Basic “Plarn” Tote

50 Responses

  1. Diana says:

    Is it possible to knit with the plarn? I’m not very good at crochet. I don’t understand how these instructions work, even though I do know the stitches — single crochet, double crochet, etc. I can’t ever figure out where to put the hook through. In knitting, it ‘s simple, because you have the loops on the needle.

  2. Kayla K says:

    I would imagine that knit would work as well. I prefer crochet because it makes a stronger fabric. Maybe try a version of a knit string bag? Let me know how it works for you. I’m glad the plarn tutorial helped.

  3. Cheryl says:

    This may be a dumb question, but what is a “lark’s head knot” and how do you make one? Thank you. Cheryl

  4. Kayla K says:

    A “lark’s head” knot is similar to one made in macrame. It can also be known as the double half hitch knot or square knot. I took a picture of this in the steps, but you may find this link helpful:

    The step-by-step instructions ask you to fold your cord in half, which you don’t have to do because you are working with tubes.

    I hope this helps, contact me with more questions.

  5. Mary says:

    you can definitely knit a tote with plarn. I have made one that I found on the internet at called the recycled bag bag. It was very easy to make and we use it for groceries. I am saving bags to make more!

  6. genna says:

    About how many bags is this?

  7. Kayla K says:

    I believe it is about 30. I get that question a lot, so I am working on figuring out an exact number.

  8. Carolyn says:

    i love the “plarn” it is great and such a great use of all those ridiculous extra plastic bags laying around the house

  9. jackie says:

    Can u do hdc instead of sc take to long to do sc?

  10. Kayla K says:

    You sure can! I have seen them with a double crochet as well, but I like the strength of the single crochet.

  11. Jane says:

    Hi Kayla,
    I am really stumped. I love your plarn tote but am really confused on the instructions. Do I make 2 of each side and whip stitch them together. If I follow your directions I don’t see that it will be a 14″ wide tote. Please help me out here, I must be missing something.

  12. Kayla K says:

    At the end of the first row, instead of turning and working a rectangle, continue with sc in the unworked loops of the beginning chain. You will be working in the round.

  13. Cindy Gransden says:

    I’ve made 9 plarn bags so far in the past 3 months. My granddaughter is making purses with plarn and my niece is making both bags and purses. My other granddaugher is knitting bracelets with the plarn. We are having a blast with this new art. Thanks to whoever started this wonderful way to recycle grocery bags.

  14. Diane says:


    I don’t understand what I am to do when I get to the end of the first row. The directions say to sc in each unworked loop of ch. How do I get around to those chains without doing something at the end of the rows. Doing that will make it oval like a rug. Will I be able to determine the bottom vs the sides of the bag?


  15. Kayla K says:

    The base is a lot like making an oval rug- you have the right idea. But, because you are not increasing the sides will be straight instead of flat and curved like a rug.

  16. Kerri says:

    In round 1, am I working one row, and then going back through that row so that there are two stitches in each chain? Or am I just working in the round and then stitching the two sides of the open bottom together? Sorry if this is confusing…

  17. Kayla K says:

    You work the first row, then, instead of turning you work in the unworked stitches of the chain. You are working in the round. I hope this clarifies…

  18. Helen says:

    I have neen practicing making a mat but for some reason i cant get it to have straight edges, i slope inwards, as if i am dropping a stitch every row. I make 2 extra at the end of each row and turn.
    Help , what am i doing wrong

  19. Kayla K says:

    Make sure to count each stitch as you go across. It can be easy to miss stitches when working with plarn.

  20. vera says:

    what is a crochet hook size ‘k’ in a number? [mm] thanks

  21. Essie Dinsmore says:

    Kayla K., I’m 73 and have made three plarn totes. I love the idea of recycling plastic bags. As soon as i finish a plethora of crochet projects, i plan to crochet myself a plarn door mat for my patio door.
    For my next tote I will use yarn with the plarn strips.

  22. Glenda says:

    Hi There, Thank you for explaining this wonderful idea. I totally understand the crochet instructions, thank you.
    My question is when you are crocheting the plarn do you twist it and roll in a ball or do you crochet with it still flat with it 1 inch wide. I get confused on what everyone else seems to find simple. Do you just crumple the plastic into a thin piece as you crochet it? Thanks, Glenda

  23. Sharon says:

    If i understand this right. are you working double plarn like two yarns together?

  24. Kayla K says:

    Yes, you crochet as if holding together two strands.

  25. Bill says:

    I have started making plarn and really think it is fun to work with. I have started this project after making a few rugs. Most of the stores around here have nothing but white bags with very little printing on them so I onle get a few speckles of color in my projects. Would like to be able to find bags with more color, of course I do use bread bags as I get them . Thanks for the pattern Bill

  26. Jenny Norris says:

    You are so creative, Kayla K!
    I am so amazed this nice color tote is made from plastic-yarn: PLARN, wow!
    I am so excited to find your blog. You are showing that crochet is fun and also save the earth! You’re amazing! :D
    I am expatriate living in Guangzhou, China, we have to pay to get plastic bag in grocery stores. Sometimes we get nice plastic from H&M and Uniqlo, but most the time only paper bags or we have to carry our own grocery bags.
    And like you said, I will spread the word asking for plastic bags – my Craft group Ladies will be thrilled with this project.
    I went to Hongkong and bought couple yarns made of plastic (from Japan) and it cost a fortune for each ball (about US$15 each) – can’t you believe how shock I am when I know I can make plarn easily and FREE!
    I regret bought those yarns…..

    Thank you so much, Kayla. Keep stitching and writing! :D

  27. Kathy Bartholomew says:

    THANK YOU for posting a crochet plarn bag. I had not been able to find one in crochet. I have knitted 2 large totes myself, adding color with yarn to give it some depth.

    I see from your instructions and the comments left, you actually end up crocheting around the 41 chain in the beginnning to make it a tube shape, is that correct? (the bottom of the tube in closed). So then you will have 80 stitches to work with (40 front/40 back), right?

    Thanks again for the great pattern

  28. YarnYokel says:

    I can’t wait to try this pattern. This will be my first plarn project. Thank you for sharing this pattern. I can’t wait to get started.

  29. Mary Nolte says:

    I have the same question as – Jane September 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm
    I have started the tote two times and I know something is not right the way I am understanding the directions. A susequesnt comment by thy Bartholomew June 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm it was asked about a total of 80 stitches???
    Thanks for the pattern and your response.

  30. rose says:

    Do you have too use a sizes k hook? I don’t want to go out and buy one and besides my parents are busy usually and I cant drive I do have 6 crochet hooks though will it make a very big difference?

  31. Kayla K says:

    You can use the sizes you have. For smaller hooks, make your yarn thinner.

  32. Fonda Brugger says:

    I have a dumb question how do you cut the bags into 1 inch tubes? After you fold and cut the top are you cutting the sides? I am just wondering because I have ton of bags and kinda laid up with knee surgery so I want my husband to start cutting the bags and knotting them together. I get the whole idea of crocheting them, basically in the round, but I don’t understand the cutting. thanks if you could elaborate that would be helpful

  33. Norma Wright says:

    I have made several bags out of plarn. I also made bible/book bags, Having a spine on the Bible/book I decided to make 2 9 x 7 squares and then sew a strip 2″ wide and the length of the 2 sides. I also added a pocket for a pencil and notepad on the outside of one of the side squares.
    I made one of my bags with yarn handles because sometimes the plan is rough and scratchy. I have a crochet hook in my hand most of my waking hours.

  34. Kayla K says:

    @F.B.: Not a dumb question! The bag already has a tube shape if you cut off the top and bottom. Think of a globe, cutting along the “latitude” lines.

  35. Monique says:

    I just made my first plarn bag! loosely used your pattern, I linked you on my blog as the pattern. Hope thats ok….:oD

  36. Mary says:

    I’m hooked! I can not for the life of me get my husband to use canvas tote bags for grocery shopping! We have been bringing back the plastic bags to the recycle barrel at the store but this still seems like a waste.
    The plastic grocery bags are made with only 20-25% recycled material but my PLARN items are made with 100% recycled material plus a whole lot of love! My grandsons are requesting backpack type bags for school. Most of the patterns I have seen so far are a little feminine for them. Has anyone seen anything that the boys might like? Thanks for all you are doing to inspire us!

  37. Mary M says:

    I just found this web site & can’t wait to try this. Would start now but need to gather up plastic bags. I’m so excited. Can you tell me how to figure out a pattern while I’m gathering bags? Thanks so very much!

  38. Mary M says:

    From the bottom of bag to the top before you put on the handles, how big is it?

  39. Donna says:

    The easiest way to cut your plarn is to use a rotary cutter. You can really cut the bags very quickly this way. I use my “used” blades that I normally would throw away. Don’t use your “good” ones………they will be unuseable on fabric if you do.

  40. Linda R says:

    A succinct pattern and am in the midst of making one now.
    Thank you kindly.
    @ Mary M. the size of the bag os 14cm across and 14cm down. Add an extra 8 for handles, as per instructions at the beginning.

  41. Lois says:


    I’m having fun making plarn purses and totes. I use your Basic Plarn tote pattern quite often. Sometimes I incorporate two patterns. I started a year ago and I’ve made thirty so far. So, thank you for showing how to utilize plastic bags.


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