Albany woman crochets plastic bags

Detroit parishioners knit mats from carrier bags (Sainsbury's)

A woman from Albany, US has chosen to do her bit for the environment and begin recycling plastic bags.

But rather than simply reusing them she has begun cutting them up and crocheting with the bags.

Daily Tidings reports that Shirley Callahan has been doing this for almost 20 years and has become something of an expert at turning plastic shopping bags into handiworks such as handbags, hats and drink covers.

Ms Callahan, whose nickname is the 'Bag lady' shared her skills and knowledge with a group of women at the Lebanon Senior Center this week, showing examples of the more than 40 items she has designed patterns for.

With her she brought the tools of her trade, which include crochet needles, a variety of plastic bags and sharp scissors.

She told the publication: "There are definitely some no-nos. Some [bags] are too noisy. They're scratchy, listen. Garbage bags are usually too thin and stretchy."

Ms Callahan showed off a sample of colours and recommended heading to boutiques for the more unusual shades.

Among the items she brought with her were large, reusable grocery bags, beach bags for towels and phone covers.

At her most recent class Ms Callahan taught the women how to fold the bags and cut them into strips about a half-inch wide.

She explained that most bags produced between 18 and 21 strips, eight of which are then hooked together to form longer strands.

The next step is to tie a slip knot onto one end to provide a notch for the crochet hook to grab on to.

Even local crochet tutor Mary Ann Earls who teaches classes for Linn-Benton Community told the newspaper that she was keen to get involved.

"I wanted to see if she had any new ideas I haven't picked up," she explained.

Each of the students were taught the basic skills of crocheting with the bags and learned to make a doily.

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