How to Make Looping Crafts Out of Recycled Materials

What are Loop Crafts?

Many children love weaving loops to create pot holders! The commercially available craft loops are vibrant and slightly stretchy. Stretchier and larger loops can be made out of your old fleece or Spandex  socks, sleeves or pant legs. Strong rubber bands and hair elastics may also be looped to create

  • Tug-of-war rope
  • Jump rope
  • Exercise bands
  • loop belts
  • Party decorations

I share these Amazon links to illustrate these products. (Disclosure: I early a few pennies when you shop via the links)

In addition, plastic bags can be converted into loops used for creating "yarn". There are unlimited knit or crochet projects that can be made out of these free and readily available materials. The feature photo above illustrates the heavy duty, grocery bag I knit using large round needles.

How to Make Yarn Out of Plastic Bags

Years ago I learned how to knit using plastic bags that functioned as- yarn. The following video demonstrates how to

  1. fold the bag,
  2. snip off one inch pieces, and
  3. open them up to create loops

The plastic loops create chains that vary in size, length, strength and color depending on the bags. If a loop rips, it is simple to repair with a knot.

I am able to cut about 5 one-inch pieces of plastic from each bag. The above photo shows me opening up one of them. It is very cool to see how the doubled strands created after looping become stronger and work great when used as "yarn". They are strong enough to knit into an industrial strength  tote or grocery bag.

How to Make  Fabric Loops

There are many therapeutic activities that can be created out of fabric loops. These loops can vary in thickness and strength depending on the fabric used and  can be tossed into the washing machine.

Loops can be as blah as stained, white socks or as snazzy as fleece or sequined leggings.  Cut sleeves or legs off of soft and stretchy shirts or pants to create large size loops. The thicker the loop, the easier for young children or older individuals with motor challenges to manipulate.

The above photo shows how 2 loops are connected. The motor planning sequence demonstrated in the video is quite complex.  However, older children and/or individuals with mild developmental or learning disabilities may enjoy developing dexterity as they create a functional product such as a belt, jump rope or party decorations.

Developing Fine-Motor Skills 

Children and adults with cognitive and/or motor challenges may perform only 1 or 2    steps in the looping sequence or require physical assistance to learn the more complex steps. Some individuals are most successful at taking fabric loops apart or performing only the last and easiest step of inserting separated loops into a container slot. Many children and adults with disabilities love repetitive tasks such as stringing beads, filling pegboards and now.... connecting or separating loops. The individual in the photograph below is removing loops from a board and inserting them into a container.

Developing the Proprioceptive Sense

Some individuals with sensory processing disorders (SPD) have difficulty interpreting information from muscles and joints that tells them how their body is moving in space and in relation to objects. They may crash into people and furniture to gain sensory input or frequently break toys because they use too much force.

Creating loop chains or yarn out of fragile plastic bag teaches individuals how to use just the right amount of force to avoid ripping. Connecting loops made out of fabric provides an opportunity for sensory seekers to pull using lots of force without breaking anything!

Positioning Options 

Connecting the loops builds shoulder, hand and finger strength since it requires pulling and at times reaching above the head. The individual in the above photo had a brain injury resulting in right side weakness. He also has Down syndrome and pretty good motor planning skills. He quickly learned how to sequence the steps. However, using his right hand to stabilize the materials while his very dexterous left hand manipulates the loops is challenging.  This is the perfect activity for him because it is naturally repetitive so that he gets practice and he LOVES a challenge!

Performing tasks while standing increases oxygen to the brain. This is a workout for sedentary individuals who need a lot of urging to take walks or even stand up in place.  This individual is shifting his weight as he stands in place- and doesn't realize he is getting a mild workout!

The individual shown in the above photo refuses to stand. He is very friendly, conversational and frequently sleeps during the day because of medication issues.  He loved the idea of working independently while wrapping the completed loops around the back of the chair so that nobody trips on it as it grows longer and longer.

Additional Considerations

  • Provide close supervision or avoid this activity if the individual puts objects in his or her mouth or around the neck.
  • Cutting to create plastic bag or fabric loops provides practice manipulating scissors. Some individuals may benefit from hand-over-hand or phsyical assistance to safely and successfully cut plastic bags or fabric.
  • We all like to be successful, especially when learning new skills. Consider teaching the easiest step first while you do the more difficult steps. For example, you can connect 2 loops together loosely so that the individual only needs to pull to tighten them.

I love how this activity is well received by both children and adults with  and without learning challenges. It is  not as challenging as macramé or braiding, yet, is not perceived as babyish. In addition, my highest functioning clients like to incorporate color design and one learned how to knit  a bag!

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