PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Frilled Lizard crochet pattern

When I was doing dinosaur research for Dinosaurs Sets 2 & 3, I was very disappointed to discover that one of my ‘must-make’ dinosaurs didn’t live up to my expectations. Remember the classic scene in Jurassic Park where a man tries to steal dinosaur embryos and is attacked by a venom-spitting Dilophosaurus with a giant expanding neck frill? It turns out that the neck frill (and the venom) were dramatic licence on the part of the film-makers.

But hang on, if I can’t make a scientifically-inaccurate Dilophosaurus for my Dinosaur collection, why not make the real lizard that inspired the movie-makers?! The frill was actually ‘borrowed’ from the 100% real (and very cool) Australian frill-necked lizards.

And hence today’s fun new release: an Expansion Pack for my Iguana pattern, so you can turn it into a Frilled Lizard in full display mode, with gaping mouth and fully-spread ridged frill.

frilled lizard crochet expansion pack pattern by planetjune

Frilled Lizard Fun Facts

  • Frill-necked lizards are part of the agamid family of lizards, otherwise known as dragons or dragon lizards.
  • The amazing brightly-coloured mouth lining and dramatic frill work as a defense mechanism for the lizard, to make it look big and threatening when it’s frightened.
  • When un-expanded, the pleated frill lies flat along the lizard’s neck with the bright colours hidden, to help the lizard stay camouflaged against predators.
  • Frilled lizards live in trees and come to the ground to feed on insects.
  • They can reach up to 3 feet long (although a good fraction of that comes from their tail!)

frilled lizard crochet expansion pack pattern by planetjune

Pattern Info

This expansion pack pattern is intermediate level, but only because of the frill, which requires both changing colours and using different stitches (not just amigurumi-style single crochet). Please don’t be intimidated if you’re new to this type of crochet, though, as I’ll walk you through developing your crochet skills as you crochet the frill:

  • In addition to my usual full written instructions and charted stitch diagrams, I’ve included instructional appendices for the frill for right- and left-handers.
  • Each appendix walks you through the frill row by row via a special colour-coded stitch diagram for the row and a photo of the frill at the end of the row.
  • If you’re printing the pattern, save paper and ink by only printing the right- or left-handed appendix as applicable (or don’t print either, if you don’t need the additional instructions).
frilled lizard crochet expansion pack pattern by planetjune

What is an Expansion Pack?

Expansion Packs by PlanetJune

  • An Expansion Pack is an add-on to an existing PlanetJune pattern.
  • The Expansion Pack lets you modify or add to the original pattern to create something else.
  • You cannot use the Expansion Pack alone – you must also purchase the original pattern in order to be able to complete the pictured items in the Expansion Pack pattern.

You can buy the Frilled Lizard Expansion Pack for only $2.50 individually from the shop, or, if you haven’t yet bought the Iguana pattern, you can buy the multipack of both lizards, and save 50c on the pair.

Launch Discount

If you’ve already bought the Iguana, you won’t be able to save that 50c. But, for 7 days only, add the Frilled Lizard Expansion Pack pattern to your shopping cart, together with anything else (totalling $5 or more), then use the code FRILLY at checkout and you’ll still get your discount! (Valid until next Sunday: 19th October 2014.)

Note: If you don’t need anything else right now, this also applies to Gift Certificate purchases, so you can pick up a $5 gift certificate now, get your discount, and have $5 in your PlanetJune account ready for your next purchase, or to send to a crocheting friend!


My Frilled Lizard makes me laugh, with his wide open mouth and colourful frill. I’ve also just realised that his colours are very seasonally appropriate in autumnal shades of brown, orange and yellow – although that was just a happy accident based on the colouring of the real lizards! If you’re not ready to make one just yet, don’t forget to heart and queue it on Ravelry so you don’t forget about him:

I hope you’ll enjoy this pattern as much as I enjoyed creating him! :)

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Shop more easily at PlanetJune!

You may have noticed some changes in the PlanetJune shop over the past few weeks – and now it’s time to officially announce the new and improved PlanetJune shopping experience:

PDFs for Everyone

That’s right, there are no more zip files to deal with! I’ve converted the hundreds of items in my shop (and the thousands of past orders) from zip files to plain PDF files. Now you can download your PlanetJune patterns directly as PDF files that are simple to download and open on any device.

Unlimited Access

As you probably know, when you buy a PlanetJune pattern, you’re buying a perpetual, non-transferable, single-user licence for that pattern. That means you’re entitled to free updates and may download the pattern again (for your own use only) whenever you need to.

Now that process is even simpler: just log back into your PlanetJune account and you can automatically re-download any pattern purchases at any time. There’s no need to contact me first to reset the limit; the links to your pattern PDFs are all stored under their original orders in your PlanetJune account and will never expire.

pumpkin crochet pattern by planetjune
A little seasonal crochet to brighten your day – details at the end of this post :)

About the Changes

When I first started my online shop in 2008, zip files were the way to go, as they were smaller and faster to download, and you could include multiple PDFs in a single zip file. Since the advent of faster internet speeds that rendered smaller downloads unnecessary, and new devices (smartphones, tablets and e-readers) that don’t natively read zip files, I was spending more and more of my time providing technical support for those pesky zip files.

I’ve been working for months on finding a way to both update the shop and convert all past orders without breaking anything or losing any past orders. Slowly but surely I pieced together my strategy. Working out all the code and updates required was a huge technical project, but, once all the plans were ready, it only took a few days to implement.

To make sure my server could cope with the demands of larger files being downloaded more frequently, I actually made the switch over a month ago. Now I’m confident there are no glitches in the new system and everything is running smoothly, it’s time to make this official.

My goals with these web improvement projects are to give you, my customers, a better shopping experience, and to reduce my tech support workload. Since making the above changes, my customer support log reveals that technical queries (related to downloading patterns, logging in, signing up, resetting download limits etc) have reduced from about 35% of my total customer support requests to well below 10% – that means it’s working!

These changes make it easier for you to buy and download my patterns, and that should also save me countless hours of customer support over the coming months and years, especially if/as my business continues to grow.

How You Benefit

Here’s what the changes mean for you:

  • Downloading PlanetJune patterns is now simple and straightforward from any computer or mobile device.
  • If you need another copy of any of your past PlanetJune purchases, your pattern PDFs are always there in your account ready to download again.
  • And, if you missed the download window for any of my pattern updates, they’re all ready for you again now – and at any time in the future!
  • Note: If any of your PJ patterns are not in your PlanetJune account – for example, if you bought them on Etsy or ArtFire, or won them in a competition – just email me with the details and I’ll add them to your account, so you’ll have access to any updates, and can download another copy if you need one.

I’m so pleased I’ve finally been able to make this happen. I think it’s going to make a big difference to your shopping experience, and I hope you’ll enjoy using the improved PlanetJune shop!


pumpkin crochet pattern by planetjune

About that Pumpkin…
If you’re wondering about the giant pumpkin in my photo, I made it from my free Pumpkin pattern, but I used 2 strands of worsted weight yarn and a larger hook (I/5.5mm) to super-size it compared with the normal pumpkins (the orange ones in the background).

If you’d like to try making one too – or any other seasonal PlanetJune crochet patterns – please share what you’re making in the Fall Crochet-Along thread in the PlanetJune ravelry group :)

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Borneo Wildlife

I thought you’d like to see some of the animals I saw on my trip to Malaysian Borneo last month! As this is a craft (and wildlife) blog, I’m keeping this post to just my wildlife photos, but, if you’re interested in knowing more about my trip, I’ve written it up separately as a travel journal with lots more pics: A Bornean Adventure.

We were privileged to get to watch these two rescued orphan orangutan babies in training. Once they’re old enough and have learned how to survive in the wild, they’ll be released back into the forest. (I’ve written more about the orangutan rescue and rehabilitation in my travel journal.)

orangutan1 orangutan2 orangutan3orangutan4

But, although this would have been enough, we saw far more than just orangutans…

__(‘Read the rest of this entry »’)

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October update

September is over which means I’m back from my mini sabbatical, which went by in a flash – did you even have time to miss me?!

I achieved some major goals: an amazing trip to Malaysia (I’ll share that with you when I’ve finished sorting through the 2000-ish photos I took…) and some big technical improvements with the shop (I’ll tell you about those in a later post too).

And then I hit a snag: I was stricken with first a bad tummy bug (while travelling), then a cold (probably caught on the long journey home) and now I have bronchitis, so I’m not at all rested and revitalised as I’d expected to be after this time away from you. The best laid plans…

While I do have several new and exciting patterns in the works, nothing is anywhere near ready to publish, and I think I’m going to have to pass on designing any new Fall- or Christmas-themed patterns this year. I know it seems like a wasted opportunity, but my designs take inspiration, time and a clear head to develop and I don’t have much of any of those right now – being awake coughing all night will do that to you!

Fall CAL

However, I do already have a million and one designs (approximately), so all is not lost. ;)

This month’s crochet-along theme is all things fall, halloween and autumnal, from cute and spooky amigurumi, to seasonally-appropriate accessories. You can choose from any PlanetJune patterns and the patterns from both my books, provided they fit the theme (either as-is, or with your own customizations). Here’s a selection of ideas to get you started:

a selection of Fall-themed PlanetJune patterns
Note: This photo doesn’t even include all the PlanetJune options, let alone any pics from Idiot’s Guides: Crochet – if you’ve already bought the book, you’ll know there are lots of seasonally-appropriate options there too!

I hope you’ll join us in the PlanetJune ravelry group for the Fall CAL this October :)

Book-Along CAL Report

The vast majority of entries in the Book-Along were made from the patterns (and creative uses of the stitch patterns) from my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet. It hasn’t even been out for 2 months yet, and it’s an amazing feeling to see it being put to such good use, and to see people taking my advice from the book and modifying my patterns to make their own gorgeous versions. Here’s a sampling of the CAL entries (click the pic to see them all on Ravelry):

PlanetJune BookAlong CAL 2014 - sample of entries

I’m going to start a new thread in the Ravelry group for future book projects – it’s lovely to be able to browse through and see what everyone is making.

Review and Win contest

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.

I have a bumper crop of winners to announce this month, as circumstances haven’t left me time to draw any winners since May(!), so here are the whole summer’s randomly-drawn winners:

PlanetJune pattern reviews

June’s winner is Jessica C‘s review of the ever-popular Baby Bunnies:

Very well-written pattern, easy to follow and with plenty of pictures to assist in placement of parts. They work up quickly and easily.

July’s winner is Stacey H‘s review of the Baby Sea Turtle Collection:

I made several of these! This was the very first pattern I made. I actually learned to crochet so I could make this pattern! It was easy enough for a beginner!

August’s winner is Peggy G‘s review of the classic Stegosaurus:

My nephew is dino-crazy, so I have made him almost every single one of June’s dinosaurs. They are a huge hit with him and they are so cute and fun to make. Super detailed pattern makes them zero-stress. Highly recommended!

And September’s winner is Chevelle G‘s review of my Gecko pattern:

I’ve been crocheting for just over a year now, but this was my first amigurumi project! I’ve been wanting to try my hand at it for ages, and when my fiance saw that I’d pinned this pattern from Ravelry to my Pinterest board, he fell in love and asked me to make him one! June’s pattern was so straightforward and easy to follow, making it perfect for someone having a go at amigurumi for the first time. It was amazed to see it taking shape so fast – I had this little guy finished in just a few hours, and my fiance loved him! I can’t wait to try more of June’s patterns – they are detailed, easy to follow and full of photos that are a great reference. Thank you, June! :)

Congratulations to all the winners – I’ve emailed you to find out which pattern you’d like as your prize! And thanks to everyone who takes a minute to leave a review in my shop for a pattern they’ve enjoyed – please do keep those reviews coming…

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September Sabbatical

I’m taking the month of September as a sort of mini-sabbatical break. (A ‘sabbatical’ is a term used in the academic world for a break from daily work to pursue travel and/or learning, and then return re-energised and reinvigorated.)

In my case, I’ll be stepping away from the internet for the month. Taking a step back from my online life is something I need for both personal and creative reasons after a very demanding year.

My Sabbatical Plans

Travel
During part of the month, we’ll be fulfilling one of my lifelong dreams of visiting wild orangutans in Borneo! I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting this is for me. I’ve never been to Asia before, so it’s a little nerve-wracking too, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I can’t pass up, and I’m sure it’ll be an amazing experience.

For safety reasons, I’m not sure that sharing details of my trip in real-time would be wise. I’m minimising my online presence all month so it won’t be obvious exactly when I’m away, and I’ll fill you in with a Borneo wildlife report (here on my blog) when I’m back online in October.

Study
For the weeks when I’m not travelling, I’ll be working: spending quality time on creative growth and technical skill development. There are several exciting new PlanetJune projects in progress that need quiet undisturbed concentration so I can figure out how best to make them a reality.

We’re only a couple of days into this sabbatical (I actually started early, last Friday), and I’ve already replaced almost all the zip files for new orders in my shop with PDFs – a feature that will please smartphone and tablet users especially! I’ll continue converting the rest of the shop, and all past orders (and I’ll give you more details on this project once it’s completed). You’ll be able to see the other fruits of my labours throughout the rest of the year – more good things are in the pipeline!

Logistics
September is a poor choice for a break, business-wise: it’s the month when crochet sales start to pick up after the summer, and I usually try to capitalise on that with a strong new pattern release, but my new book should be keeping most people busy for a while, so I think PlanetJune will withstand a quiet September. I have a trustworthy reputation and a large back catalogue of quality patterns, so regular new releases are less important than making sure that everything I publish meets the high standards I’ve set for PlanetJune.


What does my Sabbatical mean for you?

  • I will not be shipping any orders throughout September. You may still order crochet tools during this time, but I won’t ship them until the first week of October.
  • Direct pattern sales through PlanetJune will be unaffected (instant digital downloads as always) but pattern orders through third-party venues (Etsy, ArtFire) may occasionally take longer than my usual 24-48 hours.
  • I won’t be blogging, chatting in the PJ Ravelry group, or participating in social media on Twitter or Facebook, so don’t worry over my silence!
  • I will be checking for personal messages in all those places every couple of days (even while I’m travelling), and monitoring my email, so I’ll still be able to offer help where required, but it may take longer than usual for you to receive a response, and I’ll try not to reply to anything except essential customer support requests until after my mini-sabbatical ends.

Getting Help
If you need any help, my recommendations are:

  1. For general PlanetJune assistance, check the PlanetJune FAQ – always a good starting point.
  2. For crochet help, check my master list of Crochet Tutorials.
  3. If your question isn’t answered by those, go and ask in the PJ Ravelry group – you’ll find plenty of friendly and knowledgeable assistance there.
  4. If you’re still having difficulty, or have a technical problem with ordering/downloading patterns (only I can help with that!), please email me, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, but please remember I may be in the Bornean jungle and unable to respond quickly!

My Goals

My hopes for this break are:

  • To rest, relax and recover while finding new inspiration in the nature of Borneo.
  • To develop my technical skills so I can improve the PlanetJune shopping experience.
  • To take quality time to make progress on innovative new designs.

That’s a lot to fit into a month, even with minimal online distractions, but I don’t think I can afford to take a 2- or 3-month sabbatical at the moment!

I hope you have a wonderful month. I’ll give your regards to the orangutans, and I’ll see you in October…

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pattern re-releases: Fuzzy Friends

I’ve been updating my entire back catalogue of patterns with extra information and tips and a new space-saving layout, and re-releasing them in batches as they are ready. Please see the Pattern Re-Release FAQ for more information.

I’ve finally done it! With this last batch of 12 patterns, all my crochet patterns, punchneedle patterns and ebook, and craft tutorials have been updated and re-released. That’s 125 re-released patterns over the course of almost 2 years (I re-released the first batch in October 2012) and it’s a huge weight off my mind that you can now be assured that any PlanetJune pattern you purchase meets my high standards for clarity, quality, detail, and ease of understanding.

This final batch of re-releases includes all 11 patterns from the Fuzzy Friends collection, the About Fuzzy Patterns reference guide you receive with each of these patterns, and Ice Cream Bear.

All these crochet patterns are now updated and re-released:

Fuzzy Friends crochet patterns (and Ice Cream Bear) by planetjune
Fuzzy Bear, Fuzzy Bunny & Chick, Fuzzy Lamb, Fuzzy Penguin, Mini Fuzzies: Woodland Creatures, Fuzzy Seal, Fuzzy Ferret, Fuzzy Monkeys, Fuzzy Kitten, Fuzzy Guinea Pig, Fuzzy Rat, Ice Cream Bear.

If you’ve previously purchased any of these patterns, the update(s) are now ready for you to download in the new format!

Log back into your PlanetJune account at any time in the next 2 weeks and you’ll see the download buttons for these purchases have been re-enabled, so you can click and download the new versions.

If you have lots of past orders in your PlanetJune account, you don’t have to hunt for the right ones; just follow these simple steps:

  1. In your PlanetJune account, click Show All Orders.
  2. At the top of that page, click to the list of all your past purchases.
  3. Find the pattern name in the alphabetical list.
  4. Click the order number to go directly to that order.
  5. Re-save your pattern :)

The Pattern Re-Release Project has been a much larger job than I originally anticipated, especially with these final Fuzzy Friends patterns. I left them until last for a few reasons:

  • They were my first ever patterns, so needed the most work to get them up to standard, especially the usual PlanetJune level of detail when it comes to assembly and finishing.
  • They used a technique I developed especially for working with novelty/eyelash/fuzzy yarns. I’ve updated any parts worked in standard yarns to use more conventional techniques (magic ring, invisible decrease, worked right side out) and to offer optional instructions for changing direction for any pieces that change from fuzzy to non-fuzzy yarn or vice versa.
  • They (mostly) didn’t use safety eyes, so I had to add extra instructions as to where and when to attach safety eyes, if you want to use them instead, before the head is stuffed! In several cases, this involved re-crocheting at least part of the original design so I could add this information correctly.
'About Fuzzy Patterns' reference guide, by June Gilbank

I’ve also completely revised the About Fuzzy Patterns document that you get with any Fuzzy Friends pattern purchase. The new 4-page reference guide is crammed full of information, tips, and examples for choosing and using both eyelash and fluffy/fuzzy yarns, how to substitute any regular yarn of your choice, and how to brush smooth pieces with a wire brush to give a fluffy result.

To save you from downloading it multiple times, I’ve made it a separate download in every order that includes a fuzzy pattern – so just download that ‘About Fuzzy Patterns.pdf’ file once! And yes, it’s a straight PDF file, not a ZIP file (woohoo!), so if you have any problems in downloading it, please let me know what went wrong, in as much detail as possible, so I can investigate before I transition my shop away from ZIP files to straight PDFs…

Note: I should just add at this point that Ice Cream Bear is not a Fuzzy Friends design – he’s worked normally and doesn’t need the About Fuzzy Patterns file – but his pattern suffered from a few of the above problems (minimal assembly instructions, no instructions for safety eyes) so I saved him for this group so I could find a solution for them all at once.


If you’re tempted by these new and improved Fuzzy Friends patterns, I have a new deal available for you! Starting from today, you can now buy a Custom Set of any 3 Fuzzy Friends patterns of your choice, for a special bargain price.

Fuzzy Friends custom set of any 3 crochet patterns by PlanetJune

As with my other Custom Sets (AmiDogs and PJ Accessories), if you want more than 3 patterns, just add the Custom Set to your cart as many times as you need, selecting 3 different patterns each time.


Now the pattern reformat project is complete, I’ll be giving you another chance to download any and all of the updated patterns you purchased but may have missed the window for re-downloading. That won’t be for a while though – it’ll probably be some time in October.

In the meantime, if you need access to any of your expired patterns, the process is the same as always: just shoot me an email including your 5-digit order number (you’ll find the number in your order confirmation email, and in your list of orders in My Account), and I’ll be happy to unlock that order for you :)


If you have any questions about the pattern reformat project, or you received the patterns through a different mechanism (and so don’t have an order for them in the PlanetJune shop) but you’d still like the new versions, check the Pattern Re-Release FAQ for more information.

I can’t believe this project is finally finished! Now I think I’m definitely overdue for a rest; it’s going to be a while before I can even look at another crochet pattern, let alone have the brain power to design one… Thanks so much for your patience during this long pattern overhaul period. I feel that the new versions are vastly improved and worthy of the PlanetJune stamp of quality – I hope you agree :)

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Ring Box

Today I have yet another project I’ve made from modifying a pattern from my Idiot’s Guides: Crochet! This project is a miniature version of my Handy Baskets pattern:

Handy Baskets crochet pattern by June Gilbank

Handy Baskets on Ravelry:

This concept was born of necessity: my skin condition means I can’t always wear my wedding rings any more, so I often leave them lying around the house. After I was burgled, I thought for one horrible minute that my rings had been taken..! They were lying on the coffee table, and would have been grabbed up if I hadn’t accidentally dropped my gloves right on top of them earlier that day, so they were hidden from the burglars. I needed a special place for my rings that’s both safe and unassuming-looking, so I can hide my rings in plain sight when I can’t wear them.

To make my ring box, I held 2 strands of Knit Picks Curio (size 10 crochet thread) together with a B (2.25mm) hook, which made a nice sturdy fabric for the box. I made an extra-small version of the Handy Baskets pattern by only making 4 rounds for the base, and I continued with the sides until the box was tall enough to fit all my usual rings inside.

ring box based on Handy Baskets by June Gilbank

Then I made a lid by making a slightly larger version of the same pattern – I made 5 rounds for the base, but fudged the increases in the last 2 rounds (by skipping 1 or 2 in each round) so I ended up with a base with a total of 27 stitches around the edge – just right to snugly fit over my box base. (If you’re going to try a project like this, it’s really a matter of trial and error to see how much larger the lid should be than the box, as it’s very dependent on your yarn/hook/gauge combination, and how tightly you want the lid to fit!)

ring box based on Handy Baskets by June Gilbank

To make my box look less obviously like a container, I gave the lid long sides, so it completely covers the base of the box. If anyone sees it, they’d probably think it’s a solid stuffed shape – a mini pincushion, maybe? – and hopefully won’t give it a second glance.

ring box based on Handy Baskets by June Gilbank

Only I – and now you! – know the truth… ;)

ring box based on Handy Baskets by June Gilbank

It’s a really tiny box, at only about 3cm (just over an inch) across and 1.5cm (5/8″) tall, but still large enough that I never misplace my rings any more. Now, when I can’t wear them, my rings are safe and cosy in their miniature home!


Are my posts giving the idea for how easy it is to modify my book patterns to meet your own needs? I do hope so! It’s one of the themes I tried to convey throughout the book.

If you’re making projects from IG: Crochet, please join the Book-Along CAL in the PlanetJune Ravelry group and share your photos (see the PlanetJune CAL FAQ for details if you’re new to the crochet-along concept).

We already have coasters, headbands, baskets, phone covers, and even a shawl posted in the CAL thread – it’s lovely to see the book projects mounting up!

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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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    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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