Plastic bags make perfect mats for homeless

CALLAWAY, Fla. (WJHG) - Callaway resident Rosabelle Davenport was introduced to crocheting at a young age, but these days instead of yarn, she's using plastic bags.

"One of my girlfriends asked me did I crochet bags?" Davenport explained. "I thought she meant bags like the old macramé purses that women used to carry in the 70's, but no, she meant shopping bags."

Davenport admits she was intrigued.

"I went on the internet and looked it up. It's a phenomenon that's sweeping across the country," said Davenport. "So, I started crocheting mats for the homeless. They're little sleeping mats."

She's only been at it for a few months but Davenport says she's already hooked. Her enthusiasm is rubbing off on others.

"I've solicited some friends to help and all of my co-workers are bringing me their bags," she said.

She needs all the bags she can get.

"It takes between 500 and 700 bags to make one mat," said Davenport. "Each mat is two and a half feet wide and six and a half feet long so that the average person can lay on them. We do have some larger ones too."

The process begins by making sure the bags are flat. Then you cut the bag into fourths and they form loops. Each strip is looped with another strip until you get a roll of what is called plarn, or plastic yarn. Then you start crocheting.

The ladies say it's not different than using a ball of yarn.

"No, not different at all," said Davenport. "I use the old granny square. It's exactly the same crochet and exactly the same instruments."

The mats roll up so they are easy to carry.

"We crochet straps to them, straps to tie them in place and straps to serve as a shoulder strap," explained Davenport. "It's very lightweight and easy to carry."

According to Davenport, there are many benefits to having sleep mats made out of plastic bags.

"They are non-biodegradable. If they're dirty all you do is rinse them off with water and shake them off and they'll dry and won't smell. They are non-susceptible to lice and bedbugs," she said.

Davenport has a full-time job so she's only able to crochet in her spare time.

"I just love doing it so much. You can catch me crocheting on my lunch break at work, I crochet first thing in the morning as soon as I wake up, and it really does relax me so I crochet a little bit before I go to bed at night," she told us.

She admits she takes her hobby pretty much everywhere.

"I typically crochet when I go to the salon to get my hair done and some of the ladies come in there and they want to know what I'm doing so it presents me with the opportunity to share this with them. And fortunately, some of them have taken it up as well. So now I've got a group of my sisters that are all making mats for the homeless." said Davenport.

The mats are so pretty many people want one for themselves.

"Everybody at the salon was like, 'Oh, I want one.' I was like, 'No, they're not for you,'" she said.

Some of the ladies use the different color trash bags they buy at the dollar store. It takes the average person two to three weeks to make one mat.

Davenport's goal is to make ten to give away by Christmas.

As for why she's chosen to take this on...

"[I have] a strong will and desire to do what our heavenly father expects us to do and that is to help others," she said.