This weekend I had a go at making and knitting with plarn. Plarn is plastic yarn made out of old shopping bags. I only heard about it recently but it sounded like such a good idea I was keen to try it out as soon as I had a free afternoon. It turned out that the plarn itself was easy to make, and that knitting with it was also easy enough once I got used to the different texture and tension. Here's a tutorial of how to make your own ball of plarn:
First off, you'll need a bunch of plastic bags. I found that two plastic bags gave me 15 stitches by 10 rows (using size 6.5mm knitting needles) - a rectangle of about 10 x 20 cm (pictured above).
Smooth out your first plastic bag so it's nicely flat and square.
Next, fold in the top and bottom sides to meet in the middle.
Then fold the top side down again so you end up with a strip like so:
Then take a pair of scissors and cut the bottom edge off the bag, before cutting up your strip into pieces about 1 - 1+1/2 inches wide. When you get to the other end, discard the handles.
When you unfurl these pieces you'll find you have lots of big loops. Overlay one loop over another, as below, then put the first loop back threw itself and pull gently but tightly into a knot. You want the knot neat and small but don't pull so tight that the plastic snaps!
And there's your plarn! Keep repeating this until you have a good length of plastic, then wrap into a ball ready to use. When knitting, treat each loop as a single thread, as if the plarn were one long piece.
I found that once I got the hang of the stiffer tension and being careful when going over the knots, knitting with plarn was fun and I really liked the idea of using something that would probably otherwise end up in the bin. You can also crochet with plarn, and make some nice looking stuff like this heart garland and this grocery bag. There's some nice crochet plarn patterns for sale here and also a free one here.
Perri Lewis did a handy tutorial on the Guardian about how to make a knitted plarn clutch.
If you really can't be bothered to make your own plarn but still want to have a go at making stuff with it, you can find some ready-made on etsy for a few pounds. Better to put that stash of plastic bags lurking under the sink to good use though, no?