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How To Make Plarn aka Plastic Yarn

Updated on July 8, 2016

Why would you want to make plastic yarn (Plarn)?

The best reason to make plastic yarn is to keep plastic bags out of the landfill. It is true that your local recycling pickup will take all your plastic bags, but why give them something for free when you can use the plastic bags for yourself. If you can use it, then you will be able to make something for free.

You can make a lot of things out of Plarn. Most people roll it up into a ball and use it to knit or crochet. You can make things like hats and bags and even itchy sweaters. I hear you can make them stop itching if you wash them a few times, but I will have to do a little more research on that.

I want to use my Plarn for my garden. I am going to build a trellis for my cucumber and squash vines to grow up. I figure if I can give them something to grow on without costing me any more money, that is a good thing, not only for my plants, but also for my pocket book.

How to Make Plarn Video - Featuring Me, RGasperson

I wanted to do a little work with plarn, maybe using it in the garden or something. I thought I would make a video about how to make plarn. It is very informative and shows you exactly how to make your own.


Step One: Fold Your Plastic Bag

Be as Neat as Possible

If you go to the grocery store, they most likely pack your groceries in plastic bags. These are what we are recycling. Grab a whole bunch of these and let's get started.

Lay your first bag on the ground and flatten it out. Then you want to fold it in half. Then fold it in half again. This will make it easier to cut.

Make sure you check over your bags before you cut them. These bags are not the strongest things in the world. They may have holes and splits in them where your groceries have pushed through them. You only want to use bags that are for the most part whole.


Step Two: Cut Off the Top and Bottom

Trust Me, It's Nothing But Trouble.

You will want to cut the top and the bottom off of the bag. The top of the bag is mostly the handles. They are of no real use to us when making plarn. The bottom is sealed shut and have a pleat that can hinder the making of the plarn. So cut them off and and discard them.

I don't like to throw these little peices away. I will usually recycle them, but I would love to find a way to reuse them myself. If you know of anyway you can reuse these unPLARNable parts of the plastic bag, please leave a comment and let me know what you use them for.


Step Three: Cut One Inch Segments

They Can be a Bit Wider or Narrower

Now you will want to cut the bag in segments that are about an inch wide. You can usually eyeball these sizes. The more narrow you cut them, the weaker your plarn will be. The thicker you cut them, the bigger your knots between segments will be. I have found one inch to be the sweet spot, so that is what I will continue to use.

I would cut several dozen bags all at the same time to make your plarn. You will save time if yo cut all your segments before you start to link them.


Step Four: Open and Link Your Segments

To start your plarn you will need two segments. Open them up.

Now this is the hardest thing to explain about making plarn. I like to remind people of the times they played with multiple rubberbands when they were kids. Most of us found a way to link a whole bag of rubberbands together at the same time. This is the same idea.

Lets see if I can describe it. Basically, you have to pass each segment through the center of each other's loop. Then you pull it tight. take a look at the picture to get a better idea.


Step Five: Continue to Add Links

Now that you have the idea of linking the segments, you will link the rest of the segments you have to make one long string of plarn. After several dozen bags of segments, you should have a nice sized ball of plarn; something you will be able to make something out of.

Now is the time to be creative. You will be able to make all kinds of things out of this new material. Make scarves, or socks or hats. If you have the time and effort available, make a sweater. I would love to see what it looks like.

You can think about color when you make your plarn. Different stores have different colored bags. Try doing several different colors in your designs. If you need more bags, a lot of the grocery stores have a plastic bag collection bin in the front of the store. Most of the time you can ask the managers if it would be ok for you to take a few bags for a project. Most of them will say yes.

I Found More Plarn Videos - They are almost as exciting as mine

I wanted to see what other people were using plarn for. I searched around youtube and found a few people with tutorials on how to make plarm. Then there are a few showing their crafts like handbags, hats and so on.

How to Crochet Books - Using the Plarn You just Made

You can use the plarn to knit or to crochet or just about any other needle work. You can use the plarn in just about any situation you would use a normal ball of yarn for. Take a few minutes to look though this group of books about crochet. You might find something you will want to create.

What Do You Use Plarn For?

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    • rgasperson lm profile image

      Robert T Gasperson 5 years ago from South Carolina

      @GonnaFly: To be honest, I am not sure. I guess it would last about as long as any other article of clothing you might wear. A Couple of years would be a good lifespan for something you didn't pay anything for except your time. Good question.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 5 years ago from Australia

      Just wondering if the plastic yarn disintegrates over time? Our plastic shopping bags get very brittle after a few years. This lens has been blessed on the "I Love That Word" quest and added to my Upcycling Ideas lens.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      I have a friend who sells plarn on etsy - amazing stuff. Lensrolling to Loblaw Offers (grocery store coupons)- maybe give folks an idea of what to do with plastic bags.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      Gotta love anything that recycles

    • Lemming13 profile image

      Lemming13 6 years ago

      Haven't used it before, but now I'm thinking of making it into a melon cradle; I love growing melons but the vines don't support them well, and a plarn cradle will do the trick. Blessing this lens!