Making Plastic String With a Pen



Introduction: Making Plastic String With a Pen

Because who needs a fancy spinner when you’ve got a good ol’ pen?

Turning plastic bags into string/yarn (“plarn”) isn’t a new idea, but it’s been mostly reserved for crafters who have the tools—crochet hooks, knitting skills, e.t.c. With this method, however, all you need to spin some string is a pen, making it perfect for anyone who’s bored and/or wants to save the environment while making cool things.

(As a bonus, string also subtly teaches a lesson in physics: it’s a first-hand look at torsion!)


  • Plastic bag
  • Scissors
  • Pen

Step 1: Prepare Your Bag

Take your plastic bag and flatten it out, then fold it in half. Trim the handles and the bottom off the bag; you can’t use these.

Fold your trimmed bag lengthwise a few more times. Then, cut it in half, cut those halves in half, and cut those halved halves in half—in other words, cut your plastic in half 3 times. You should end up with 8 folded rectangles of plastic.

The important thing to know for this step is that the width of those rectangles will determine the thickness of your string (wider rectangle = thicker string). So you can experiment with the number of rectangles you want from one plastic bag; just make sure your rectangles are equally sized.

Step 2: Make Your Roving

Traditionally, the term “roving” refers to fibrous material just before it’s spun into yarn. Here, roving means the plastic that we’re going to spin.

When you unfold your plastic rectangles, you’ll see that they’re actually loops. Connect your loops by tying them together with a lark’s head knot, as demonstrated in the video. At the end, you should have a length of plastic loops tied together.

Step 3: Start Spinning!

Take the end of your “roving” and hook the loop onto the clip of the pen. Start spinning the pen as shown in the video. (Tip: spinning is easiest when the pen is held such that it makes a perfectly straight line with the string.)

I prefer using my dominant hand to spin, while the other hand holds the plastic firmly. You should see the plastic begin to twist into string.

As you keep spinning, your string will get longer and longer until it’s very difficult to work with. Now what?

Step 4: Bank Your String

Slip the string off the clip, holding it securely so that you don’t lose all those twists. Then wrap the string around the lower part of the pen (near where you’d normally hold it for writing). When you get near the end of your string, slip it back under the clip.

You can now continue spinning like you were before!

Whenever the string gets too long to handle, just wrap it around the existing bundle of string, slip it under the clip, and keep going.

Step 5: When You’ve Reached the End...

Or when your hands get tired, or you have to go do chores...

Save your string by wrapping it around the pen clip a few times. Leave the end untwisted so you can attach more plastic pieces as you desire, using the lark’s head knot from Step 2.

If you’re completely happy with your string, unravel it from the pen. Congrats! You’ve made plastic string with nothing but a pen (and scissors and a bag)!

Step 6: Take It to the Next Level!

What are you gonna do with string, make cool art? Nahh. Yarn is where it’s at! To make your plastic string even cooler, fold it in half, hook it back on the pen, and start spinning it into a 2-ply strand. This plarn can be used for weaving, knitting, crocheting, fish-making... you name it,

Or you can just roll it up into a ball and admire your hard work.

Above all, have fun!!

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