It is not uncommon to find stories about elderly women who crochet. And it’s not uncommon to find stories about people who crochet with plarn (plastic bags turned into strips to make yarn). But I have to say that I’ve never really heard of these two things being paired together. Plarn seems to be something that a younger generation is interested in. So I was surprised when I read about Billie Johnson, a woman in her eighties who is using plarn to make creative crocheted handbags.

According to the Fay Observer, Johnson is a hair stylist who was forced into retirement in 2003 because her body just couldn’t take the strain of the work anymore. She had a torn rotator cuff and was suffering from arthritis. She had learned to crochet in high school but hadn’t been doing it actively. Then about a year after her retirement, she saw someone with a crocheted bag at church and she thought that it was something that she’d like to do. She found that it actually helped with her arthritis.

Crocheting plarn handbags is an eco-friendly, trendy thing to do but Johnson couldn’t seem to care less about that. What she cares about is spending her time doing a craft that helps others and keeps her arthritis pain away. She donated about four dozen plarn handbags to an annual purrse sale at her local Child Advocacy Center and they sold like hot cakes. In addition to purses, she crochets plarn cup cozies, Easter egg baskets and trash cans.

Do you know any older women who work with plarn?


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!

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