While visiting with the Mission Delegation from South Sudan at the United Nations in May, 2016, the Delegates expressed an interest in having projects to keep the thousands and thousands of orphans that resulted from years of civil war, occupied with doing good things. Making plarn mats was a suggested activity because:
1) They have plastic bags,
2) It can be done without electricity,
3) It actually creates a useful product out of trash,
4) They can even be sold for a cottage industry,
5) It provides a practical use for the millions of plastic bags that otherwise become unsightly litter.
My research uncovered many Churches and Humanitarian organizations across the United States and Canada that are already crocheting or weaving these types of plarn mats. They are quick to learn and easy to do. All they require is a pair of scissors or knife, a crochet hook, and lots of bags.
Launfal first tried to crochet mats, but found that it typically took 40 hours or more to make just one mat. After much trial and error, we have chosen to weave our mats because it reduces the time from 40 hours to crochet one mat to about 4 hours. Just today, 2 experienced women completed 2 mats in only 3 hours.
This has become so popular in our area in northern Utah, that we have been making dozens of additional frames and teaching other groups how to make mats. We have started shipping the completed mats all around the world, including: Iraq, Jordan, Bangladesh, Uganda, and the Navajo Indian Reservation in New Mexico.
Between what we produce in-house and with our partnering organizations, we complete approximately 100-200 mats per month and that number is increasing steadily. This is amazing, since we only started making mats in October, 2017.
We make an adult mat that is 30" x 71" (.79 m x 1.8 m),
as well as, a child mat that is 24" x 48" (.61 m x 1.22 m).
These dimensions were only chosen to reduce waste with the materials used to make the looms.
You need to decide what your resources and your market are, then choose the best option for your organization.
Our process has evolved over the past year.
These are our present "best practices".
A typical Wednesday weaving mats.
Completed plarn mats ready to give away.
An example of a beautiful colored mat.
Video of how we make our plarn mats.
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