How to Make Plarn (Plastic Yarn)

Creating Yarn From a Tube

Purse from Plastic Bag Yarn

Why Use Recycled Yarn?

I was first introduced to the idea of making my own recycled yarn by watching the above video by Rock Pool Candy. After watching this I realized--you could make yarn out of ANYTHING you wanted to! OMG!

In particular Plastic Yarn, or Plarn, is a great material to use when crocheting or knitting things that will need to be very durable, like bags or rugs, or items that will be outside, like yarn bombs.

Depending on the material you use to create your recycled yarns you can have a variety of great textures and patterns. Some may be stiff enough to hold their shape firmly after being crocheted, which is great for baskets. Some may add a furry quality perfect for stuffed toys. No matter what, you will always create something unique that cannot be replicated with store bought materials. PLUS you can feel good knowing you helped out your planet by keeping just a bit of trash out of landfills. It may not feel like such a big deal when you think of just yourself, but imagine the difference we could make if we all tried a bit harder to Reduce, Re-Use, and Recycle!

I love Rock Pool Candy's video, but I thought it may be helpful for some if they had step-by-step photos of the process to follow. So below are a couple photo guides on how to create your recycled yarn. I've also included some cool reseources on ways you can use your recycled yarns and other upcycling crafts.

Note on Scraps

You will have to trim off some pieces to create your yarn, but to make this a 100% green project--don't throw your scraps away! Plastic scraps can be used as stuffing for toys, pin cushions, and other soft sculptures. Use fabric scraps for sewing projects like quilting, patchwork, or small toys.

Upcycled Yarn

You can use the tube method of making yarn from recycled materials like old t-shirts, clean socks, pant legs, plastic bags, canvas totes, stockings, leggings, shirt sleeves, or anything else that has a tube shape. So next time you get a gross stain on your shirt, a run in your stockings, or find yourself with a load of plastic bags you don't need--now you'll have a cool and productive way to re-use them.

Get your material ready.  For this demo I'm using an old children's sized shirt, a plastic shopping bag, and a plastic produce bag--but you can do this with ANY tubed shape material that you can cut with scissors.
Get your material ready. For this demo I'm using an old children's sized shirt, a plastic shopping bag, and a plastic produce bag--but you can do this with ANY tubed shape material that you can cut with scissors.
Start by cutting off the pieces that keep your material from being a perfect tube.  When using fabric, you may want to iron it before you do this to get a cleaner cut--but if you're impatient, like me, you don't have to.
Start by cutting off the pieces that keep your material from being a perfect tube. When using fabric, you may want to iron it before you do this to get a cleaner cut--but if you're impatient, like me, you don't have to.
Fold your tube in half--but leave a little material at the top.
Fold your tube in half--but leave a little material at the top.
Fold your material again and line up the folded edges.
Fold your material again and line up the folded edges.
Cut slits along the folded area, all the way up into the unfolded space.  I cut my slits about a thumbprint wide, but you can choose your width. Just know, thin strips of plastic will be finer--but weaker.
Cut slits along the folded area, all the way up into the unfolded space. I cut my slits about a thumbprint wide, but you can choose your width. Just know, thin strips of plastic will be finer--but weaker.
You can stick your arm through the tube at the point to cut OR....
You can stick your arm through the tube at the point to cut OR....
...you can open it up to make your cuts.  The choice is yours.
...you can open it up to make your cuts. The choice is yours.
Whatever method you choose, you are going to want to cut diagonally across the uncut strip so that your previous slits create one continuous strand of material.  Think of how a spiral works, that is the concept of this method.
Whatever method you choose, you are going to want to cut diagonally across the uncut strip so that your previous slits create one continuous strand of material. Think of how a spiral works, that is the concept of this method.
When working with fabric, pull it tight to make it more yarn like.
When working with fabric, pull it tight to make it more yarn like.
You can pull on plastic yarn too, but be careful, because it can snap easily.
You can pull on plastic yarn too, but be careful, because it can snap easily.
Wrap your finished yarn into balls.
Wrap your finished yarn into balls.
And now they're ready for use.
And now they're ready for use.

Finished Plarn & T-shirt Yarn

I made some swatches out of the yarn I finished for this guide so you can see how it will look when you use it. The plastic produce yarn made a very fine yarn that can be used with very small hooks. The shopping bag could be used with small or medium sized hooks. The t-shirt yarn, cut at thumbprint size, was very chunky so I used a big hook--but if I had cut it thinner, I'm sure a medium sized hook, or smaller, could be used.

T-Shirt yarn swatch.  I think T-shirt yarn could be used for cool chunky scarves, hats, and blankets.
T-Shirt yarn swatch. I think T-shirt yarn could be used for cool chunky scarves, hats, and blankets.
Plastic bag yarn swatch.  Plastic bag yarn can be used for crocheted wallets, tote bags, and crocheted bins.
Plastic bag yarn swatch. Plastic bag yarn can be used for crocheted wallets, tote bags, and crocheted bins.
Plarn swatch.  The plastic from the clear produce bags made very fine yarn that crocheted a pretty shiny pale green colour.  Since it is so soft and thin it could make really nice detailed work like crocheted earrings.
Plarn swatch. The plastic from the clear produce bags made very fine yarn that crocheted a pretty shiny pale green colour. Since it is so soft and thin it could make really nice detailed work like crocheted earrings.

Reclaimed Yarn

This process is a bit different from the tube methods shown above. Here you can take a knitted or crocheted piece and reclaim the yarn used to make it. Yarn can be pretty expensive, but if you go to a thrift shop you can reclaim lots of quality yarn for just a few bucks--or for free if you find stuff hiding in your own closet!

Up-cycled Yarn Projects

Recycled yarn can be used the same way as regular yarn, so try it out with any of your projects. Here are some crochet projects I thought would be perfect to use recycled yarn with.

To the right are some of my crochet Hubs that may be fun to try with plarn or other recycled yarn.

Crochet Storage Bin

Crochet Round Basket

Crochet Jewelry Bowl

Other Up-cycled Projects

These projects don't use recycled yarn, but can still be made with materials you may find lying around the house.

To the right are some hubs I've written for projects that may use recycled materials.

3 Upcycling Projects

Soda Pop Tab Purse

Candy Wrapper Purse

This purse can actually be made with any kind of paper, but candy wrappers tend to be a more durable material.

Follow Me

You can find projects like this and so much more by checking out my boards on Pinterest and, of course, following me here on Hubpages!

If there is anything you'd like to see, let me know!

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5 comments

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

I like the round crochet basket. The whole plarn creation is very interesting. There seems to be no end to creating for creative people. Thank you so much for sharing.


heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

What a cool recycling idea! I'll have to try this. Thanks for the ideas!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Great idea; will have to try it.


MG Seltzer profile image

MG Seltzer 20 months ago from South Portland, Maine

As soon as I saw the title, I thought "Yes!" Voted this thumbs up.


followthestray profile image

followthestray 20 months ago from New York Author

Yes! I'm collecting plastic shopping bags right now so I can make a shopping bag tote for when I buy my groceries. I actually like that you need to use so many plastic bags to make anything substantial. That's at least 50 bags that will not end up in a landfill! Yes!

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