Thursday, January 1, 2009

Better Plastic Bags

Last spring my aunt sent me an article about cutting up plastic bags and using them to crochet bags. The idea struck a cord and I went to town. My first bag was a black and white book/magazine tote made completely from WalMart bags for my mom (bottom left). She loved it. From there I made a couple larger totes which my co-workers admired so much that I gave them each one (below right).

The detail pic of the red bag (below left) was actually made from purchased fabric strips with a few stripes of white plastic bags thrown in for interest. That one went to my MIL who likes red almost as much as I do.

And then I did two more for myself: a smaller bag (above right) which I used as a purse for a while and a large yellow and white tote (not pictured). Then I ran out of bags (and wasn't getting any more because I was in the habit of using these better plastic bags when shopping) and ran out of steam as well.

Well once my family saw what was being produced, they started to collect nice or interesting bags for me, especially the red ones available where they are in Canada. After Thanksgiving and Christmas visits when they were able to get the bags to me, I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed! I spent a whole evening this week sorting and folding the bags so they wouldn't take over the room. Now I'm feeling pressure to do something with them. At least I have enough red ones now that I am ok with using them. (Scarcity breeds hoarding in me...)
There are, however, a few really pretty ones that I only have one or two bags of:
I will have to think carefully of what to use them for.

After a search through Ravelry for a suitable pattern, I may start with this paperless grocery bag from Coats and Clark. I especially liked this version
by Ravelry user knitgranny. If I can figure out how to do the appliqued leaves in plastic it would be a perfect use for the limited special coloured bags I have.

It takes about 60 bags to do a smaller bag and I'd say up to 100 for the larger totes so if I got going on a couple bags I could use up this supply handily. I also have a store of the new WalMart bags (they switched from the preferred black and white to a funny grey and blue bag) to use as a base colour. I have a strict policy of using only "used" bags (i.e. I will not grab a bunch of new bags at the checkout just to crochet them up). I also have let myself get lazy about having the bags with me when I shop. Perhaps that is partially due to winter weather and the extra trouble it brings.

To make the strips, I fold the bags flat (as pictured above) so I can cut off the bottom seam. Then I cut .5" to 1" strips (depending on the thickness of the bag and what I need) from the bottom to the top. At the top I cut as close to the handles as I can and then discard the handles. You crochet with these loops like you would with a yarn, but when you get to the end of the loop, you slip knot the next loop into it...and repeat...and repeat. One loop makes about 3 dc stitches, so you are adding more loops all the time! But on the other hand, it does break up the crocheting...

I'll let you know how the new bag goes...

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