Dec 26, 2018
Most expats who have been living in Japan for more than a few minutes know that Japan has a thing for plastic packaging. From individually wrapped sweets to supplies of extra small plastic bags to wrap your souvenirs in, plastic is everywhere and in enough abundance to make the ecology conscious among us cringe.
Some years ago, I was researching how best to reuse these things and the most fun answer I found was plarn, which is yarn made from plastic bags. It can be used for many crafting projects and save you money on not having to buy yarn for those projects while also saving those plastic bags from exploding from your cupboard or finding their ways into the ocean.
After a recent deep clean of my home, I found a pretty large array just waiting to be made into crafting supplies.
Step One: Sort It Out
First, organize and prepare your bag hoard. One bag alone does not usually make a great deal of yarn, but when you put enough together, it can make a decent amount of material. I sort first for color, then thickness, then size. Sometimes different sized bags from the same store will have different thicknesses, like these two Book Off bags. Discard anything with residue or large tears as they will be harder to use.
Step Two: Fold and Cut
Fold the bags into long, flat sections. Cut off the bottom seam and the handles. Then cut the remaining rectangle into similar sized chunks.
When cutting , remember that thickness counts. Bags made of flimsier plastic can rip easily, so making wider cuts is advisable, or putting these aside to use as bin liners later. Thicker textured bags can be hard to maneuver when it is time to craft, so a thinner cut is more useful, but not too thin or it may have the same splitting problems.
Step Three: Link and Loop
Unfold each chunk and overlap the ends, pulling one through to connect them with a small knot. Be gentle with these as pulling hard on any of the plastic bits can result in warping and breakage.
Step Four: Ball and Craft
On the left, thicker cut thin bags. On the right, thinner cut thick bags. Both from Book Off.
Ball it up for storage and craft as you like. Personally, I crochet with this and spent a great deal of time on bed rest a few years ago making bags and pouches from the plarn I had rounded up while cleaning my apartment.
If you like more variation in your plarn coloration, you can combine different chunks from different bags in whatever order you enjoy. Just remember that once the loop is in line with the other loops, it can be hard to remove.
The resulting yarn yields a double line with intermittent knots which do have to be worked around, but if you have the plastic bags and the skills, why not make some yarn? Being plastic, it's not the comfiest texture for socks or scarves, but can make some decent home crafts including baskets and pouches.
A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.