How to make Plarn
Free Fiber Source!
I am not talking about dietary fiber here, I am talking about fiber for your fiber arts craft projects. The cost of yarn is going up and our effective salaries are going down in this economic boondoggle the super rich are going to preserve at all cost. But you can fight it in a small way. You can make your own plastic yarn (or plarn) out of those plastic bags you get at disgusting stores like Wal Mart. What happens to those plastic bags after they are used ONCE (to bring home that automatic nose hair clipper that doesn't work and made your nose bleed) is ugly indeed. But you can turn them into plarn, and you can turn plarn into all kinds of interesting and useful items.
Making plarn is so easy you can put your six-year-old to work doing it.
Here is what you need:
- plastic bags, sorted according to type and color
Basically you fold the bags lengthwise and cut them into tubes. Then you knot the tubes together and roll 'em into a ball. There's your plarn. A picture is worth a thousand words, and for your viewing pleasure I present several below that gives you a visual step by step. Happy plarning, and look for future hubs on what you can do with this wonderful and yet oddly toxic material. The sea life in the gyre will be thanking you for keeping this crap out of their backyard.
Plarn: Visual Step by stepClick thumbnail to view full-size
Couple of my plarn bags
Please don't get these bags on purpose
Personally I have been trying for about five years to use reusable bags when I go shopping, and also, answer "no" to the question "Do you want a bag?" whenever it is asked, unless I just can't possibly make it out of the shop without one and I forgot mine. For the past two years I have been doing much better at it. So I still try not to cause these bags to be used in the first place. However, not to worry. You'll get plenty. I get them from my family members. Once friends saw my first plarn creations they gave me bags. One lady goes to Target at the end of the day and gets all the bags from returns. That's fine. Just don't USE them on purpose!!
Someone once suggested (rather naively) "Oh you could sell those! Etsy would LOVE them!" Well, in a word, NO, and here's why. I'm not about to tell you plarn projects don't take time. I doubt anyone would pay $600 for one of these, at least not now. And that's what it would take for me to be compensated for my time. But usually you don't feel the time. I twiddle plarn when I'm on hold, while I'm riding the bus in a car, waiting for the dentist, or watching tube or other such activities where you can't really do anything real. I only crank out maybe 3 projects a year. The more important reason I don't want to sell them is that it's something everyone should do for themself, kind of like wiping your own butt. Making plarn out of your own personal plastic deritus makes you actually think about these things and take some personal responsibility. Buying them is just another consumer transaction. You only gain true appreciation of these things if you make your own.
Do not put off starting to make plarn. Here is why. Sooner or later, plastic bags will be banned--first the crinkly wal-mart type and later the kind you get on bread. It's already happened in Ireland, and certain store chains have voluntarily discontinued them. So items made from crinkly bags will become priceless historical period pieces that you can't make any more, and may be worth lots of money. Not that it will do me much good because I'll probably be dead. But I am hoping to leave an indestructable plarn project for each of my kids so they can sell it and get lots of money.
For further reading Google "plarn" of course, or join the plarn group on Flickr and share your projects. You can also check out my sustainability and food blog. Changing to a sustainable lifestyle is not just this one big thing you do once and for all. It's the sum of a myriad of tiny little things one does by living one's life fully mindful of the consequences of our silly little actions.
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