PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Shoulder Strap Purse

The patterns I designed (together with the modification tips) in my new book Idiot’s Guides: Crochet are just so handy, I’ve been making new projects for myself using them as starting points – something I hope my adventurous readers will also attempt! This is one of my favourites: I made a mini version of the Solid Stripes Bag to use when I’m out for a walk in the summer, have no pockets for my phone, keys and lip balm, and don’t want to carry a handbag.

shoulder strap purse based on Solid Stripes Bag by June Gilbank

It’s so cute and tiny! Here it is with the original Solid Stripes Bag, for comparison:

shoulder strap purse based on Solid Stripes Bag by June Gilbank

Solid Stripes Bag on Ravelry:

I made the strap extra long so I can wear it across my body (for extra safety) or over one shoulder (for convenience). The mods I made to resize the bag like this are detailed on the Shoulder Strap Purse project page on Ravelry (or you could resize it to any size you like, using the instructions given in the pattern – this is a good example of how you can get a completely different result using those resizing instructions!)

I only had a single skein of this variegated green linen blend so I crossed my fingers and hoped it would be enough. In the end, I ran out of yarn with only a few stitches of joining to go, so I frogged the joining stitches and crocheted the seams in a different yarn in a lighter shade of green, leaving the remaining original yarn for the strap edging. It looked fine, except a bit strange with the top edge being the only one without the lighter green edging, so I slip stitched across the top front edge of the bag, and then decided to add a button on the front and a crocheted button loop as part of the top edging on the back:

shoulder strap purse based on Solid Stripes Bag by June Gilbank

I thought this was a very clever (but pretty simple) method for making a nice button loop, so I’ll share it here:


FSC Button Loop

Firstly, decide whether you want one or more buttons – for a larger bag, you may prefer two buttons or toggles spaced at thirds across the bag instead of one at the midpoint. I’ll describe the technique for a single button/toggle:

  1. with the right side of the back of the bag facing you, sl st across the top of the bag to the stitch before the midpoint
  2. fsc in the next stitch (see p152 of IG: Crochet for the tutorial!)
  3. fsc as many additional stitches as you need to make the loop (hold your button in place on the front of the bag to judge the length, but remember the loop will stretch, so you can make it a little shorter than you think it should be)
  4. sc into the ‘chain’ at the bottom of the first fsc you made
  5. continue to sl st across to the other edge of the bag

Attach the button loosely, so there’s enough space behind it for the fsc loop to sit comfortably. For best results, add the button or toggle after you complete the loop, so you can reposition it if the loop is a little longer or shorter than you anticipated. Oh, and if you’re making 2 closures, count how many fsc stitches you make for the first loop as you crochet them, so you make both loops the same length. ;)

It should make sense when you try it (provided you’re already familiar with foundation single crochet), but, if you need more help understanding this technique, let me know and I can make a step-by-step photo tutorial (although it won’t be for a while)!


I think of this little purse as a ‘pocket’ – it’s just so useful in summer when you have no actual pockets in your clothing for those essentials you can never leave the house without. I’m so pleased with how it turned out! (And I can confirm that my non-stretchy strap technique works like a charm: I used my ‘pocket’ all last summer and the strap hasn’t stretched at all.)

shoulder strap purse based on Solid Stripes Bag by June Gilbank


Some amazing projects have already been shared in the Book-Along CAL – it’s so much fun to see my designs brought to life in different colours and yarns! If you’re making projects from IG: Crochet, please join the crochet-along in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, and share what you’re making – we’d love to see them!

If you’re new to my crochet-alongs, I’ve written a PlanetJune CAL FAQ for you – a page of instructions to get you started with joining Ravelry, joining the PJ group, and adding your first project to a CAL. Please do check it out if you have any questions or worries about how to join in…

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South Africa wildlife IV

This post is part of my occasional series of photoblog posts about the wildlife and nature I see while living in South Africa.

For various reasons, it’s been far too long since I’ve been able to get outside and enjoy nature, but this weekend changed all that – we had beautiful summer-in-winter weekend weather and it was too nice to be inside. I took my camera with me to see what I could see, and ease me back into my wildlife photoblogging. So, there’s no real theme to this post, it’s just ‘what I saw this weekend’ :)

In my garden:

…a white butterfly finally stopped moving for long enough for me to photograph it:

white butterfly

…a giant grasshopper found the perfect lighting to pose for me:

locust

…and I spotted a new (to me) sight with my favourite Garden Acraeas: egg-laying!

garden acraea butterflies laying eggs
The female hangs from the edge of a leaf and raises her abdomen to lay her eggs against the underside of the leaf (see the butterfly on the right). I have no idea why a male (top left) kept flying over the other female’s leaf (bottom left) and interrupting her while she tried to do the same.

At a local nature reserve:

…flower season is most definitely beginning:

flowers

…the waterbirds were enjoying the sunshine:

flowers
Back: white-breasted cormorants; front: red-knobbed coots.

…some kind of shield bug (I’m no bug expert!) sunned itself on a succulent:

flowers

…and the red bishops looked spectacular as always:

flowers

And, by the river:

…these tiny flowers look like normal lawn daisies, except the petals are extra-short:

daisies

…we spotted a Cape weaver starting to weave a new nest between two tree branches:

cape weaver nest

…carefully weaving each blade of grass into the ring he’d already constructed:

cape weaver nest

…3 hours later, the ring of grass had become a ball and a female came to check it out:

cape weaver nest
If she liked his work, she’d line the nest and they’d lay their eggs inside.

…she inspected his handiwork thoroughly, but wasn’t impressed:

cape weaver nest

…maybe he needs to do a little more weaving and he’ll have more luck tomorrow! I’ll have to check back – if a female moves in, we should be able to see her flying into the nest with soft lining materials. If not, he’ll abandon the nest in a couple of days and try his luck with a new one…


A bit of a random return for my wildlife posts, but these little signs of spring make me very happy! I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing them too. Please leave me a comment if so – I do love to hear from you…

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Bamboo Cozy Cowls

To commemorate the release date of my new Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, I decided to crochet a project from the book just for myself – a rare treat for someone who crochets for a living… I made a less bulky version of the Cozy Cowl to wear indoors (it’s still winter here and cold inside!) by resizing the pattern to be much less wide and longer so I can wrap it around my neck twice:

Cozy Cowl by June Gilbank in bamboo yarn from Vinni's Colours

Cozy Cowl on Ravelry:

I treated myself to a skein of Vinni’s Colours Serina in Plum – a locally-produced 100% bamboo yarn. It’s much finer than the yarn in the book, so I had to swatch to find an appropriate hook size (I/5.5mm), and gamble that the single skein I bought would be enough for my project…

bamboo yarn from Vinni's Colours

I’d been looking for an excuse to buy some of this yarn for ages, not only because it’s beautiful and amazingly soft, but (from the yarn’s ball band):

This yarn is hand dyed and balled by women from an economically depressed rural area of South Africa. The sale of this product has empowered them and brought economic benefits to their community.

Getting to support the local economy is an added bonus!

Cozy Cowl by June Gilbank in bamboo yarn from Vinni's Colours

I used the modification instructions (that I’ve provided with all the patterns so you can resize them to be any height and width you want) to make my cowl thin and long, instead of short and wide as shown in the book. As my cowl is so narrow (ch 15 for the starting chain) there was actually more than enough yarn in the skein to make the 36″ loop I wanted. And the result is just what I hoped for:

  • It keeps the gap at the top of my sweaters covered so I don’t freeze
  • It’s extremely soft and non-irritating on my neck
  • It’s not bulky so I can wear it inside the house when it’s cold without looking stupid
  • And the yarn (and colour) are gorgeous!

And now, for contrast, here’s a second bamboo cowl I made, using the same Cozy Cowl pattern and the same concept (a thinner cowl to wrap twice). This time I used Bernat Bamboo, a bulky yarn, with a very large L/8mm hook, and what a difference that made!

Cozy Cowl by June Gilbank in Bernat Bamboo yarn

It’s very bulky, and so soft that the texture of the stitch pattern is almost lost, but it’s comfy and snuggly, so it feels lovely to wear. Between these two new cowls, I should stay nice and warm for the rest of the southern hemisphere winter!


If you’ve also started making a project from IG: Crochet, please join the crochet-along in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, and share what you’re making. It’s so exciting for me to see these patterns – some of which I designed a year ago – finally starting to be used to make beautiful things, and I’d love to see your versions of them too…

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August update

I skipped July’s monthly update, as I didn’t have anything to report except more burglary aftermath, but now I’m being treated for the PTSD, and today I had new extra-strong security gates installed at every entryway into my house, so things are getting better and I should feel much more secure from now on. And that’s enough about that – let’s move swiftly onto the good stuff!

Book-Along CAL

I’m most excited this month to start a new crochet-along for the new book (and the previous book, to be inclusive) in the PlanetJune Ravelry group. Throughout August and September, you can join in by making anything using the patterns, concepts and techniques from either of my two crochet books: Idiot’s Guides: Crochet and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi:

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - patterns
IG Crochet: Easy Stitch Gallery patterns
IG Crochet: Intermediate Stitch Gallery patterns
IG Crochet: Motif patterns
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amigurumi by June Gilbank - patterns

So yes, you have a lot of choices! I think you’ll find something you’ll like in this Crochet-Along and I hope you’ll join us by making one (or many) projects over the next 2 months and sharing them in the Book-Along CAL thread – you’ll find full details of the CAL there.

If you’re new to PlanetJune CALs, please see the CAL FAQ page for information and instructions for how to get started!

Subscribing to Blog Comments

It’s come to my attention that a recent WordPress update broke the ‘Notify me of follow-up comments by email’ function on my blog. I’m not sure how long it’s been broken for, so if you asked me a question and were waiting for notification of my reply, please return to the post you commented on to see my reply! The feature is now fixed and runs through Jetpack, so, in future, you can subscribe to comments on any post and you will receive notification by email when I respond to your query.

I do apologise to anyone who’s been negatively affected by this – I got to work fixing it as soon as someone mentioned it wasn’t working, but, as far as I know, it could have been broken for months. :( If you notice any other problems with my website, please let me know – I want everything to run smoothly, and if anything looks or acts strangely, I’d really appreciate it if you’d mention it to me, so I can try to improve it. Thanks!

Fiction and Fantasy CAL Report

The June/July CAL has now ended. Even though it’s been summer (for most) we had a lovely variety of entries – including lots of the new Aliens – and some very creative participants! Here’s a sampling of the entries (click the pic to see them all on Ravelry):

PlanetJune Fiction and Fantasy CAL 2014 - sample of entries

Review and Win contest

The monthly Review and Win contest has not been abandoned; I’m just postponing the draws for the winners of June and July’s contests. I’ll announce the 3 winners for all 3 summer months in September’s monthly update – so keep your fingers crossed, one of your June or July reviews may already be a winner and you don’t even know it yet!

You’re automatically entered in the next monthly draw every time you write a review for a PlanetJune pattern you’ve enjoyed – and you’ll also be helping future customers make an informed decision about patterns they are considering buying.

It’s Book Launch Time!

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

Tomorrow, August 5th, is the official launch date for my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet. So, if you haven’t pre-ordered it online, you may be able to pick it up from your local bookstore!

If you do see a copy on the shelf in a real-life shop, please snap me a pic and tweet, facebook or email it to me – I’d love to see my book ‘in the wild’!

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IG Crochet 5: Patterns Part 2

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

This is the last day of my week of posts telling you all about my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which will be released in 4 days, on 5th August.

For my main intro to the book, how to order your copy, and the other posts in this series, please see my main IG: Crochet info page.

Following on from yesterday’s post, here are my insights into the designs that make up the the second half of the pattern gallery at the end of my book…

Rolling Waves Blanket

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Rolling Waves Blanket pattern
I really enjoyed crocheting this blanket – the hardest part was knowing how long I’d have to wait to keep it looking nice and neat before Maui and I could snuggle up in it! This design has a beautiful stitch pattern but it’s easy to memorise. You only need to change colour once every 2 rows, so you won’t have hundreds of ends to weave in.

It’s easy to customize this design to make any size of blanket – from a baby blanket to an afghan for a king-sized bed – or even to crochet just the first 8 rows and you have a lovely wave pattern scarf.

I named this blanket Rolling Waves for the stitch pattern, and the colour choices for my sample support the name, but the wave pattern would look equally lovely in a non-aquatic colour scheme – just choose any main colour (the dark teal in my sample) and add one, two or more contrast colours. Pastels would make a sweet baby blanket, or how about a bold rainbow of different coloured wavy stripes against a black background? I can’t wait to see the different colour combos when people start working on this blanket. :)

Solid Stripes Bag

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Solid Stripes Bag pattern
This design was a challenge for me – I’m really not keen on most crocheted bags, as they almost always need to be lined to be useful, and the straps stretch out as soon as you put anything in them (unless you add a fabric backing to the straps too). Another challenge I set out to solve with my design!

Would you believe the lovely textured stripes of this bag are created with only one stitch? The linked stitch pattern has no holes, so you don’t need to line it with fabric, and small items such as pens (and crochet hooks!) won’t fall out. The tall stitches work up quickly, and the finished bag is large enough to be useful without taking forever to make. I was thinking of a bag for carrying library books when I made my sample, although of course you can use my modification notes to make a bag of any size.

My clever strap design creates an inelastic strap that won’t stretch out, and, possibly the best part of all: this design is almost no-sew – you just need a few stitches to join the ends of the strap together, and all the rest of the assembly is crocheted. I’ve included assembly diagrams to make that process even simpler.

Double Diagonals Shawl

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Double Diagonals Shawl pattern
This may be my favourite pattern in the book. I thought I’d nailed the design several times, but then came up with a tweak to make it even better and had to redo the whole thing with the improved stitch pattern, over and over again. But it was worth every frogging and redoing – the final stitch pattern is infinitely prettier than my original concept! It looks to me a little like flowers and a little like snowflakes, but, either way, the parallel diagonal stitches throughout (that give this design its name) are uniquely beautiful.

The shawl is a shallow triangular shape, which means it’ll work up more quickly than a standard right-angled triangular shawl. As it’s worked from the bottom up, you can just keep crocheting until you like the size – or until you run out of yarn! A subtle picot edging makes the perfect finishing touch for this stunning shawl.

Front-and-Back Hat

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Front-and-Back Hat pattern
My editors were pretty insistent that I should design a hat for this book, but after browsing pages and pages of hat designs on Ravelry, I realised that I just don’t like crocheted hats… I don’t like the bulls-eye shape the rows make on the top of the head; I don’t like the helmet-like structure of a single crochet hat, or the gappiness of a hat made with taller stitches; I really don’t like hats with a plain top and a fancy stitch pattern that only starts on the sides.

So I set out to design a hat that avoided everything I don’t like about crocheted hats – quite a challenge as I’m so picky! Finally, I came up with a seamless stitch pattern that gives a subtle all-over texture, with no obvious rows, and no transition between the increase part at the top of the hat and the straight sides. Even the increases are pretty much invisible!

I love the texture of this hat – it gives the hat a beautiful appearance and a nice stretch but without leaving any gaps for the wind to sneak through. The ‘Front-and-Back’ name refers to the trick that makes this hat unique – a combination of front and back loop only stitches (which are mirrored in the front and back post stitches in the ribbing).

I designed this hat in 3 sizes (child, adult small and adult large), but I’ve also included a recipe that works by size, so you can make this hat with any yarn and any gauge, and end up with a hat that fits anyone beautifully. Note: the beautiful girl in this photo is wearing the adult small size hat, which is why it’s a little large on her.

Front-and-Back Fingerless Mitts

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Front-and-Back Fingerless Mitts pattern
And now to the final pattern. If your book has one hat and one set of fingerless mitts, it just makes sense to design the patterns so you can crochet a matching set!

I was originally going to just make basic wristwarmers with a slit for the thumb, but I decided it’s important for your thumb joint to be warm too, so I set out to design a shaped, fitted, no-sew fingerless mitt where the thumb shaping doesn’t disrupt the stitch pattern. I designed these mitts to be long enough to cover your knuckles and keep you cosy, or of course you could add extra rows above or below the thumb gusset to make your mitts longer still.

If you’ve already made the hat, the mitts are a natural progression – slightly more complex due to the thumb gusset shaping, but you’ll still find it easy, as it uses the same front-and-back stitch patterns you used for the hat.

I’ve supplied the mitts pattern in 2 sizes that should cover pretty much all women’s hand sizes, and – as I mention in the pattern – you can modify it further by intentionally not meeting gauge, to make your mitts a little smaller or bigger, as necessary.

Note: all images reprinted with permission, Alpha Books, a member of DK.


Intrigued Yet?

So that’s it – the end of the week of posts that tell you all about my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet. I hope you’ve found these posts interesting and that they’ve tempted you to take a look at the book once it’s released on August 5th (assuming you’re not one of the lucky few who amazon shipped to early!)

I put my heart and soul into making this book the best it could be, and I really hope you’ll enjoy it and find it useful, and different from every other crochet book out there.

  • Buy it! If you haven’t bought IG: Crochet yet, and would like to, please use my amazon links to buy either the paperback or Kindle version – you’ll save some money vs buying it in a bookstore, and I’ll make a few extra pennies too.
  • Review it! If you’ve already bought it and love it, please consider writing a review on amazon and telling the world why you think it’s a special book. Thank you :)

Crochet-Along With Us!

And to celebrate the launch of IG: Crochet, today we’re starting a 2-month Book-Along crochet-along (CAL) in the PlanetJune Ravelry group. That gives you plenty of time to try out a project – or several – from IG: Crochet, discuss yarns and colour choices, ask for advice, share your photos of your projects, and enjoy seeing what everyone else is making and how the different patterns look in different yarns and colours.

I’ll be there too, of course, if you have questions or want my opinion on anything. It’s going to be great, and I really hope you’ll join us for it! If you’re new to Ravelry, you’ll have to sign up for a free membership, but I promise you’ll love being a part of our friendly, helpful PlanetJune community. I hope to see you there!

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IG Crochet 4: Patterns Part 1

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

This is Day 4 of my week of posts telling you all about my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which will be released in 5 days, on 5th August.

For my main intro to the book, how to order your copy, and the other posts in this series, please see my main IG: Crochet info page.

To round out the book, I’ve designed a range of stylish original accessories and home decor patterns in a variety of simple, textured and lacy stitches. All the patterns include stitch diagrams and schematics where needed, and give modification tips if you want to use a different gauge or make a different size.

I’ve arranged the patterns in approximate order of difficulty, so you’ll learn more as you make each one, using the stitches and techniques I taught you earlier in the book.

Today and tomorrow, I’ll give you a little insight into the thought processes behind my designs and what makes each one special. Here’s Part 1…

Flecked Scarf

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Flecked Scarf pattern
I love this design! I spent ages fiddling around with swatches to develop this stitch pattern that cleverly adds flecks of the contrast colour in an offset pattern, while each row of the scarf is crocheted in only one colour, so there’s no colour changing to worry about!

Can it get any better? Yes, it can: the fringe has the dual purpose of incorporating all the yarn ends, so there’s no weaving in either!

A simple and fun pattern with a stylish and impressive end result for not much work – isn’t that the best kind of pattern?!

Cozy Cowl

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Cozy Cowl pattern
This cowl should be a go-to pattern for quick gifts. I came up with this stitch pattern that adds texture without too much chunky stiffness – getting a nice drape is always a concern when designing crocheted accessories.

As this cowl is worked flat, you have the freedom to keep crocheting until you like the feel of it wrapped around your neck. You can keep going to turn it into a long scarf, or even add buttons to make it a button-up cowl – there are large enough holes between the stitches that you won’t need to make buttonholes.

The best part for me is the ends: if you choose not to join the cowl into a loop, you get a lovely wiggly line along each end – no need to add an edging! But if you do join it as I show in the pattern, I’ve designed the wiggles to mesh together perfectly, so your seam will be practically invisible.

Phone or Tablet Slipcover

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Phone or Tablet Slipcover pattern
This slipcover will let you throw your device into your bag without worrying about it getting scratched. It’s easy to customise the pattern to fit any size of portable electronic device, there are no fasteners to grapple with, and the slim fit means you can travel light without carrying a bulky case.

I came up with a simple but beautiful solid, cushioning stitch pattern that will protect your devices without looking boring. I’ve put this design through its paces: my phone has been thrown into my handbag (in my original prototype of the phone case) every day for over a year and is completely unscathed.

Note: The phone used in this photo is slightly smaller than the one I crocheted the case for, so don’t worry – follow my instructions for your own devices and the slipcover will be a perfect snug fit.

Handy Baskets

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Handy Baskets pattern
Sometimes single crochet really is the best choice – and not just for amigurumi! It makes a solid, sturdy fabric that’s perfect for more dimensional items like baskets.

But, to keep my design original and interesting, I gave my set of 3 nesting baskets a few clever twists: they are seamless, with a sharp, crisp corner around the bottom, and I developed an amazing but simple new invisible join for single row stripes, which makes the contrast stripe and the top edge look totally seamless! They are worked with 2 strands of yarn to give a thick, sturdy result.

Placemat and Coaster Set

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Placemat and Coaster Set pattern
I wanted a solid but textured stitch pattern for my placemat and coaster set: too open or too textured a pattern leaves your mug in danger of tipping over! I played with all sorts of stitch combinations and swatched until I found the perfect match, with a simple but interesting looking stitch pattern, and a little (but not too much!) texture. The reverse single crochet edging adds the perfect finishing touch.

I chose a natural-coloured linen-blend yarn for my samples, for a natural, rustic feel, but standard kitchen cotton would be a perfect choice for yours. Of course you can use any colour (or stripes of colour, alternating every 1 or 2 rows) to match the style of your dining room. Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted one of my coasters in use under my mug of tea on my new homepage ;)


And, with that, we’re halfway through the Gallery of Patterns – what do you think so far? Stay tuned for the final 5 patterns, in tomorrow’s post…

Note: all images reprinted with permission, Alpha Books, a member of DK.

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IG Crochet 3: Stitch Galleries & Motifs

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

This is Day 3 of my week of posts telling you all about my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which will be released in 6 days, on 5th August.

For my main intro to the book, how to order your copy, and the other posts in this series, please see my main IG: Crochet info page.

I’ve included two stitch gallery chapters in IG: Crochet, plus a chapter on motifs.

Stitch Galleries

The beauty of crochet is that you can create a huge variety of stitch patterns from a few simple stitches. The Easy Stitch Gallery (Chapter 10) shows you how to create completely different effects using only the most basic stitches: chain, single crochet, half double crochet, and double crochet.

IG Crochet: Easy Stitch Gallery patterns
Easy Stitch Gallery patterns

The Intermediate Stitch Gallery (Chapter 15) demonstrates how you can combine all the crochet stitches you’ve learnt in the previous chapters to create a huge variety of decorative effects, from lacy, open stitch patterns, to densely textured patterns, and everything in between.

IG Crochet: Intermediate Stitch Gallery patterns
Intermediate Stitch Gallery patterns

All my stitch patterns in both chapters include a clear swatch photo, full written instructions, and a charted stitch diagram. If you follow my advice on swatching (see Gauge, p64-67) to make sure you select a hook size that will work with your yarn to produce a fabric you love, you can choose any of these stitch patterns to easily make any rectangular shaped object, such as a dishcloth, a scarf, or a blanket – just pick a stitch pattern and decide how big you want to make it, then start crocheting!

Motifs

And I’ve also included a chapter on Motifs (Chapter 13), with useful info and tips for making perfect motifs, and a selection of 5 patterns: the classic granny square, a solid variant on a granny square, a circle-in-square design, and a granny triangle and hexagon. You’d be amazed how many different formulae there are for making motifs like these, and I used a combination of maths and lots of prototyping to come up with what I consider to be the best patterns for each of these designs, that give the flattest and straightest-edged results, even before blocking.

IG Crochet: Motif patterns
My motif patterns

I alternated between two colours for the rounds in my motifs, to make the pattern as clear as possible for you to follow. All my motif patterns include full round-by-round text instructions (with photos of each round, for those new to motif-making), a charted stitch diagram, and a general pattern for extending the motif to be as large as you want.

And then you can choose any of the joins from the several options I demonstrate in Finishing Techniques (Chapter 9 – my favourite is the Flat Slip-Stitched Seam) to crochet or stitch your motifs together into a blanket, bag, scarf, or whatever else you want!


Check back tomorrow, when I’ll show you the first half of the Gallery of Patterns I designed exclusively for this book!

Note: all images reprinted with permission, Alpha Books, a member of DK.

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IG Crochet 2: Tutorials & Practice Projects

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

This is Day 2 of my week of posts telling you all about my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which will be released in 7 days, on 5th August.

For my main intro to the book, how to order your copy, and the other posts in this series, please see my main IG: Crochet info page.

Tutorials

Making really clear, easy to follow tutorials is something I’ve been perfecting for years, so I knew exactly what I wanted for the tutorials in this book:

  • Lots of photos, so you’re walked through every stitch step-by-step.
  • Ultra-close-up full-colour photos with relevant loops/stitches highlighted so you can really see exactly what you’re looking at.
  • Arrows that show exactly where to put your hook and point out any features to watch out for.
  • Extra tips and tricks to make your crocheting life easier.

In short, I made this experience as close to one of my video tutorials as I could manage in book form, so you can see exactly what my hook is doing at every stage of each stitch.

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - sample tutorial page

My instructions are detailed and complete, and the hundreds of photos are in full colour, clear and close-up, so a beginner with no prior crochet knowledge can watch my fingers and replicate my movements as I walk you, step-by-step, through every stage of learning to crochet.

I’ve covered everything from the very basics that most books gloss over in a sentence (e.g. How exactly do you ‘yarn over’? What does ‘draw up a loop’ really mean?) in a series of chapters that build your skills gradually until you’re ready to learn a variety of more advanced stitches and techniques to help you perfect your work (e.g. How do you ‘weave in ends’? What is ‘blocking’ and how and when should you do it?).

Practice Projects

Throughout the chapters I’ve included a selection of practice projects – original patterns that let you try out your new skills and make something pretty in the process. Your first projects shouldn’t have to be embarrassing or dull!

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 1: Three Simple WashclothsIdiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 2: Colorblock Potholder
Three Simple Washcloths – a perfect first project for the novice crocheter.
Colorblock Potholder – get to grips with colour changes and basic edgings.

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 3: Triangle BuntingIdiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 4: Circular Coasters
Triangle Bunting – make top-down and bottom-up triangles that form exactly the same final shape, so you can practice both increases and decreases and make a pretty decoration in the process.
Circular Coasters – try out working in the round and using a combination of different basic crochet stitches in the same pattern.

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 5: Pretty HeadbandIdiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 6: Puff Stitch Scarf
Pretty Headband – make a chainless foundation and try your hand at reading a charted stitch diagram.
Puff Stitch Scarf – an introduction to combination stitches, and perfecting those tricky puffs!

Of course, even if you’re not a crochet newbie, these beginner-friendly projects are also pretty enough to be given as gifts, or just to make for yourself ;)

Tip: If you’re beyond absolute beginner level, I’d recommend you add a little more pizzazz to the most basic project – the washcloths – by adding my Basic Edging (p50-51), or any of the other edgings from Edgings & Adornments (Chapter 14).


I’m only just getting started with showing you what I’ve included in this book – I told you it was epic! In tomorrow’s post, we’ll look at the Stitch Galleries and Motifs chapters, and then on Thursday and Friday I’ll finally get to show you my patterns…

Note: all images reprinted with permission, Alpha Books, a member of DK.

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IG Crochet 1: About the Book

This is Day 1 of my week of posts telling you all about my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which will be released in 8 days, on 5th August. For my main intro to the book, how to order your copy, and the other posts in this series, please see my main IG: Crochet info page.

Overview

Idiot’s Guides: Crochet was an ambitious project, as I had so much valuable content to include. The end result is 264 pages and 750g (that’s over 1.5lbs!) of crochet techniques and beautiful patterns. To start this week, I thought I’d give you a taster of why this book is unique and special…

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

Tutorials

If you’ve bought my Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi, you’ll know I like to cover every detail in my books, so you’ll have a valuable reference source you’ll consult over and over again as you want to learn about new techniques or refresh your memory on something you haven’t done for a while. But, in this book, I’ve been able to go into much more detail, starting from the very basics of crocheting, and creating a clear, easy-to-follow, comprehensive guidebook, with hundreds of full-colour close-up photos.

I’ll share more about the tutorials in tomorrow’s post.

Tips and Tricks

If you’re already an intermediate or advanced-level crocheter, please don’t think there’s nothing in this book for you! I’ve included all my helpful tips and tricks throughout the book – I bet you’ll find at least something you didn’t already know in there…

Patterns

And my patterns are definitely not only for beginners. Although they are all easy to intermediate level, I didn’t let that stop me from creating beautiful, elegant designs for every project. You’ll also find all the pattern extras that I always include in PlanetJune Accessories designs: full text instructions, charted stitch diagrams, schematics, and helpful resizing tips so you can customise your project with my guidance.

I’ll reveal details of all my patterns on Thursday and Friday.

Modifications

a variety of yarns by planetjune

I strongly feel that crochet patterns are not just there to be followed to the letter: a good pattern should be a jumping-off point, and crocheters should be emboldened to change colours, finished size, yarn type and thickness, and know you can still end up with beautiful results and have created something uniquely your own, using a yarn you really love.

I’ve seen the lovely results of this time and again with the projects people have made from my PJ Accessories designs, and yet most patterns are written so rigidly, without inviting the possibility of making your own tweaks. In IG: Crochet I encourage this kind of customisation, and include tips with every pattern as starting points for making your own modifications.

(Next week, I’ll be showing you some projects I’ve made by modifying the book patterns, so you can see what I mean!)

Photography

This book was a whole new experience for me, as it had 2 photographers: I photographed my hands and my test samples for all the tutorials and technical photos, but all the stylish photos of my finished projects and the appealing photos on each chapter opener page were taken by the talented photographer Becky Batchelor (who also did the graphic design and layout).

This means you get the best of both worlds: my clear, close-up detailed photos wherever I’m teaching you something, and Becky’s gorgeous eye-candy photos everywhere else. They show off my designs beautifully and make the book a pleasure to flip through and enjoy visually.

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

 

Spot the difference? The top spread has my close-up technical photos and the bottom spread includes one of Becky’s lovely photos.


Throughout the rest of this week, as a countdown to the release date of August 5th, I’ll be giving you more detail about the different aspects of IG: Crochet:

  • Tuesday: Tutorials & Practice Projects
  • Wednesday: Stitch Galleries & Motifs
  • Thursday: Patterns (part 1)
  • Friday: Patterns (part 2)

Stay tuned!

Note: cover images reprinted with permission, Alpha Books, a member of DK.

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PlanetJune redesign

I’m unbelivably excited to finally be able to write this post – my website redesign has been over 5 years in the making, and now it’s ready to launch! Just for kicks, let’s take a look back over the history of the PlanetJune website that brought us to this point:

In January 2009, I made PlanetJune my full-time job and redesigned my homepage so it matched my blog (below, right) instead of looking like a random hobby site (below, left):

PlanetJune homepage, pre-2009 PlanetJune homepage, 2009-2014

I started working on my logo design, but got stuck, and it took another 3 years before I came up with my logo and put it up on the blog:

PlanetJune blog header, 2007-2012
Before logo (above) and after (below)
PlanetJune blog header, 2012-2014

And then I stalled again – although it’s bugged the perfectionist in me to know how disjointed the rest of my site was, my life has been a non-stop rollercoaster ride for the past 2 years, and I just haven’t the time to do anything about this. But now, with my new crochet book launching, completing this redesign is my opportunity to let my work finally speak for itself.

Today marks the culmination of a 5 year journey from becoming a serious business owner to creating a website that actually reflects that.

Here’s the all-new and much improved homepage! I’ll show you a screenshot below, but please do click through to see it in its full glory – it’s big and bold and I love it.

new PlanetJune homepage

I didn’t design this entirely alone – although I built everything myself, I did invest in design consultations with a professional web designer (Brandi at aShadow) who was absolutely invaluable. The basic layout and all the nice visual touches on the homepage came from Brandi’s ideas, and I’d probably still have been staring at a blank page without her creative input! Consulting with an expert was also a great way to find out about some new css and jquery tricks that weren’t around the last time I did this kind of web dev work, without having to put in all the research hours myself.

Once I finalised the new homepage design, I overhauled the rest of the site to match. The new PlanetJune layout is wider, with my name at the top of every page (as it should be!) and the page title moved to below the menu bar instead. I’ve dusted off my web developer hat and built some new pieces and pages that bring all the disparate pieces of the site together more closely and reinforce the PlanetJune identity, with the same header, top menu bar, and new bottom footer menu on every page of the site, and a ‘Quick Links’ sidebar on the left (everywhere except the homepage and the shop).

new PlanetJune layout top

I then used my web usability experience to make the site easier to use: you can login to your PlanetJune account from anywhere on the site (instead of having to go to the shop first); and I’ve tweaked the menus so the multitude of confusingly different things I have to offer are organised by what you’d like to do:

  • Buy (pattern shop, commissions, buying toys from PJ sellers)
  • Learn (tutorials, free patterns, punchneedle info)
  • Info (blog, FAQ, pattern user licence, pattern catalogue)
  • About (my bio, testimonials, publications, my art projects)
  • Follow (social media and other places to find me online)

I think that makes at least some sense, and it’s definitely clearer than before! (Even I didn’t know where to look in the old menus…)

My website may not be perfect – and the shop, in particular, still needs more work when I have time – but I hope it accomplishes my goals for this project:

  1. To make every page instantly recognisable as part of PlanetJune
  2. To make it clear what I offer and let you find those things more easily

I hope you agree! This has been a massive but rewarding undertaking; I’m pretty proud of myself for accomplishing this. I think it makes a huge difference to my website, and I really hope you’ll enjoy the improved PlanetJune experience. Please do let me know what you think of it in the comments…

By the way, I’ve tested everything as much as I can, on as many devices as possible, but, please, if you see anything strange, broken, or confusing as you travel around PlanetJune in future, do let me know so I can fix/improve it – thanks!

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    June Gilbank
    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!
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