Sew & Sow group weaving a story of God’s love

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — In the Angela Elwell Hunt book The Three Trees, a trio of hardwoods stand atop a mountain dreaming of what they will one day become, all ultimately finding purpose in being used by God. If inanimate objects — like plastic grocery bags, for instance — could, in fact, dream, they might very well be thinking along the same lines as some Bladen County ladies.

Just a few months strong, Sew & Sow is a growing Elizabethtown-based ministry. Started by Emily Castleberry, its mission is to sew and fellowship in God’s presence, to aid in the creation of items used to help those in need, and to sow the love of God with one another and those who receive the items the members make.

For several months, the group has been meeting and growing larger, focusing on crocheting, loom knitting, needle knitting, cross stitching, tatting, latch hooking, weaving, hand sewing, machine sewing, or basically anything else involving thread, yarn, or string. Members have been meeting twice a month and have created items like hats, blankets, and scarves, all of which have been donated to places like homeless shelters, pregnancy centers, hospitals, nurseries, and cancer wards.

When searching online recently for ideas for the group, Sew & Sow member Cheryl Willoughby came across an idea that piqued her interest.

“Plarn,” she said, laughing. “I know — you’ve never heard of it. It’s just a made-up word, because I guess it’s easier or quicker than saying ‘plastic yarn’.”

The idea, according to Willoughby, is to take old plastic grocery bags and use them as sewing material.

“All you have to do is lay out a plastic grocery bag, trim the bottom and handles, accordion fold it, and cut 2.5-inch wide strips,” explained the plarn expert. “Then you take one strip and a second strip and loop them and tie them. It sounds more complicated than it is. Then you just roll it up, and that’s your yarn.”

The possibilities for ministry are manifold.

“Homeless people can use them for mats — they’d make a nice cushion and provide a layer of warmth on a cold night, Girl Scouts could use them for mats when sitting around a campfire, they’re light enough that they’re easy to pack to take on mission trips — there’s really a lot you can do with it,” Willoughby remarked.

Currently, the group is preparing mats made out of plarn to send with local groups going to New York this fall. At its first plarn-making meeting, 18 women showed up to prepare the material.

“Really, anybody can do it,” Willoughby said. “That’s what’s so great about it.”

The group is currently in need of people able to needle knit, loom knit, or crochet. To get involved, contact Emily Castleberry at 910-862-1806.

Plastic grocery bags dreaming of being used as ministry — now there’s a story for some word weaver.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal