Plarn: Saving Sealife From Grocery Bags [First Guest Post!]

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[I’ve mentioned to people they should guest blog before, and now Amanda (also referred to as biffle) will be the first honored guest! It seems like she should be the first March post, since it’s her birthday month and all- and I’ll get to see her recent creations in real life later this month! *drumroll*]

The craft project you think you want to start…

Everyone knows being green is good, plus it’s also sort of cool. Let’s not lie, you have either committed the sin of trying to be more eco-friendly than someone else, or you know someone like that. Many cities have enforced a no plastic bag rule– huzzah!– but somehow I have escaped living in cities that do this. When our under-sink collection of plastic bags gets out of hand I
start thinking about a plarn (plastic yarn) project. The culprit for this fiasco is normally the nice young men who bag our groceries at the local Kroger. For whatever reason, they will put some items in a single bag and then overload other bags. Being a crafty person, the best way to reuse something that has outrun its conventional commodity life is to repurpose it in the most logical way possible. And then the craft gods created plarn.

Here’s why projects with plarn are A) expensive to buy, or B) ones you don’t really want to take on: they are SO labor intensive! Also, you will have to deal with somewhat sarcastic remarks from people who know you, such as, “You’re making a bag out of bags… that’s ingenious,” or the frank, “that sounds dumb, why?” type remark. If you haven’t made plarn yet you might have wondered how someone could dare charge $20 for a bag. After making my first plarn bag I had a healthy appreciation for the prices other crafters had for sale. It took me, possibly, two to three weeks to make enough plarn to create a tote bag. This isn’t meant to deter anyone, but now you can have a healthy appreciation for the craft.

Plarn1

I don’t have a good plarn making tutorial because there are plenty online. RecycleCindy at My Recycled Bags [http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2007/
02/17/instructions-for-cutting-plastic-bags-creating-recycled-plastic-yarn/
] has a great step by step written tutorial. But I would recommend watching some videos too, how to connect one loop of plastic bag to another isn’t the most intuitive action. Check out these videos: [1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaCi06IdefM, and 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dj1pVVjtqRk]. Either style of plarn works, though I personally make the first kind that is looped mainly because the second would be more time consuming than the project is already. I also feel the loop style is more sturdy.

Plarn2

Some tips I’ve gained from experience. Plan your project well in advance because this won’t be as simple as crocheting (or knitting if you’re that cool!) that pattern you’ve done a dozen times that everyone loves; you also will get tired of sorting, cutting, then looping the bags and so it will be necessary to take a break. Use a hook you are comfortable with, plastic or metal it
doesn’t matter. I use Boye metal hooks because I prefer the rounded edge of their hooks. Do things in bulk. If you are using a grocery bag the most bags you can stack together to cut up are about five, anything more and your scissors will have a hard time once they are all folded. Go to your local grocery store and ask if you can have some of the bags people have brought
to be recycled. Asking the customer service desk might feel weird, but making plarn takes a lot of bags. The other advantage to going to a local store is, if there is a store near your house you don’t shop with, the chance is their bags are a different color than the competitor you shop with,
thereby expanding your plarn palette. Generally, most moderate sized projects require eighty to one hundred bags, and now you can understand why it’s time consuming. But fire up the Netflix instant que and sort, cut, and loop away!

There are some really beautiful plarn projects- I have always coveted this little number by RecycleCindy. I just want to know what store uses such red bags!

gLp Designs: http://sewphisticate.blogspot.com/search/label/plarn

And here’s my current project- it’s a bag for a charity auction that my friend is working on:

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