Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DIY Plarn Farmers Market Tote

Instead of Recycling those Plastic Bags, Repurpose them!

Upcycled Tote Knit from Plarn {Yarn Made from Plastic Bags}


knitting with plarn via


Did you even know I was a knitter? Probably not... because I can't tell you how many YEARS it's been since I finished an actual knitting project... it was well before I even started this blog, I'm sure.

So this month I am happy to report I've finally finished a knitting project... and it is, in fact, made out of PLARN. You would think that when the knitting urge finally struck, I'd pick up one of the many many many half-finished knitting projects (begun with gorgeous yarn) I have in bags tucked, ahem--hidden--around the house. But, no, this time, I chose plarn. Why? Well, it's Spring Greening month, of course!

If you're a knitter, I have to warn you here. Yes, I'll be giving some directions based on my plarn-knitting experience, but don't expect a Ravelry-esque patterns. Because this project is messy. Easy, but really messy. But when it comes down to it, it does the trick. And it's only plarn, after all ;)

Earth Day Tutorial via

So here goes.

In {very broad} strokes, here are my directions for making a DIY Plarn Tote Bag:

Please keep in mind, I'm simply sharing the way I went about this project. It is certainly not the only way OR the best way, it's just what I did... a bit of trial and error... a lot of "winging it." So don't hold the bar too high for this tutorial.


  • Finished Dimensions: Approximately 17" wide x 13" high (or 20" to top of handle) 
  • Gauge: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Like I ever check my gauge! Ok, that's a bit of an inside-knitting-joke (that I know at least one of my friends will get), but in all seriousness, there is no worrying about gauge for this project!

  • Plarn: To make mine, I used about 4-5 plastic bags for the body (not all are pictured below), packaging from a couple 24-roll toilet-paper packs, 1 dry-cleaning bag (to sew up the seams), and 2 more plastic bags (braided together) for the handle.
  • Size 50 Needles (I was going for a loose, market-bag look, so I choose HUGE needles; if you want a tighter stitch, use smaller needles. Just keep in mind the process will also take longer!)
  • Scissors for cutting strips of plarn

Earth Day Projects via

  1. Cut long strips (about 2" wide) from your plastic bags. What I did was cut up one bag, knit with it, then cut up the next when I needed it. I used regular scissors and the width of my strips totally varied, but I did the best I could to keep it consistent. I didn't find a need to wind my plarn because it didn't tangle like regular yarn. Plus, since I was working piece-by-piece, the ends never got unmanageably long.
  2. Cast on about 20 stitches. Remember, I'm using HUGE needles here, so 20 stitches was good for me.
  3. Row 1: Knit, Row 2: Knit, Row 3: Knit... yea, you get the point. Straight-up garter stitch (which means just knit). When you need to attach new plarn, just tie the ends together. I did not wait until the ends of the rows to attach--you don't really have that luxury when you're cutting up your own plarn; it would take forever and create too much cutting, and waste, for that matter :) You can just trim-up all the edges later. Depending on what kind of plastic your bags are made of, some may rip easier than others, so just be aware of that as you go along. I definitely tore some spots I didn't mean to, but when I did, I just tied the ends together and continued as before.
  4. Knit until the bag is as long as you want it to be. BUT you're going to be folding it in half and sewing up the side seams, so remember, your finished rectangle needs to be twice as long as you want your bag to end up. My whole rectangle was about 17" wide x 26" long. But just make it whatever size you want!
  5. Bind off.
  6. Fold your bag in half and "sew" up your side seams. I use this term very, very loosely. In fact, I did no sewing, I just used my fingers to "weave" the new plastic bag through the ends of the rows. I did my best to take some pictures (below), but you can see this is NOT an exact process. I just kind of made it up as I went along. I wove through the tightest stitches I could find (and since the needles were so big, most stitches were really loose), and once in a while I tied a knot as I was going along.
  7. Making Your Handle: For this step, I cut 6 long pieces from 2 plastic bags. I would estimate that they were about 40" long each. Loop all 6 strips through one of the top corner stitches and even out so that both halves are roughly the same length. Separate into 3 sections of 2 strips each. Start braiding, and braid until close to the end (have a little extra slack). 
  8. Attaching Your Handle: Bring your remaining ends through the opposite top corner from the outside through the inside. Come back around to the top and tie a knot to secure the handle. Play around with getting it nice and tight, so you may want to tie again or secure some of the loose ends separately. Remember, this is not an art form--experiment!
  9. Clean Up Loose Ends: Now, you probably have a lot of loose ends from where you've attached the plarn. You have a couple options here. You can try to tuck the ends towards the inside of the bag so you can't see them (although since the stitches are so loose, they may or may not stay that way), or you can just trim them. I did a combination of both.
Reusing Plastic Shopping Bags

Green Ideas for Earth Day

And that's basically it! I cannot emphasize enough that this project will not fulfill any perfectionist tendencies, and really, that's not the point. The whole goal of this project was to give a new purpose some landfill-clogging material, and in that sense, I feel successful! So go easy on yourself, because you're GOING GREEN :)

Earth Day Ideas via

This post is part of the Spring Greening Month Series. Find out why I'm hosting this event here.

Are we connected yet? If not, find me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+, or Bloglovin so we can start sharing ideas together! I'd love to see some of your PLARN projects, so keep in touch!

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