Green Crocheting: How to Make Plarn

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how to make plarn

One of my many New Year’s resolutions is to try to find more ways to be a little kinder to the earth. Although I try to use reusable bags whenever I go grocery shopping, I inevitably forget once in awhile and end up with a stash of plastic bags. So what better way to use them than to make plarn!

Plastic + Yarn = Plarn

Plarn is made by cutting plastic grocery bags into strips and tying them together to use for crocheting items such as doormats, tote bags, knee pads for gardening, dish scrubbers, storage baskets, coasters, beach bags, camping mats, and almost anything else you can think of.  Some organizations, such as the Community Action of Southern Kentucky, are even encouraging their volunteers to use plarn to make bedrolls for the homeless.  Now, I said it is good for almost anything.  Plarn really isn’t ideal for clothing, however.  Besides that fact that it would probably not be the most comfortable thing to wear, it also doesn’t breath well.  Plarn also shouldn’t be used for anything that would be used near heat, such as potholders or trivets, because it will melt.

Some of the benefits of using plarn, aside from the positive effects on the environment, are that finished items are surprisingly durable and can be washed in warm soapy water and reused again and again.


How to Make Plarn

First, sort through your plastic bags and discard any dirty or ripped bags to your recycling container.  Now it is time to choose your colors.  You can choose bags of the same color or use a mix of colored bags for a variegated look.  Or you can separate the colors to make different designs by switching colors every few rows.

Next, flatten your bag making sure the sides are tucked in, fold in half lengthwise, then fold in half again.  Once you are comfortable with the process, you can even stack two or three bags before folding to help speed things along.

how to make plarn
how to make plarnhow to make plarn
how to make plarn

Cut off the bottom of the bag and the handles and discard to your recycling container.  Then cut the rest of the bag into 1-in. strips.  Each of these strips creates a plastic loop.

how to make plarn

how to make plarn
how to make plarn

Working with two strips, bring one end of the second strip under and through the loop of the first strip. Then bring it over and back through the second loop, gently tug to secure. Continue joining strips to form a continuous strand. Roll into a ball.

how to make plarn
how to make plarn

That’s it! So easy.  Now you are ready to crochet. Need a project now?  Click here for a super-easy grocery tote pattern.


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43 Responses to Green Crocheting: How to Make Plarn

  1. CREATIVE MIND January 5, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    oh Nice. It can be a great recycling & reuse..
    All the best 🙂 would like to see your creation next week 🙂

    • Kara at Petals to Picots January 12, 2012 at 3:29 am #

      Thanks!! And it’s lots of fun to make too 😉

    • Carol June 4, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

      My grandmother used to make rugs for kitchen out of plastic bread bags, they lasted forever, machine washable and line dry.

  2. The Belly Dancer January 8, 2012 at 5:47 am #

    I made a plarn bag before. My sister said it doesn’t look like it’s plastic bags! It’s pretty and strong. I go crazy over recycling! New follower.

    • Kara at Petals to Picots January 12, 2012 at 3:29 am #

      I know! It is hard to tell sometimes. Thanks for visiting my site and following along 🙂

  3. Hani@Craftionary January 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    A very green great idea.. Thanks for sharing at craftionary..

  4. The Lovely Mrs. P January 12, 2012 at 2:01 am #

    This is very cool I am featuring you tomorrow! Stop by and grab a button! And I would love it if you would link something up agian!

  5. Emerald Hills January 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    this is a really nice idea. I like it. just the other day I was complaining about taking the 500 million plastic bags I have to walmart to recycle them… might have to keep them and use them for this instead.

  6. Surrounded By Pink January 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Wow! I can’t wait to see the finished tote bag! I might have to try that! 🙂

    • Surrounded By Pink January 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      Also – I am awarding you with the Versatile Blogger Award. Your site is awesome. Stop by my recent post “Versatile Blogger and Versatile Blogger(cont.) to see what its about! Congrats! I am a new follower to your blog, can’t wait to get new ideas!

  7. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. January 13, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Oh I can’t wait to see the plarn tote bag! And thanks for adding a new word to my vocabulary! Can’t wait to try it out and see who knows what it means!

    • Kara at Petals to Picots January 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

      Hi Sharon! I’m glad you liked it. Make sure to check out the finished tote 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Deana January 15, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    Thanks for linking up @CountryMommaCooks……hope to see ya next Saturday too:)

  9. Rachel Sue January 17, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    This is so amazing! I would love to feature it on Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle. Feel free to stop by and grab a featured button. Thanks!

  10. sazamom January 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Thanks for the instructions on making Plarn.

  11. biodegradable plastic bags March 14, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    This is one of the best ways to recycle plastics. You can use it in making yarns. It is important to recycle plastics in order not to ruin our environment.

  12. Tamara April 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    Fantastic tutorial – thanks for sharing! I’ve made plarn before but this explains it really well. I included a link to this post on my blog this morning:

  13. Crafterdays April 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this tutorial and the pattern as well. I sponsor a Fiber Arts Club at the middle school where I teach. I think this will make a good Earth Day project for this month.

  14. mmugzy May 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    What size crochet hook works best?

  15. Pat Skaggs May 13, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    I hope you don’t mind, but I have copied off your instructions, enlarged the font, and photos for my 88 yr old Mom. She’s blind in one eye due to macular degeneration and can no longer work with crochet thread, but thinks she can see welll enough to make some of these totes for the church bazaar this fall.

  16. Marsha June 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    OMG! This is the best thing ever for my library! My husband always gives me the bags from places like T and W. The ones with food, he recycles. I use them when it rains for our patrons,to protect the library books but some of the books are heavy and I end up using 2 bags. This just fixed all that! THANK YOU SO MUCH. And please remember to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!

    • Kara at Petals to Picots June 4, 2012 at 2:15 am #

      Hi Marsha! I’m so glad you like it!! Sounds like a great use for you 🙂 I LOVE my library!! We are there all the time 🙂

  17. HennaLadyKim July 22, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    I love it! Reminds me of my Mom. She made use of everything she could out of whatever she could get her hands on. I think she was the original recycler!! I especially liked her Plarn and Rag Rugs at every door. Sure was easy to just hose em off and hang them up to drip dry. As we always had a garden they got a lot of muddy wear and tear 🙂 Thanks for the memories!!

    • Kara at Petals to Picots July 23, 2012 at 12:50 am #

      That is a great way to be 🙂 I love thinking of new ways to use things. Thanks for your sweet comment!

  18. Debbie August 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Just yesterday a male friend of mine was using a popcan cover made out of plastic bags (plarn). I looked at the pattern and think I can recreate it, and I am so excited to find this tutorial, since I probably would have done a whole lot more cutting. Thanks!!!!

  19. Nancy February 21, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    plarning plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless.

  20. JOYCE April 26, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    BOX DAILY!!!!!!!!

    • Kara April 26, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

      It’s a great way to put them to use 🙂

  21. Molly April 15, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

    Is there any way to soften it? It is so stiff.

    • Kara April 21, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

      Not that I know of, Molly.

  22. Marny CA July 27, 2015 at 8:58 am #

    Might be major problem with plarn: plastic bags are being made biodegradable – so all your crocheting or knitting will be for naught since the bags are supposed to disintegrate.

    I’ve had some bags holding yarn become flaky and wind up as ‘dandruff’ on my carpeting!! Strange …

  23. Sherrie April 23, 2018 at 3:06 pm #

    I am going to do this and make a pad for my dog to lay on outside in her area of our yard.

    • Kara April 23, 2018 at 7:49 pm #

      Great idea!

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