How Can I Knit with Plastic Bags?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

It is quite easy to knit with plastic bags, and there are a number of ways to produce yarn from plastic bags for the purpose of creating knitted projects. Once knitters get the hand of making plastic bag yarn and working with it, they can create a variety of knitted projects, from tote bags to sun hats. Depending on the type of yarn produced and the skill of the knitter, some projects made from plastic bags are quite visually interesting, and they may not betray their plastic origins until viewers get up close and personal.

A plastic bag.
A plastic bag.

When people knit with plastic bags, they cut the bags up to create yarn. Depending on the width of the strips and how the “yarn” is processed, it is possible to achieve plastic bag yarn of varying weights, allowing people to work on diverse projects. It is also possible to utilize plastic bag yarn in crochet work, for those who prefer to crochet.

Knitting with plastic bags from the grocery store helps keep plastic out of landfills.
Knitting with plastic bags from the grocery store helps keep plastic out of landfills.

Many knitters develop their own techniques for cutting plastic bags to make yarn, but it can help to have a few starting ideas. Some people like to cut the bags in a spiral shape from the top edge, creating a single long strand of yarn which can be knitted to another strand of yarn. Others cut their plastic bags into loops which can be knotted together to produce double stranded yarn. It is also possible to fold a bag in such a way that when it is cut, it turns into a spiral of yarn which can then be knitted.

To knit with plastic bags, people simply use the yarn like they would any other yarn, knitting a few test rows to establish a gauge, and then working on a piece from scratch or using a pattern to guide their knitting, attaching more yarn as needed. Because plastic bags come in a range of colors, it is possible to produce an assortment of patterns when people knit with plastic bags, and plastic yarn can also be cabled, ribbed, or worked in other ways for textural variation.

This technique for recycling plastic bags can help keep plastic bags out of landfills, although it doesn't solve the problem of the proliferation of plastic bags in the first place. Knitters who work with plastic bags often create grocery bags and carryalls so that they can reduce their own consumption of plastic bags, and they may solicit used plastic bags from friends with an offer to knit them into more durable bags.

It is possible to knit with plastic bags to make coats, hats, placemats, bathmats, and essentially anything else imaginable. Some great examples of plastic bag knitting projects can be seen on knitting bulletin boards and photo sharing communities, for people who want inspiration.

Knitting with plastic bags requires using plastic bags in place of yarn.
Knitting with plastic bags requires using plastic bags in place of yarn.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I have a round 3" scrubbie that is plastic or nylon crochet. Does anyone know where to get this material? It is a very close mesh type.


I crochet round ones to go around trees so the mower doesn't get too close,rain goes through and it cuts down on weed eating. I usually use bread bags, heavier, and then mulch over them.


My granny used to crochet small rugs, about the size of bath mats, from strips that she cut from plastic bags. The strips were a little wider than her thumb. She did not tie the strips together but attached them as she would a new bit of yarn when crocheting, later working the extra length of of plastic in so that it would not show. The completed rug was quite durable, lasting virtually for years. It could be washed in a washing machine, but could not dried in a dryer or it would melt. Dry it by draping over the side of the tub or laid out on a lawn.

She found the plastic difficult to work at first due to friction. She solved this by periodically sticking the head of the crochet hook (a fairly large one) in a small container of Vaseline. This allowed the hook to pass easily through the plastic material.

The rugs had a whitish look when completed, unless they had colored lettering originally. They stood up to heavy use for wiping feet when coming in the house.


The lady who showed me how to crochet with platic bags said to always use a metal crochet hook. Plastic hooks bind and stick to the plastic "yarn". I cut my bags on one of those office paper slicers (I call them 'guillotines') and then hook them together.-- Marian



This is a very nice idea to knit or crochet with plastic bag. Thanks. - Vaishali.


What a fun idea!

*Plastics that biodegrade are available now--ask your stores to opt for biodegradable plastic bags,* and when your plastic bag knitted item is ready to be thrown away, dispose of it safely.

Finally, *plastic bags and little ones do not mix* - suffocation hazard - do *not* use plastic bags around the little ones, who will surely want to get in on the fun, if you are "sittin' and knittin'" with a pile of plastic bags.


A neighbor lady used to do that with crochet and made very colorful rugs in both rectangular amd circular patterns. I thought she was plenty smart. I think she used a one ought hook it was a little slimmer than a pencil. Knitting would be creative also with pearling and such.


If you know how to crochet--you can use these same strips to make nice throw rugs. You can make these strips into a ball just like you are going to knit and make round, square or oblong rugs for the outside back or front door. They last a long time and just clean them with a hose or shake off the sand to clean them--have fun--

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