Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we still end up with those pesky single use plastic bags around our home. And while we can always recycle them, I always try to find some way to reuse them as many times as possible or up-cycle them into something new. Usually, with regards to single use plastic bags, my imagination is fretfully limited to things like packing materials for shipping items overseas, wrapping items with plastic bags that I don’t want to get wet on a rain day (like putting them on under my boots for my walk to work because that road has NO water removal path….) or for the obvious use of carrying things.
Thankfully, I have wonderful friends around me that introduce me to imaginative uses for things that I would not have thought of on my own or even been able to take that first step towards learning on my own. Of course, I am talking about my amazing friend Brandon who messaged me one day and asked me if I knew of ‘plarning’ and also if I knew how to crochet. Crafty as I am, I have tried crocheting but have been unable to make the method of it stick in my brain or with my fingers. I also knew nothing of plarning. So, Brandon took it upon himself to educate me in the ways of plarn and crocheting!
For those of you who–like I was then–are not familiar with plarn, let me give you a rundown. Plarn is a blending together of the two words ‘plastic’ and ‘yarn.’ Plarn is yarn that is made from single-use plastic bags which is then made into other items via crocheting. For more information on how to use or make plarn, you can head on over here. In this post, I am not going to teach you how to do any of the things (because I actually have no idea), I am just going to show you what we started with and what Brandon’s final product looks like.
The first step in making anything with plarn is to convert the plastic bags into usable plarn. In Korea, most–if not all–of the convenience stores and a lot of the shops use black plastic bags, so that was what we used to make our plarn. We used a massive pile of black bags to make a rather unimpressive amount of plarn. To convert the bags into plarn, you have to first cut the bags into loops and then loop the loops together to make a constant strand of plastic.
Next, Brandon tried to teach me how to use it to crochet it into something useful. Our plan was to make a reusable bag or a beach bag or something along those lines. To be honest, it was quite challenging to use plarn as a first time crocheter because of the way that plarn is constructed.
Because it is made of loops of plastic, you have to be really careful to catch both parts of the loop when doing your stitch each time. With this being the case (along with me lacking in dexterity and patience), I was unfortunately unable to finish my project before leaving Korea. Instead, I let Brandon use the plarn ball I had made so he could finish his.
And finish it he did! And though he struggled with the plarn at the beginning and also managed to break his hook at least once, his final product still looks pretty awesome. Take a look at the evolution of Brandon’s bag over the months:
What’s happening in the photo to the left? Well, turns out that it is difficult to keep the tightness of the knots consistent if you are not consciously thinking about it. Brandon had to unravel the whole thing and start over after noticing the unevenness in his work…
And in the next photo is the bag after Brandon’s restart. Here he has finished the bag part of it and only needs to finish the handle. Its looking pretty good!
And here is the finished product! While I know I am biased, I think it looks pretty awesome! Brandon uses it to store all of his sewing supplies so that he can grab it quickly for our weekly Skype crafting session.
As he is the only one of us that actually managed to finish his plarning project, I’ll let him pass on a bit of advice for future plarners:
Not all plastic bags are of the same thickness. I found it works best when you connect bags of the same thickness to each other, rather than mixing them all together. I made a point of saving the stoutest bags for the handle and top row.
So there you have it! What projects do you think Brandon should try next?? What plarning or crocheting projects have you done? Comment and share below!
Also, if you would like further proof of Brandon’s awesomeness, check out his blog on literature in various languages and of various topics!