I was reflecting on my children’s habit of holding onto the extraneous flotsam and jetsam of life. Younger son collects empty beverage containers and broken writing utensils. Older son hangs onto stones and packaging from video games and action figures. It all seemed irrational until I considered my own habit of holding onto bread ties, magnetic backing from refrigerator memo pads and plastic bags. When I am weighing whether to throw those things out, I always find myself asking, “What if the (meteor hits, civilization collapses, electromagnetic pulse knocks out all our technology,) and I am forced to make our clothing out of plastic bags and twist ties? And I don’t have enough?” Suddenly my kids’ collections don’t seem odd at all, just a little unrealistic. After all, what can you make out of cardboard rectangles with Halo II figures depicted on them and fragments of #2 pencils?
In my defense, I actually DO make something out of my plastic bags. I found the pattern for a recycled plastic tote bag in the 2006 Crochet Pattern-a-Day calendar (with Annie Modesitt & Friends.) Essentially, it is pattern to make a plastic bag out of plastic bags. I was overcome with admiration for the idea. Environmental, frugal, and a little bit funny: it was my kind of pattern. Once made, the bag also turned out to be strong and eye-catching. I have made four and they net me a lot of attention at the grocery store, with the conversation usually ending with the comment, “You should sell these.” Well, I don’t and here’s why; I don’t have time to make a lot of them. You must start with prepping the bags before you can even think about the construction. It takes a lot of bags–at least forty, which should be nearly pristine before you start. People often ask me if I get fresh unused bags from the store and I don’t. If a bag makes it through loading and unloading clean and in decent shape, it gets put aside for folding and storage until I have enough material and time to get rolling. Uninterrupted, it would probably take me 12-14 hours to make a single bag from scratch, but I’m not sure about that because it takes me weeks. I am rarely uninterrupted. I am in process right now on one which I project will be done in a few days and I would like to offer it up to you, my dear friends and readers. If you would like a chance to win one of my recycled market bags, leave a comment on this post telling me one thing (or more) that you hoard past all sense. The winner will be chosen randomly on Monday, August 1st at 4:00 central time. If you can bear the competition, tell your friends to post a comment to enter, too! I will post the instructions for the general logistics of making the bag in the next week or so, so if you are crafty and interested you can make your own. Hoarded bags turned into something useful–I like to think of it as not only making a bag out of bags, but also making smart out of crazy.