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How to Make Plarn, Plastic Bag Yarn



Our knitting group was asked to try to think of a creative “green” use for plastic grocery bags; thus, 'Plarn” was born. Plarn, plastic yarn, is strips of plastic bags half-hitched together to form knitable or crochetable material. I like to use knitting worsted weight yarn to knit or crochet with the plarn for color and stability. I have used plarn for several projects, such as,tote bags, shopping bags, plant pot covers and coasters.

Plarn Bags


  • several grocery bags (15-20)
  • scissors
  • size 15 knitting needles
  • large yarn needle.

Instructions for plarn:

On a flat surface, lay a plastic bag flat, tucking in both of the side seams as flat as possible, Fold the bag in half lengthwise. Both handles will be together. Cut off the handles, making sure you have a straight edge across the top. Cut off the bottom seam, making sure none of the seam is left. Fold the flattened bag in half two more times. Now cut the bag in ½ inch to ¾ inch size pieces.

To put the bags together to make plarn, open each piece you cut. The pieces will be a ring or circle of plastic. Halfhitch these pieces together. To halfhitch, place one ring into the second and pull the part of the ring hanging out, up through the piece you put into the ring. Pull to make a small knot. Continue with this method until you have a long strand of plastic. I wind it into a ball to keep it manageable. Put a rubber band around the plarn ball when not working with it.

Instructions for a grocery shopping bag:

With size 15 knitting needles, cast on 12 stitches. Knitting every row, garter stitch, work until piece measures 40 inches. This is the side and bottom of the bag. Bind off. To make front of bag cast on 32 sts. Work until piece measures 14 inches. Bind off. (make two)

To put together, sew the front to the side piece. Sew 14 inches down, 12 inches across the bottom and 14 inches up the other side, stretching where needed. Then repeat to sew back piece in place.

For handles: Pick up and knit the first 5 sts from the left side of front. Knit these 5 sts for 24 inches, bind off and sew to last 5 sts of front piece. Repeat for back handle.

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Question: when making this bag you say to sew the pieces together do you do this with sewing machine? id so doesnt it tear?

sday01 0034294

this better than themgoing to the landfields, soon as i get some large knitting needles i wil try it with my grandhdaughter . great idea

maddenice 4861896

My sister's in-laws were doing this back in the '60's


After reading this, I cut one bag and made a length of plarn from that bag. Then using a size N crochet hook I crocheted a chain from that length. One grocery bag made a 46 inch of chained plarn. My plan is to make chains of plarn and then using them to macrame with. I am anxious to see how this turns out.

ahfcff 0250472

I really do like it and plan to start collecting the bags to cut up and make plarn. This is a knitted version, do you have any crocheted versions??? It would be nice to have both!!

uribedaniella 7732381

i have started doing this and just started running with it..what else can i use?? wood pellet bags..the only problem is they are much thicker ive had to cut them into single thick strips and tie them..any ideas on an easier way to conect the pieces?...maybe melting somehow..

kateybray 2970384

My grandmothers older sister made a rug out of plastic bags and she passed away in the 1980's at over 80 years old so I know that plarn has been around for a very long time. Perhaps it has just been named recently.


Would I be able to use these instructions using film from old VHS video tapes? I have over a hundred of them, and couldn't even give them away. I hate the thought of just dumping them at the recycling center. Or if anyone has any great ideas to re-purpose both the actual Video cases, as well as the film inside, I'd be glad to hear them. Thanks.

balee2010 7367063

I actually saw this "plarn" demonstrated on the Carol Duvall show quite a number of years ago. I believe a guest crafter or maybe is was Carol that showed how to use the plastic to make Totes, etc. As to where it first originated -- I do not know. This will be my next project. I like the idea of using yarn for color and strength.


when i first starting learning about plarn, i saw a video that said plarn started in Africa, the women there would go through the trash dumped there by other countries, including America, find the bags, clean them, dry them, and plarn! They make many useful things for their own families to use...I don't know if that is where plarn originated, but it sounds more plausable than what this article says... i plan to make a back pack purse but i am going to crochet plarn and yarn together so as to reduce stretch...plarn doesn't exactly "bounce back" as well as yarn does...also i've seen soda can cozies with handles, and welcome mats...I've made one with the word welcome written in the middle...lol I just love the whole idea of plarn, it helps the environment one household at a time, and makes something useful too...thanks to all those who plarn!


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