Blog Navigation:

KNIT: 80 Ways to Save the Earth Tote Bag

June 27, 2009

Recycled Silk Sari Saree Yarn Darn Good Yarn Himilaya 01Recycled Silk Sari Yarn and Plastic Bag Yarn80 Ways to Save the Earth Tote

Here is a great super stretchy tote bag that helps you save the earth too! It’s super easy and knits up quickly. It took me 2 nights to complete.

I use this bag to carry packages of all shapes and sizes to the post office. I also double its use and stick my mat in it for yoga class. The stretchy quality of it allows for a stand size mat to fit completely in it with room to stick your blocks,water and jacket in!

Here’s the recipe to make what I call 80 Ways to Save the Earth Tote (or 80 WTSTE Tote)

Whatchya need to succeed:

80 Plastic Bags made into yarn (see my video above for easy instructions to make this yarn!)
You’ll also need 1 kit of of the “Darn Good Yarn Wild Peacock Recycled Silk Yarn”. When you purchase this yarn as a kit, you get a great savings than if you purchased the yarn individually. Click here to purchase.

1 pair of US13 knitting needles
Black Nylon cord (or you can use the yarn),
94 Aluminum Can Tabs *
80 plastic bags

*So, you can see I made the strap out of can tabs. I get tons of emails from people saying OMG I will never have that many can tabs. Well, what you can do is simple and a pretty alternative to this strap: Purchase two skeins of our Recycled Silk Strip Yarn. Then, braid it and attach it! It would be stunning, soft and very easy to fabricate. Check it out and choose the strap yourself! Click here for more info.

Another note with regard to this pattern. There is a ton of flexibility to making this pattern. If you would like a small bag use less bags and decrease the amount of stitches your start out with. If you would like the over look less stretchy then go ahead and work it in moss stitch.Recycled Silk Yarn and Plastic Bag Yarn Tote Bag

Gauge isn’t that important on this project. For me each side measured 1ft 4 in across by 1 ft high. And, I’m serious…this puppy stretches.

Please wait for the video to load here!

So here’s how to make it!
CO 50 stitches.
Knit 2 then purl 2 straight across and then be sure to end each row on two knit stitches.
Work this for 1 foot and then BO and of course weave in ends.
Make another panel.
To sew the two pieces together I just used the Wild Peacock Sari Yarn to do this!
I then turned it inside out (which would be right side out ;) )This gave it a nice square shape.

Recycled Silk Sari Yarn and Plastic Bag Yarn Tote BagFor the can tab strap: Please refer to the video I made on how to make it. If you decide to use nylon cord or the silk figure out how long you’d like the strap. Say you’d like a strap which is 12 inches, multiply that by 3.5 and that will give you 42 which is how long of a length you should cut. The strap shown here is 2ft 7 inches which means a cord length of about 110 (It’s better to have more cord than not enough). Then to secure it you can use whichever thread (nylon or silk) to the sides. Just be sure to secure it really well!

Please wait for the video to load here!

For the Silk Strip Yarn: Braid up the strap and be sure to put knots in both ends of the braid. Then, sew it on the seams on the bag. Make sure you super-secure the strap on and the braid is super tight. I recommend two skeins of the silk strip yarn because you can double or triple up each “strand”. So instead of braiding with three strands of yarn you could use 6 or 9 depending on how thick you want the strap and how heavy the items you’re carrying around are going to be.

Get a Great Deal Now! 80 Ways To Save The Earth Tote Bag Value Yarn Pack

Get a Great Deal Now! 80 Ways To Save The Earth Tote Bag Value Yarn Pack


Comment Below | Subscribe To These Comments

  1. Nicole says:

    So, one of the Darn Good Yarn Fans gave me a great idea that I’d like to pass on to you.

    Faith C gave us this idea: perfect for the summer:
    The gang at Embroiderers’ Guild loved it. Haven’t really used it much yet. I’m thinking it will make a great swim bag, being waterproof but having built-in drainage holes.

    Hmm, never even thought about that, but it will totally work! Keep the comments coming.


  2. wind turbine says:

    Great blog. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

  3. Holli says:

    Are you supposed to knit the recycled yarn with the plastic bags? Or is it just fir the strap? I’m going to use the tabs but I’m confused if you’re supposed to use the yarn and plastic together? I really love the idea :) . Thanks

  4. nicole says:

    Hi Holli! Yes you are supposed to knit the recycled silk yarn and the plastic bags together! It mixes the color up and adds a bit more structure to the plastic bags.

    I hope that helps.


  5. Elizabeth says:

    Is there another way to make this tote without buying the string that is states? Or can we use our own string?

  6. nicole says:

    Hi Elizabeth, you could… but the recycled silk does a few things for you…gives the bag structure as well as gives it great color. And aside from that, this yarn provides jobs to women back in Nepal who wouldn’t normally be given the opportunity be employed

  7. nicole says:

    Hi Elizabeth, you could… but the recycled silk does a few things for you…gives the bag structure as well as gives it great color. And aside from that, this yarn provides jobs to women back in Nepal who wouldn’t normally be given the opportunity be employed

    Also, check out It’s a great value!

  8. Holli says:

    Do you need all 4 balls or the large bag? I have one ball right now do you think I could make a smaller bag with just one ball? Mahalos :D

  9. nicole says:

    yea totally! Like if it was me I would make a bag that was large enough for a cell phone and my wallet and line it with a cool fabric (or recycle an old shirt or something) I would actually work in a square but on the diagonal in garter. So you would CO3 then for each for row K1 then K one into the front and back (this will increase by one stitch) then knit the rest of the row.

    Then when you get to about half a ball your rows will look like this: K1, K2tog, knit rest of row. Do this until you have 3 sts left, BO.

    Sew up, make a cool strap, put a button on there and tell your friends where you got the idea:) And don’t forget pictures… we love pictures!!!

  10. Janet Sherman says:

    I really like this website – and the yarn I purchased from it.

    It would, I think be encourage more of those, like me, who are neophytes and barely intermediate knitters, to try the projects if directions – for this bag especially – were made crystal:

    Although it is nowhere stated in the directions, I had guessed that the yarn in the kit was to be knit as another strand along with the plastic “yarn”. But when I saw how easily some of the plastic bags broke, I wondered whether I should knit two strands of the yarn along with the plastic.

    I like the strap, but do not drink soda, so I plan to look for a source of tabs. If I have no success, I am sure that I can devise an alternative.


  11. Matt fromToronto says:

    I saw your wonderful fibres at the Creative Festival in Toronto this weekend past and fell in love with the Banana Silk yarn.It was oh so silky and soft!
    Now to find just the right project to utilize some!
    Oh and keep up the great names of your fibres ( the pink and white thick and thin looks like raspberries and cream to me ).
    Happy Needling.

  12. Janey says:

    I’m a new knitter. When I found this idea, I fell in love with it. I try it out, with bags and some store bought yarn. I found it a little hard trying to knit with the bags, Do you have any tips?

  13. STEEL says:




    My names steel & im 11 years old form south australia, I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO inlove with knitting!!!

    THat is a really cleaver I dear!

    The strap is REAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY COOL, my dad and brother drink a heap of coke-a-cola, so i cam use those thingies for the strap like you did!!!!!!

    Im gonna try it right away!!!!

    Thanks thanks thanks!!!!!!


    :-) !

  14. Laura says:

    Hi, Great project and I am going to try this for sure. Is there a particular reason why silk yarn is used or can I just use regular cotton yarn. Thankyou

  15. Shelly Berger says:

    I love the bag made from recycled grocery bags, thank you so much for sharing the pattern! I’ve got one done, and several more planned. They will be used as semi-permanent recyclable grocery bags that I take with me when I shop. My next one I’m going to try to make a design on the side with different colored yarns, possibly the recycle symbol.

  16. Ellie says:

    Ah. You are my new hero. I saw the video on making plastic bag yarn and immediately ran around my house searching for plastic bags and made some. Thank you SO much :)

  17. Boboslobo says:

    wait im confuesed when I knit the bag do i use the yarn i made out of plastic bags or do i knit that with the plastic bag yarn and real yarn plz reply bck immediately so confuesed!!!!

  18. Boboslobo says:

    if u unrolled the plastic bagball of yarn how many feet would it measure

    • nicole says:

      Yikes! I don’t know! and this will vary for every bag! But don’t worry about gauge, just make sure the stitches are tight so the items you put in the bag don’t fall through!

  19. calia gregory says:

    That aluminum can tab strap is the coolest idea ever! I would never have thought to do that!

  20. Sarah Hernandez says:

    I love this idea, thanks so much for sharing it! I’ll definitely be making versions of this as reusable grocery bags as well as a larger version like you have here for transporting the jewelry I make to my store, it should be perfect! I love the strap out of can tabs, and happily my younger brother has an enormous collection of these I’ll be using! Maybe it’s just me that I had a little trouble deciphering what you were doing on the video for the strap, but I’ll watch it again and see if that helps and/or I’m sure I’ll figure something out!

  21. Monica says:

    Oh wow… I just came across your site while looking for different yarns to work with… this recycled bag idea has me intrigued… I have the plastic bag thing covered and luckily I also have the tabs covered too =) …several years ago I started collecting them in a string – don’t ask why because I don’t really know – anyhow, I have over 200 of them, I just need to find where I stored them =( but other than that, I just need to order the yarn and I’ll be set to try it out… thanks for the idea and for sharing it =)

  22. Johnna says:

    Wow! This is such a cool idea! Im a younger knitter and thought this would be a cool challenge for me! I am working on it right now and I cant to see what the finish project will look like!!!

  23. Cece K says:

    I just love your recyle Save the Planet bag!!!
    What aterrific idea! Thanks so much for sharing.

  24. Hi… I just came upon your website while searching for big handbag patterns. This sound awesome! I can’t wait to try it. Just one question. You k2 p2 for the first row and end on a k2. Then for the next row, you will be knitting the previous purl stitch? (and purling the knit?) Sort of like the seed stitch? Thanks! Michelle

  25. Sara says:

    I saw this tutorial months ago and fell completely in love with it, but didn’t get around to trying it until now. I just finished up my bag (and I found enough can tabs to make the strap and a button) :) and I love it so far! Thanks so much for the awesome idea. I blogged about it, but I linked to your website. I’ll post pictures soon so you can see how it went.

    Completely thrilled about finishing this project!

  26. M. C. says:

    Hey, I LOVE this idea! I’m very new to knitting and thought I’d give this a try and use it as a book bag when summer’s over. Just a few questions though… I’m supposed to knit the recycled yarn and the plastic bag yarn together as if I were only knitting with one yarn? Also, if I were to use a diferent yarn, other than the silk yarn on this site, how much would I need? Thanks!

    • nicole says:

      Yes, that’s correct, you hold both strands together at the same time. If you were to use another yarn you would need about 360 yards. Hope that helps!

  27. Katherine says:

    I was looking for the perfect project to make my best friend for christmas… she will LOVE this.

    GREAT idea!!!

    Turnes out i save up my pop can tabs (can donate then) so im excited for the recycles strap aswell!

    now i only wish i could use your yarn and one day i will when i can afford it (starving studeent here). but i hope it brings you comfort that im going to make the biggest effort to use recycled yarn, becasue thats the whole point of the bag, and the best part of the idea (:

  28. Holly says:

    I just found your pattern idea and I just FELL in love with it.
    Sadly the only problem that I have is I normally don’t buy ANYTHING online, so I was wondering if you could recommend some other yarn that works just as well.

Leave a Comment