Monday, February 2, 2009

Expanding the Plarn Horizon

In manipulating the plarn to make the basket and Earth Angel, I have gotten even more familiar with this medium. My hubby was watching me try to spin some plarn using a pen and asked if he could help, so I set him to making a drop spindle. About ten minutes later, he pops into the living room with a very rudimentary, but extremely functional spindle. I have spun the thick, looped plarn and the thin continuous strand plarn. The spinning definitely changes the properties of the plarn. It went from soft and somewhat pliable to firm and stiff.

I have tried crocheting with both sizes of plarn. The thicker plarn produced a stable structure, much like the cute raffia purses that we see for children around Spring time. The thinner plarn is interesting. I am still experimenting and will be writing a guest blog spot for my friend Glue and Glitter showcasing what can be done with thin, spun plarn. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Earth Angel

We have but one Earth and this sweet little Angel reminds us to do all we can to protect her.

Made from 5 plastic grocery bags and a few left over beads, Earth Angel stand just barely 4.25" from the hem of her gown to tip of her delicate halo.

The little splashes of green on her gown and wings are from the printing on the grocery bags and add a touch of visual texture and interest.

This is my first time doing 'thread crochet' with plastic grocery bags and I think she is just beautiful. She would look equally graceful sitting on a shelf or decorating a Christmas tree.

I think white bags with a touch of blue writing would look stunning, especially with blue rocailles on her halo.

Friday, January 30, 2009

To Market, To Market....Almost!

Finished the basket and I love it! I am going to use it in the kitchen as a fruit basket. It's big enough to hold grapefruits as well as my ever present Fuji apples:

I had to test it out as a market tote. While it is much too small, it is good to see that my concept was solid. I can't wait to get started on the real tote!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's Taking Shape

As promised, here are pictures of the Market Tote so far:

I am using a coiled basket technique using crochet and a filler cord. In this case, the filler cord is more plastic bags.

I have never tried this technique before, so I did the easiest coiling method, which is circular. It looks amazingly like a raffia basket to me.

I love how the bottom looks. The white strand is my row marker. I will remove it once the basket is complete.

My coils are a bit uneven. As this is my first attempt, I'm not going to stress myself out about it too much.

It is much smaller than I thought it would turn out, so I am going to undo the top three coils and turn this into a basket. My next project will be an oval bottom Market Tote (which is what I wanted in the first place).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Well...Plarn It!!

I had to take the market tote apart last night. The technique is solid, but the pattern wasn't going where i wanted it to. Today I am trying again, as I have time. I hope to get the base of the bag made today before I head off to work.

It is going much faster than I anticipated. I have completed the base and am starting up the sides now. I need to make more plarn in this particular colorway to finish the tote, but I am very pleased so far. I am not sure how large this end up being as I am sort of experimenting as I go along. Right now it seems a bit on the smallish side.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Finding a Place for Plarn

After a couple of days of trying out different crochet techniques and being less than thrilled with the results, I finally put my finger on what has been bothering me. I, like a lot of other fiber artists, have been trying to make plarn act like yarn. It isn't yarn and isn't going to behave the same way.

First, most of the items I've seen made with plarn have been in single crochet with a large gauge hook. The result has been thick, puffy stitches without much character. I thought that perhaps a more decorative stitch would work, but I soon discovered that this is not the case. Plarn is not as supple as yarn. This means that the end result of decorative stitches, such as Filet Crochet, is misshapen and awkward looking. Additionally, because plarn is somewhat thick, the decorative stitches are huge and not at all attractive! Finally, plarn is not very strong, certainly not as strong as yarn. So I have been reluctant to explore very far into the open weave designs. I would like to keep the stitches small, tight and close together to give the finished product as much strength as possible.

Working with the bags I have on hand, I kept thinking how much it looks like raffia. This got me to thinking about raffia baskets, which falls perfectly in line with my desire to make a European Market Tote. Because my plarn is made by interlocking loops of plastic bag, I knew that traditional coiled basket weaving wouldn't work well. So I have been trying out a combination of single crochet and coiled basket techniques and I am really pleased with the results. I hope to have a photo to show by tomorrow. I am about halfway done with the body of my trial market tote.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Making Plarn More Appealing

I love the concept of Plarn (plastic yarn made from recycled grocery bags) but have been somewhat underwhelmed by the products made with it. Mostly an array of pouches, purses and tote bags that all look, well, to be straight up honest...frumpy.

While I am eclectic in my tastes, liking everything from starkly elegant to luxuriously decadent, frumpy isn't something that I like. In fact, I hate it! So today I am embarking on a quest to find a way to make Plarn more appealing.

Taking into account the properties of Plarn: it is not elastic as you work with it; but it will stretch under pressure; if you twist it, it compresses quite thin and loses flexibility; if you leave it untwisted, it is fluffy and soft; the finished crochet fabric is thick; the colors readily available to me are, well, not exactly eye catching (khaki brown and white); I have decided to work on something structural such a Market Tote. Not one of those mesh bag looking things, but something more basket shaped, elegant and refined that brings to mind the open markets in Europe.

I plan to use a combination of single crochet, double crochet and filet stitch. I will post pictures as I progress and, if it turns out particularly nice, I will probably post a tutorial on my other blog.

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i sew because i cannot draw.