Weave With What You Have

Ribbon Yarns and Plastic Bags

Photo of a ribbon yarn on a plastic grocery bag .
Reduce, re-use and recycle.

At first glance, neither of these two things looks much like the other, and it’s hard to imagine any characteristics they might share. But thanks to some inspiration from a weaving friend along with information gleaned from this free down-loadable project –  it turns out these very different materials  do behave a lot alike.

The original project, designed by Anne McKenzie, is for a tote bag – using handwoven fabric made with weft strips cut from plastic grocery bags.  And it’s a brilliant way to reduce, reuse, and recycle those ubiquitous, fly-away pieces of trash most stores try to give us  with everything we buy.

My friend Barb showed me the two tote bags she’d made using the directions she’d downloaded from Weaving Today. One of her bags was woven with plastic grocery bag strips as weft/filler – the other was woven with strips cut from the bags she gets with pellets for her wood stove.

And as soon as I read through the “project-at-a-glance” and touched/handled the fabric Barb had woven, I knew it held an answer to two of my current weaving questions:  What do I need to do to make a tote bag? and How can I use up some of the ribbon yarn I have on hand?

This project didn’t just speak to me – it shouted DO IT!
So I did.

Photo of Tote Bag made by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, VT - using Deco Ribbon as weft.
Handwoven Tote Bag made by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT.

My version is not nearly as interesting as Ann McKenzie’s original.  I wanted to experiment with construction as well as fabrication so I left out the inserted handles – opting for sewn-on handles;  modified the size and shape; turned it around so the fold is at the bottom and both sides are sewn; and I used 100% cotton yarn for the warp with  Deco Ribbon from Crystal Palace Yarns as weft.

I’ve asked a few of my former weaving students to double-check my notes – if it works for them, I’ll post the details here.

In the meantime, – if you haven’t yet taken advantage of what Weaving Today has to offer, you might want to check it out.  Lots of information and inspiration worth sharing with your weaving friends.

I gotta go finish sewing my second bag.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio