PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for My Craft Business

Balancing business and health

One of the biggest challenges of a one-person business is there’s nobody else who can keep things going when you can’t. Taking a couple of sick days here and there isn’t a problem, but managing chronic health conditions is a challenge I haven’t found a solution for. I’ve battled to keep going through serious eczema breakouts, 8 months of knee pain, and now 2 months of viral bronchitis.

For the past few months, I’ve been working on a huge project: my first amigurumi ebook, featuring a collection of 6 brand new patterns. My goal was to complete the project by the end of October, in plenty of time for people to make the patterns as gifts for Christmas, but I’ve had to keep moving the deadline as the virus persisted and I just couldn’t get myself back up to speed.

And yesterday was the last straw: my garden sanctuary was invaded again by burglars (there’s nothing of value in my garden, so they hopped over to next door and stole their copper water pipes, leaving their garden full of gushing water). I feel violated and it’s brought all those post-burglary fears back. I’m at the absolute end of my energy reserve: I’m still sick, my knee is in constant pain, and now this…

I have no more strength left to draw on to push through this latest obstacle. There’s just no way I can complete my ebook at the moment to a standard I’d be happy with, and it’s become obvious that I’m not going to get over this virus unless I set my work completely aside and focus on me. I need to retreat from everything and get myself properly healthy – this endless struggle is just too much.

So I’ve decided I have to put PlanetJune on minimum operations for the rest of the year. Luckily, I’ve got my business to the point where it almost runs itself – my daily administration is very minimal now I’ve streamlined the shop to make ordering and downloading automatic and easy for everyone, and my FAQs and crochet help pages have the answer to almost every question you may have. If you need further assistance, our community in the PlanetJune Ravelry group is always ready to provide friendly help. And I’ll still be around, if there’s anything you need from me personally – I’m not abandoning you!

In the new year, I’ll return as a (hopefully) much happier and healthier June, ready to dazzle you with my new pattern collection! And, in the meantime, it’s time to let PlanetJune run itself as much as possible, while I rest and read and knit and breathe, and let my body and mind heal. I really need this. Thanks for understanding.

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Shop more easily at PlanetJune!

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

PDFs for Everyone

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

Unlimited Access

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

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

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

About the Changes

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

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

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

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

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

How You Benefit

Here’s what the changes mean for you:

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

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


pumpkin crochet pattern by planetjune

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

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

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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…

Comments (6)

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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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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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 :)

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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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