Plarn Yarn – Guide To This Yarn Material & Best Uses

By Jodie Morgan | Updated: | Published:

Looking for a yarn that repurposes plastic bags? Plarn fibers might be the perfect choice for you. I explore what plarn is, and ways to use it for knitting.

Strips of multicolored plastic bags ready to make Plarn

I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on May 13, 2023.

Table Of Contents

What Is Plarn Yarn?

Plarn yarn (AKA plastic yarn) is a synthetic fiber made from plastic shopping bags! This fiber isn’t popular because it’s hard to find and you have to make it yourself. Unlike marled yarn which is readily available in stores. However, it’s more durable, long-lasting, and water-resistant than regular yarn.

They’re a type of novelty yarn and are great for making fun household projects. Only wind by hand as it’s not suitable to use with any winding machines like a swift. For more information on uses of a swift here’s my guide.

Where It Comes From

Plarn yarn is made by cutting plastic bags into strips and then crocheting or knitting them together. You can braid the strips to make a thicker rope-like yarn, similar to how t-shirt yarn looks.

How To Wash Plarn Yarn

Here are the care instructions for plarn fibers.

  • Rinse them in cool water
  • Line dry them, don’t lay flat
  • Don’t iron, bleach, machine dry or wash them

They’re made of plastic materials, so don’t treat them like traditional yarn!

Pin For Later

Plarn Pin

What Do You Use It For?

Wondering whether you should use it to make a project? It’s often used for projects and things like baskets, coasters, beach bags, purses, rugs, mats, toys, crochet items and other crafts. For a fun, useful object, make plarn and knit a container for holding plastic bags! Some other ideas are placemats and bathmats.

Totes for vegetables, water bottle holders are other ideas. I don’t recommend it for projects that need to be flexible since it’s a stiff yarn. Don’t use it for clothes, either!

Where To Find It

While you can find plastic bag yarn in some stores, it’s rare. The best part of using it is making plastic bag yarn yourself! So find some plastic grocery bags you have lying around the house, or ask friends or family if they can spare some.

Get making! Here’s how to make it.

  • Clean the bag first
  • Ensure there’s nothing in it
  • Lay it flat and fold it in half lengthwise
  • Fold it in half again
  • Cut the folded bag into plastic loops
  • Discard the handles and bottom
  • Repeat for as many plastic bags you have
  • Knot the loops together
  • You’ve made your first plarn ball!

Or, use the slit skirt method to create one long continuous strand from one bag.

Here is a video tutorial by Life on Leetown on how to make it. 

This helpful guide will walk you through the process of cutting up plastic bags in strips.

Here is a video tutorial by Jenny Guldin on the spiral cut method to create a single strand of plastic so there’s no joining pieces. 

The information in this video on the one long strand method for creating plarn will be a great help!

FAQS About Plarn

Is Plarn Yarn Safe For Babies?

No, it’s not safe for babies because it’s made of plastic.

Is Plarn Yarn Ethical & Eco-Friendly?

If it’s recycled, it’s a great way to reuse existing resources.

What Can I Make With Leftover Plarn Yarn?

You can make anything you want with it as long as the project doesn’t need to be flexible.

What Are Plarn Mats?

Plarn mats are mats that are made out of plarn yarn. They’re usually used as floor mats or bath mats. Some people make sleeping mats for people who are experiencing homelessness. Awesome organizations like “Bags into Beds.”

What Weight Is Plarn?

Plarn is usually classified as a bulky weight yarn, but it can vary depending on how it’s made. It’s all in how you thick you make the strips.

How Strong Is Plarn?

Plarn is a strong yarn because it’s made of plastic. To get the best durability, make it from thick plastic bags.

How To Cut Plarn

Cut plarn with scissors, a rotary cutter, or a box cutter.

  • If you’re using scissors, cut the bag into strips that are about 1-2″ wide
  • For a rotary cutter, lay the bag flat on a cutting mat and cut it into strip. It’s faster to use a cutter(1)

How To Shape Plarn

Plarn is a stiff yarn, so it doesn’t shape well.

What Does Plarn Stand For?

It’s a portmanteau of the words “plastic” and “yarn.”

How Long Does Plarn Last?

Plarn is a durable yarn because it’s made of plastic. It will last a long time as long as you take care of it.

How To Join Plarn Strips

To join plarn strips, you can knot them together.

How To Make Thin Plarn

To make thin plarn, cut the plastic bags into 1/4″ wide strips.

Where To Donate Plarn Mats

There are many organizations that accept plarn mats, like community centers, homeless shelters, and women’s shelters.

What Do You Do With Plarn Scraps? 

If you have small pieces of plarn, you can make bunting, jewelry, and keychains.

Conclusion

Happy crocheting or knitting! Hope you enjoyed this article. Do you have questions? Please leave them below! For more types of fun yarn, see this post.

References

  1. Statzer, Jessica. “How To: Make Plarn and Crochet Bed Mat.” (2018).

About The Author

Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

Jodie Morgan (Author & Founder)

jodie@knitlikegranny.com | Lives In: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Author: Jodie Morgan is a passionate knitter and blogger with 40+ years of experience currently living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Taught by her mother and wonderful grandmother “Mama”, she fell in love with crafting from a young age. When she’s not knitting, you’ll find her enjoying a cup of coffee with cream, or sharing helpful resources and tips with the online knitting community. Get to know Jodie and the team on our meet the team page.

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Comments

  1. I used to make tote bags from grocery bags. Now, most of the grocery bags are biodegradable so they do not last like the old ones did. Just an observation about using them for the sleeping mats for homeless–they are cold, stiff, and noisy to lay on.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Shar for sharing your experience with biodegradable grocery bags, that’s very helpful. They are good points you raise regarding the sleeping mats. Cheers Jodie

      Reply

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