Archive for Crochet

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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finger protector for crocheters (or knitters)

When I was writing my new book, I had a lot of project samples to crochet in a short period of time, and that’s pretty hard on the hands.

my crocheting style
This is how I crochet (and this is my meerkat amigurumi, not a book project!)

When I’ve been crocheting for a while, the yarn starts to wears a groove in my forefinger as it rubs over it, and, if I keep going, my finger gets red and sore, and my skin condition gets aggravated. A chafed finger really isn’t something you want to see in close-up book tutorial photos, so I needed a solution to protect my finger.

chafed finger
Groovy (and not in a good way) – this is after just a few minutes of fast amigurumi crocheting

First I tried crocheting a finger sleeve, which worked really well for comfort and maintaining tension, but it looked clunky, and after a few minutes of use it began to spin around on my finger and wouldn’t hold in place. I also tried using plastic and metal yarn guides (meant for stranding multiple colours of yarn) which stopped the rubbing, but I found they messed with my tension.

Other suggestions from my ever-helpful Ravelry group members included finger cots, taping the finger, or wrapping paper towel around the finger and then taping over that.

In the end I found a very simple solution that works for me: I sewed a very basic finger sleeve from a smooth, stretchy, spandex-blend fabric. This fabric doesn’t fray, so all I needed was one row of stitching to turn a small rectangle of fabric into a tube that fits tightly over my finger.

finger sleeve
It’s not pretty, but it works

When I wear it, my yarn runs smoothly over the fabric and it doesn’t affect my crocheting tension. The tube did stretch a bit after a few days of hard use and became too loose to be effective, but I just stitched another seam slightly further in (thanks to Kris for that suggestion) and it hasn’t stretched further since. The best part is it only takes a tiny scrap of a smooth stretch fabric, and you can customise it to exactly fit whichever part of your finger gets rubbed or irritated by your yarn.

I keep the seam on the outside so it doesn’t dig into my finger, but rotate the sleeve on my finger so the seam doesn’t touch the yarn. Sometimes a simple solution is best: this little tube took mere minutes to make but has already saved me a lot of discomfort as I worked on all my book projects.

I still use my finger sleeve when I have a heavy crocheting session or use yarn that chafes, and I think I’ll whip up another half dozen or so – the biggest problem with finger sleeves is that they seem as prone as yarn needles to being mislaid! If I have a few handy, I’ll be able to keep one in every project bag.

finger sleeve
Problem solved!

If you’d like to try making a finger sleeve, look for a smooth fabric with spandex/lycra so it’s nice and stretchy. Or, if you don’t want to spend money when you only need a tiny scrap of fabric, I bet a piece snipped from an old swimsuit would work perfectly…

My starting fabric rectangle was 4cm long by 6cm around (about 1½ by 2⅜”) but I have small fingers, so you may want a longer and/or wider tube. Just measure your finger and remember to add a little extra width for the seam allowance (but not too much, as you need a tight fit so it won’t slip). If it’s too loose, just sew another seam to make the tube slightly narrower, as I did.

Do you have problems with yarn chafing your finger when you crochet or knit? Please share what works for you in the comments!

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free pattern: Tiny Eggs (in a Nest)

Today I have a new fast and easy donationware pattern for you: Tiny Eggs!

Make miniature (1″/2.5cm) crocheted eggs that are still egg-shaped despite their diminutive size. Decorate for Easter with a bowl of calorie-free ‘chocolate’ eggs (just don’t eat them!) or make them as realistic-sized songbird eggs.

tiny eggs by planetjune

Tiny Eggs is a free pattern, but I decided to go a step further with the donationware PDF version this time, so it gets its own name:

tiny eggs in a nest crochet pattern

Tiny Eggs in a Nest is the PDF version, available for any size donation, and it includes a bonus pattern for a tiny textured bird’s nest (3″/7.5cm diameter) which I designed especially for these eggs.

The beautiful nest is smooth on the inside and textured on the outside, just like a real bird’s nest, so you can make a nestful of Tiny Eggs as a lovely decoration to celebrate spring, or as the perfect accompaniment to an amigurumi bird.

I really appreciate those of you who choose to donate for my donationware patterns (whether it’s a $1 or $20+ donation – every dollar counts). I’d have stopped creating ‘free’ patterns long before this point if not for your generous donations that support the creation of future donationware patterns and make it worth my while to keep creating them!

So, to show my appreciation, I give added value to the PDF version wherever I can, and in this case, it means the very special textured nest pattern, available exclusively in the Tiny Eggs in a Nest PDF pattern. With the bonus nest pattern, Tiny Eggs can do double duty as both a mini Easter Egg pattern and a sweet bird’s nest pattern.

tiny eggs in a nest by planetjune

I hope you enjoy making the teeniest tiniest crocheted eggs, with or without the nest!

Go to the free Tiny Eggs pattern >>

Or jump straight to donate:

Order the Tiny Eggs in a Nest pattern >>

Not ready to make it yet? Add it to your Ravelry queue:

PS – Don’t forget to share your eggs and/or nests in the PlanetJune Spring/Easter CAL on Ravelry :)

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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

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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.

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Baby Bunnies 2 pattern

Once of my most popular crochet patterns is my Baby Bunnies set – they seem to have really captured my customers’ imaginations, and I’ve seen dozens of people who’ve each made dozens of baby bunnies – they’re multiplying like, um, rabbits! And now you can get even more value from this pattern, by buying my new Baby Bunnies 2 Expansion Pack, which will let you create baby bunnies with Pointed, Blazed and Dutch markings.

Baby Bunnies 2 Expansion Pack crochet pattern by PlanetJune
New Bunnies! L-R: Pointed Bunny, Dutch Bunny, Blazed Bunny

What is an Expansion Pack?

Expansion Packs by PlanetJune

  • An Expansion Pack is an add-on to an existing PlanetJune pattern.
  • The Expansion Pack lets you modify or add to the original pattern to create something else.
  • You cannot use the Expansion Pack alone – you must also purchase the original pattern in order to be able to complete the pictured items in the Expansion Pack pattern.

I’ve only made one sample for each marking type, but, by swapping upright or lop ears with each type, you can make a total of 6 different new bunnies. (Then add the original bunnies, and all the different colourways, and you have dozens of different bunny options!)

Baby Bunnies and Baby Bunnies 2 Expansion Pack crochet patterns by PlanetJune
Baby Bunnies 1 & 2 playing together – swap the ears and colours for even more options

Build your Colour-Changing Confidence

The original Baby Bunnies is a good pattern for fairly new crocheters, as there’s only one colour to deal with, the small size means you can finish it pretty quickly, and you get lots of practice with counting your stitches to achieve that perfect bunny shape! So I’m continuing that beginner’s crochet education with Baby Bunnies 2, as the 3 marking types are graded by difficulty:

  1. Test the waters by making your first simple colour changes for the Pointed Bunny.
  2. Get your feet wet with a few more colour changes in the Blazed Bunny markings.
  3. Wade into multiple changes per round with the more complex Dutch Bunny markings.

Baby Bunnies 2 Expansion Pack crochet pattern by PlanetJune
Increasing difficulty, from top to bottom: Pointed, Blazed, Dutch markings

By the time you’ve completed all three of these bunnies, you’ll be a colour-changing expert, and ready to tackle one of my larger patterns with complex colours, such as the Emperor Penguin, the Kingfisher, or the Orca:

PlanetJune patterns with complex colour changes

Ready to Buy?

You can buy the Baby Bunnies 2 Expansion Pack for only $3.50 individually from the shop, or, if you haven’t already bought the Baby Bunnies pattern, you can select it as an add-on to that pattern before you add it to your shopping cart, and save 50c on the pair.

Or, if you’re not quite ready to start bunny-making, why not favourite or queue the new set on Ravelry, so you don’t forget about them?

Launch Discount

If you’ve already bought the original Baby Bunnies, you won’t be able to save that 50c. But, for 7 days only, add the Baby Bunnies 2 Expansion Pack pattern to your shopping cart, together with anything else (totalling $5 or more), then use the code BUNNIES at checkout and you’ll still get your discount! (Valid until next Thursday: 27th March 2014.)

Note: If you don’t need anything else right now, this also applies to Gift Certificate purchases, so you can pick up a $5 gift certificate now, get your discount, and have $5 in your PlanetJune account ready for your next purchase, or to send to a crocheting friend!

Baby Bunnies 2 Expansion Pack crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Watch out world, I believe bunny season just started!

PS – Don’t forget to share photos of your Baby Bunnies in the Spring/Easter CAL thread on Ravelry too – you have until the end of April to post them…

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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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Primroses crochet pattern

Nothing says Spring quite like the sight of a primrose. One of the earliest-blossoming spring flowers (the name ‘primrose’ is actually from the Latin for ‘first rose’, although it’s not a rose!) you may also know these pretty plants as primulas, and the closely-related and similar-looking polyanthus.

But why wait for Spring? Bring a taste of spring into your home, whatever the season – a pot of crocheted primroses will brighten your day in a glorious riot of colour!

Primroses crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Primrose plants look so pretty with their crinkled leaves and heart-shaped petals, and I made sure to include those details in my design.

Primroses includes the patterns for two primrose arrangements: a large planter filled to bursting with multi-coloured blooms for maximum impact; and a small round pot containing a single plant perfect to brighten small spaces or as a gift in a hurry!

I’ve used some neat tricks to keep the construction as simple as possible, with surprisingly little sewing. I’ve included full details for assembling and arranging the plants so your primroses will look healthy and full with the least amount of pieces possible (no point wasting hours making hundreds of leaves when you don’t need to!)

Primroses crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I try to come up with different and interesting pot constructions for each of my plant designs – that way, you won’t be buying the same pot pattern twice. My primroses come with a matching set of a small round pot and a long planter; both of which have a shaped lip around the top edge. The lip looks good – just like a real plant pot! – but it also provides a sturdy support to keep the pot in shape.

You can also mix and match different PlanetJune plants with different pots for added value – for example, the primrose pots would look great filled with crocheted cacti or succulents, just as you could make a large round bowl of primroses by using either of the large pots from those patterns.

My colourful Primroses make me smile whenever I see them, and I hope they’ll have the same effect on you! If you’d like to crochet up the joy of springtime, you’ll find the Primroses crochet pattern in my shop right now.

Or, if you’re not quite ready to make your Primroses, why not favourite or queue them on Ravelry, so you don’t forget about them?

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crocheted yoga mat strap

crocheted yoga mat strap

A link on Twitter led me to the pattern for this ingenious crocheted yoga mat strap, designed by Sara at My Merry Messy Life. Instead of just saying ‘that’s clever’ and posting it to Pinterest, I decided it could be just what I need for my own yoga mat!

Sara designed the strap to go over a crocheted yoga mat bag, but I don’t want or need a bag – just a strap to keep my mat rolled up neatly and to make it easier to transport. I don’t usually like to follow patterns without at least putting my own spin on them, but with a pattern this basic, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel.

It’s the concept that’s genius: it’s simply a crocheted rope with a small loop at each end. You pull the rope through each loop to form an adjustable noose at each end, then pull the nooses tight around the ends of the mat to hold it together securely – clever and very effective.

I used Knit Picks Dishie worsted weight cotton yarn (left over from one of my book projects!) held double. The original pattern uses acrylic yarn, and unmercerized cotton is much stiffer and harder to work, so I used a K hook (6.5mm) instead of the recommended I hook (5.5mm).

I worked into the back bumps of the starting chain to give a neat finish. It only took 35m of yarn and I was finished in no time. The hardest part was weaving in the ends – with such a narrow project, there’s really nowhere to hide them!

crocheted yoga mat strap

The end result is really useful, both for holding the mat together neatly when it’s not in use and carrying it to and from classes. The cotton yarn I used makes it very strong and sturdy, and crochet is the perfect medium for projects like this – I love being able to quickly create something that’s so functional!

The noose construction works perfectly to keep the mat rolled neatly (below, left), and, in conjunction with the grippy mat, it even allows me to carry the mat in the much more convenient but less stable vertical position (below, right) without it slipping out of the strap.

crocheted yoga mat strap

Why am I not wearing yoga gear here? Well, ironically, as soon as I made the strap my knee started playing up (it’s never been quite the same since I was hit by a car 13 years ago; my knee took the full force of the impact) and it’s quite painful at the moment, so I may not be able to take my newly-strapped mat to a yoga class for a while. But at least my mat is ready to go as soon as my knee has recovered – it’s added incentive to get myself better :)

I highly recommend this yoga mat strap if you do yoga. You should also keep it in mind as a quick-to-crochet gift for a yoga-loving friend, although without the mat in place it just looks like a strange loopy rope, so you’ll have to give your friend a demo before they’ll fully appreciate what you’ve made for them!


baby sea turtle collection pattern

One of the most amazing sights I’ve seen in wildlife documentaries is the night when all the baby sea turtles hatch simultaneously. They dig their way up from their sandy nests and then frantically flipper their way down the beach towards the safety of the sea, like tiny clockwork-powered toys. When they finally reach the sea, they’re transformed into miniature graceful marvels, flapping lazily under the waves like birds in flight.

I’d love to see this for myself, and, as it happens, sea turtles lay their eggs on some beaches right here in South Africa! Unfortunately, those beaches are on the east coast and I’m on the west coast, and, with my ongoing book responsibilities (we’re now in the middle of the editing/proofing cycle), making that dream a reality isn’t something that’s going to happen this year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a turtle adventure next year, but, in the meantime, I thought we could all enjoy this miracle of nature in amigurumi form, with my Baby Sea Turtle Collection!

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

The hatchlings alone would make the cutest toys – in natural or any other colours – but you can complete the scene with turtle eggs and an adorable baby turtle who is just emerging from his egg.

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Make as many baby sea turtles as you want – at only 4.5″ (12cm) long, they don’t take long to complete, and fit nicely in your hand, just like a real baby sea turtle. My original AquaAmi Sea Turtle design is still one of my most popular patterns, but you’ll be relieved to know that this baby turtle has only 7 pieces to crochet (instead of 26!) so you could make a whole beachful of babies in the time it takes you to crochet one full-size turtle ;)

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

The collection also includes the pattern for these turtle eggs. Fun fact: this egg shape is intentional; sea turtle eggs are round like ping pong balls, not ovoid like chicken eggs.

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

But my unexpected favourite part of this pattern collection is the hatching turtle. It ended up being a lot more challenging than I’d anticipated, and took three completely different design concepts to come up with a design I’m satisfied with. The first resulted in the egg being misshapen unless you’re extremely careful with the assembly and don’t touch or play with it at all after assembly, so that was no good. The second looked great until I stitched it all together and realised it looked like someone had sliced the turtle in half – definitely not the look I was going for…

The final design concept was worth the wait though – you can really see that the turtle is emerging from the egg! It’s such a clever design and I think you’ll enjoy seeing it magically come together from pieces that don’t look like they could possibly form a turtle. The pattern includes lots of photos to show every step of the assembly, so you won’t have any problems completing your baby turtle collection :)

Team PlanetJune - Ravellenic Games 2014

Have you joined Team PlanetJune yet for the Ravellenic Games? Join us by challenging yourself to complete one (or more) PlanetJune patterns in the Feb 7-23 Olympic timeframe. As the Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi are small pieces (and each turtle can count as its own project), they’d make perfect Rav Games entries. If you’d like to try making one (or more) baby turtles as a part of Team PJ, there’s an exclusive discount code on the pattern, available only in the team thread :)

I can’t wait to see baby turtles popping up in all sorts of colours (don’t forget to share yours on Ravelry when you’ve made them, so we can all enjoy them!)

And if you’re not ready to buy the Baby Sea Turtle Collection just yet, please heart or queue it on Ravelry so you don’t forget about it :)

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

As you can probably tell, I love, love, love baby sea turtles. I hope you’ll enjoy using this pattern as much as I enjoyed designing 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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