A quick catch-up on all things to do with recycling plastic…

Hi Everyone,

I have had a lot of interest on my Plarn posts recently and a few requests for an update post. For those who have not encountered Plarn – it is a yarn made entirely from plastic grocery bags. Hence the name plarn. It is very easy to create at home, with very little fuss and makes a fantastic versatile medium for crochet and a number of other crafting techniques. My previous posts on this subject are The magic of plarn, Make plastic fantastic – not tragic and free upcycled patterns.

How do I make plarn?

I scoured the net for a good descriptive image of how to make plarn………. I failed in finding an appropriate one, so I made my own – hopefully this is self explanatory. Any questions please ask.   🙂


What can I do with plarn?

(Click any of the images below to be redirected to the host sites.)

Plarn is such a versatile medium that can be used in a variety of ways.  As mentioned in my previous posts – you can knit it, crochet it, fuse it… Theoretically you could substitute plarn for any medium you would usually use in weaving, knitting or crochet. If you cut the loops fine enough and spun the thread you may even be able to lace make with it. Although spinning the plarn is a little more complicated.

I’ve recently discovered some artisans are basket weaving with plarn, creating rag rugs with plarn and still fusing plastic to make all manner of goods.

Basket weaving

gLp Designs has been creating up a storm with this medium. One of my favourite articles of theirs is the plarn basket, constructed using a combination of basket weaving and crochet techniques. CLick on the image to be redirected to the host post detailing the construction in this piece.

gLp Designs basket[1]

Rag Rugs

weupcycle.com is an amazing collaborative blog. The idea behind this blog is simple – 30 projects in 30 days – the blog will be sustained one day for every upcycle post submitted by, and  I assume, anyone that wants to partake. You may want to read into this further, but it sounds like a fun interactive adventure in sustainability – and that is truly the best thing, right?

Here is a a picture link to the article uploaded to the site by a clever individual – making rag/plarn rugs.


What else is happening in the plastic recycling sphere ?

Plastic fusion in all its glory

The practice of plastic fusion is still a relatively new medium, surprising – as I first heard about a year or so ago

– I really thought there would have been more of an uptake from sustainable crafts people and like minded groups.

Infact, I expected many more fused examples than the web search today has provided me.

If you are considering trying this out please note: The process is a little dangerous with the fumes, so be careful – Work in a well ventilated area, wear a mask and this is not an activity for the kiddies to carry out.

Here is a step by step how to fuse plastic at home

– a fab little tutorial on Crochet Dynamite’s site.

Crochet dynamite also has tutorials on making superb little items with fused plastic.

I really want to try some of these projects.


This is quite something! – Mary Anne Enriquez’s Plastic fusion coat.

It’s an undeniable creative achievement for sure, although a little Vivienne Westwood-esque for my conservative tastes I still admire Mary Anne’s efforts here.


and, when all is said and tried, and plastic ‘needs’ to be discarded send it to a ‘brick maker’.

Introducing Peter Lewis from Dunedin, New Zealand.

‘Peter Lewis spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to patent plastic blocks in August 2002, and millions since then to develop industrial scale equipment. The Byfusion machine required to make the bricks is manufactured in New Zealand and can be exported in shipping containers. Their mass production techniques are appropriate for many areas of the world, including turning the massive plastic garbage patches in the oceans into useful products. See Great Pacific Garbage Patch for details on the extent of the problem. ‘ excerpt from article Recycled Plastic Block Houses  (http://www.motherearthnews.com)

‘The rock-hard bricks could be used for garden retaining or landscaping walls, and had other potential uses including shock absorbers behind crash barriers’. Read Peter’s full story from the Otago times 2010 article – by clicking on the image below.


Harvey Lacey a Texan man who evolved Peter’s idea further over the last few years, first by enlisting Peter’s help, machines and knowledge set up his own operation based in Texas, USA.

Lacey is these days accredited with the title of ‘inventor’ of Ubuntu-blox which are essentially building blocks made of recycled plastic (not sure what the difference is, in comparison with Peter Lewis’s plastic patented recycled plastic blocks, maybe it’s all in the name of the block – ain the context of an ‘inventor’ of a ‘product’ I would have thought that was a little cheeky).

However, Lacey is carrying out phenomenal work, mainly focussing on the plight in third world countries with his plastic blocks. His number one aim is to rebuild the third world – one block at a time and he runs his own blog on his trials and tribulations ‘here’. His buildings are claimed to be earthquake resistant, and I bet they are super warm, comfortable to reside in, waterproof and not to mention long-lasting. The only thing I can think about being married to a ex-Firefighter is that I would not want to be anywhere near a building constructed from plastic if it were ablaze. But the pros outweigh the cons in this instance and reducing pollution and helping out those less fortunate can only be a good thing. If you want to know more about this topic it is worth a web search.

What else can we try with plarn, or plastic fusion?

My suggestion is to try using patterns for crochet and knitting that require thick yarn, substituting the yarn for plarn.

Check below for some inspirational free how-to’s that in my opinion would be perfect for this type of work.

How about using plarn in this chunky knit pouffe pattern.

This pouffe would look fab in the natural nature colours of the American grocery bags (soft brown/tan colours with print).

Our plastic bags here in NZ are mostly either white, or frosted clear. That look is a little less natural.

Click the image to be redirected to Pickles’s site which contains full instructions.


Or try out the traditional latch hook technique in a rug, substituting the wool for plarn

a beautiful mess has a BEAUTIFUL instructional on her blog – clock the pic to be redirected.


Or, try out a quilting experiment or a woven mat with fused plastic.

Tutorial is on the DIY network – click the image to be redirected

rug woven from recycled leftover chunky wool

Truly endless possibilities…… enjoy crafting

this post is dedicated to the Raxa collective thanks for following and being an inspiration to us all.


  1. I really enjoyed this thorough post. I’ve knitted with plarn a few times, I wanted to use up our entire stash of bags to make a couple grocery totes. So it will probably be the only time knitting with them. I’ve also fused plastic bags before and experimented with fusing the bubble wrap. I really liked how they turned out. I tried adding bits of string and tiny pieces of fabric in between the layers too. The idea of making the bricks is pretty genius! Thank you for sharing this!


  2. Extremely informative post, Pepper! I’ve been twiddling this idea ’round and ’round for a few years, because those plastic bags mount up so quickly. You’ve inspired me to go at it again, soon, (well, as soon as I finish recycling a load of Christmas ornaments by adding texture, new color and gilding)!


  3. This post is awesome. Thanks for taking the time to write a post filled with information and not just pictures (although craft porn is nice!).

    I am wondering if anyone has done any experiments on flamability, particularly for the clothing applications. I agree with you that the coat in the picture is a bit too literal for me, but id be interested in trying something with the millions of Kroger bags I wind up with – they are the soft brown color. Im wondering if the fusion process takes some of the quick ignigtibility out of the plastic.


Let me know what you think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.