Do you have wads of plastic grocery bags under the sink, or in the pantry, or stuffed inside another plastic bag? You intended to take those back to the store to recycle, but you can never remember to do it - or you use them for small trash can liners and you wind up with more bags than cans. I keep mine for dog-walking bags, but it seems I have more bags than my dog can fill up. Here's a fun way to re-purpose those bags into something useful - and once you get enough of them, you can take them back to the grocery store to fill with groceries instead of feeding the insidious cycle of too many plastic grocery bags.
This of course, can be done with any plastic shopping bag EXCEPT for trash bags - those have too much stretch to be practical.
You will need: About 20-30 clean, dry plastic grocery bags.
A very large crochet hook - 10mm -12mm. (I use a 10mm)
Get a grocery bag and lay it out flat. Smooth the air out of it, then fold it up lengthwise.
When it is completely folded up, smooth all of the air out from between the layers. Cut off the bottom of the bag, then cut off the handles at the top. (See helpful Beau, pointing out the places to cut.)
Now cut the bag into 1" strips. Be very careful and do not cut off your finger, or your beau's finger.
When you've cut up all of your bags, start unfolding the strips and then chain them together to make a continuous strip. The knots where you loop them together don't matter. Make your chain carefully, because if you pull too hard you could snap the plastic. Roll the plastic "yarn" into a ball. If you have several colors of bags, make each color it's own ball of "yarn" This will be fun for adding strips and patterns as you get better at making the bags.
When you have a big ball of yarn - most sources agree that it's about the size of a volleyball or soccer ball - you are ready to start crocheting.
For the bag pictured, I chained 20, then turned and Single-crochet (SC) in the 2nd chain from the end. At the end of the chain, instead of turning, I took 3 SC's in the last chain and worked it in the round to make a long oval base. I didn't feel the need to count stitches here, so I just kept working around, increasing by 3 SCs around the four "corners" of the oval on the sides, until it felt big enough. At this point, I got maverick with my crochet theory, turned the work around, took 1 SC to step up, and Single-crocheted in the opposite direction. On this first new round, I DECREASED by three stitches on each corner in order to give the bag some structure and make the sides stand up. Continue working up the sides of the bag, joining each row with a slip stitch then taking one additional Single Crochet to "step up" to the next row.
If you have several different colors of plastic bag "yarn" you can switch colors to make stripes or patterns as your talent and creative spirit dictates.
In the example bag, It was my first one, so I just put a single strap across the top. However, in future bags I intend to add "market handles" on each side because the single handle stretches too much. To do this, pick a point on the side of the bag, and SC about 12 chains. Go back into the bag at about 8 chains, so the handle will have some room for your hand (it will stretch a lot when you have things in the tote!) Continue SC around the previous row until you get to the same point on the other side of the bag, and again take 12 chains and connect it in the 8th chain from where you started. Then simply go row by row for the next 2-3 rows until you feel your handle is sturdy enough.
Once you are finished, flip the bag inside out. For some reason, this side is usually smoother and better looking.
Note: Helpful Beau with a sense of humor not included.