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At Morehouse Farm Merino Wool, we are NOT getting into plastics. But we came up with a way to use our knitting skills and help preserve the environment at the same time. And we wanted to share our ideas for a greener life with you.




Prep Work: Cut plastic bags into strips. Depending on the thickness of the plastic bag, cut strips different widths: really thin plastic bags (the flimsy kind for bagging veggies) cut into 4” to 5” wide strips; and the more solid plastic shopping bags into 3” to 4” wide strips. To get maximum lengths, cut bags spiral-wise. An average-size plastic bag will yield a strip about 4 yards long. You may need several dozen bags for one tote, depending on thickness of strips you cut. Roll strips loosely into balls. You may want to sort your strips by plastic thickness and/or colors (writing on bags constitutes “color”, clear or opaque plastic, etc.) or you may prefer a more random approach and knit with whatever you have ready.

Don’t worry about cutting strips into even widths. Strips of varying widths create interesting effects from thick-thin stitches (check the large Tote at right with the different stitch sizes). And nicks, rips and tears don’t matter once you start knitting with the strips.

Tips: Use a wood or bamboo circular needle. Stainless steel needles don’t work— the plastic stitches stick like glue to stainless steel. When joining a new strip, simply knit 3 stitches with end of old together with beginning of new strip. You may want to leave the tufts of ends and beginnings sticking out as a decorative touch (see detail at right) or you can trim them off. Forget darning in or sewing together—it simply doesn’t work! The totes are knit all in one piece. When knitting handles, use strips from strong plastic bags or knit with 2 strips together for added strength.


Cut plastic bags into strips





Roll the strips of plastic
loosely into balls





When starting new strips,
leave short tufts from end
and beginning of strips
sticking out as decoration



   Size:        about 10" wide and 9" tall
                  (not including handles)

   Needles:   16" circular #6 or #7 needle and
                  1 additional needle, same size or smaller,
                  for three-needle bind-off

   Gauge:     forget it!


For this tote, we used all clear and shiny plastic bags—the really flimsy kind used for bagging veggies at the supermarket.

Cast on 116 stitches. Join and knit 7 rounds.

Next round: knit 14 stitches, bind off the next 30 stitches loosely, knit 28 stitches; then bind-off the next 30 stitches and knit remaining 14 stitches. Next round: knit the first 14 stitches, then cast on 14 stitches using e-loop cast-on; knit the next 28 stitches and cast on 14 stitches again; then knit the final 14 stitches. You now have 84 stitches.

Knit until bag measures 9” from cast-on edge. This Tote has a flat bottom. Place markers (use pieces of different color string) as follows: first marker at beginning of round, then count 30 stitches and place second marker; count 12 stitches and place third marker; count the next 30 stitches and place fourth marker; you’ll have 12 stitches remaining to beginning of round. Now work as follows (you’ll be knitting back and forth and no longer in the round): *knit to within 1 stitch of second marker, knit this last stitch before marker together with first stitch after marker. Turn and knit back to beginning of round—knit to first stitch and knit this first stitch together with last stitch. Turn and repeat from * until you have stitches between first and second marker and stitches between third and fourth marker left.

Bind off using three-needle bind off as follows: put the 2 tips of the circular needle parallel to each other with 30 stitches at one end of needle and the other 30 stitches at other end of needle. One needle behind the other. Now use the third needle and bind off stitches from front needle together with stitches on needle in back (in other words: you’ll knit first stitch together with last stitch, then knit second stitch together with second to last stitch; now bind off first stitch. Knit third stitch together with third to last stitch, and bind off second stitch, etc.

Pull plastic strip through last stitch and pull end through to inside of bag. Tie together with last bind-off stitch. Then cut end, leaving a short tuft.



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   Size:        about 15" wide and 18" tall
                  (not including handles)

   Needles:   24" circular #15 needle and
                  24" circular #10 or #11 needle

   Gauge:     forget it!


This tote is knit with large needles. The loosely-knit tote will accommodate large amounts of veggies and other groceries in all shapes and sizes. It expands width– as well as length-wise, but is a very sturdy and strong tote despite its flexible shape.

Start with the smaller needle and use strong plastic strips (strips cut from heftier plastic shopping bag; or use 2 strips together) and cast on 86 stitches. Join and knit 6 rounds.

Next round: knit 12 stitches, bind off the next 19 stitches loosely, knit 24 stitches, then bind-off the next 19 stitches and knit remaining 12 stitches. Next round: knit the first 12 stitches, then cast on 5 stitches using e-loop cast-on; knit the next 24 stitches and cast on 5 stitches again; then knit the remaining 12 stitches. You now have 58 stitches. Knit 3 or 4 more rounds with smaller needle.

Switch to #15 needle and use ordinary plastic strips and knit until bag measures 18” from cast-on edge. Bind off using three-needle bind off as follows: put the 2 tips of the circular needle parallel to each other —one behind the other— with half the stitches on the front tip and the other half of the stitches on the back tip. Use the smaller needle and bind off stitches from front needle together with stitches on needle in back (in other words: you’ll knit first stitch together with last stitch, next knit second stitch together with second to last stitch; now bind off first stitch. Knit third stitch together with third to last stitch, and bind off second stitch, etc.

Pull plastic strip through last stitch and pull end through to inside of bag. Tie together with last bind-off stitch. Then cut end, leaving a short tuft. And that’s it!


Go shopping with your new tote—and feel great about having played a part in keeping this earth green and beautiful!







   How about a briefcase? A backpack? A leash for Fido?

   All knit with recycled plastic bags.

   Watch for details coming up in our Newsletter.

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