PlanetJune Craft Blog

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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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pattern re-releases: PlanetJune Accessories

I’m 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.

With my new book about to be released (15 days to go!), now is the perfect time to re-release my back catalogue of PlanetJune Accessories patterns, so they’re all ship-shape for any new customers who find me via the book and are looking for more of my accessories designs.

This batch includes 14 PlanetJune Accessories patterns, including 3 donationware patterns. Note: The 5 PJ Accessories patterns that don’t appear below are already in the new format!

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

PlanetJune Accessories crochet patterns by planetjune
Scalloped Scarf*, Animal Ears, Tunisian Stripe Purse, Diamond Lattice Neckwarmer, Gossamer Lace Wrap, Lacy Bobbles Cowl, Diamond Flowers Scarf/Wrap, Climbing Eyelets Triangular Shawl, Banded Lace Wrap, Reindeer Antlers, Chunky Elegance Rug Trio, Eyelet Ripple Scarf Sweater*, Lip Balm Holder*, Gift Boxes

*donationware

If you’ve previously purchased (or donated for) 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 :)

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.

(There’s just one more batch of pattern re-releases remaining (Fuzzy Friends) – if you’d like to get an email notification when it’s ready, sign up for the Crochet Pattern Updates mailing list.)


Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

And if you’re waiting for more details about my new book, stay tuned! Next week, in preparation for the official release date of August 5th, I’ll be blogging about the book every day Monday-Friday, to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what makes this book different, what you can expect from it, and how I came up with each of the designs…

Watch this space!

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Punchneedle Butterfly 1: Sea Green Swallowtail

I’ve started an ongoing long term craft project to make a group of different butterflies using Punchneedle embroidery – all different colours and shapes but all based on my interpretation of real species – and mount each one individually on a wall so they all ‘fly’ together in a colourful cloud.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have spotted this in-progress photo of my Sea Green Swallowtail:

punchneedle butterfly wip

With everything that’s happened lately, it’s taken me a while to find the time to finish the butterfly, but now here she is:

punchneedle butterfly: sea green swallowtail by planetjune

I wired the wings so I can bend them back slightly, to add a little dimension, and I bent the ends of the wire into a concealed hanging loop and a hook, so I have the option to hang the butterfly from a nail in the wall, or hook it onto something. Until I build enough of a collection to have them ‘flying’ up a wall, I’ll be hooking them into my wire storage shelves (with my prop fake plants) – and that looks pretty good too:

punchneedle butterfly: sea green swallowtail by planetjune

I’m so happy with how my first butterfly design turned out – bright and cheerful and colourful, just as I’d envisaged!

I’ve decided on a constraint for all the butterflies in this project: I’ll scale all my designs so they fit nicely into a 6″ embroidery hoop (as I did for this first one), for ease of punching. And, to suit the strengths of the Punchneedle medium, I’ll be looking for butterflies that don’t have too much fine detail, but that have varied wing shapes, colours and patterns, so I can build a stunning collection.

punchneedle butterfly: sea green swallowtail by planetjune

My next butterfly design will be a beautiful Peacock, and, after that, I’m not sure! I know I’d like to include at least one butterfly from each country I’ve lived in as part of this project, but they don’t all need to have personal significance to me. Do you have a favourite type of butterfly? Let me know, and I may add it to my butterfly collection!

(As I’ve already been asked this question, let me add: I have no specific plans to publish my butterfly designs, but I’m not ruling out the possibility of one day publishing them, either as individual patterns or as an ebook collection, if there’s enough interest. For now, I’m just enjoying the slow process of creating without any pressure to publish.)

buy The Punchneedle Handbook by June Gilbank

If this post has piqued your interest in Punchneedle embroidery, take a look at my Punchneedle intro page for information on this craft and how to get started.

And I know of an excellent ebook if you’d like to try your hand at it – my own Punchneedle Handbook! My punching skills are a little rusty after my 3-year hiatus, but I used all the fix-it tips from the Troubleshooting section of my book to perfect my butterfly, and now you’d never know (if I hadn’t just told you). ;)

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The Punchneedle Handbook, 2nd edition

An exciting announcement today: I’ve just published the 2nd edition of my punchneedle embroidery ebook, The Punchneedle Handbook: Miniature Punchneedle Embroidery Basics & Beyond.

The new 2nd edition is fully revised and updated, with a clean, space-saving layout that allows for larger photos throughout and additional content. And, most importantly, it’s now available in 2 versions: right-handed and left-handed.

punchneedle by planetjune

New to Punchneedle?

If you’ve yet to experience the joys of punchneedle embroidery, read my Punchneedle FAQ to get an idea of what this underrated craft is all about and why I find it so appealing.

punchneedle by planetjune

Then allow me to guide you through the learning process with The Punchneedle Handbook ebook, in which I show you step-by-step how to create beautiful, colourful, textured embroideries with just a punchneedle tool and one simple looped stitch.

punchneedle by planetjune

You’ll learn how to perfect your technique and experiment with colour effects, and how to finish your embroideries. My invaluable troubleshooting section shows you examples of every problem you may encounter as you punch, with instructions for how to fix problems in your existing project, and how to prevent them from happening in future.

Launch Discount!

For one week only, you can buy the 2nd edition of The Punchneedle Handbook at 15% off – that’s only $8.50! (And you also have the choice of adding any one of my punchneedle patterns to your order for half price, so you can practice your newfound skills.) To take advantage of my launch special, just use the discount code PUNCH at checkout.

planetjune punchneedle patterns
All the PlanetJune punchneedle patterns

Existing Customers

If you bought the 1st edition of The Punchneedle Handbook, as a thank you for your past custom, I’d like to offer you a copy of the 2nd edition (version of your choice) absolutely free! If you’d like to take me up on this, please email me with:

  • The 5-digit order number of your original order (you’ll find it in your PlanetJune account and in your original order confirmation email)
  • Your choice of the right-handed or left-handed version

I’ll add a download link for the 2nd edition to your existing order and email you a confirmation when it’s ready for you to download :)

Note: I’m keeping this offer open indefinitely, as the current anti-spam regulations mean I don’t think I can email past customers – even to offer you a free upgrade with no strings attached – without your explicit consent. So I hope you’ll all find this post eventually and take me up on the offer!

(I’ve also reformatted all my existing punchneedle patterns into my new layout, but the changes are only cosmetic, and there’s probably little point in you downloading the new versions of any you’ve already purchased. But, if you do want to grab the reformatted versions, the download links are active in your previous orders in your PlanetJune account.)

I Love Punchneedle!

I haven’t had a chance to make any punchneedle art for far too long, but that’s all changing…

punchneedle art by June Gilbank
My punchneedle art: 3D sculptural globe embroidery and 2D ‘Musicians of Bremen’ thread painting

I’ve been really enjoying my return to punchneedle – it’s like paint-by-numbers with embroidery floss: fast, relaxing and satisfying. I’ll have the first butterfly from my new project ready to show you soon – it’s so exciting to work on something completely new, and I think this butterfly project is going to yield a gorgeous collection.

buy The Punchneedle Handbook by June Gilbank

I’m so happy to be able to relaunch my ebook with this new 2nd edition, and especially that I can now offer you a book that’s tailored for you as a right- or left-hander, with large, clear photos so you can see exactly how the punchneedle tool and stitches should look at every step of the process.

I hope The Punchneedle Handbook will help you to enjoy punchneedle as much as I do!

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Aliens crochet pattern

In a happy coincidence, what day could be more appropriate to begin my planned alien invasion than today, Independence Day?!

PlanetJune Aliens give a nod to the classic Roswell grey aliens, but with a cute PlanetJune twist:

Aliens amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Of course my aliens required the classic huge eyes, oversized heads, and enigmatic expressions, but I also had some fun adding my own personal touches. Aliens like these are usually depicted as very slender and elongated, but the friendly aliens who live on PlanetJune are carefully shaped to have tubby little tummies and bums, and are completely benign and non-threatening :)

Aliens amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune
PlanetJune aliens are cute from all angles

Aliens has a few rounds of detailed colourwork to make the beautifully-shaped eyes, but after that it’s fast and easy all the way. The body and limbs work up extremely quickly, and this pattern has almost no sewing, so, once you get past the eyes, you can finish an alien in no time! If I didn’t have other commitments, I’d be tempted to whip up a much larger family of aliens, all in different colours….

My Aliens pattern includes 2 options: a fun poseable version with wired limbs (my green alien, below), and a more child-friendly version (my blue alien, below) with either thread-jointed arms that can swing at the shoulder or firmly attached arms (probably a safer choice for teething babies and kids who are a bit rough with their toys!). The pattern includes full instructions for all the options.

Aliens amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune
As you can see, even the most enigmatic aliens can develop their own distinct personalities

Aliens is a new addition to the small PlanetJune Mythical pattern range, so I designed them to perfectly match the scale of my Yeti & Bigfoot pattern:

Aliens and Yeti & Bigfoot amigurumi crochet patterns by PlanetJune
It’s a mythical meet-up! Green likes to be the star of the show, and Bigfoot looks as camera-shy as always…

If you can’t resist the lure of these enigmatic aliens, you’ll find my Aliens pattern as a new addition to the Prehistoric & Mythical category of the PlanetJune shop. (And then you can make and share your mythical creatures as part of this month’s PJ Fiction & Fantasy CAL!)

Or, if you’re not ready to buy just yet, add Aliens to your queue or favourites on Ravelry, so you don’t forget about them:

Unlike in the movie, today we – together with our new alien friends – can celebrate our Independence Day. ;) Don’t you know someone who’d appreciate having a cute alien or two in their life? Just looking at these aliens makes me smile, which is exactly what I need right now. I hope they have the same effect on you: let the alien invasion commence!

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pattern re-releases: Miscellaneous

I’m 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.

Today I have another new batch of re-releases for you. This batch includes 11 amigurumi patterns with no theme, as these are all the remaining miscellaneous patterns. It might be easier to tell you what this batch doesn’t include: as of this batch, all PlanetJune crochet patterns have been updated except for 2 categories: PlanetJune Accessories and the Fuzzy patterns (including Ice Cream Bear).

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

miscellaneous amigurumi crochet patterns by planetjune
Ami Paint Set, Red Fox, Arctic Fox, Fruit Bat, Groundhog, Easter Eggs, Farmyard Pigs, Yeti & Bigfoot, Christmas Baubles, Chinchilla, Kingfisher

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 :)

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.

(There’ll be more pattern re-releases coming soon – if you’d like to get an email notification each time a new batch is ready, sign up for the Crochet Pattern Updates mailing list.)

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burgled (update)

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who took the time to leave me a message after my last post about the burglary. Reading them has meant a lot to me. These days, so few people comment on blogs, and it feels good to know you’re still out there reading what I write. I really appreciate all your advice and messages of support – thank you.

I still feel sick thinking about how lucky I was to be unharmed – at least physically – and how this could happen again (with far worse consequences) at any time, but here’s a quick update on my situation in case you’ve been worrying about me.

Fixing the Damage

All our belongings that were taken have been replaced. We’ve actually done quite well out of that: everything was insured, and having 2-4 year old laptops and tablets replaced with their current equivalents means nice shiny new models in place of the old slower ones.

But, in a great example of the relaxed pace of ‘Africa time’, I still have no front door! The company our insurance contracted to fit the replacement door and security door finally came to measure for the new door on Friday (9 days after the burglary…), but it’ll probably take another 2 weeks before the new door is made and can be fitted. In the meantime, our old door has been boarded up and screwed into the frame, so don’t worry: this delay isn’t a security problem, it’s just a bit frustrating not having a front door that opens.

Home Security

Thank you for all the advice – I’m definitely not considering buying a gun, but I’d like a dog, if I can figure out if Maui would be happy with that, and if we can find the right dog for our family. I’ve been considering getting a dog for several years, but it’s a big long-term commitment and I’ve never felt 100% sure that I’m ready. Maybe this will be the push I need, so I’ll have the bonus of a barking alarm as an additional burglar deterrent…

I live behind high spiked gates, with bars on all the windows and metal gates over all the doors. I assumed that would keep me safe, but it’s obviously not enough. I’m hoping the replacement doors will be more secure, and we’re also going to see if we can change how the alarm system works so I have more protection against intruders while I’m working from home all day.

Data Security

One excellent thing has come of all this: I’ve had to seriously address the issue of protecting my data with some sort of offsite backup, so I don’t lose my business files (or personal documents). Several of you suggested cloud storage, but I don’t feel that’s a secure solution for sensitive information. I already use Dropbox for saving ideas and sharing files with other people, but I’m not convinced it’s sufficiently safe for important private data such as my business files, tax records, etc.

I now have an excellent solution (thanks to Aleksandra’s recommendation) – I’ve created my own private, secure, cloud storage on my own web server. It works exactly like Dropbox, so all my files are automatically synced whenever I update them, I have access to all my data from any computer or mobile device. The difference is that my data is all encrypted at my end, so only I have the decryption key, and it’s only stored on my own server, so there’s far less risk of a security breach. And, because my server lives in North America, it’s 100% safe from South African burglars ;)

I know this probably won’t help many of my readers, but in case anyone googling for secure offsite data backup and file synchronization finds this post, I’m using Seafile for my own private cloud storage. A one-sentence review: it’s open source, completely free if you have your own server, and so far I’ve found it very easy to use: my files are auto-syncing from my computer, and I can easily access anything I need using the Android app on my phone and tablet. (I also found a similar solution called OwnCloud, but I haven’t tried it, so that’s not a personal recommendation, just another option you could consider.)

Moving Forward

Well, I’m trying to, at least. I’m still very jumpy, and every noise sounds like an intruder preparing to break in and attack me, but I have a plan for that: if I see anyone on my property, I’ll hit the panic button to set off the alarm, and hopefully scare them off before they get into the house. I feel a bit safer knowing I have some way to protect myself if I see anyone coming.

I’ve also made lots of progress on several of my big long-term projects – trying to take my mind off being scared – although there’s nothing to see yet, as I haven’t been able to do any final quality checks while I’ve been too exhausted to think clearly. But this means there’ll be lots of new PlanetJune stuff coming very soon…

Things are getting better. Thank you for caring. :)

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burgled…

Last week was my 8th blogiversary, but that was the last thing on my mind at the time. I had a horribly traumatic week: I disturbed a burglary in progress at my house, and I’m still very shaken up by the experience. I’ll tell the story here for those who want to know, and then I’ll try not to discuss it again. I’d love to hear messages of support or advice, but I don’t want to answer questions, please – it’s still all too raw, and dwelling on it makes the terror flood back.

I’ve never really felt safe in South Africa, but I assumed that, locked up in my house with security bars on all the windows and doors, and protected by an armed response security group, I was safe to be alone at home all day. Not true: the burglars easily forced my front gate, security gate and front door with just a crowbar, in the middle of the day.

I was photographing birds in my back garden, and when I walked back into the house I found two men in my living room, holding armfuls of my stuff. When they saw me, they ran outside to a waiting car. At the car, they turned back and just looked at me, and time stood still… Then they jumped into the car and sped off before I could even grasp what was happening. They got away with the TV, our laptops, my tablet and a few other bits of tech, and our front door and security gate are now wrecked and useless.

Almost a week later, I still can’t stop replaying it over and over in my mind. They may well have been armed; the police sounded very surprised that I hadn’t been attacked. That moment – where the burglars hesitated and stared at me before deciding to drive off – haunts me: if they’d made the other decision, I’d have been completely defenceless with all the doors between us hanging broken and useless…

(And, on a lesser scale of scariness from my lucky escape, but still a big eye-opener: I realised later that I was also only a minute or two away from losing my entire business! Luckily they hadn’t reached my big PC when I disturbed them, so I still have all my critical PlanetJune data. I feel a bit sick that I’ve lost design notes and reference pics from my tablet, but it could have been far worse. Our insurance will cover replacement tech, we’ve changed all the passwords we can think of, and I’m figuring out an off-site backup strategy so I won’t come this close again to losing everything I’ve worked so hard to build.)

I feel violated and traumatised by this whole experience. I’m trying to get back to a normal routine, but I don’t even have a new front door or security gate yet, I’m not sleeping well, and every sound sends me running around the house checking all the doors. It’s awful to not feel safe in your own home. How do you get over something like this? It just fades with time, I suppose?

So, I’m going to skip my 8th blogiversary roundup. I’m sure I’ve done lots of good stuff over the past year, but that all seems a bit hollow right now. I’m just glad I’m still around to start my 9th year of blogging. Thank you for sticking with me – at a horrible time like this, it’s good to remember I have friends all over the world who do care that I’m still here.

I’ll be back soon with a more cheerful post!

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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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