Plastic yarn, or plarn, is often free to make and can easily be used for unique results
What exactly is plarn? What on earth is it used for? How is it made?
Plarn is the term we get by combining “plastic” and “yarn” and it is normally made by recycling disposable plastic bags into strips that are then connected together to make longer lengths of plarn. The strips can be cut into pretty much any width to get different results, depending on the project or the desired results. You can keep reading or watch the video for some specific results that I got using a wide range of plarn sizes.
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Below, I’ve listed a few projects and ideas for using Plarn, my recommendations for how to cut and attach the strips, and what my own stitches ended up looking like. If you prefer to watch instead of read, you’ll find that I go over the same information in this video as well.
Uses of Plarn
Plarn is a good material for making items that benefit from not absorbing water. It also has the benefit of being easily washable by rinsing. Some items commonly made with plarn are large sleeping mats(which are then donated to the homeless) reusable shopping and market bags(which is a bit ironic), and baskets. The baskets benefit from the flatter nature of the plarn and keep their shape easily.
Whatever project you have in mind, making plarn is an easy process and will probably give you a “free” resulting material to use!
How to Make Plarn
To make plarn, plastic bags must first be cut into strips. While you can use a variety of different widths, it’s good to be as consistent as possible. Plarn that is mostly even will be easier to work with. After cutting, the strips can be combined in a few different ways.
Cutting the Plarn
The first step is to cut off the handles and very bottom portion out of each bag that you’ll be using. This simplifies the shape of the plastic and gets rid of the bottom seam. Then, if you find that any of your bags are made with a pleat in the bottom(all of mine are) those can be opened up. If opening up the pleats causes the bottom of the bag to be uneven again, you can cut it again. The end result should be a simple tube of plastic.
At this point, there are two options for cutting your plarn strips. The first way is to start in one spot and cut continuously around the bag. While this creates one long strip, it can be harder to keep the width even for the whole cut.
The second method of cutting plarn, which I prefer, is to keep your plastic flat and just cut straight across the bag, making smaller “loops” of plastic in whatever width you want to use. This takes less time and creates even strips of plastic more easily(in my opinion).
And while I did not do this in my video, you can also cut out your plarn faster by folding up the bags so that you can cut a strip in just one cut(this may take a little bit of practice since the bags need to be folded smoothly for this to work.)
Attaching Plarn Strips
While strips of plarn can simply tied together, I highly recommend that you use loops of plarn and loop them together instead. This simply means putting the end of one piece of plarn through another(if using loops), then putting the same end through itself and pulling tight. It helps to pull slowly and adjust the join when it is almost pulled tight so that the result is as smooth as possible.
Specific Results of Different Plarn Sizes
Once you know how to make plarn, you may find yourself experimenting with different sizes. To hopefully give you a good starting point, I played around with this myself and found a few sizes of plarn that did well with different hooks. These sizes represent what I think of as a good “range” of plarn sizes that you can work with under most circumstances.
The narrowest plarn I would recommend is 1/2″ strips. Any thinner than this, and I think it would be difficult to work with the plarn without it stretching and breaking on you. With this size plarn, I used a size G hook and got ten chain stitches out of a single strip, which measured right at 3″ long.
And on the other end of the spectrum, the widest piece of plarn that I found easy to work with was about 3″ wide. I cut a single bag into thirds to get this size, and it seems large enough to act as an extra-bulky “yarn” for projects requiring a thicker material. To work with the 3″ plarn, I used a K hook and ended up with just 5 stitches from one strip of plarn. Those five sample stitches measured about 2.5″.
If you need a few more ideas for using plarn, check out this post with 15 really creative and pretty projects.
Plarn is definitely a different experience to work with, but it can be a useful alternative to normal yarn for certain projects. It’s also one way that you can continue to crochet even when you are low on your normal yarn.
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And finally, be sure to pin this for later so you can reference it when you’re ready to make your own Plarn!
Have fun working with this unique medium, and keep the crafting delightful!