Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Plarn Crochet

I first heard of this while 5 months pregnant with my first child. Someone asked me to make a purse out of plastic shopping bags and I agreed. I looked it up, learned how to do it and started. Then I took ibuprofen and slept off the headaches. Seems 5 months along I get awful headaches and focusing on crochet was bad enough, but the rustle and squeak of the plastic on the aluminum hook tripled the effect.
I haven't attempted it in years. Yesterday I decided it was time. I have a giant deposit of used shopping bags under my sink and every few months I consider again whether I should toss them or use them. The deciding factor on using them was when my 7 year old, the very child who was forming while I learned this particular craft, asked me if we were saving the plastic bag in his hand and when I said yes he gave me a long-suffering look and said with a sigh " I suppose I can find room under the sink with the others."
OK, time to face the project! I took out about half the bags and separated by color then cut up all the blue-and-white bags. I made a rectangle and kept growing it til it was the size of a placemat, added a row of red-and-white and continued on with the rest of the blue-and-white. When I get to the right size for a bath mat, I'll add one last row of red as edging and viola!! Half the bags are gone and we have a new mat.
It's surprisingly fun when I'm not fighting pregnancy woes. I should have done it years ago.
Here's how it works - Plarn Instructions.
And here are a bunch of ways to try it out - Plarn Patterns

There are tons of patterns out there, some really cute and usable, others downright awful. You have to choose for yourself, but it's such a neat way to crochet that it's worth a chance. My personal tips for making it easier to use.
1)ALWAYS make sure the bag is clean and free of holes. Finding a crusted something icky is not a fun surprise and holes in the bag can make for weak or broken loops.
2)Use a plastic or wooden hook if you can, the metal ones squeak in such a way as to make me drool as well as makes my inner ear vibrate unpleasantly.
3)Cut up all your bags ahead of time and keep them in (surprise) another bag. I have tried the method where they are tied then wrapped into a ball but if you get your loops tied together unevenly (which you WILL do) then as you crochet the extra on one side will stick out of the project. I tie them together as I go, no more than two at a time.
4) Be GENTLE. They will be super strong once crocheted together, but before that they are weak and will stretch or break easily. Stretched out plarn will make for a thin spot in your finished item.
5)Plan ahead with your stitches. Frogging is plenty possible, but it makes a lesser quality plarn for the second time around.



Krystyna @ Spring Mountain Living said...

OMG I SOOOOOOOOOOOOO wish I could do this. Can I just hire you to start doing all my xmas gifts for me? :)

Melanie said...

I'm always at your disposal for crafty goodness... we'll just plan ahead for my tendency to procrastinate and all should be both hunky AND dory.