Luling man’s ‘plarn’ helps homeless

Wayne Abadie weaves plastic grocery bags into bedding for the needy

May 01, 2015 at 9:53 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Luling man’s ‘plarn’ helps homeless
It was Wayne Abadie’s opportunity to work in “plarn,” but also to use this plastic yarn to make mats for homeless people.

“It was something neat,” Abadie said of why anyone would be interested in weaving strands of plastic grocery bags into sleeping mats. “I like to play with string. Plastic yarn is like string and it just continued.”

Initially, the Luling resident had difficulty envisioning how to make a plarn mat and, when it took him about a month to make one, he really wondered if this was the project for him. Even Abadie questioned whether this little work was really worth this much effort, but that changed when he had what one might call a religious experience.

It came as he struggled to find an actual example of the mat to get a better idea of how they were made. He found nothing until one day he entered the First Union Presbyterian Church at Lakewood and found one sitting on a shelf that no one knew how it got there or where it came from. They happily gave it to him, which became the example he needed to show people one-on-one on how these mats are made.

And, yes, it was made of plarn.

To Abadie, this seemed like a godsend - so he stuck with it.In the beginning, about 1-1/2 years earlier when he had heard on K-Love, a religious radio station, about a church in Chicago that made the mats, he wanted to know more. He found numerous people and groups were making the mats so he wanted to do this locally.

After watching a few videos of older ladies who got together to make these mats, he decided to give it a go.

“I originally had the idea and wanted my Bible group to do it with members who crocheted,” Abadie said. He started with his wife, who told him the videos made no sense to her but she agreed to try to make one mat and she did.

But her response wasn’t what he expected.

“No way I’m bringing this to my friends with how long it’s taking to make one,” she said.

Indeed, it was not a 20-minute job. In fact, it took him nearly a month to make one mat.

Although this was going to test Abadie’s skills on a highly unproven level with crocheting, he stepped up and learned how to create fabric out of plarn. It begins by cutting a plastic bag into 4-1/2-inch strips. When cut side to side, it makes a loop and all the loops are woven together. He uses an 11.5mm needle to handle the plarn, and it typically took a month to make one mat.

Yet, he made 14 of them, which he gave to a church in New Orleans that no longer had a group making them. When he learned the mats had been given to grateful recipients at New Orleans’ oldest mission, it made him feel like he was doing something and wanted to continue doing this.

A neighbor encouraged him to make a YouTube video of him making them because she felt it would help find people to help crochet the mats. But a higher force was already moving this along.

Some time last year, a sorority in New Jersey approached him about making plarn and shipping it down to him, which would greatly improve mat production. Then a 4-H group in Luling may help gather the bags for him, which is important because it takes about 1,000 bags to make one mat.

On May 16, he will demonstrate how he makes the mats in a demonstration from 4 to 5 p.m. at New Life Community Church’s Change the World Weekend event.

With this kind of assistance, Abadie should be able to help the homeless even more, but ask him about how all this came together and he said, “I find that amazing.”

View other articles written Anna Thibodeaux

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