Where did this come from?
After seeing an idea about crocheting plastic on instructables for some sprout planters, I made a few and took the idea from there. I don't use patterns or anything complicated, the goal is quite utilitarian. Over the years the concept has transformed a bit and has since expanded. Keep reading below to see an ongoing history of ideas and creations.
Each store has slightly different bags which is what creates the design and colors into my material. Just as colors vary, the thickness and softness of the plastic also varies. I prefer to use a N-9.0MM hook for most of my work because its the largest easily available size in aluminum which doesn't bind working with the plastic. A couple projects have been done in Q-19MM and it creates a large weave. Below are the materials I've used so far:
Safeway, Target, new Walmart, and Fred Meyer are quite soft and over time will flatten into almost a solid fabric. Jackson's are quite stiff and hold their shape the best. Everything else is in between. Some examples of bags and material coloring:
The early works did were quite basic, but recently the idea of trim/string/handles/straps have been added on. It started with some Jute string, in tan and green, then I added the colors of a "Multi-Color Dazzle Twine" that is plastic-based so it weaves well with the material. After my first carry-all bag had notch-hole handles and stretched quite a bit, I started using slot handles and utilizing the trim material to limit the amount of stretch in a decorative way. The Jute material works well for basic handles/straps and normal width has a rope look. The plastic twine can't be used for handles/straps on its own, however it blends well with a single row of plastic material.
This is what started it all - various planters. These work great for plants that want a bit drier soil and also reduces root bind because the roots naturally stop at the air edge and branch out in other directions. I've planted Cacti, Hens & Chicks, African Violets, and even wild Morning Glory. The morning glory is interesting because when it sprouts new stems, it can actually grow through the fabric.
The next step was to hold something other than dirt... A shower caddy of sorts came to mind since water really doesn't matter to these and they conform to shape fairly well. The wide bag has been in use for approx 4 years and has held its shape as shown. I use 3M Command hooks to hang these. The same concept can be applied anyplace that small items can conveniently be stored on a vertical surface.
These started out as coasters and found multiple uses from there. Some medium sizes have been in use for years as a warm pad for holding heated dishes. The large size sits on top of my microwave since a drop of coffee doesn't really matter. Then the mondo size project has found its best use as a shower mat - impervious to water, catches hair easily, provides a warmer floor, and is much easier on the feet than suction cups under rubber.
My first gift of bags from an outside source had these great green colored bags with red writing and I knew I didn't have enough for a large bag to carry around my junk, so after going through about 2/3rds of the loops, I continued on one side to create the flap. Since carrying from the top like a clutch wasn't ideal, I had some jute twine around and just crocheted two rows which gives it a rope look and is attached on each side.
A friend on IRC wondered if a belt could be made. I'm always up for a challenge with an allowance for creativity and this is what came to mind. Using the idea as above with the mixed media of plastic and jute to give the jute some substance and to keep the plastic from stretching too much. The design lends to being reversible, but I'm still not sure the best way to integrate a buckle.