Knit Plastic Bag Ball




Introduction: Knit Plastic Bag Ball

About: I am a high school engineering teacher (formerly an engine design engineer) and mother of two little makers who loves developing new projects - both personally and for my children and students to work through.

While I'm thrilled that many stores have started implementing new ways to reduce the number of disposable bags they distribute, I still always seem to end up with a cupboard stuffed with plastic bags. This instructable helps reduce your plastic bag stockpile by turning your bags into squishy, knit balls that are soft and light enough to toss around the house without doing much damage and cute enough to leave out. It's a quick and simple knitting project that even a novice knitter should be able to whip up in no time, and can be used for everything from dodgeball to decorations.


You won't need much for this project, and don't worry if you don't have exactly the right size knitting needles. This pattern adapts itself well to bags of slightly different thicknesses and a range of knitting needle sizes. Here's what I used:

  • Plastic bags (this ball took about 4 standard grocery bags)
  • Scissors
  • Double-pointed knitting needles (size 7 / 4.5mm)
  • Optional: Crochet hook, a small piece of string

Step 1: Cut Up the Plastic Bags

Start by cutting the handles off the bag. Then, begin cutting the bag into a single 1-inch thick strand (as shown). This strand will act as the "yarn" you will use to knit the ball. (Looking to speed up this process? Check out the "plarn" cutting strategy HERE.)

Step 2: Cast On

Begin knitting by casting NINE stitches onto one of the knitting needles. New to knitting or need a refresher? This instructable explains the process of casting on in detail. Once complete, slide three stitches off and onto different needles so the stitches are evenly divided among three needles, as shown.

Step 3: Increasing Rounds

Now that you have your stitches cast on, it's time to begin knitting in the round. The pattern for a ball this size is as follows:

  • Knit ONE row where you add one stitch to the beginning of each needle. (I used the increase stitches strategy - explained in detail in this instructable.)
  • Then, knit ONE row normally.
  • Continue this pattern until you have TEN stitches on each needle, for a total of 30 stitches.

When done, it should have the same approximate size/shape as what is shown in the picture above.

Wish you could make this bigger or smaller? Just adapt the number of stitches you increase to!

Step 4: Middle Section (constant Size)

Once you have 30 stitches, it's time to work the middle of the ball. This section should be approximately 1-inch long and is made by simply knitting on the round without increasing or decreasing the stitches at all. I recommend knitting a small string into one stitch of your piece at the beginning of this section so you will be able to measure when you have gone about an inch from the end of the increase portion.

Making a different-sized ball? You will need to modify this 1-inch proportionally with the number of stitches. For instance, if you increase to a total of 60 stitches (TWO times the original), then multiply this length by TWO as well (for a length of 2-inches).

Step 5: Adding a New Strand

When you reach the end of one bag's "yarn" strand, you can simply tie another one on and continue knitting. Take care to make sure the knotted portion stays on the inside of your work as you knit through the knotted portion, as shown. For reference, my first bag strand ran out while knitting the middle portion of this ball and took less than two bags in total to knit.

Step 6: Decreasing Rounds

After you have made a middle section that is about 1-inch long, it's time to start tapering the shape to mirror the increased shape you did at the beginning of the ball. The decreasing pattern is similar to the increasing portion, and goes like this:

  • Knit ONE row where you combine two stitches at the beginning of each needle. (I used the decrease stitches strategy - explained in detail in this instructable.)
  • Then, knit ONE row normally.
  • Continue this pattern until you have FIVE stitches on each needle, for a total of 15 stitches.

Step 7: Closing the Bottom

Before finishing the decreasing portion of the ball, you will need to close the bottom of the ball up tightly. To do this, push the bottom up through the top opening so that it is inside out (as shown). Then, use a crochet hook to gather the stitches and tie them tightly together, as shown. Once complete, push it back down through the hole to be right-side out.

Step 8: Stuffing the Ball

Now comes the fun part - stuffing the ball. If you want to use Polyfill or another stuffing agent, feel free, but I simply used two more of my grocery bags as the stuffing for this ball. Push the bags down into the bag pocket, taking care to arrange them as needed to get a nice round shape. You can decide how dense you want your ball to be, but for me, two bags were enough to help it hold its shape well without feeling overstuffed.

Step 9: Closing Up the Ball

To finish up the ball, continue the decrease pattern until you have only three stitches left on each needle (just like it was at the beginning). Cut off the remaining "yarn", leaving a tail (no more than a foot long), and use a crochet hook to feed the tail through the remaining nine stitches to cinch them together (just like you did with the bottom of the ball).

Step 10: Enjoy!

And that's it!

We have made and played with balls like this for years now, starting when our kids were young and we wanted something soft and light to play catch with to and let them toss around. Now that they are a little older, these work great with our over-the-door indoor basketball hoops. They aren't bouncy, but they are way quieter than the balls they come with which, if you are a mom who gets to sleep in for the occasional Saturday, is life-changing. These are also perfect for when our kids are practicing their full-out diving catches onto the couch or battling each other with a not-as-brutal game of basement dodgeball...

Can't wait to hear how you use yours :)

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    12 days ago

    Plarn is it? Well, another word in my vocabulary. How to work it int a conversation . . .
    I recall weaving lanyards at Summer Camp with two, three and even four colors of a thin flat plastic material that came in a few basic colors (White, Black, Red and Blue?) I could continue after 'Lights Out."

    All I can remember making out of the stuff were these 'string-like 'ties' that went about one's neck and may have had a fitting on the end for a key - I suspect there were a couple other things we made with the stuff, but it was some seventy years ago, so . . .

    I like this project. I wonder if the result has sufficient mass to function as a dog's ball. Maybe with one of those sticks that help old folks toss the ball a decent distance ;)

    That said, lovely project. Now, let us work to make such projects an impossibility by outlawing the use of these *&%^*(@*#$ bags that negatively impact our environment and contribute to the extinction of species in ways we've yet to fully comprehend.

    By the way, Recycling as practiced to date is a perversion of the concept and, thus, it is not being done.

    I did discover yesterday, that the solution has been staring many of us who use plastic bottles, "right in the face!" It turns our that twenty percent of American states have passed a law to make recycling work - and it's just a matter of common cents!


    14 days ago on Step 10

    This is so fun! My only suggestion would be to include a link to a page that explains how to cut the bags into strips. I knew what you were saying, but I've used a lot of plarn!

    I also know that some people make a double ply - cutting bags into separate strips in the round, and knotting them together before they start. So I think instructions about how you do it for this pattern would be good.
    Thanks so much for this Instructable! Keep knitting, upcycling and keeping up with the kids!


    Reply 14 days ago

    Plarn. That's hilarious. :)
    Thanks for including the links!