Becks

Plarn Bedrolls for the Homeless

36 posts in this topic

I was googling around today for a Halloween costume.

This lead me to the bagmonster. (An outfit made entirely out of used plastic bags).

And that lead me to a story about a group of crocheters making plastic bag bedrolls for homeless people.

Plarn Bedrolls

 

It says she uses a size N hook and single crochets them using 500 bags for one bedroll. Each mat is 32 inches by six feet.

 

I already know how to make plarn and have even made a tutorial here.

 

It says it takes a month to make one bedroll. Wow! That's a lot of time and devotion!

 

Has anyone here done this? What are they like? Is it worth the time and effort? Is there anyone in the Indianapolis area doing something like this?

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I'd be interested in helping out with that, too.

 

In the article it said that they cut the bags into 2-inch strips, and that they wear gloves when crocheting, because the plarn cuts their hands? I cut my plarn strips 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide, and haven't found the edges cutty at all! Has anyone else had issues with plarn cutting their hands? I open my strips, and run them in a loop through my thumb and fingers to krinkle them before I add them to my spool, because I've found it makes the end result softer, and makes the individual loops less likely to stretch. Is that why I'm not having cutting issues?

Edited by propchick
"Were" and "wear" are two different words!

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Wow! Those are great tips! :clap

 

I don't remember the plarn cutting my hands but I do remember my hand getting very sore because the bags would sort of 'snag' or 'cling' to the plastic hook and it took more effort than, say, if it were just regular yarn, to crochet the thing.

 

Plus 500 bags is an awful lot of bags. I'd take over a month just to collect the bags.

 

The bedroll ought to be worth the effort because I'd totally make them too.

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Try a metal hook. I used my metal Boye (the Susan Bates kept catching and stretching), and my crinkle-plarn flew right through! I made a water-bottle carrier with a shoulder strap, and barely put a dent in my plarn spool. I carried around a full bottle of Powerade Zero in the blazing heat the other day (I was at Epcot, so I was mostly outside in the sun), and while it did stretch slightly, it didn't have any problems at all with my 1/2 inch strips.

 

The crinkling is the key! Nobody believes my water bottle carrier is plarn until they actually pick it up, because the crinkle-plarn comes out so soft. Just open up the loop, pinch your fingers around it LOOSELY, and pull the whole loop through a time or two. Only takes an extra couple of seconds to do, but it makes a huge difference!!

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I used a plastic P sized hook for my bag.

The article says they use size N hooks and I've never seen a hook that large in anything but plastic. I haven't even seen a wooden one in that size either.

 

I wonder if sprinkling baby powder on a plastic hook would help.

 

A smaller hook would probably take even longer to make a whole bedroll, wouldn't it? Of course, if it's not catching it would go faster though.

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Boye makes a 9mm N, and Susan Bates makes a 10mm N15. My plastic P (sorry, it's unmarked, but it's the white one that comes in a set with a giant blue Q size -- maybe Lion?) is also a 10mm. The N and P hooks are all over the map, size-wise. My P plastic hook seems to be useless for just about everything. I'm much happier with the metal, although the Susan Bates is quite heavy, and a little hard to hold.

 

Can't tell you exactly which store, but all of my hooks are from WalMart, JoAnn, or Michaels.

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I LOVE THIS IDEA! I did a doormat with a K hook in all hdc that I think would make a great bedroll. And not to rain on their parade~I know more donations there would be amazing~we all have homeless shelters in our own cities that would really benefit also. If everyone took on their own it could impact a lot more people!!!! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

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I think half-double crochet would be a fabulous idea, Titus2woman!

 

Plus, omg, propchick, you're right!!!! There are aluminum size N hooks all over the place on the web! I guess I just never looked for one before!

 

I also agree that this could be a local thing because there are homeless people in need everywhere.

 

I wish I could find out from someone who has used this to sleep on whether it is actually comfortable or not. Do they like theirs. You know what I mean?

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I have the N Susan Bates with the bamboo handle and it is NOT heavy at all. It lists as 10.00mm I bought mine at Red Heart. In fact the only one size I don't have of the bamboos are the steelies,and the L. Not sure why I don't have the L's will have to go to Red Heart and see if they are available. ;)

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I wonder what it would be like to sleep on as well. One huge plus is how light it is though, so it would be VERY easy to move around with. Maybe straps placed for rolling it up might be nice as well.... (((((HUGS))))) sandi

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I have the N Susan Bates with the bamboo handle and it is NOT heavy at all. It lists as 10.00mm I bought mine at Red Heart. In fact the only one size I don't have of the bamboos are the steelies,and the L. Not sure why I don't have the L's will have to go to Red Heart and see if they are available. ;)

 

 

Oooh, I haven't tried those! I have wonky wrists, so I have a little trouble with the smaller and larger hooks. Just about everything I make is with I, J, or K, lol.

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I cut plarn about an inch in width, and no, never been cut. That's odd that those people would have to wear gloves. I'd totally make these though, if homeless people really appreciate them.

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I looked up those bamboo handled aluminum hooks at Herrschners.

They look nice. This might be a great excuse for getting some.

 

I'd like to make a bedroll and see how long it takes and how many bags it uses.

 

(It's a little bit like "taking a step backwards" to actually WANT those plastic bags to use to crochet with.)

 

I think I'd make it in hdc at 32" by six feet.

But I gotta get me an aluminum N hook first!

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OH WOW! Now I want a Susan Bates, bamboo-handled, aluminum N hook!!!!! ENABLERS!!!! When I get one, I start a bedroll.... (((((HUGS)))) sandi

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(It's a little bit like "taking a step backwards" to actually WANT those plastic bags to use to crochet with.)

 

Hate to say this, but ever since I first learned about plarn, I've left my reusable bags at home, and have even re-packed the groceries at the checkout counter to get MORE BAGS!! Yarn's expensive, but plarn is "free", so I keep hunting and gathering it, lol. Sadly, I've even found myself eyeing the "Return Plastic Bags Here For Recycling" box at my local grocery store...

 

I need bamboo handles, too!!

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I don't know what type of bags you all use, but I've been saving up these large sized green Goodwill bags for a long time now. I figure they are about two of the regular sized bags. (Which are orange at Goodwill and I have a lot of those too.

 

So, while I wait for my N hook, I'm preparing my plarn.

 

I was looking up on you tube a video which shows how to spin your plarn on the top bobbin winder of your sewing machine so it is almost string-like.

Do any of you do that?

I imagine in a project like this though, it's better to be bulky. A bedroll that is thicker would keep you that much more off the cold ground.

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Edited by Becks

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Hate to say this, but ever since I first learned about plarn, I've left my reusable bags at home, and have even re-packed the groceries at the checkout counter to get MORE BAGS!! Yarn's expensive, but plarn is "free", so I keep hunting and gathering it, lol. Sadly, I've even found myself eyeing the "Return Plastic Bags Here For Recycling" box at my local grocery store...

 

:lol LOL...that is hilarious! :lol

 

I was looking up on you tube a video which shows how to spin your plarn on the top bobbin winder of your sewing machine so it is almost string-like.

Do any of you do that?

 

Sounds like something I would love to try! Do you have a link?

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I was at the grocery store just yesterday. Everybody around me had their reusable bags, and the bagger was a little snotty about, "Well, I guess you're okay with plastic bags...". I loudly said, "Yes! I need all the plastic bags I can get!" Everybody turned around and looked at me, so I said, "I cut them into yarn, and use them to crochet things for charity!" They all looked appropriately shame-faced, and both the older male bagger, and the extremely young male checkout guy asked me all about how to make plarn!

 

In the end, the checkout guy told me, "You can have all the plastic bags you want!"

 

ROFL!

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OMG! That's so funny, propchick! :lol

(And yes, I've also enviously eyed the recycle bag bins at the front of Walmart ). :embar:lol

 

Here's the you tube link on spinning the plarn into twine.

 

edit: I've been working on my plrn all day today and I noticed I'm starting to develop a rash around my wrist and forearm areas. Has this happened to anyone else? As far as I know I'm not allergic to latex or anything. I've been washing my hands throughout the day too.

I've smeared a hydrocortisone cream on the affected areas.

Edited by Becks

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That hasn't happened to me. I wonder if you're allergic to some of the ink on the bags?

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propchick, I think you're absolutely right. I got some latex-free exam gloves and continued working on making the plarn for two days now. I can't believe how much ink is on the fingertips especially. I haven't had any rash again either.

 

Now I'm thinking it's the ink and I wonder how safe anything made from plarn is if it's touching your skin. These are bedrolls and I imagine the person sleeping on them would be fully dressed, but what about their face?

 

And, if plarn is used for any type of clothing like hats or shoes, (as I've seen), well, I'm not sure that's such a great idea. A purse or bag would be ok as long as it's not rubbing on your skin.

 

As it is, I'm going to have to crochet this bedroll with a pair of these gloves on for sure!

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Maybe the plarn bedroll is meant to be used under a blanket, so there wouldn't be direct skin contact?

 

Glad you found a solution to your rash!

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Having been a camper for years, not in an RV, but in a small tent AND having gone backpacking in the mountains, my gut says the plastic bedrool could be very cold. Plastic doesn't wick, therefore you sweat and get wet and being wet is what makes one cold.

 

I've read this entire thread because I have a homeless charity and wanted to be up to speed on this project. 32 inches is pretty narrow when you consider most homeless are men, men probably need more space then 32 inches.

 

Plastic used as a drop cloth would provide a barrier from wet initially, that part sounds good; but when we used a drop cloth under the tent we never used a plastic one, always nylon. Saw a few less experienced campers with plastic and they would end up with water on top of the plastic between the ground cloth and the tent floor. So, this doesn't sound like it would be a good idea to me. But, a bedroll sounds like a good idea. I'm going to chat with a few outdoorsmen and get their take on this.

 

Off the top of my head I'm thinking a carry bag made from plarn might be a better ticket for the homeless, as many have to keep on the move to keep from being arrested. They do have some belongings and could keep the belongings in the plarn bag which would keep their belongings dry.

 

I always carry my nylong reusable bags to the store to be more green; but when I'm forced to get a plastic bag or when you get those door hangers have saved the bags with the idea of making plarn. Planned to make smaller bags for their personal care items, soap, toothbrush, etc which I periodically make up for them.

 

Reported last night that homelessness in my area has grown 70%, and on any given night in central Ohio there are over 12,000 homeless.

 

Sandy

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Hi Sandy!

Thanks for all your great input on this project. :)

 

I've had a lot of doubts too while working on mine.

(It's about 5 feet long so far but I've really had a rough time making it.)

 

Even with the plastic gloves on, I'm still feeling itchy from my hands to my elbows - especially at night. And my arms feel stiff too.

After another shopping trip to Walmart, I carried the bags in as I usually do - by stringing them along my arms so I can grab as many as I can and make the least amount of trips to the car and back.

Well, my forearms felt like they were on fire and I had to smear cortisone all over them again. It can't be from the ink on the bags. It has to be the plastic that the bags are made of.

 

I think that working with the bags for such a long period of time must build up some kind of intolerance to them. (For me at least). Because I've never had any problems with touching plastic shopping bags before.

 

Having said all that, I am also skeptical of how these bedrolls will feel when laid upon for sleeping. They aren't very thick as I imagined they would be. So it's not going to be such a great cushioner against the ground.

 

I was thinking you'd be better off using it as a blanket because, even with the crocheted "holes" in the design, wouldn't it retain your body heat at least and keep you warm? But then I read your comment about sweating and then being wet and possibly you might just be worse-off.

 

Your idea of using them to make a bag is good. But then I think, well, they were already bags once. Why wouldn't you just use the bags as bags then? LOL!!!! it would certainly save a lot of trouble. I know they are not big bags and so maybe crocheting them into a bigger sized carry-all/tote is the answer.

 

I think the person who started this project chose the dimensions of 33 inches by 6 feet because I googled around to find the average size of an adult sleeping bag and those were the dimensions. That's just a guess on my part.

 

Oh, and I'm also having trouble with shrinkage. My white plarn seems thicker than my tan plarn so it was actually shrinking up by about three inches, (even though it was the same amount of stitches), so I had to crochet the sides of the tan rows on both sides to even it all out.

 

I lost track of counting how many bags this was going to take but I'm on my third ball of plarn with another 12 inches of bedroll to crochet so I'm guessing it takes four balls of plarn. (The balls I have made are about the circumference of a head of lettuce and very densely wound.) I'm not sure if that will be much help to any of you but it was really too mind-numbing to be counting all the bags I was using. (Especially since I was having the allergic reaction and suddenly the amount of bags I was using was not so important!) :lol

 

I'll post pictures when I finish mine. I'm going to let my arms rest today and see if the achy-ness goes down.

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