Monday, June 11, 2007

The Recycled-Bag Bag

Simon and I watch BBC Breakfast (basically the British version of Good Morning, America) every morning, so we know lots more about what's going on in Britain than in the Netherlands. The BBC covers environmental issues pretty well and has lately run several pieces on excessive packaging, including the overuse of the plastic shopping bag. Here in the Netherlands, I haven't found any place that recycles plastic bags, and though I use my own bags for groceries, I still have a stockpile of plastic bags that I just can't throw in the garbage.

I had seen several patterns for knitting shopping bags into a reusable bag, so I decided to come up with a design of my own.

The bag with a kilo of apples in it


  • “Yarn” made from loops of plastic shopping bags*
  • Circular needles, size 15 U.S.**
  • Long DPNs, size 13 U.S.** (I’m guessing here. I used 10s because that’s what I had on hand. The decreases were very tight and quite uncomfortable to knit. In future, I’ll use 13s.)
  • Large-eye needle

Gauge: Doesn’t really matter


With circulars, cast on 60 stitches. Join, being careful not to twist your stitches.

Rows 1-3: Knit

Row 4: *K1, Slip1 (yib)* around

Row 5: K11, BO8, K22, BO8, K11

Row 6: K11, CO8, K22, CO8, K11

Rows 7+: Knit until your bag measures 14 or so inches from cast on.

Prepare to decrease by dividing stitches evenly over DPNs.

Row 1: *K4, K2tog* around

Row 2: Knit

Row 3: *K3, K2tog* around

Row 4: Knit

Row 5: *K2, K2tog* around

Row 6: Knit

Row 7: *K1, K2tog* around

Row 8: Knit

Row 9: *K2tog* around

Thread yarn onto needle and carefully cinch up remaining stitches. Weave in ends.

*Making your yarn (use about 30 bags of comparable weight)

  1. Roll a shopping bag lengthwise. At the top, cut off the handles, and at the bottom, cut off the seam.
  2. Cut the rolled bag into 1” inch segments.
  3. Unroll each segment.
  4. Carefully link your loops with slip knots. Pull firmly being careful not to stretch the strips or break the loops.
  5. Roll your yarn into a ball.
  6. If you run out of yarn while knitting, just make more and tie it to the end of the yarn in use.

**Some of your plastic bags may stain your needles, so I strongly recommend that you use needles that you can clean with rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover.

Kate investi-"cats" the bag. Mmm, plastic is so delicious.

Labels: ,


At 12:02 AM , Blogger Yarndancer said...

That is so cool! I'm going to have to try make one of these. I usually take my bags to the supermarket for recycling, but this idea is just so great! Thanks for the pattern.

At 10:56 PM , Blogger Carly said...

That's super cool. How long were your size 15 circs?

I hope to make a couple of these soonish. :)

At 10:17 AM , Blogger Amity said...


The size 15s have a 28" (71 cm) cord and are 38.5" (98 cm) in total length.

Happy Knitting!

At 3:21 AM , Anonymous Jacqui said...

I just finished a bag, and it's awesome! Thanks for the pattern. By the way, I used size 11 DPNs and didn't have too much difficulty with the decreases.

At 12:03 AM , Blogger Buffy said...

I realize this defeats the purpose of it being a "recycled bag bag" but I'm wondering if I could use a cotton ribbon instead of the 1" pieces you patiently created? Thanks!

At 9:33 AM , Blogger Amity said...

I assume that cotton ribbon would work fine. The bag probably wouldn't be as sturdy as a plastic one, and you might have to change needle size. Of course, the cotton will be a lot easier to knit!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home