Saturday, January 30, 2010

Free Pattern: Plastique Plarn Purse

Like many, I have a moral opposition to the plastic bags that are handed out like it ain't no thing by every store in these United States.

They drive me nuts.

Finding ways to re-use them is crucial. Better than recycling, which melts them down (using energy) to create other plastic things (using energy).

So--using them as pooper scoopers, good. Plarn (plastic-yarn), even better.

I give you, then, Plastique.

Pattern Name: Plastique Plarn Purse

Designer: Katie Rose Pryal of the Knitty Professors

- Plarn (instructions below)
- Any cotton or other non-stretchy yarn (I used Caron Simply Soft from my scraps bag), half a skein, wound into two yarn muffins using a ball winder, because you need to work this 4-ply.

- Crochet hook in size 6.50mm
- Crochet hook in size 17mm (p or q will work)
- Circular needles in size 11, 16" or 24"
- Circular needles in size 17, 16" or 24"

Other supplies
- Bag handles. Reclaimed from an old beat-down thrift store bag is best. Purchased new at A.C. Moore is not best, but will do.
- Sharp, large scissors

To Make Plarn
- You will need thirty or forty high-quality plastic bags, from the Gap (blue), Barnes and Noble (green), Target (red and white), etc.
- If you have lots of the lower-quality bags, such as brown or white grocery bags, those will do, but the cutting instructions are a little bit different (see below.)

(1) First make each bag into a tube by cutting off the bottom of the bag and any handles at the top.

(2) Starting at one end, cut a spiral out of the bags. This will create one, long continuous strip of plastic.

**With the high-quality bags, you want this strip to be somewhere between 1 and 2 inches in width on average. With the lower-quality bags, you will want this to be between 2 and 3 inches in width on average.** (This is so that you maintain a steady-ish gauge with your plarn--the thinner the plastic, the wider the strip, see?)

(3) Using a square knot, knot the strips together and wind into a big ball. To make stripes as in the sample in the pictures, you should try to keep 1-3 bags worth of plarn of the same color together (depending on the size of the bag), and then switch colors. Just keep knotting and knotting.

You Have Plarn!

Work the Bag

Using the larger crochet hook and plarn, chain 5, then join to work in round (using a slip stitch). You will work in an ever-increasing circle with regular increases, forming a disc that is the base of the bag. Each crocheted round ends with a slipped stitch.

Round 1: Work 2 sc into each st, slip st to end round. 10 sts.

Round 2: Work 1 sc into first stitch, 2 sc into next stitch, then repeat to end of round. 15 sts.

Round 3: Work 1 sc into 2 sts, 2 sc into next st. Repeat to end of round. 20 sts.

Round 4: Work 1 sc into 3 sts; 2 sc into next st. Repeat to end of round. 25 sts.

Continue until the base of the bag measures between 10 and 12 inches in diameter.

Using larger knitting needle, pick up knit stitches around the edge of the crocheted disc you just made. Now you will just knit in the round until the bag is as tall as you want it to be, between 10 and 12 inches. Work the plarn loosely to make it easier on your wrists.

After you have achieved the height you desire, switch to the regular yarn (shown here: Caron Simply Soft held 4-ply). Work 1 round.

Switch to smaller needles. Work 2 rounds more. Bind off. DON'T BREAK YARN.

Assemble Handles

This is the hardest part of the project. You need to attach the handles to the bag using single-crochet. If this is just too hard to figure out, you can sew them on using a yarn needle.

Step 1. Using smaller crochet hook, work 2 single crochets into each stitch, wrapping the stitch around the handle each time. Continue for the entire length of the handle.

Step 2. Using your eyeball, mathematical skills, or measuring tape, figure out where the second handle should be placed.

Step 3. SC until you reach the spot you ascertained in Step 2.

Step 4. Crochet the second handle to the bag as in Step 1.

Step 5. Crochet the rest of the way around. Break yarn and weave in.

And that's it! Cute, strong, and often the cause of gasps from strangers in public places when they realize what it's made of. Sew in a lining if you want to carry smaller items in it. Old bedsheets, curtains, and men's dress shirts from the thrift store make excellent fabric for linings.

Reuse. Redesign. Redefine.


Anonymous said...

This is the best version of a plastic bag purse I've seen, possibly because it's worked in crochet instead of knitting, giving it a different look. Unfortunately I do not do crochet so I will have to come up with something else, I guess. One thing, I've noticed that the beautiful blue of Gap bags can bleed, so proceed cautiously for those using the Gap.

Someday_phd said...

That's really cool. I'd never have thought of it. We just stick with, reuse for when we walk the dogs.

Kim V said...

Why is it that the purse in the photos is knitted when the instructions are for crochet?

KRGP said...

FYI folks (esp. KVD), this purse is worked with both crochet and knit. Crochet the base for strength and no-stretch. The rest is knit. (Always read instructions through before starting a pattern.)

Kim V said...

Sorry about that. Thanks for the clarification. This is a nice plarn bag pattern!

ellen said...

I just found your bag cannot wait to collect plastic bags. I used my fabric ones when I shop. I am going to us plastic lids for handles. Use four of the same size. Cut out centers to make into handles. Sc all around their edges. Then they are ready to attach using your directions.