Sunday, June 03, 2007

Knit reusable shopping bags and save the world!

Recently I've been thinking that there are way too many so called disposable plastic shopping bags being used every day. Every week I get at least 20 bags with my groceries. I never throw them away. I usually use them as trash bags. I have a kitchen trash can that works very well with the bags, but even as I use them up, they seem to multiply by themselves. There has to be a better way to use them and eventually stop needing them.

Here's my idea. Make yarn out of the bags and knit them into sturdy shopping bags that can be reused. I collected about 40 bags. To make the bags into yarn it was easy. Flatten out the bag cutting off the bottom and the handles. You now have a cylinder with two open ends. Fold it so that you can cut the bags into 1" rings. Then slip knot the rings together into a long chain. This is basically the "Calamari Knitting" technique that was decribed by Kay in the Mason-Dixon Knitting book. I ended up with a ball of plastic yarn that looked like this:
Now for the pattern. I love Maia's felted bag. Basically I used her pattern with a couple of modifications and ended up with a nice large sturdy shopping bag:
Actually I had to cut 20 more bags to finish it off. Didn't use all I cut, but I think 50 bags would probably be the magic number. It really holds a lot of stuff as you can see in this picture...there is even more room to put more in the bag, but it would probably be too heavy.

My family absolutely thinks I'm crazy. Don't know how ambitious I will be to knit too many of these bags. It's not that it's hard to knit, but I enjoy knitting with real yarn better. Now the true test will be to take it to the grocery store and see if it's as sturdy as I think it will be. Then if it works out I definitely think I'll try to make more. Wouldn't it be nice to help our planet by knitting? No cost except time and it would help to keep all those bags from filling up our landfills.

happy knitting :)


  1. What a great idea, and the bag looks like it can take it too!

  2. how utterly awesome. so good for you thinking of this and helping our planet out, one shopping bag at a time! great great job!

  3. Ingenious!

    You should submit your idea here

  4. I'm amazed. Waterproof, too! I have a ton of those bags, and I loathe having to store them. Thank you for sharing your excellent idea!

  5. oooh, looks like that was a lot of fun (or maybe i just love rolling yarn into balls)! you'll have to let us know how it works at the grocery store!

  6. I love what you did with my pattern! I hope it serves you long and well. May I add it to my gallery of items made with my patterns?

  7. That bag is really neat looking. It will be interesting to hear how well it works!

  8. that's so awesome that you decided to try that out! I've seen patterns for reusing grocery bags as yarn but didn't know anyone who had tried it yet. Let us know how you like it after you've been to the grocery store! :) I love that you just picked a bag pattern and followed it too!

  9. Great idea! I hate to see all those plastic bags, especially when I look out at the landscape by the roadside and they've littered the view. I try to re-use them, and we can re-use them for a food pantry at church. But I'm thinking of the going canvas and knitted bag route.
    I'm just unclear of the slip-knotting them together. Will the knots not (tee hee!) slip apart with pressure?

  10. Really cool bag! Now if only there were a way to hand-paint the yarn...

  11. That's great! Good for you! I think I've seen something similar on the Knitty Gritty TV show. I'll have to try it next time I have a ton of bags on hand; I've cut back on my plastic bags by using reusable canvas bags. How inspiring!

  12. Plastico Fantastico has just featured your grocery bag. We are starting a collection of them.

    Plastico Fantastico recently featured The Ultimate Grocery Bag which like yours is knit from plastic bag yarn.

    It is crafted from recycled plastic bags, it is reusable over and over, doesn’t tear, and it reduces the use of bags from the grocery store. So it is a win-win bag.

    You can even buy a finished one. See


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