Whether you are a humanist, an avid camper, an environmentalist, counter-culturalist, or creative soul: making plarn i.e. making yarn out of plastic, is a useful skill to have. So for all of you: here are some ideas on how to use plarn to further your cause, followed by a tutorial on how to make plarn.
Plarn-Making For the Humanist
Given that it has been freezing cold lately, it’s time we revv it all up a notch and immediately address the issues that a good chunk of the population faces these days: the dread and dangers of homelessness and homeless brothers and sisters in our midst.
There are a million ways to care for them. One way is to make plarn mats for the homeless so that the freezing cold of the street/earth is less penetrating when they attempt to sleep out in the open. (See article & video: Craft for humanity: crochet a Plastic Sleeping Mat for the Homeless on how to make plarn mats for the homeless with detailed mat-making project instructions.)
Plarn for the Avid Camper
The homeless mat is of course also a great mat to use ourselves for outdoor trekking or camping.
I suggest you measure the width of your backpack and create a somewhat narrower mat than you’d make for the homeless.
Besides sleeping mats, you could create incredibly useful sitting cushions. If you ensure your cushions are long enough, you could double them for extra height. Often, while camping there is nowhere to sit, except on the (damp) ground. While is this soulful and outdoorsy, after a while it becomes uncomfortable and cold. Plarn mats and seating cushions come to the rescue.
Use the same techniques as the sleeping mats to create the cushions, which are essentially smaller versions of them. See below how to make plarn.
Plarn-Making for the Environmentalist, the Counterculturalist & the Creative
Our family, inspired by the Zero Waste Home, is going out of its way* to not take in any plastic bags in the first place. (* It has taken me years to train my family to not accept plastic bags in stores, as bags, once upon a time, were seen as tool of convenience, service and extra care. ) Despite our efforts and intend, magically, they do appear in our home, as friends bring gifts in them, etc. Those plastic bags we tend to reuse again as garbage bags. But not all of them. So, here’s what we do with the rest of these plastic bags: make plarn crochet flowers.
Tip: I secretly pick out the most colorful plastic bags that sneak into our house for this project. And you can do too.
The tutorial on How to make Plarn
Step 1: Collect your plastic bags, sort them by color. Flatten your first bag. Cut off the top handles and the bottom strip. Now you have a plastic cylinder.
Step 2: Cut 1-2″ wide strips of plastic loops. See where my scissors are located in the picture on top of the plastic cylinder? Cut in the direction my scissors are pointing, approximately along that line.
(Alternatively, cut 1 long spiral strip of plastic, which you could stretch and twist lightly. Roll that long strip in a plarn ball to be used for crochet or knitting. The advantage is that it’s just 1 step and you can create really fine plarn.
The disadvantage is that for large-scale bag to plarn production as is required for making a lot of homeless bags, is that 1 person does all the work (it can not be divided between 2 or more people. And, I find that making 1 strip is actually slower. If the plastic is cut double (as is the case when you cut of a strip from your plastic bag), the scissors seems to glide through the plastic and cut fast. Whereas, with since plastic strips, you find yourself go snip, snip, snip. )
Step 3: Loop and knot two strips together.
Step 4: Pull the knots till it becomes one long strip. You may even twist it slightly.
Step 5: Roll your plastic strips into large plarn balls, ready for crocheting or knitting.
And that’s how to make plarn. In a nutshell. Easy.
Tips: do this in bits. Plastic is harsh on the hand by comparison to wool yarn. And hold a nice hand cream around. Your hands will deserve it.
Like a Pattern?
Let me know in the comments below if you’d like to get some patterns for the crochet plarn flowers.