Monday, July 3, 2017

Plarn project

Plarn Project- 2 large tote bags. 
Plastic bags used: approximately 80 bags. 
Finished dimensions of bag: 19" by 19" with a bottom approximately 4.5 inches wide.


[Image description: Large tote bag filled with items sitting on cement. Bag is folded slightly over and handles are sticking out to the side.]


I had 90 ends total in the heddle, within the reed it was 21.5 inches wide and at the weaving surface with draw in was 20 inches. I got approximately 13 picks per inch which gave me about nine inches of weaving per five plastic bags. I feel like it takes me about 15-20 minutes to create 5 bags worth of plarn. I created small amounts of plarn as I wove because I was not exactly sure how much plarn I was going to need. I don't want to make too much because of  how easily it tangles, and I worried that it would be unusable in future. So I made the plarn as I went, which extended the length of time it took me to complete the project as I was stopping regularly to create more plarn. 

I worked this project on my 32" Kromski Harp Forte rigid heddle loom. I mostly beat with the heddle, however if the yarn was gaping too much I was making sure that I would go through every 4 to 6 rows and push the yard down. I used a crochet hook to do this it worked pretty well. For the most part as long as the strips were cut in the same width then they would not need to be pushed down. Once I figure this out I have made sure to be more precise when cutting my plarn. It also worked better if I didn't advance the fabric as much as I typically would. I would only advance four to five inches instead of the full seven to nine inches. If I was having to beat harder than it would be more likely to have to be pushed down. Also for some reason the tension worked better when I was weaving slightly closer to the heddle.








[Image description: bag with seams sewn shown inside out on a wood floor.]

[Image description: close up of seam being sewn. White thread is used to sew the seams together using blanket stitch.]

[Image description: woven fabric freshly off the loom laid on a hallway floor. There is a tape measure along the fabric, and the header of the weaving is in the foreground.]


[Image description: binding being sewn onto woven fabric. Picture shows the sewing needle in the down position and fabric being fed through sewing machine.]

After the plastic fabric was sewn and cut into two pieces.  
[Image Description: closeup of woven fabric turned on its side. There are two lines of sewing in light thread going down the fabric.]




I had 90 ends total in the heddle, within the reed it was 21.5 inches wide and at the weaving surface with draw in was 20 inches. I got approximately 13 picks per inch which gave me about nine inches of weaving per five plastic bags. I feel like it takes me about 15-20 minutes to create 5 bags worth of plarn. I created small amounts of plarn as I wove because I was not exactly sure how much plarn I was going to need. I don't want to make too much because of  how easily it tangles, and I worried that it would be unusable in future. So I made the plarn as I went, which extended the length of time it took me to complete the project as I was stopping regularly to create more plarn.

I used knitting cotton that I used for dishcloths as the warp. It is worsted weight and I threaded my reed every other slot, which is what gave me my 90 ends. I've been using mostly white bags; Safeway, Target, some Dollar Tree bags- there might be random takeout bags in there as well. The Safeway bag are my favorite. I like the color variations from them as you get the white, the red, and the black. I used the white bags because of what my choice of warp was. I used the Bernat Holiday pound of yarn. 

It looks like they recently changed Safeway bags to be a grayish Brown background instead of white so I won't be using those anymore. I only use the plastic bags when I forget my reusable shopping totes. 

I wrapped the bags on my shuttle in a figure 8 as I would wrap any other yarn. The plan is much wider than typical yarn so it's more like wrapping a rag around than a strand of yarn. I cut my bag pieces approximately three-quarters of an inch to 1 inch. If I cut them three quarters of an inch then I get about 16 wraps around my stick shuttle in the figure eight pattern. Any more than 5 bags or trying to double wrap the stick shuttle is going to cause problems because it's so wide it's going to snag on your weaving. You can't weave too close to the heddle because it can cause snagging. 

I tied the bags together in an overhand knot to join them. You cannot pull on the plan or you risk snapping it, but if that happens all you have to do is just tie the bags back together. It looks a little different than if you were weaving typically where you didn't tie the yarn together and you just overlap. I didn't trust that process with plastic yarn because I was worried that it would slip and cause holes in the fabric once I was using the bags. I plan on using them for shopping and I do a lot of bulk shopping so my bags can get pretty heavy.

Weaving with plarn is an interesting process. It takes a lot more bags than you think it would but it is nice to repurpose something that would otherwise probably not be reused. I don't know a lot of people that take the time to recycle their bags properly. I feel like this way they're getting a second life and not contributing as much to environmental issues. I am hoping that the bags hold up well to repeated use, and I may try a different type of handle on the second bag to see which one wears better. 

I made the handles out of fused plastic bags. I did the bags 8 layers deep. I also made a binding for the top of the bags out of fused plastic, that was 4 layers deep so it would be easier to sew. I had absolutely no problem sewing the bags on my machine, which surprised me. I have a Singer  Stylist 7258 for reference. 

I'm not sure if I would do this project again, but I do really like how it turned out and I look forward to using my bags to carry stuff around this summer. Once I see how they hold up I may make a couple more with slightly smaller dimensions. I think a 12" wide bag would be nice.