Friday, September 28, 2012

Mats For The Homeless

            When I was growing up the lady next door used to always yell at me for sitting on the cement, claiming that it was the root cause of many ailments.  Of course I was young and didn’t listen, but now I’m older and a little wiser and avoid sitting on the cement at all costs.

The homeless of course, can’t avoid it.  They don’t have the luxury of a chair or a bed to relax in.  Their seat is the cement, which is always cold and uncomfortable.  A group of women from St. Edna’s Catholic Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois learned about mats made from plastic bags which would insulate the user from the cold.  They quickly attended a “how-to” training session and started a ministry. 

The response to the project has been outstanding with parishioners, school children and scout groups helping out collecting, cutting and rolling the bags into balls of “yarn.”  Those who know how to crochet bring the balls of plastic yarn home and crochet them into 3 foot by 6 foot mats.  Since January of 2011, St. Edna’s has donated 108 mats to the Cornerstone Ministries in the Uptown area of Chicago.  It is a project to be proud of that involves a community of people with different skills working together to help others.


Directions to make the mat are as follows:


Supplies:  Plastic grocery bags (500 – 700 bags per mat)



                 Crochet Hook, size L/8mm or larger


To cut bags:

  1. Flatten bag
  2. Fold sideways and in half, then in half again.
  3. Cut off bottom seams and handles.
  4. Cut bag in strips of 2 ½ or 3 inches wide.
  5. Make yarn by looping one ring inside of the other, then, pulling through itself.  Continue with all the rings.  Roll into a ball of “yarn.”
  6. Using single crochet, make a mat 30 to 36 inches wide by 6 feet long.  Make 1 chain stitch turning chain at the end of each row, single crochet in second chain from hook.
  7. You can make a carrying strap by single crocheting 2 rows wide by 80 inches long, weaving the ends together to make a loop.


Note:  If using thick bags, cut them into 2 inch or 2 ½ inch wide strips.  Thin bags (dry cleaning bags) 3 ½ inch or 4 inch wide strips.


If you are interested in attending a training session, St. Edna’s will hold one on Saturday November 10 from 9:30 am to 11 am. 

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