Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Gretchen Bag

Sometime ago (Early 2010 I think) I made a barter with one of my student workers, Gretchen.  See, Gretchen is an infinitely crafty person and was always working on some sort of crafty project when I wasn't keeping her busy with library stuff.  She, growing up on an island, is also quite an ecoconscious person which was reflected in many of her projects.  I had seen her making plastic yarn (plarn) out of used plastic grocery bags which she then transformed into knit/crochet bags.  I coveted her plastic-bag bags long enough that we struck up a trade--two tie-dye t-shirts for a bag.  Looking at it now I think I inadvertently swindled her as there was so much more time involved in making the bag.  I'll have to make that up to her some time....

So flash forward to December 2011 and the handle was starting to tear.  We'd overfilled it probably more times than I could count.  Prime example:  At one music festival (where camping and parking were far apart) we loaded it up with easily 40 pounds of gear.  It held.  It held a lot!  (Think about how strong one single plastic bag is and then imagine hundreds of them woven together.  It is pretty strong stuff.)  But, at last it seemed we'd abused the poor bag too far.  Matt asked if I thought I could mend it and I said I would try....not feeling terribly hopeful I must admit.

In the end it came together so much easier and better than I could have hoped.

I made up a small ball of plarn, only a couple of bags.  Using my fingers and a crochet hook I wove the new plarn through the exposed loops at the tear, weaving back and forth a couple times.  The whole repair job took less than an hour, including making the plarn.  And now my Gretchen Bag (as it is affectionately called) is back in working order.  Hip, hip hooray!

I love fixing things.  It is so much more satisfying that just replacing them.  (And after fixing the Gretchen Bag I tackled my mending pile.  It is like I went shopping!  Like I'd gotten new clothes without spending a dime!  Awesome.)

10 comments:

  1. What a clever idea to make a bag from bags. I enjoy bartering too.
    Have you been to Pinterest yet? The ideas on that site are amazing. I will have to look for some plarn projects.

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    1. Bartering is the best!

      Pintrest is pretty cool. I was resistant at first, but it grew on me! I'd never thought to see if there were plarn project ideas.

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  2. Usually in a barter, each places a price on their offering. So, she may have gotten a good deal, depending on your respective values of items.

    I really enjoy repairing things. I love repairing items, whether sewn or not.

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    1. Well, as you can see from her comment below Gretchen doesn't think I swindled her either ...hooray!

      You are a professional barterer though it sounds like!

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  3. Plarn! How is it that I've never heard of this until now!? That is brilliant. And your bag is really beautiful, too, which I have to admit I was surprised about. How wonderful you were able to repair it and continue enjoying it.
    -Jaime

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    1. If you keep and eye out for/save up colored plastic bags you can make variegated plarn, or patterns (stripes!) with the different colors. I can remember a silly sense of excitement whenever I'd find a "pretty" colored bag that I could give to Gretchen. A

      But, even the white bags really do turn out much more aesthetically pleasing that one might think, don't they?

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  4. Gretchen ScherzingerJanuary 19, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    Oh Beth, You've made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside :) I'm so glad you were able to fix the bag!!! I would hate to see the end of it!
    FYI, I felt the barter was even because I didn't actually put any monetary investment in the bag. Plus, Björn and I love the shirts. His sister (who is now going to college in Auburn, WA) thinks that tie-day is totally and embarrassingly lame (you have to channel your inner teenager to get that last sentence right...) Of course, we know otherwise. Our tie-dye shirts rock!!!! I'm still so happy with them. Every time I wear mine I think of not only that awesome bag, but of the green blotch of dye that escaped the pattern on my shirt to live on the shoulder; you were very unhappy with the shirt because of this... It just makes me like it more.
    GOSH, I MISS YOU!!!!!!!!

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    1. And gosh I miss you! (And Bjorn too for that matter!)

      His sister must be crazy! I kid, I kid.... (and I can totally hear the phrase in the tone if my inner teen)

      Arg! I'd forgotten about that stupid blotch of green! Well, I am glad it is a sweetly appreciated blotch at least. You're too awesome!

      Thanks for the trade. Now that I know I can fix the bag I bet it will last a lifetime and every time I use it (or patch it!) I think of you!

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  5. I love this idea. I love the way the bag looks crocheted, and not at like those ugly plastic bags from which it originated. Thanks for the links to plarn. With that assistance, I may have to make some of these.

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    1. I am glad to spread the word about plarn and plarn bags because I think they are brilliant! It is an almost magical transformation from a mountain of ugly plastic rubbish into a lovely crochet bag. I hope you have fun!

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