PlanetJune Craft Blog

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Mini Mammals crochet pattern

Mini Mammals crochet pattern by PlanetJune - crochet an adorable Sengi, Jerboa and Mouse

Don’t miss the launch discount, at the end of this post!

Today I’m excited to present a new pattern collection featuring some of the world’s cutest little mouse-like animals: Mini Mammals! Although you may not have heard of all of them before, you won’t be able to resist their big-eyed cuteness…

Mini Mammals (Sengi, Jerboa, Mouse) crochet pattern by PlanetJune
L-R: a long-nosed Sengi, a jumping Jerboa, and an adorable pet Mouse

And when I say mini, I really do mean mini: they’re only about 4″ (10cm) long, excluding tails.

Mini Mammals crochet pattern by PlanetJune - Jerboa
I have small hands – they really are tiny…

Meet the Mini Mammals!

Sengi:

Mini Mammals crochet pattern by PlanetJune - Sengi

  • Sengi are also known as elephant shrews (but they aren’t shrews).
  • They look like long-nosed mice, but they aren’t even rodents – in fact, sengi are more closely related to aardvarks!
  • Sengi are the world’s fastest small mammals. They make a network of tiny trails throughout their territory so they can run fast and escape from predators.
  • They live throughout Africa, eat insects, and hibernate every night to conserve energy.

Jerboa:

Mini Mammals crochet pattern by PlanetJune - Jerboa

  • Jerboa live in the deserts of Asia and north Africa.
  • They are nocturnal rodents who mostly eat seeds and plants.
  • They move by hopping on their long back legs, using their long tails for balance, like a kangaroo!
  • There are over 30 species of jerboa. (I made the Long-Eared Jerboa for my pattern, because it’s extra cute, but you can easily make a different type of jerboa by substituting the Mouse or Sengi ears!)

Mouse:

Mini Mammals crochet pattern by PlanetJune - Mouse

  • Mice are small, primarily nocturnal rodents who eat mostly seeds and grains.
  • They are among the most common and numerous animals in the world, and are found in almost every country.
  • A female house mouse can give birth to up to 150 babies per year!
  • A group of mice is known as a mischief 😉

Links to Buy & Launch Discount

This pattern collection includes all three Mini Mammals at a bargain price. Although I always offer discounts for shopping directly from PlanetJune, for this week only, you can take advantage of my additional 10% discount by entering code TINY at checkout by Monday, 20th February 2017.

Buy the Mini Mammals pattern here in my shop. Or, if you’re not ready to buy just yet, please heart or queue it on Ravelry so you don’t forget about it:

Mini Mammals (Sengi, Jerboa, Mouse) crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I hope you’ll agree that these are among my cutest designs to date! Although I love them all, I’m especially happy with the way the long-eared Jerboa sits up – he just has so much personality, don’t you think?

Comments (5)

Heart Cactus Collection crochet pattern

Don’t miss the launch discount, at the end of this post!

My first design for the year is the Heart Cactus Collection, a sweet addition to my popular Cactus and Succulent Collections, with two new types of heart-shaped cacti in a lovely rounded pot, together with matching 3-dimensional hearts in two sizes. Perfect for your Valentine, or to show someone you care at any time of year.

Heart Cactus Collection crochet pattern by PlanetJune

The heart cacti are scaled so you can mix-and-match them with all the previous Cactus and Succulent Collection patterns:

10 cactus crochet patterns by PlanetJune (Cactus Collections 1 & 2, Heart Cactus Collection)
Spot the new additions? (Hint: look for the purple pots…)

  • As well as making individual heart cacti, you can include a heart cactus in your next cactus or succulent garden!
  • You can also use this new pot with any of the other cacti and succulent plants, or the pots from the other patterns with the heart cacti.

About the Pattern

This pattern includes two styles of heart-shaped cactus: one short and wide with flowers, and one tall and multi-segmented.

Feel free to use the included cactus flower and bud instructions to make your own original cacti by choosing the number and position of flowers and buds; adding flowers and/or buds to the tall cactus, or omitting them from the short cactus.

Heart Cactus Collection crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Did You Know? The idea of heart-shaped cacti isn’t just a fancy – several types of Opuntia (prickly pear) cactus sometimes develop heart-shaped pads 🙂

As well as the truncated hearts that form the heart cacti, this pattern also includes free bonus instructions to complete the tip of the heart shapes, so you can make sweet 3-D hearts in two sizes.

Heart Cactus Collection crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Links to Buy & Launch Discount

Although I always offer discounts for shopping directly from PlanetJune, to spread the love even further, I’m offering an additional 10% discount for this week only. Just enter code LOVE at checkout by Sunday, 22nd January 2017, and the extra discount will be applied.

Buy the Heart Cactus Collection pattern here in my shop. Or, if you’re not ready to buy just yet, please heart or queue it on Ravelry so you don’t forget about it:

If you’re making hearts and/or heart-shaped cacti from these patterns, please join us for the Hearts & Flowers crochet-along in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, between now and Valentine’s Day, and share photos of what you’re making – I’d love to see!

Comments

new and improved PlanetJune Commissions

PlanetJune Commissions has been revamped to be easier, faster and more fun. The basic premise hasn’t changed – you can help to choose and crowdfund new PlanetJune crochet pattern designs by ‘voting’ with your commission pledge!

But I’ve reworked the mechanisms to make it more fun for you from now on, and so you won’t be stuck with pledges you made forever ago.

A Little Background…

It’s coming up for 5 years since I first launched my crowdfunded commissions system as a barometer of public opinion on which potential animal designs may be most popular. Every animal on the commissions list is one I feel confident I’d be able to design, and happy to do so if enough people show an interest. I don’t have time to design them all, and using the commissions system as a gauge to which may be popular is a useful method to decide between multiple designs I’d be equally happy to create.

After a few hurdles (I set the prices far too low, so too many designs were being pledged for me to keep up with!), I temporarily withdrew the commissions system while I completed all the fully-pledged designs and worked on upgrading the system to make it more sustainable.

PlanetJune Commissions - 17 crowdfunded crochet pattern designs so far

Thanks to my supporters, I’ve now completed 17 crowdsourced commissioned designs – and I’m ready to start on the 18th! Which animal will it be..?

How It Works

Commissions are now linked to your PlanetJune account. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll find the new commissions options in ‘My Account’, and from there you can make pledges, view your existing pledges, and upgrade, downgrade or delete your pledges.

Now you can pledge any full dollar amount (although there’s still a $6 minimum) so you can pledge $7, or $10, or $25 – or whatever you want!

PlanetJune Commissions - 5 step cycle

Your pledge indicates your intention to pay that amount towards the commission of the design in question, should that design become fully-funded. But, your pledge will only become locked-in at such time as the design is a) fully pledged and b) at the top of the queue.

This means you won’t be stuck with a pledge you made months or years ago – you can log into your PlanetJune account and change or delete any unlocked pledges at any time until the next commission is ready to begin (at which time all pledges towards the next fully-pledged design will be locked).

This gives you the freedom to pledge as much as you like towards as many designs as you like. At most, you’ll be committing to one of your pledges, as only the first fully-funded design will get locked and made. Even if there are other fully-funded commissions, no further pledges will be locked-in until I’ve completed the previous design, published the pattern, and announced the date of the next commissions slot – you can still delete those pledges if you change your mind.

So you’re only ever committed to your pledge for the current commission. Let’s say you want to pay $30 for any one of 3 designs (but not for all of them!), you can pledge $30 towards each of them in the hope that one will grab the next commission slot. Once that happens, you’re free to delete your remaining pledges if you want, so you won’t get a surprise $30 invoice several months (or even years) later.

In this way, we can have a ‘bidding war’ every time I have a commission slot available. I’ll announce the slot via the Commissions newsletter, you make your best pledge for all the designs you’d like to commission, and whichever hits the jackpot first will become my next commissioned pattern!

Then, after the bidding war is over, you’ll have at least a month to decide if you’re still happy to honour all your other pledges, as no other design will be locked-in until I’ve completed the current pattern and announced the date of the next commission slot. Edit or delete your pledges from your PlanetJune account as often as you want – it’s all automatic.

Design Options

To give you a better idea of what I plan to design with each option, I’ve added a representative photo of each of the animals, either from my own photos, or licenced through Creative Commons.

PlanetJune Commissions - some of the animals I could recreate in crochet...

The photos above are just a sample – you can see them all on the Design Options page on the new Commissions microsite.

Note: I had planned to add some new options to the commissions list at this relaunch time, but the list is plenty long enough already, so I’m keeping the options as-is for the time being. Once we’re well into the first cycle, I’ll get rid of some of the least popular choices and replace them with new requests. So please:

  • Pledge now (see below) for any poorly-pledged designs you don’t want to see removed from the list – even if it won’t get made now, your pledge will keep it in the running to be made in future
  • Leave a comment if you have any design requests – I may add them to the list very soon!

Stay Updated

I highly recommend you sign up for my Commissions News mailing list to be notified whenever new design options are added. I’ll also be emailing the list with a reminder a couple of weeks before I open each new commissions slot, so you’ll have an extra chance to check all your pledges and delete any you’re unhappy with – or add some new ones – before the next commission gets locked in.

Pledge Now for the February Timeslot!

Make your best pledges right now for the animals you’d most like me to design. At the time I write this, Goat is in the lead, with Raccoon and Capybara coming up fast and a whole host of others closing in – but that could all change in an instant… Make your best pledges now for your favourites, and maybe your design will be the one I start in the next month!

Ready to pledge? Login to your PlanetJune account – you’ll see the Commissions options (to make/edit your pledges) in ‘My Account’.

Or check out the design options and FAQ on the Commissions microsite.


I hope the new and improved PlanetJune Commissions will lead to lots more lovely animal designs to add to my portfolio – I’m looking forward to seeing which I’ll get to make first!

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amigurumi Gingy

If you haven’t picked up my new Gingerbread Family patterns, you may not know that there are also instructions in there for making a Gingy character (based on the Gingerbread Man from Shrek)…

amigurumi Gingy - based on Gingerbread Man crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I made a super-sized Gingy, at over 8″ (21cm) tall, but, of course, you can also make a regular-sized Gingy using my pattern, or a super-sized regular gingerbread man – I just chose to demonstrate two options at once.

Gingy Embellishments

I took the opportunity to demonstrate how versatile the Gingerbread Man pattern is by decorating my super-sized sample as Gingy – you really can decorate your gingerbread men/girls however you wish, just like you do with real gingerbread!

amigurumi Gingy - based on Gingerbread Man crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I chose to leave off Gingy’s ‘broken leg’ icing, because I wanted to keep all the embellishments crocheted so you can clearly see how upsizing my regular-sized gingerbread men will look with no other changes. But if you embroidered the embellishments on your gingerbread man instead, you could make much finer lines than with crocheted chains, and add as much detail as you like.

(You can find the full details for the ‘Gingy’ embellishments I made on p9 of the Gingerbread Man pattern.)

Upsizing

I worked the extra-large gingerbread man by holding two strands of yarn together, with a larger hook. (See my Resizing Amigurumi article for my advice on choosing an appropriate hook size when you double your yarn.) This means you can make the embellishments using one strand of the same yarn (and a smaller hook) instead of the embroidery floss embellishments I used for the standard gingerbread men.

amigurumi supersized Gingy and regular size Gingerbread Man - based on Gingerbread Man crochet pattern by PlanetJune

A New Yarn Experiment…

Making these amigurumi gave me the opportunity to take some measurements, so now I have a much better estimate of how much additional yarn you’ll need if you hold two strands together. I already knew you’ll need more than just the obvious twice as much (2 strands means 2x yarn length), because each stitch is also larger, so uses more yarn, but how much more?

Single-strand Double-strand
Hook size E US/3.5mm I US/5.5mm
Finished height 5.75″/14.5cm 8.25″/21cm
Yarn quantity 18g 49g
Yarn length 36yds/33m 98yds/90m

So, by doubling the yarn and using a correspondingly larger hook, the finished piece was 44% larger, and took 2.7x more yarn – useful to know!

Although this won’t be an exact formula, because it depends on how tightly you crochet at each size, and how big your larger hook is compared with your smaller hook, it gives a good rule-of-thumb indication for yarn quantity when you scale up by doubling the yarn.

(I’ve added this new info to my Resizing Amigurumi article so you can refer back if/when you need it.)


Gingerbread Man crochet pattern by PlanetJune

If you’re making Gingerbread Men (or Girls) from my patterns, I’d love to see them! Please join the Christmas crochet-along in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, or post them on social media (and tag @PlanetJune so I can see your post).

 

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Glinting Eyes for Amigurumi

Link easily to this tutorial in your patterns: www.planetjune.com/glint

Today I’d like to show you a technique that’ll bring your amigurumi to life when you don’t use shiny plastic eyes. This is particularly useful when you’re making baby-safe or pet toys, where plastic eyes may be a choking hazard.

example of embroidered catchlight on crocheted amigurumi eyes

The Power of the Catchlight

A catchlight is the highlight or glint of a light source reflected in an eye. Compare these kestrel photos I took a few months ago, and you’ll see how appealing a glint in the eye can be:

kestrel with glinting eye (by June Gilbank)
Where the eye has the magic glint, it brings a spark of life to the photo that makes it irresistible.

kestrel without glinting eye (by June Gilbank)
The same bird, only a couple of seconds later, but the angle is slightly different, and I didn’t catch a glint in the eye. Although the kestrel is still lovely, do you see how this photo looks dull and lifeless compared with the first?

Now, this principle doesn’t just apply to wildlife photography – the same concept applies in amigurumi! Two-part plastic animal (‘safety’) eyes are the ideal eyes for most amigurumi, because the shiny plastic replicates the shine of real animals’ eyes, giving a glint in the eye which helps to bring your amigurumi to life.

But plastic eyes aren’t always the best solution, especially if you’re making toys for very young children or pets, where plastic eyes may be a choking hazard and should be avoided. Non-plastic eyes can look dull and make your amigurumi feel lifeless, but there’s a simple way to add that spark of life back again.

Adding a Catchlight

If you crochet eyes for your amigurumi or make them from felt or embroidery, I highly recommend that you add a small white dot with white embroidery floss in the upper right quadrant of each eye, to simulate the glint. It makes the eye look more realistic and gives your toy that spark of life. All you need is a tapestry needle and a short length of white embroidery floss per eye.

Compare these two gingerbread men. Even before they have any features added beyond the eyes, there’s a huge difference in appeal:

Gingerbread Man (crochet pattern by PlanetJune) with and without a glint in the eye

Without a glint, the eyes have a dull vacant stare. With the glint, they have a sparkle of personality!

How to Add the Glint:

  • If you’re embroidering the eye directly onto your piece, you can stitch the catchlight on top of your other stitches.
  • If you’re attaching a felt or crocheted circle for the eye, you may find it easier to embroider the catchlight before attaching the eye, as you can then hide the thread ends beneath the eye. (If you plan to glue the eye in place, it’s essential to embroider the catchlight before you apply the glue, as it’s very difficult to embroider onto fabric that’s been hardened with glue!)
  • You can also add a catchlight with a dot of white fabric paint, but please do practice on a spare crocheted eye before adding paint directly to your amigurumi, to make sure you’re happy with the result.

illustration of good and bad glint positions for amigurumi eyes

Glint Size and Shape
The size and shape of the catchlights aren’t critical. A single stitch can be enough, or, if you prefer a more rounded/square shape, you can make a larger catchlight by making two or three stitches right next to each other. Whatever you decide, try to keep the glint the same size and shape on each eye.

Glint Position
You don’t have to use the upper right corner of the eye, but it’s very important that you add the glint in the same position on each eye – this is one situation where symmetry is definitely wrong! The idea of the catchlight is to suggest that the amigurumi is being lit from one side, and the side with the lamp/sun is the side that reflects that light as a glint. Light typically comes from above, so add the glint above the middle of the eye, but you can choose between the upper right or upper left side for both eyes.

Get Glinting!

This simple technique makes such a difference to any eyes made from fabric, yarn or embroidery floss. I hope you’ll use it every time you make crocheted, felt or embroidered eyes in future, to add an extra spark of life to your amigurumi!

Gingerbread Man crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Note: The samples used for this demo are made from my Gingerbread Family crochet patterns.

Comments (4)

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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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