PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for My Craft Business

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!

Comments (3)

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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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.)

Comments

pattern re-releases: Donationware

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 a big new batch of re-releases for you. This batch includes 13 donationware crochet patterns, and 6 donationware craft tutorials. Note:

  • This batch doesn’t include the PlanetJune Accessories donationware – all my Accessories patterns will be re-released in a separate batch.
  • All later donationware patterns/tutorials that aren’t included here are already in the new format!

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

donationware crochet patterns by planetjune

And all these craft tutorials:

donationware craft tutorials by planetjune

If you’ve previously donated towards any of these patterns or tutorials, 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/tutorial name in the alphabetical list.
  4. Click the order number to go directly to that order.
  5. Re-save your pattern/tutorial :)

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.)

Comments

pattern re-releases: Plants

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.

Time for the next batch of re-releases (and a test run for some improvements to my shop – keep reading for details and to help test the changes). This batch includes all my plant patterns: Cactus & Succulent Collections, African Violets, Lucky Bamboo, Water Lily and Christmas Trees. Note:

  • This batch doesn’t include the donationware flowers etc – all my Donationware patterns will be re-released in a separate batch.
  • The Primroses pattern also isn’t included in this batch as it’s a new release, so it’s already in the new format – there’s nothing to update :)

plant amigurumi patterns by planetjune

If you’ve previously purchased any of these pattern(s) (individually, or the Cactus and/or Succulent multipacks), 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 pattern 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 :)

PDF Download Test & Survey

This batch also has a special second purpose. As many of you know, zip file downloads are becoming less popular, particularly as they are very difficult to use with iPads and other mobile devices. To make everyone’s lives easier, I plan to convert my shop to straight PDFs, but this is a huge task with over 250 products to convert, so I want to be very careful to make sure nothing goes wrong, and make sure that your old orders will still be available if you need another copy of any of your patterns.

As a first test run, I’ve added a new PDF version of the Christmas Trees pattern to every order that already included that pattern. If you’ve bought this pattern, you’ll see the updated zip file (MP008.zip) in your order, and also a new file (Christmas Trees crochet pattern.pdf).

download the test PDF pattern from your account
Here’s what the files should look like when you access your order in your account.

If you’ve purchased Christmas Trees, please try to download the Christmas Trees crochet pattern.pdf file and fill in this brief survey about your experience. This will give me valuable feedback to make sure the system is working well for everyone before I start to convert over 250 items in my shop! This isn’t a job I want to do twice, so it’s important that as many people test the system as possible before I get any further into making changes.

As a thank you for helping me test this new functionality, everyone who completes the survey will receive a discount code to use on your next order from PlanetJune! Complete the survey here >>

Note: If anything goes wrong and you can’t save/view the new PDF, you can just download MP008.zip instead – it’s also been updated to the new version of the Christmas Trees pattern, so you won’t miss out. Please let me know what went wrong as well, though, so I can make sure to fix it before the new shop format goes live.


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.)

Comments

Meerkat Design Report #4

I’ve been sharing my process as I design my amigurumi Meerkat crochet pattern – hope you find this behind-the-scenes journey through what goes into a PlanetJune design interesting! To catch up, see:
- Part 1: Research, Shape, Colour and Sketch
- Part 2: Construction Decisions
- Part 3: Making The Head

Last time, I’d figured out the perfect colour changes for the head, and was ready for the final stage: finishing the rest of the head and designing the body, limbs and tail…

Part 4: Making the Body

I’m not sure if it’s because of the psychological aspect of showing you my progress as I go, or just something about the meerkat itself, but this design is proving to be really slow going. I’ve been struggling with proportion and had to draw myself a life-size reference sketch – I think it’s because meerkats are so long and thin, I kept underestimating how tall it should be!

planetjune meerkat proportions: full-size sketch
Full-size sketch for proportion reference

I typically have several designs on the go at once, and if I get stuck on one, I set it aside and work on something else for a while. The solution usually pops into my head a few days later, while I’m doing something completely different. Trying to force it doesn’t seem to make my brain come up with the best solution any more quickly – I’ll come up with something if I force myself, but I’ll usually end up redoing that part later when I think of a better-looking or simpler solution, so it’s best for me to just let it sit and wait for inspiration to strike.

That’s what happened here: it took me 3 attempts to get the arms right, not because the shape was wrong, but to improve my technique so I could simplify the pattern while keeping that unmistakable shape – meerkats have very unusual arms! There’s always a trade-off between making a design more realistic and making it easier to crochet, and, in my opinion, the best pattern will give a good balance: a recognisable result combined with an enjoyable crocheting experience.

Before I release a design into the world, I always take the time to stand back and consider if I’ve really done my best or if anything could be improved. If I’m not satisfied, it goes on pause for a while until I figure out how to improve it. That’s the stage I’m at right now – I’ve roughly pinned all the pieces together so I can get a better idea of what else needs to be changed:

planetjune meerkat design in progress
Almost there…

This isn’t the final design, but it’s pretty close! (I’ll save the full reveal for the finished design.) I have a little more work to do on the leg area, and some placements need adjusting, but next time you see my meerkat, he’ll be finished :)


So that’s really it for the design process – my next steps will be to make the final tweaks to the design and then, when I’m happy with all the pieces, to photograph the assembly process. I’ll write up my notes into proper crochet instructions, then edit my photos and describe the assembly process carefully so you’ll be able to easily understand how to turn the crocheted pieces of your meerkat into a close copy of my completed design.

After this, I have to set the pattern aside for a while so I can approach it with fresh eyes for technical editing and proofreading. During this break, I’ll be figuring out how to best photograph my meerkat so he’ll look at his most appealing, then take him into the studio (or out on location) for his cover photoshoot. I’ll select the best photos, edit them, and then add them to the pattern.

Once the pattern is complete, it’ll be time to do a final check for accuracy and clarity, then the pattern will – finally – be finished! Everyone who commissioned it will receive their copy, and then I’ll then publish it in my shop, so you’ll be able to buy my Meerkat crochet pattern if you aren’t among the commissioners.


I hope this insight into what goes into making a PlanetJune design has been eye-opening for you. Some of my designs come together more quickly and easily than this, but there’s always a lot that goes on behind the scenes to create my deceptively simple-looking shapes and designs, and I don’t regret a second of that time – it’s always worth it :)

Comments (9)

Meerkat Design Report #3

I’ll be sharing my process as I design my amigurumi Meerkat crochet pattern – hope you find this behind-the-scenes journey through what goes into a PlanetJune design interesting! To catch up, see:
- Part 1: Research, Shape, Colour and Sketch
- Part 2: Construction Decisions

Last time, I’d decided how to approach my design, and was finally ready to start crocheting my Meerkat!

Part 3: Making the Head

Looking at the shape of a Meerkat, I know I shouldn’t try to work the head, muzzle and body as one continuous piece. As the nose is so long and pointy, the all-important nose shape would be compromised if I tried to build it with increases and decreases in a top-down shape, especially with the added complication of the facial markings. So my options are to:

  • Crochet the head from the nose to the back of the head, and crochet the body from the bottom up, as a separate piece, to meet at the neck.
  • Crochet the head and body as one piece, with the muzzle added separately.

I decided that the most elegant result will be from the latter, as it won’t introduce an artificial break at the neck, so I’m planning to build my Meerkat with a one-piece head and body.

It’s not easy to design an animal head: it always looks strange and wrong until the additional pieces (eyes, ears, muzzle) are attached. You’ll know this if you’ve made any of my animal designs! You just have to follow the pattern and trust that all the strange-looking pieces will magically come together in the end – they always do, I promise :)

But designing from scratch means I need to have test ears, muzzles, and heads all on the go at once, so I can hold them up to each other and see if they work together, or if/where the shape or colour patterning need to be modified. In my prototyping, I changed the shape of the head, and played with the shape, size and positioning of the markings:

planetjune meerkat head prototypes

Now, don’t be alarmed – I know that none of these prototypes looks anything like a meerkat! You’ll have to trust me on this; it’ll all make sense when the other pieces are attached…

To save time, I try to test a few changes at once, and then pick and choose aspects from all the prototypes and refine them to get the perfect result. I’m particularly happy that my innovations in amigurumi colourwork now let me create symmetrical patterning with smooth edges, although it takes some extra work to even things up once I’ve decided on the final shape and size of the markings. Below, you can see some of the undesirable features (asymmetry and jagged edges) in the early prototypes:

planetjune meerkat face prototypes
These ‘features’ won’t be a part of the final version!

After these 3 complete prototype attempts, and some more minor tweaks as I crocheted, I’m satisfied with the head shape and markings, and the 4th prototype will go on to become the final head. You can see how it turned out when the design is finished – you wouldn’t be able to appreciate the full effect if I showed it to you now, without the muzzle, eyes and ears :)

An aside, for a moment – this is a great example of how my failed prototypes can lead to inspiration for future designs! I can see the basis of an alien in the prototype on the right…

planetjune meerkat head prototypes

…do you see it too? I think a cute PlanetJune alien with big built-in colourwork eyes would make a good addition to my Mythical pattern collection!

Although I’m tempted to jump right into researching aliens, I don’t want to get distracted. I’ve added ‘Alien’ to my Ideas List (with a few construction notes so I don’t forget my plan for the colourwork eyes), and now I have to put those tempting aliens completely out of my mind and get back to thinking about Meerkats….

Next for the Meerkat, I have to design the final muzzle and ears, and then I can move onto the body, limbs and tail. Now I’ve completed the main head piece, the rest of the design should flow from there, as I can build each piece to match the scale of the head, following my original sketch for the general shapes, proportions and colours, and referring back to photos of real meerkats as I go.

Stay tuned for Part 4: Making the Body

Comments (4)

pattern re-releases: African animals

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 Meerkat design in progress, it seemed fitting to select all my other African animal patterns for the next batch of re-releases. These include the AfricAmi trio (Elephant, Hippopotamus, and Rhinoceros), and my Ring-Tailed Lemur, Aardvark, and Lion & Lioness patterns.

african animals amigurumi patterns by planetjune

If you’ve previously purchased any of these pattern(s) (individually, or in the AfricAmi Set 1 multipack), 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 pattern 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.)

Comments (1)

Meerkat Design Report #2

I’ll be sharing my process as I design my amigurumi Meerkat crochet pattern – hope you find this behind-the-scenes journey through what goes into a PlanetJune design interesting!
To catch up, see Part 1: Research, Shape, Colour and Sketch

Last time, I’d completed my sketch and chosen my yarns, and was ready to start thinking about how to create a 3D crocheted Meerkat from these little rough sketches:

planetjune meerkat design: sketch

Part 2: Construction Decisions

There are several ways to achieve a specific 3D shape in crochet:

  1. Build it up by stitching together smaller, simpler shapes
  2. Create shape in a single piece through strategic placement of increases and decreases
  3. Create shape in a single piece by varying the type and size of stitch used

The right solution for me depends on what I’m trying to achieve in a specific design; I may use some or all of these techniques within a single pattern to achieve the best result. For the Meerkat, I have to decide:

  • Will the head, muzzle, ears, body, arms, legs, feet, tail, all be separate pieces, or should some (or all) of those be built in with shaping?
  • Should I start from the bottom and work up, from the top and work down, or from the front and work back?

Making these decisions involves more trade-offs: what gives the cleanest look; what produces the best shape; what makes the pattern easy to follow; what makes the pieces easy to assemble.

At this stage, I often develop several partial prototypes using different techniques and see which looks best. It’s never wasted time, as even the terrible results help to point me towards the solution, and sometimes I come up with a technique that doesn’t work for the design I’m working on but gives me a great idea for something else!

In this case, I’ve been playing around with a new idea for leg shaping, using scrap yarn and just testing the principle. I wasn’t trying to create the exact shape I’d need for the Meerkat, so don’t be concerned that it doesn’t look like anything in particular:

planetjune meerkat shaping technique prototype
Trying out a new shaping technique

To achieve more defined shaping than this, I’d need to either use multiple increases/decreases, or change the stitch – those are both techniques I try to avoid in my designs, as they spoil the smooth, regular look of the single crochet stitches. I think, though, that this approach I’ve been testing could work for my Meerkat’s legs, so that’s the direction I’m going to aim for (although it’s all subject to change if it doesn’t work out the way I hope…)

Next up, prototyping the head. I almost always start my real design with the head, as the head and face can make or break an amigurumi. The head is typically the most complex and detailed part of my designs, and I can build and shape the other pieces based on the size of the finished head. Working the other way and leaving the head until last, I may find that my Meerkat is so small I can’t make the eye patches look good, or I’d need a partial number of stitches or rounds to make the features the right size.

planetjune red panda head prototypes
Red Panda head prototypes

So the next step will be trial and error prototyping until I create a good-looking Meerkat head. I still have most of my Red Panda prototype heads (although some are partially unravelled to reclaim the amber yarn), and, as you can see from the above photo, it took me at least 5 attempts to perfect the combination of shape and markings! This isn’t unusual, and it was worth every step to get to the final result. ‘Quick’ and ‘good’ aren’t words that work together in my design process ;)

My design is already further along than this post – I planned to post this last week, but my new Baby Bunnies pattern took precedence, so you’ll get 2 Meerkat updates this week instead! Stay tuned for Part 3: Making The Head.

Comments (5)

Meerkat Design Report #1

I’ll be sharing my process as I design my amigurumi Meerkat crochet pattern – hope you find this behind-the-scenes journey through what goes into a PlanetJune design interesting!

I originally intended to design my meerkat during the Ravellenic Games, and this (below) is the first and only post I managed to complete before I realised I was too busy with book edits to continue with the design at that time. Now I’m resuming the design, so let’s go back to the start and get you caught up…


Part 1: Research, Shape, Colour and Sketch

Stage 1 of the meerkat design is complete :) This stage goes through from researching the animal to drawing my sketch, and there’s a lot of work involved!

Research: To get an idea of my process, take a look at my blog post showing how I designed my Pteranodon:

amigurumi pteranodon: from sketch to design

In this case, as I want a realistic meerkat, I didn’t really look at other amigurumi designs beyond a quick glance to see what’s out there, as I don’t want to accidentally be influenced by them – only by real meerkats. I spent a long time studying meerkat shape, posture and colouring, via google, and from my own photos like this one:

Meerkats at Durrell (photo by June Gilbank)

Once I’ve finished the research, I have a few more decisions to make:

Shape: proportions, positions. I decide on the best position based on what I like best, what I think will be most recognisable, and what will translate into a good pattern (i.e. stable so it won’t fall over, and easy to crochet).

Colour, part 1 – How many colours to use: It’s a trade-off between more colours (more realistic) and fewer colours (easy for you to follow the pattern). Critical details must be included, but others can be simplified so it still ‘reads’ as the animal but with my clean, simple style. For instance, I originally considered 6 shades for my Red Panda design (light red, dark red, dark brown, black, white, cream), but managed to simplify it down to 3 (aren’t you glad I did?!) and it still clearly says Red Panda:

red panda amigurumi crochet pattern by planetjune

Colour, part 2 – Amount of colourwork: This is a trade-off between simplicity and recognisability: a pattern with a colour change in every stitch may have a beautiful result, but be too frustrating for you to want to crochet. So, again, I limit the colourwork to what I decide is essential to make the animal unmistakable, and simplify the rest.

Colour, part 3 – Which specific shades: This is a decision that only really affects my sample, as very few of you will use the exact same yarns I did. But a good picture really sells the design, so I need my sample to look as amazing as possible! The shades I choose are a compromise between the colours I’d most like to see and the closest colours in my stash; the closest suppliers of my amigurumi yarns are thousands of miles away, so I don’t have the luxury of shopping for missing shades.

I only ever mix yarns if they have comparable weight and sheen (see my worsted weight yarn comparison) as otherwise the pattern would be yarn dependent, having different gauge and appearance for different parts. I always use only one type of yarn in any one design, so, whatever yarn you have available, all you need to do is pick the closest shades in the yarn you prefer (or have access to) and the pattern will work out for you. I originally intended to use Vanna’s Choice for the meerkat, but my supplies are perilously low, so, in the end, these are the colours I decided on (Red Heart Soft in Wheat and Chocolate):

planetjune meerkat design: yarn choices

Sketch: After making all these decisions, I finally reach the point where I can draw my sketch. Now don’t worry: the sketch isn’t supposed to look exactly like the final meerkat – it’s just a reference for the basic shape (sitting up, not on all four paws or standing balancing on those spindly legs and tail!) and the colours I plan to use. Especially when there’s colourwork involved, getting the shape and colours to all work together and look symmetrical means the finished animal will never look exactly like my sketch, so there’s not much point in me trying to draw a work of art! This is just to remind me of the decisions I’ve made up to this point and to give me a starting point when I pick up my hook:

planetjune meerkat design: sketch

And yes, I do draw in pink (or aqua, or purple) pen – it makes my notes more fun, and gives me permission to not try to make my sketch perfect, as I can’t erase pen :)

Next up, stay tuned for stage 2: deciding how to best reproduce this sketch in crochet!

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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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