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Working with Plarn

Homer's Wearable Art Show, put on by Bunnell Street Gallery, has been happening annually here in Homer since before I was born. It offers fiber artists from around the state a fun and funky opportunity to show their work, and gives spectators and shoppers a chance to enjoy the wild and wacky fashions and possibly add one or two spunky garments to their own closets.

This year's theme, Waste Not Want, afforded artists some pretty cheap supply bills! I had so much fun creating my plastic bag dress, Shop Til You Drop, that I wanted to share the pattern and a few tips for working with "plarn," as my friend Beth refers to the plastic bag yarn.

Even if you don't have a burning desire for a flirty plastic dress (LOL!!), there are lots of practical things you can make from plarn, including reusable grocery bags, cute purses, bathroom or camper rugs, baskets, even sun hats and garage/garden slippers!

The first step to any of these fun projects is to make the plarn. I am all about efficiency when it comes to tedious jobs, so here is the fastest way I've been able to make the stuff.

1. Stack 3-5 plastic bags inside of each other. 4 really seemed to be the magic number for me.

2. Cut off the handles and the bottoms of the bags and put these back in your bag recycle.

3. Spiral-cut all 4 bags at once so that when you are done, you have 4 long strips of plarn that you can tie together.

At this point, you can either roll these up into a ball and continue cutting plarn, or you can skip the rolling part and just crochet those 4 strips up, then cut another 4 bags when you need them. I did a little of each. When the kids were awake and I found a few moments here and there to cut plarn, I enlisted their help in rolling it up into a big ball.

But, when I was working on the project after they were in bed (and unable to mess up my big piles of plarn), I would just cut and crochet alternately to save myself the time of rolling.

Now that you know how to prepare your plarn, you must choose a fun project! If you want to make the dress, chain a strip that can go all the way around your chest. I used a tank top to help me measure.

Add onto this until you reach the waistline. Then, fold the piece over so it looks like a tube top and crochet around the whole circle. You can use a lace later to connect the back.

Now, increase about every 4 stitches so the skirt begins to increase in size so as to fit over your hips and start to ruffle. Continue to increase all the way down so that the skirt keeps ruffling.

Next, flip the dress back up to the top and add the straps. You might want to use a dress from your closet to help you navigate how long to make them.

If you want to add a belt, cut spiral strips from a pretty colored bag and weave these around the waste for 3-4 rows. If you have enough, create a matching headband. You can make a flower by tying colorful strips around the belt.

Now, buy your ticket to this year's Wearable Arts and strut your stuff!!

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