterisks
slst= slip stitch
Note: The bottom rounds are worked continuously, do not join rounds with a slst until instructed to do so when you begin working on the sides.  Use a stitch marker (such as a hairpin or a piece of string) to keep track of your rows.

1. Ch 2; 4 sc in 2nd ch from hook.
2. 2 sc in ea sc around. (8 sts)
3. 2 sc in ea sc around. (16 sts)
4. 2 sc in 1st sc, *1 sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc* repeat 6 times, 1 sc in last sc. (24 sts)
5. 1 sc in 1st sc, *2 sc in next sc, 1 sc in ea next 2 sc* repeat 6 times, 2 sc in next sc, 1 sc in last sc. (32 sts) 6. 2 sc in 1st sc, *1 sc in ea next 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc* repeat 6 times, 1 sc in ea last 3 sc, join with slst. (40 sts)
7. 2 sc in 1st sc, *1 sc in ea next 4 sc, 2 sc in next sc* repeat 6 times, 1 sc in ea last 3 sc, join with slst. (48 sts)
8. Ch 1, sc in ea sc around, join with slst.
9. Repeat row 8 until your basket reaches the desired height. If you'd like to add a colored rim, simply tie a new color of plarn at the end of the strand and keep working.
10. Tie off and weave in ends.

You will be amazed at how sturdy the finished product is!  In fact, one of my favorite things about the concept of using plastic bags for yarn is that the very characteristic of plastic that makes it so harmful for the environment, its slow decomposition rate, can be used to your advantage for creating durable, useful items such as tote bags, sandals, and rugs.  So grab a handful of plastic bags and let your awesome, earth-loving imagination run wild!

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