These instructions are very basic. I would suggest that you check out Wikihow for basic crocheting, or come chat to me in person – it’s always easier to learn this stuff by doing. I played around with the braid stitch and closing the circle for a month before actually making a little bag.
I’ve been teaching the apprentice couturieres in my village the process. It’s really fun and a cheap AGR – a crochet hook costs about 200FCFA and a lot of the girls already know how to crochet hats, so learning to make a bag is not a huge step. I highly recommend spreading this craft around Togo, especially among girls and women. You can also organize ‘trash pick-up’ days to go along with it – take an excursion out and see how many plastic bags you can find by the roadside (and then go clean them all really well).
1. First clean the bag well – using a good degreasing soap and maybe some bleach
2. Cut off the handles and bottom of bag
3. Cut from the bottom of the bag, around and around in a long strip. I usually cut about an inch in width, although I’m still experimenting.
4. Roll the strip into a ball for ease of use.
5. Make a slip stitch. Basically make one twist in the ‘plarn’(plastic yarn) to create a loop, then push a loop through the bottom of that first loop and pull the knot firmly. If you pull hard, then the loop will simply ‘slip’ out – hence the name of the stitch.
6. Put the tightened loop onto the end of your crochet hook.
7. Now wrap the long end of plarn around the end of the crochet, hook the plarn and pull it through the loop already on the crochet. Keep it fairly loose, you’ll be hooking through these knots later.
8. Continue this knotting, it will emerge looking kind of like a braid. Make a long piece – it will be the circumference of your wallet.
9. When you have made enough knots for your circumference, put your hook into the first knot you made, loop the plarn over the crochet and pull the plarn through both loops to close the circle together.
10. Now you will start building up. Put your hook through the next knot, then put your plarn over the crochet and pull it through the two loops. Continue all the way around the circle, many many times.
11. These are two of my first tries