Plastic Bag Yarn Tutorial

Recycling plastic bags into yarn (aka plarn) is a great way to get free yarn. It's a fairly simple process that doesn't require more than scissors and the end result is a sturdy and soft plastic yarn that works indoors our outdoors. I've used it to make planters, mats, bags, baskets and so much more. 

Plarn Tutorial - Heather Moore Makes

Plarn Tutorial - Heather Moore Makes

The first thing you'll want to do is sort your bags by color. I try to do this after shopping when I'm storing them. Of course, you are welcome to mix your bags all together for a more eclectic look, but I like to separate the yarn that I'm making so I have more options for designs. Adding a stripe or trim color can really add a whole new look to a finished piece.

You may think that using a fresh bag straight from the grocery store would be ideal, but I have found that the bags I've crumpled up and put in storage actually work best. It softens the plastic and makes it easier to work with.

 

Supplies

  • Plastic Bags
  • Scissors (Optionally you can also use a rotary cutter and mat)

We're going to be working with one bag at a time to start out.

 

STEP 1: Inspect
Begin by placing your bag on a flat surface.

Plarn Tutorial - Heather Moore Makes 

At this point you can inspect your bag for imperfections. Any areas with holes, stretches, or tears should be avoided.

 

STEP 2: Flatten
Insert your fingers in one of the handles and use your other hand to put in the little notch at the bottom.

Plarn Tutorial - Heather Moore Makes 

Gently pull outward to flatten your bag and repeat on the opposite side.

 

STEP 3: Fold
Fold Bag in half lengthwise and continue folding 1 more time.

 Plarn Tutorial - Heather Moore Makes

STEP 4: Cut
Use scissors to cut the bottom of the bag off. This piece can be recycled.

From here, continue cutting 2 inch strips up the bag until you reach the handles. For standard plastic bags, this will create a worsted weight yarn.

 

Plarn Tutorial - Heather Moore Makes

 

You should have around 5 loops before you reach the handle. 

Discard the handle section and save for recycling.

 

STEP 5: Knotting
Begin your ball of yarn by taking 2 loops and locking them together. You want your knots to be flush with the yarn but not too tight. Avoid knots that have poofs of bag sticking from them because those poofs will show in your final design.

 Plarn Tutorial - Heather Moore Makes

Pull each knot gently to avoid tearing the bags. If one does tear, just remove it and add to your recycle pieces.

Plarn Tutorial - Heather Moore Makes

 Continue attaching loops until your first 10 are complete.

 

STEP 6: Ball
Begin winding yarn into a ball. Use this winding to smooth out your yarn and make sure your knots are centered from loop to loop. If you find knots that are not completely centered, pull slowly on the loop to stretch the section.

 Plarn Tutorial - Heather Moore Makes

Continue cutting more loops and knotting to create more yarn.

Each bag will make around 5 feet of yarn so it works up pretty quickly.

From here you can spin your yarn, but I have found that when I'm working with a ball of plarn it actually spins itself a bit when I pull on it. While spinning does make the strand stronger, it can also make it more rigid. For this reason, I like to keep my plarn un-spun for projects and crocheting with it adds to its durability.

I recommend swatching your yarn before using it for a project to see how it works up.

Plarn Tutorial - Heather Moore Makes

December 30, 2021 — Heather Moore