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How to Make Plarn Using Small Plastic Produce Bags -- Free Tutorial

An Experiment


Related Resources: What Is Plarn? | How to Save Money on Crochet | Free Crochet Tutorials

Here I'm trying an experiment. The idea is to make "yarn" that you can crochet (or knit) with, using plastic produce bags as the starting point. In theory, this should be totally possible, but in reality I have no idea how everything will turn out. I thought I'd invite you along so you can be part of the adventure. Perhaps we'll all learn something along the way, and have some fun too. Well, I hope it'll be fun...

Usually, when I publish tutorials on the Internet, I do so knowing how the finished project turns out. I've typically tested the pattern and taken bunches of pictures while doing so.

This time is a little different; there isn't actually a pattern yet. I haven't designed any finished projects and I have no idea whether I'll be able to. I'm warning you now that this experiment might not work out. I think and hope that it will, but there's always the chance that it'll flop. We'll see!

Materials I Used:

  • Plastic produce bags -- the kind you get either from the grocery store or the farmer's market. You know, the thin, not-quite-clear, rectangular bags that you use for holding your tomatoes, apples, oranges and assorted other produce until you eat it.
  • Ruler
  • Pen
  • Scissors

I'll eventually need a crochet hook as well, and probably some assorted other craft supplies, but I haven't got that far yet.

Finished Ball of Plarn

So far I've made several balls of this "plarn." What will they become? Nobody knows. I don't even know! I do know this: I will be crocheting with them -- or at least, attempting to crochet with them.

Theoretically, it should also be possible knit with this plarn, if I happen to get the urge to do that. Since this is a crochet site, my goal is to crochet with the plarn that I make, but I invite you to make some of these plarn balls and try your hand at knitting with them, if the idea appeals to you.

Plarn Tutorial

The first step: lay your produce bag out flat and mark your strips for cutting. I used a pen to do this. The problem with the pen: obviously, you can see the marks it makes. Which is helpful for doing the cutting, but afterwards there's no easy way to get rid of the pen marks. Will this be an issue in my finished projects? I have no idea. Maybe it will; maybe it won't. Let's try it and see what happens.

I used a ruler as a guideline for making my marks. Not for measuring, mind you. I just used the width of the ruler as the width I'd make my strips for crocheting. Easy! In this stage of the process, I can't be bothered with measuring. It's likely that I'll have to give in and measure at some point in the future, like if I decide I want thinner or thicker strips of plarn to work with. For now I'm happy to take a shortcut!

In case anyone is wondering, my ruler is 1 1/2 inches wide. Therefore, my strips will each turn out being roughly 1 1/2 inch wide, give or take. They're always a wee bit off, just because I don't always cut with total precision. When you're doing this, it's fine to be just a little bit off.


Here's how my produce bag looks with all the lines marked on it. It's ready to be cut.


I just cut straight across each line to form the strips. Note that I'm cutting through both layers of the produce bag, so actually what I'm creating is flexible plastic rings, not just strips.


Here's a pile of them that I cut. All of these came from one little produce bag. Not bad!


See what I mean about "rings"? Here's how they look when you open them up.

OK, next I'm going to be joining these little rings together to form one long continuous piece.


Right about now, I should mention that you can enlarge any of the photos in this tutorial by clicking on them. I especially invite you to click on this one, so you can see how it is that I joined the rings together.


Pull 'em tight, but not too tight. If you aren't careful, the plastic could tear, or stretch a little.


Next, you're going to join another strip. I did this by inserting the new strip through an end of the piece that's already started...


...then feeding one end through the other end as pictured.


You want to pull on that end that's coming through, to tighten it up. Again, you're going to pull it tight, but not too tight.


Here's how it looks.

Note: Before you pull each strip tight, make sure that it's reasonably straight, and that the piece is going to lie flat and not be all lopsided.

You just keep adding more and more strips until you think you have enough to make something.

And then...you (hopefully!) crochet or knit a project with the plarn!

I can't wait to see what you'll make with this! If you come up with anything interesting, I hope you'll come back to share it. I'll be updating the website soon with some space for y'all to post projects that you make with your "plarn."

If you'd like to follow along and see what I make, and hopefully what other crocheters (and knitters?) make too, I invite you to either:

  • Keep an eye on your email inbox for future project ideas, which I'll hopefully be sharing in upcoming newsletters (assuming you subscribe to my crochet newsletter.)

  • Or, subscribe to my crochet newsletter (if you aren't already a subscriber.) Subscribers receive weekly emails that include links to our latest and timeliest free patterns and tutorials, along with links to other things that crocheters might find interesting -- occasionally, free videos, product reviews, polls etc.

Thanks for playing along, and thanks for your interest in my experiment. Happy crafting!


See Also: More Free Tutorials for How to Make Plarn

Plarn Crochet Patterns

These patterns are made using the other kind of "plarn," that is, the kind made from cut up plastic grocery bags (instead of produce bags.) I haven't yet had a chance to see if this type of plarn can be used interchangeably with the other kind, but I don't see why not. Either way, here are links to some free patterns and project ideas for using plarn.

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