One of the bees that fly around in my large and capacious hat is the need to reuse and recycle. I've been recycling and composting and generally making everything work twice as hard since before it became a fashionable thing (hey, that puts me ahead of the world in Something!). One issue on which I have Opinions is the whole free plastic bag thing (and my opinions are not necessarily what you may think). I wanted to consider some of the many other plastics that we are inundated with every day and which are still beyond the capacity of formal recycling. I decided to see whether I liked weaving with plastic strips but I didn't want to use those shopping bags. So I collected some of the other plastics that came through my house and cut them into strips to weave into a shopping bag.(Hey, it's no crazier than cutting up fabric to make a quilt, is it?)
I was really motivated by the idea of making something 100% recycled, so I warped up the loom with my leftover 8-ply knitting wool in every imaginable colour, from forty years of knitting projects. It may come as no great surprise to you to discover that, at some time in the past forty years, moths have come to visit this little treasure trove of past knitting memories. I soon found out which ones were affected, usually when I was halfway through putting it in a warp. It was a slow business.
Next, I had to cut the plastic strips. I've been hoarding plastic bags for some time in anticipation of this project, so I had a session cutting several into long spirals. I found, for weaving purposes, plastics ain't plastics. The ones I'd most wanted to use, those ones with luscious colours and deep blacks from boutiques and department stores are really not nice for weaving. The cut edges are sharp and they give you paper cuts (plastic cuts?) while you're cutting them, and then while you're winding them onto the shuttle and then while you're weaving. The gorgeous, must-use-again bags are the heavy soft plastic ones you get from stores when you buy lots of things that need a big bag. They are from the same sort of material as a supermarket plastic shopping bag but made from a heavier thicker plastic. I also had a lovely green plastic bag that the Christmas cherries came in (inside their box). Building supplies frequently come in heavy plastic, and you can often harvest it from the fields around new housing estates! (Thanks Kaite.)
I had planned to weave a separate gusset for the bag, because I thought the plastic fabric might be difficult to sew but once I began, I saw that the fabric I was making could easily be sewn on the machine, so I didn't bother. I wove a narrow band with black wool yarn, to form a hem at the top, and then wove stripes with the different colours of plastic bag, ending with another band of black wool. I've stitched the knotted eds to make sure they're secure, and sewn it into a simple bag shape, that looks like this: I will make a gusset by sewing the corners, turn down the top hem, and add a lining from old dressmaking fabric and straps. Stay tuned.
Because of not making the bag sections separately, to add the gusset between them, I had some warp left. I used some leftover red wool yarn to weave the remainder of the warp which gave me a piece I plan is to fold it over like this :(a bit hard to see, I know) into a clutch, stiffen it, line it and hey, I have a free purse. I have yet to decide whether to leave the fringe on the outside or sew it on the inside. I'm currently thinking inside... I might also embellish it a bit, add a bit of stitching perhaps, maybe I'll felt it, who knows? Time will tell.
And all this from rubbish lying around the house!