How to Make Plarn

One knitting/crocheting material that is growing in popularity right now is plarn (plastic yarn).  Plarn is made from shopping bags, something that we all have too much of in our homes.  Some of the common items that crafters are using plarn for include rugs, sleeping mats for the homeless, bags, and baskets.

I just started making plarn this summer.  During our move I fell behind, so one of my Christmas break projects was to bring out all the plastic bags I had been saving and give them new life.  I like to use a rotary cutter with rotary board, but scissors also work.

1) Lay a bag out flat and make it smooth.

2) Cut off the top and bottom.

3) Gather the scraps to recycle at your local store.

4) Your bag is now a big tube.  Unfold the sides and smooth it out.

5) Cut the bag into strips that are approximately 1 inch wide.  Make sure you cut from one of the sides, not from the top or bottom.
Each strip is a circle.  This makes them stronger than if they were just a single layer.

6) Join the strips together by knotting the loops.  Be careful when you pull the loop tight.  Sometimes the plastic tears.

Here is another look at the knotting.

7) Once you have a long chain made, you can wind it into a ball, but you don't have to.  Plarn does not tangle like yarn does.  In the chain below, I doubled the loops to make bulkier plarn.

8) Knit or crochet with it.  I started a crochet chain.

You will have to contend with some static cling, but you can use that to your advantage.  Because they cling to each other, you can stack several bags on top of each other and cut them all at once.  It will be faster this way.  Just keep a hand on top of the pile.

I now have a big pile of strips that need to be looped together.  It might be a good movie-watching activity.  I just wish my local stores would make their bags more colorful.

I have some ideas for what I might make with mine and will post pictures when I have something finished.  If you have made anything with plarn, tell me about it in the comments.

Do You Need a Tech Editor?

I had been knitting for a few years before I first heard of tech editors.  As an English major, I had experience with proofreading students’ papers, so it made sense to me that anything that is written needs to be checked for errors.  Two years ago I acquired Kate Atherley’s book The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, and it really resonated with me.  After reading it, I found myself critiquing the patterns I was knitting from.

Joeli Kelly has a free webinar for designers where she explains what a tech editor is, why you need one, how to find one, and how to relate to your editor.  One thing that stuck with me from the webinar was that even tech editors who design should hire someone else to edit their pattern.  Even if you are skilled at finding mistakes, it is always more difficult to find mistakes in your own work.  Because you know inside your own mind what you mean, your own pattern is going to make perfect sense to you, but it might not make sense to other knitters.

Everyone needs a tech editor.  A lot of small designers just use test knitters for their patterns, but that can be insufficient for two reasons.  1) A test knitter is less likely to catch issues of style consistency, formatting, and other more technical things.  2) Most test knitters are receiving little compensation for their time, and it is frustrating to them to work from a pattern that is full of errors.  The best practice is to send your pattern to a tech editor before you pass it on to test knitters.

If you are going to charge money for your pattern, then you want to make sure your customers are purchasing a quality product that will be easy for them to use.  Even if it is going to be a free pattern, still consider using a tech editor.  The purpose of having free patterns is to attract more customers to your shop, and you want that free pattern to make a good impression.

I had been wishing for some sort of knitting-related work I could do from home to supplement our income.  After I heard about Joeli Kelly’s training course for tech editors, I realized that tech editing would be the perfect fit for me.  I am very excited to have work that integrates my passion for knitting.