PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

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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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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    June Gilbank
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