The best use of plarn, as I see it, is for crocheting market bags. Ya gotta admit, making grocery bags from grocery bags is kind of a neat recursive concept. I think of them as "metabags".
I've made three metabags now, and although the shine is starting to dull a bit, I might have one or two left in me. Or maybe it'll be an annual project*. It's turned into a love/hate thing, for sure.
It's fairly labor intensive, with most of the time going into making the plarn. That kind if irritates me, the Queen of the Short Attention Span. It also generates a bit of a mess, what with all the cutting, and of course I started hoarding bags and that got completely out of hand**.
Small inconveniences aside, it's still a shiny enough concept to keep me coming back for more.
Even though my metabag gets lots of interest at the grocery store, there's no way I could (or would want to) make money selling them (see labor intensive discussion above) so I thought I'd share lessons learned so y'all can roll your own.
Here is my preferred method for making plarn. Me being me, I had to research and experiment and fuss to see whether there's a more efficient method. There isn't. Trust me: the loop method is the best I've found. Plarn is going to take time to make, period. I tried cutting each bag into one long strip, but then you have to tie them all together and there are all those knots and short ends sticking out of the final product. We hates it!
The fun part for me is creating the shape. I made my first two metabags by combining elements from a couple of plarn market bag patterns I found online.
Now I try to duplicate any cool bag shape that strikes my fancy. The one below was modeled on this shape.
For my next shape, I'm going to try to reproduce the original plastic grocery bag shape, complete with some sort of gusset if I can figure out how to make that work.
One safety tip: these things g-r-o-w. My original one has now stretched to the point where it's too heavy to carry when fully loaded with groceries. And the straps are crazy long. I used a fisherman-net-type stitch for the second edition (not pictured) and it stretched way too much in the vertical direction, making it a very long, practically unusable tube unless you deliver a small paper route or need to carry a lot of baguettes around. So if the one you're making*** looks too shallow and the straps too short, have faith. This, too, shall pass. As with the female form, gravity will have its way in the end.
Another caveat is that crocheting plarn is not the least bit gentle on the wrists and hands. If you have carpal tunnel issues or arthritis, this might not be the best medium to work in.
And, for the love of whatever, do not tell people that you'll take all of their plastic grocery bags!
Eventually I want to write up some directions to post on my free patterns page. We'll see how that pans out. In the meantime, here's a pattern to get you started.
You think I've spent a lot of time and mental energy on plarn and metabags? Don't get me monologuing on soapmaking. Or knitting. Or baking. Mr. B's witnessed it. It's scary.
* If you're on my gift list, be forewarned: you may well end up with one eventually.
** Any knitter with a stash knows what I mean. My name is Liz and I'm a recovering fiberaholic.
*** And I'm betting if you've ever held a crochet hook, you will be making one.