Moira has been crocheting since she was 14 years old. She loves experimenting with small crochet projects.
Which Plarn-Making Method Is Best: Single- or Double-Strand?
In this article, I am going to compare the two ways I know of making yarn from plastic bags. I will not go into the details of how to actually prepare plarn because there's a lot of tutorials for that, and I will link you to my favorites. My objective for writing this article is to provide a comparison and show the advantages and disadvantages of each method.
My Experience With Plarn
I started crocheting with plarn in November 2010 when I stopped working as a teacher to become a full-time housewife. Some of my projects were not pretty, but others showed a lot of potential. After almost a year of crocheting with plarn on a daily basis, I learned quite a lot, and I thought it would be great to share my advice in case someone else wants to crochet with plarn, too.
My Best Patterns in Double-Strand Plarn
What Is the Double-Strand Method?
The double-strand method is the most common way of making plarn. It involves:
- Folding plastic bags lengthwise, usually up to 3x.
- Marking the desired width of strips.
- Cutting up the bags into strips.
- Joining the strips into a long plarn.
For me, the most important thing to remember when making plarn this way is to make the knots as tight as possible. To achieve this, just before making a knot, crumple the part of the strip that will be knotted. A tight knot will be invisible in a crocheted piece, giving the illusion that it does not exist.
- Tying strips is a great family/group activity
- Suitable for any type of pattern
- Easy to change color because the end is looped
- Takes too long if done alone
- Can cause problems if plarn is not cut and/or tied evenly
Video Tutorial: Double-Strand Plarn
My Best Patterns in Single-Strand Plarn
What Is the Single-Strand Method?
The single-strand method is usually used when making tarn (yarn derived from old t-shirts). However, it can be used to make plarn as well. This method includes:
- Folding the plastic bag lengthwise up to 3x but leaving a part that will not be cut yet called a "spine."
- Marking the desired width of the strips.
- Cutting the plarn into strips, except the "spine."
- Unfolding the cut-up plastic bag.
- Cutting the "spine" diagonally to create one long strip.
When I first tried this, I found the last part most challenging. Soon I realized that if I place a flat surface in the unfolded cut-up plastic bag, it will be easier to cut the "spine". At first I used books, but later, I found out that lightweight objects such as a DVD cover are more effective.
A problem also occurs when joining two strips. I join them by tying a knot and leaving at least 2 in of tail which I will hide after finishing an item. This will only work with compact patterns and nor for lacy ones. The knot will be visible for a more "open" work.
- Faster to make
- The strips are always even
- Not appropriate for "open" patterns
Video Tutorial: Single-Strand Plarn
Just recently, I discovered the video below showing how to make plarn with plastic bag that is not a tube but a flat sheet instead.
I have to try this method first before I can write its pros and cons.
Video Tutorial: Flat-Panel Plarn
I used to make my plarn using the double-strand method. When I tried the single-strand method, I became a convert immediately. I do my plarn alone, I don't usually do lacy crochet, and I don't change color a lot.
What's important, though, is that we reuse plastic bags since they're gonna be here long after we're gone!
Comments Make Me Happy!
Marilynn on January 25, 2018:
I make the single ply plarn and to join the pieces I just use a glue stick and overlap the pieces about 6 inches or so, then the ends are just knitted into the piece and hold together with no knots. I also just glue them together by the overlap method if the plarn breaks as I am knitting.
Moira Durano-Abesmo (author) from Sagay, Camiguin, Philippines on September 28, 2012:
Hello Lindalou! It's difficult to change the color of plastic bags, you have to take them as they are.
However, to add color you can try to combine them with other yarns like what I did in my Weaved Wave Bracelet. It's made with transparent plarn, though. I crocheted it with gold and silver yarn to add color to them.
I hope this suggestion helps. ",)
lindalou on September 28, 2012:
Moira--Your talent amazes me! Where I shop there are only white and light brown plastic bags. I'd like to do some crocheting with plarn, although it would be quite colorless. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Moira Durano-Abesmo (author) from Sagay, Camiguin, Philippines on September 28, 2011:
I live in the Philippines. My country is not very "green" so we still use plastic bags a lot. Most of this plastic bags are from small stores who don't bother to put their brand-names on the plastic bags. They just use their most favorite colors.
dmweber from Western Arkansas on September 28, 2011:
great idea! making plastic-bag yarn :) how do you find all the colors?
Moira Durano-Abesmo (author) from Sagay, Camiguin, Philippines on September 04, 2011:
Oh.. I have crocheted with plarn for only a year. I have biodegradable plastic but I have not experienced disintegration. If I am not mistaken, biodegradable plastic will only decompose if exposed to the elements (such as sunlight, wind, rain, etc). I keep my plarn stash and finished crocheted items in airtight containers.
Where did you place your plastic bags?
PWalker281 on September 03, 2011:
This is an excellent tutorial on the methods for making plarn. I'm going to bookmark it for future reference as we seem to accumulate a lot of plastic bags.
I do have one question though. Some of the plastic bags being made are biodegradable. I've had plastic bags disintegrate on me when I had yarn stored in them for several years. How do you know if you're using this plastic that seems to biodegrade after a while??