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Local ladies crocheting ‘plarn’ products for charity

Three Jasper ladies, Lorna Hill, Norma Carstensen and Bobbie Jones, are asking for help in creating plarn mats.
‘Plarn’ is created with strips of plastic that are then joined, creating hank-like loops that are then wound into balls of plarn and in this case, crocheted into large mats.

The women need donated plastic bags and volunteers willing to flatten, fold and cut the plastic bags into strips and then join the strips together so that large balls of plarn can be created. They are also accepting more crocheters.
“Anybody that wants to learn to crochet to do this, I will teach them,” Hill said. “It’s very simple. I already teach knitting and crocheting and I’ll be happy to teach them.”
So far the trio has completed three mats, with Carstensen cutting the plastic bags and joining them together and Hill and Jones crocheting.
“It takes 60 to 70 hours to complete,” Hill said. “And about 800 bags to make one.”
The mats will be donated to the Orphan Grain Train. The Orphan Grain Train is a 501c3 Nonprofit Christian volunteer network. It has numerous locations around the country, with the goal of sharing clothing, medical supplies, food and Christian literature with needy people in America and around the world. Hill will be delivering the mats to one of the Orphan Grain Train’s Nebraska drop sites.
Hill first learned about plarn through an Orphan Grain Train flyer and went on the charity’s website to learn how to make the mats. While there are three sizes of mats, the Orphan Grain Train requests the largest size of 36 inches by 72 inches, the Orphan Grain Train is requesting all mats be the largest size. Hill said as she understands it, the mats are being used for outdoor bedding.
Carstensen currently collects the plastic bags for Hill and Jones, smooths them out into piles, folds them about four times and cuts them into 3/4-1-inch strips, which are then joined together to form long chains of plastic bag rings. Prior to looping the bags together she separates them by color into ice cream pails.

The women are always accepting more bags for the project, with a preference for shopping bags. Some plastic packaging used for product wrapping, such as for diapers, is too thick and doesn’t work well for the project.
“Peoples Bank in Jasper has said we can put a container out there for plastic bags,” Hill said. “And Supreme Styles in Pipestone [114 Second Ave. SE] has said people can bring them there.”
While the main goal of creating the plarn mats is to help humankind and those in need, an added benefit is helping the environment by recycling plastic bags.
“If it keeps 1,000 bags out of the landfill, then why not,” Carstensen said.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Hill added.
Plarn is an easy project to take on, due to the limited number of supplies needed to complete it and minimal cost.
“You don’t have any big financial outlay,” Carstensen said. “Nobody has to buy a bunch of flannel or yarn.”
Those who just cut and loop only require scissors and donated plastic bags and those who crochet only require a crochet hook.
“You don’t have any financial involvement,” Carstensen said.
“Anybody can give [plastic bags], it doesn’t cost anything,” Hill said. “Instead of throwing them in the trash or taking to recycling, bring them to us.”
Hill and Carstensen will be holding a demonstration of creating plarn mats at Meinders Community Library in Pipestone on Tuesday, May 29 from 2 to 3 p.m.
“It will be to demonstrate, answer questions, give instructions and help them get started,” Hill said.
The trio will welcome any volunteers willing to help and believe it is something that most people could easily help with. Hill has a 13-year-old crochet student who has been helping and believes young students or organizations like the Girl Scouts could help in bag collection, and the cutting and looping together.
Anyone interested in helping in any way can contact Lorna Hill at 507-348-7087.

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