Sunday, March 25, 2012

How I pretend I'm greener and make plarn

I am one of those bad people who still uses plastic bags for their groceries... and being a family of 5, we get a large collection of plastic bags in a short time.  I am nice enough to feel a little bad about all these bags and just throwing them out... I know that some shopping centers have bins that you can put your used bags in, but do I ever remember to bring them back with me???  Hahaha...  So, my solution to be a little greener was to make PLARN.  Sounds kinda fun, for a knitter, right?  I went in search of a tutorial that would help me take my plastic bags and cut them into strips to knit with.  Surprisingly enough, most of them were really just that, cut the bag all the way across several times and end up with tons of strips that need to be attaches to each other.  They did have clever ways of attaching the ends so it wasn't too bulky, but I really wanted to make a continuous strip out of one bag.  Finally I did find one such tutorial, but I could not follow it all the way through.  Something about my brain just did not get the instructions.  So, I took what I could from that and started practicing my own method.

In just 15 pictorial steps you too can have plarn!  You may be wondering what you will do with all this plarn, well, make a bag of course :-)  DH thinks it sounds quite silly to make a bag out of a bag, like I'm just looking for an excuse to knit or something...  But, this knit bag will be sturdy and reusable.

I'm not really one for strict measurements so my instructions below are more of a guide.  I've tried to take pics that truly represent what you are doing, however in my rush to get more plarn (I need to finish my bag!) I used my phone's camera.

Step1: Lay the bag flat with the sides folded in 
Step 2: Cut off the handles
Step 3: Cut off the bottom seam
Your handle-less, bottom-less bag

Step 4: Pull out the folded in sides

Step 5: Start folding the uncut edge up, about 1 inch width

This is a wider shot of what you are doing and your bag orientation

Step 6: Continue folding up until you're about 1-2 inches from the other uncut edge

This is a wider shot of what you are doing and your bag orientation 

Step 7: Start cutting the folded section only, about 1 inch from the cut edge, stop the cut at the top folded edge, leaving the 1-2 inch at the top alone for now

Step 8:  Continue cutting approximately every 1 inch across the folded section only

Step 9: In the 1-2 inch top section, slip your scissors under the top layer so you are cutting only the bottom layer.  Cut at an angle that starts at the bottom left and goes across to the top right at approximately the same location of your folded section's 1 inch cut were to extend out.

Step 10: Fold out your angled cut and continue your cut straight across to the cut in the folded section

Step 11: Continue the angled cut on the bottom for all sections

Step 12:  Followed by the straight cut across the top for all sections

Step 13:  For the last section, you will cut only the angle on the bottom layer and you are done

On the left is the ball of my first cut bag, on the right is the pile of the bag I just cut, and the ends of each 

Step 14:  I just tie a knot with the two ends to secure

Step 15:  Wind the cut bag into a ball (it turns out more like a pancake for me)

The ball of plarn (2 bags worth)

This is the bag I started (and need to make more plarn for!)
To knit this bag, I cast on 100 stitches using size 15 circular needles.  For the first 5 rows I knit.  Then I began this simple pattern:

     R1: K2tog, yo, repeat
     R2: K
     R3: K2tog, yo, repeat
     R4: K
     R5: K2tog, yo, repeat
     R6: K
     R7: K2tog, yo, repeat
     R8: K
     R9: K2tog, yo, repeat
     R10-R14: K
Repeat R1-14

I just finished my third K2tog, yo section when I ran out of plarn.  My first plarn making session consisted of 20-25 bags.  I plan on making about the same amount to be sure I don't run out again.  When I finish a K2tog, yo section and the bag looks to be of a good length, I think I'll knit 10 rounds, then begin decrease rounds to get my number of stitches down to 10, then weave the tail through those stitches and finish it all off.  I still have to figure out handles, as I'm not sure if I'll make those out of plarn or something more sturdy (used jeans?).  Then I'll have a nice roomy bag that I think will be perfect for farmer's market or even the beach!    



Saturday, March 10, 2012

Another pattern available

I am so pleased with the number of "hearts" my free pattern has received on Ravelry, I  had to put together my next pattern right away!

Presenting, The Penny: Cable and Rib Slouched Hat

This is a pattern that I'm charging for and I hope to have as much love for it as the free one...  Check it out on Ravelry or buy it now - 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

FREE Pattern!!!

I have created the pattern for my Twisted Rib Fingerless Mitts and have published it to Ravelry as a free pattern...  Feel free to get it here or there and try out my designs for yourself :-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Busy, busy, busy...

I've managed to finish the two requested items I discussed last time plus one other request!

First up, the brightly colored fingerless mitts with a matching hat:

Next I did the large mittens with a Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon stitched on:

The purple cabled slouchy hat was envied so another one in gray was knit up for another requester:

As far as personal knitting goes, the colorful fingerless mitts were also envied so I made up a second pair for my daughter.  Then I started on a second sweater for myself with some yarn I got for a great deal from DBNY.  At this point, the sweater still needs one sleeve to be finished.  I think the pattern turned out really nice and will be the perfect size once blocked a little.  Can't wait to get back to it and finish it up!  In the meantime I needed something smaller that I could take with me places, so I started up a simple shawl with some fancy yarn.  It is slowly progressing as I don't work on it except when I have free time outside the house.

As if a sweater on the needles wasn't enough, I decided to cast on for my living room afghan!  Ordered Brava yarn from Knit Picks in two shades of green and a brown and when it got here I just had to start...  I knew I wanted to do a zig zag looking pattern, kind of old school but a little Missoni.  I found a pattern on the Lion Brand website that had the stitch pattern to give me the zig zags and then I created my own sequencing of colors to get the Missoni look.  I got to about 8 color changes before I realized that after 4 color changes I had dropped one of the first stitches at a color change (before I'd tied the two ends together) so I had to frog back all that way... I haven't had a chance to get back to that because I got in two more requests this week!

First up was two items, a pair of short fingerless mitts in a gray color and a slouchy hat similar to the gray one above, but in a creamy off white.  It just so happened I had been developing a pattern for a cabled hat with ribs so I was able to perfect that and have it sold already.  I decided to go with a simple twisted stitch rib on the mitts and wrote a pattern for those as I went.  I realized after finishing the second mitt that they should really have a variation for left and right hands so I corrected that in the written pattern and ended up with two pairs!  I'll be able to post the second set in my Etsy shop, so no loss to me :-)  These items are finished and drying as we speak.

My next order is waiting for me to finish this to be cast on... another set of fingerless mitts (these must be really popular!) in black.  They are requested to be short, simple, and with individual fingers.  That will be a first for me, but I've been wanting to try for a long time so I'm looking forward to it.

And with that... I'm off to cast those on!