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Summer Days Sunhat crochet pattern

I designed this hat last Christmas (i.e. my southern hemisphere summer) to meet a specific need: to keep the sun out of my eyes while I’m out walking without worrying that my hat would blow off my head! And so, after several refinements, the Summer Days Sunhat was born:

Summer Days Sunhat crochet pattern by PlanetJune

This hat is a cross between a practical bucket hat and a stylish cloche. Well-fitting sides mean the hat won’t blow off your head in windy weather, and the brim has a solid stitch pattern that will keep the sun out of your eyes.

This is an easy-care, easy-wear hat: it doesn’t need blocking and doesn’t have a starched brim, so it’s easy to throw in a bag when you aren’t wearing it without needing to worry about crushing it!

I designed the no-gauge pattern to work for any size head (from a small child to a large adult) and any size yarn (although I like it best in fingering/sport weight so it’s light and elegant). Just measure your head and then follow the simple instructions. You’ll need a calculator to do a single sum to get started, then all you need is a measuring tape so you’ll know when you’ve reached the right size.

Summer Days Sunhat crochet pattern by PlanetJune

The brim has two options – the floppier, all-yarn version (pictured above), and a version that incorporates fishing line to add a little stiffness while leaving the hat foldable but not crushable (pictured below).

Summer Days Sunhat crochet pattern by PlanetJune

My sample hats have already seen me through a South African summer and a Hawaiian vacation, without once blowing away in the wind, and they still look as good as new!

I made the pink and natural coloured ones from a local 4-ply (fingering weight) mercerized cotton yarn – Elle Premier – but I wanted to show a sample made in a more readily-available yarn. I used Patons Grace to make my purple hat, and, although it’s called sport weight, it has exactly the same weight and yardage per ball, so it’s a pretty good match.

Links and Launch Discount

If you’re ready to try crocheting your own Summer Days Sunhat, you can buy it individually from my shop, or as part of a Custom Set of any 3 PlanetJune Accessories patterns of your choice.

PlanetJune Accessories crochet patterns by PlanetJune

And, for this week only, save 50c on the Summer Days Sunhat pattern by using discount code SUMMER at checkout. (Valid until Sunday 17th July 2016.)

Tip: The discount is valid on the Sunhat alone and the Custom Set including the Sunhat – so you can save even more by buying the multipack deal with the discount!

Or, if you’re not ready to buy just yet, please heart or queue it on Ravelry so you don’t forget about it:

I hope you’ll enjoy this pattern! If you make one, please take a photo of you wearing it, and share it in the PJ ravelry group or on my Facebook page, or tag me on Twitter or Instagram (@PlanetJune) so I can see it 🙂

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A Colour Changing Crochet Investigation

managing yarns when changing colours tutorial

Spoiler alert: in doing this colour changing investigation, I’ve come up with recommendations for how best to manage your yarns when you make multiple-colour amigurumi.

If you’re not interested in my experiments and how I reached my conclusions, you can skip the rest of this post, and jump straight to the Changing Colour: Managing the Yarns tutorial 🙂


I’m often asked how to deal with the other yarn when changing colour in my amigurumi patterns. If there’s a specific technique I recommend for a specific pattern – one that makes the colour changes much neater or faster than any alternative – I give you that information in the pattern itself.

But, in general, I don’t give specific details within a pattern for every colour change, because a) there’s no one ‘right’ way to deal with yarn ends and carrying colours, and b) it’s up to you which method(s) you find to be the best combination of fast, easy, and with a good end result.

In fact, I tend to intuitively use a combination of several options, but how do you know what to use when? Time for another crochet experiment, so we can see the the advantages and disadvantages of each technique, and I can give you a better recommendation…

Note: Not interested in the investigation and just want my recommendations for how to deal with the other yarn when you’re changing colours? Go straight to my page Changing Colour: Managing the Yarns!

Method

I crocheted the same amigurumi-style sample piece 4 times, using the same pattern each time but changing the method for dealing with the other yarn in each sample, as a basis for comparison.

colour_changing_investigation

The pattern was a two-colour cylinder worked in a continuous spiral in the round, changing colour every five stitches on one side and every two stitches on the other side, so we can see any differences between short and long blocks of stitches between colour changes.

The techniques I used were:

  • 1. Cut-and-tie: Cut the yarn at every colour change and tie each resulting pair of ends together.
  • 2. Stranding: Carry a float of yarn behind the work, and pick it back up when you resume crocheting with that colour.
  • 3. Tapestry crochet (yarn on top): Lay the unused yarn across the top of the stitches, and crochet around it with every stitch.
  • 4. Tapestry crochet (yarn behind): I don’t think there’s a real name for this technique: crocheting around the other yarn with each stitch, but holding it behind the back loop, instead of across the top, of the stitch below. (But does that really make a difference? Let’s find out…)

Results

The overview picture below shows the results of the four different methods.
L-R for each method:

  • Wide blocks of colour, right side
  • Wide blocks of colour, wrong side
  • Narrow blocks of colour, right side
  • Narrow blocks of colour, wrong side

colour changing experiment by PlanetJune - 4 methods to deal with yarn ends when changing colour in amigurumi

(You may be wondering why I’m looking at the wrong sides too, when the inside will never be seen in an amigurumi piece. It’s important for the experiment to see what’s going on behind the scenes as well as comparing the look of the finished outside.)

By comparing each of these samples, I could see the advantages and disadvantages of each method, which will let me figure out which is best to use when, and why…

Cut-and-tie vs Stranding

Stranding is much faster than stopping to cut the yarn and tie knots at every colour change, but the quality of the stranded result depends on the width of the yarn that’s floated on the back of the piece:

colour changing experiment by PlanetJune - cutting vs stranding

For long stretches between colour changes, the floated yarn on the back of the piece can distort the shape of your work (if too tight), or cause the stitch before and after to work loose (if too loose). Cut-and-tie leaves yarn ends, but gives a consistent result.

However, for frequent colour changes of only a stitch or two, cut-and-tie is fiddly and leaves a big mess of ends on the inside of the piece. Stranding works very well for these shorter colour changes, provided you tension the stranded yarn so it sits snugly along the inside of the piece.

Conclusion: Stranding the yarn behind your stitches saves time and yarn vs cutting and tying at each colour change, but it works best when you’re only carrying the yarn for a short length before swapping back.


Tapestry crochet vs Normal crochet (cut or stranded)

There’s a big problem with using tapestry crochet for amigurumi – unless, of course, the pattern was designed to be worked this way! Let’s compare the stitches formed with standard crochet vs those with tapestry crochet:

colour changing experiment by PlanetJune - stitch bias difference between normal and tapestry crochet

Working in the round without turning always introduces a bias to your stitches – a stacked colour change will travel by approximately 1 stitch per 5 rounds (above, right). But with tapestry crochet (above, left), that bias is intensified, so a stacked colour changed will travel by approximately 1 stitch per 2 rounds. So, if you use the tapestry technique where it’s not intended (or, use non-tapestry for a pattern designed for tapestry), the colour pattern will become skewed.

The tapestry stitches are also slightly taller than standard stitches, but I’m not sure there’s enough of a difference there to skew the overall shaping significantly on the scale of an amigurumi piece. The colour shifting is a much more obvious problem, and a good enough reason to abandon this method for amigurumi colour changes without further investigation.

Conclusion: Don’t use tapestry crochet (working over the carried yarn with every stitch) for amigurumi with colour changes, unless the pattern specifies it.

Tapestry crochet (yarn on top vs yarn behind)

The modified tapestry crochet technique, where you carry the yarn just behind the back loop of the stitch instead of across the top, does make a difference: looking at the green stitches in the samples below, you can see that the carried (pink) yarn is less visible on the front of the piece, and more visible on the back (where it doesn’t matter for amigurumi).

colour changing experiment by PlanetJune - comparison of tapestry crochet with the yarn held on top or behind the stitches

Conclusion: If you’re going to work over yarn (to carry a yarn, to catch a floated yarn, or to work over a yarn end), for amigurumi it’s better to hold the yarn behind the back loop of your stitch instead of across the top of the stitch.

(This modification doesn’t help with the bias effect, so I still wouldn’t use it for amigurumi colourwork, unless the pattern was designed to be worked in tapestry crochet. But I have incorporated this technique into my recommendations in a specific scenario, as you’ll see…)

Verdict & Recommendations

managing yarns when changing colours tutorial

Putting it all together, we can see which techniques may be most effective when a pattern has frequent/infrequent colour changes that span few/many stitches, and I now have solid reasons for recommending different yarn-wrangling methods in different situations.

You always have a choice of how to deal with the other yarn(s) when you change colour, but I’ll give you my recommendations – together with some case studies so you can see how these methods work in practice for amigurumi – in my tutorial page:

Continue to ‘Changing Colour: Managing the Yarns’ >>

Comments (2)

Tropical Fish crochet patterns

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

I first started sketching ideas for a bright and colourful tropical fish collection over 2 years ago, and I’m thrilled to finally bring my concept to life. These Tropical Fish may be the most varied and visually interesting group of related patterns I’ve tackled to date!

Although it’s easy to recognise each as a fish, the colours, shapes, patterning, and even the number and shape of the fins vary hugely between species, and I couldn’t stop myself from designing more and more different types…

AquaAmi Tropical Fish crochet pattern collection by PlanetJune

Meet the Fish

Each of the 8 fish in my Tropical Fish collection is based on a real-life species of tropical reef fish.

Set 1: Ocellaris Clownfish & Yellow Tang

Aquaami Tropical Fish crochet patterns by PlanetJune. Set 1: Ocellaris Clownfish and Yellow Tang
Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris), above left. Instantly recognisable as Nemo from the Disney films, Ocellaris Clownfish form a symbiotic relationship with a sea anemone: the fish cleans and defends the anemone, while the anemone gives the fish a safe place to hide from predators.

Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), above right. A very popular aquarium fish, the Yellow Tang is found throughout the Indo-Pacific region, but especially in reefs around the Hawaiian Islands.

Set 2: Royal Blue Tang & Amethyst Anthias

Aquaami Tropical Fish crochet patterns by PlanetJune. Set 2: Royal Blue Tang and Amethyst Anthias
Royal Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus), above left. The fish you’ll recognise as Dory also goes by many other names, including Regal Blue Tang, Hippo Tang and Palette Surgeonfish. These fish are almost impossible to breed in captivity, so fish for sale are harvested from the wild, which endangers their wild populations and reef habitats – far better to crochet one instead…

Amethyst Anthias (Pseudanthias pascalus), above right. With over 60 different species, the colourful anthias family hail from the Indo-Pacific region and are found in lots of different colours, so you can make one in yellow, orange, pink, purple or red and it’ll still be realistic!

Set 3: Copperband Butterflyfish & Royal Gramma

Aquaami Tropical Fish crochet patterns by PlanetJune. Set 3: Copperband Butterflyfish and Royal Gramma

Copperband Butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus), above left. Butterflyfishes’ deep, narrow bodies and long fins give them a flat triangular appearance that’s fun to crochet! The Copperband Butterflyfish is also commonly called the Beaked Coralfish.

Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto), above right. With its distinctive half-purple and half-yellow appearance, the Royal Gramma comes from the Caribbean and is also known as the Fairy Basslet.

Set 4: Pajama Cardinalfish & Flame Angelfish

Aquaami Tropical Fish crochet patterns by PlanetJune. Set 4: Pajama Cardinalfish and Flame Angelfish
Pajama Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera), above left. This strikingly-coloured spotted fish is popular in aquariums. The Pajama Cardinalfish hides a special secret to ensure the survival of its young – the male incubates the eggs in his mouth until they hatch!

Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loricula), above right. A beautifully coloured dwarf angelfish, the Flame Angelfish has a bright red, black-striped body and electric blue patches at the back of its fins.


About the Patterns

  • These mini amigurumi offer a variety of shapes and crochet techniques (shaping, colour changes, spots and stripes, assembly and finishing). All techniques include tips, step-by-step photos, and/or links to my online tutorials, so you’ll be able to learn or practise a range of amigurumi styles and techniques with these patterns.
  • You’ll love their mini size (they’re all between 4.5 and 5.5″ long), so even the most complex fish won’t take forever to finish, and you can whip out the simpler ones very quickly!
  • All the fins (the pieces that aren’t worked in the traditional amigurumi single-crochet-in-the-round technique) include charted stitch diagrams in addition to full written instructions, so you can follow the patterns in the way you find easiest.
  • Each of the 4 pattern sets includes 3 pages of helpful instructions and finishing tips that apply to all the Tropical Fish (including a basic illustrated guide to fish anatomy so you’ll learn the right names for the fins!)

Tip: If you’re printing all the patterns, you can save paper and ink by printing those 3 pages (Instructions for All Tropical Fish, p2-4 in each pattern) just once.


Links to Buy & Launch Discount

You can buy each set individually from my shop, but I highly recommend you pick up the multipack of all 8 fish instead! I’ve priced it at less than the cost of buying 3 sets, so that’s a great deal for you, and it’ll save you from having to try to pick your favourites from such a variety of different fish 🙂

Let’s make that deal even better: for one week only, you can buy the complete Tropical Fish collection (Sets 1-4, which includes all 8 fish patterns) for the extra-special low price of $15. To take advantage of this deal, add Tropical Fish Sets 1-4 to your shopping cart, and enter the discount code DORY at checkout! (Offer ends Friday 24 June, 2016.)

Or, if you’re not ready to buy them just yet, please remember to heart and queue them on Ravelry!

Set 1 (Ocellaris Clownfish & Yellow Tang):
Set 2 (Royal Blue Tang & Amethyst Anthias):
Set 3 (Copperband Butterflyfish & Royal Gramma):
Set 4 (Pajama Cardinalfish & Flame Angelfish):


Under The Sea Crochet-Along

And, from today until the end of August, join us in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, where we’ll all be making fish (and their other aquatic friends – I have lots of other AquaAmi designs to choose from too…)

I can’t wait to see all the colourful fish popping up from all over the world! Please join us, and share pics of your fishies 🙂


I hope you enjoy my cheerful new Tropical Fish collection, and you’ll have fun trying out all the different patterns. So now for the big question: which fish will you try first..?

AquaAmi Tropical Fish crochet patterns by PlanetJune

Comments (8)

Horse, Unicorn & Pegasus crochet patterns

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

I’m not even sure where to begin this post, as I have so much I’m excited to show you… I’ll just dive straight in:

Horse crochet pattern

First, the pattern that started it all – my latest commissioned design, for a Horse, is now complete:

horse

My horse has a sweet face, a realistic shape and bay colouring. In addition to detailed assembly instructions, this pattern includes two amazing new techniques to make a really special mane and tail:

  • The mane is thick and full, and the strands are attached neatly and firmly.
  • The tail hangs beautifully with no knots or visible attachment points.

Both techniques require no additional materials and are explained in full in the pattern, with lots of step-by-step photos so you can make a perfect horse!

Unicorn and Pegasus Expansion Pack

And, of course, having a horse design opens up a whole world of possibilities for other designs, and I couldn’t wait to add a Unicorn and Pegasus Expansion Pack for the Horse. And I’m so thrilled with the result – I hope you agree!

unicorn_pegasus

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.

This Expansion Pack lets you convert my Horse into a Unicorn, a Pegasus, and/or an Alicorn (that’s a winged Unicorn – or a horned Pegasus if you prefer!) – so you actually get three options in one Expansion Pack:

unicorn_pegasus_alicorn

I’m especially pleased with the elegant wings – they’re a combination of sturdy and decorative, as they’re stiff enough to stand up by themselves, while still looking delicate with the feathered edge.

Hoofing It CAL

In honour of the new patterns, we’re starting a new crochet-along in the PlanetJune group on Ravelry – you can make any of the new designs, or any other PlanetJune designs with hooves (see the CAL thread for the full list). The CAL runs right through till the end of July, so you have time to make one of each if you want 😉

I hope you’ll join us – I can’t wait to see everyone’s horses, unicorns etc!

Links to Buy & Launch Discount

As with all my Expansion Packs, you can buy the patterns separately (although please note that you do need the base Horse pattern to be able to make a Unicorn or Pegasus), or there’s a discount when you buy both together.

But to sweeten this deal even more and give you an incentive to join the CAL right away, I’m offering an additional discount on the Multipack Set (Horse, Unicorn & Pegasus) if you buy within the next 7 days, so you can get all three for only $7.50 – that’s only $2.50 per pattern!

So, here are your options:

Or, if you’re not ready to buy yet, click through to Ravelry and favourite/queue them so you won’t forget about them!

Horse:

Unicorn & Pegasus:

horse_unicorn_pegasus

Can you resist these sweet faces? I hope you love these designs as much as I do – please leave me a comment if you do! Which will you be making first?

Comments (8)

tutorial: better BLO stitches for amigurumi

I always like to experiment and see if there are ways to improve amigurumi techniques to give better results, and today I have a new one to share with you.

Back loop only (BLO) stitches are often used to add detail in amigurumi designs, particularly for turning sharp corners. For example, look at the bottom of a crocheted plant pot (where you turn a sharp corner from the base of the pot to begin the sides) or the bottom of a foot (where you turn from the flat base to the side of the foot).

better BLO tutorial - examples of uses of back loops only at the edge of the base of feet or plant pots
Stegosaurus and Succulent plants both have a round of BLO around the bottom edge (of their feet and pot, respectively)

But BLO stitches are looser and more open than standard stitches worked in both loops, so the corner round will lose the solid, firm fabric of the rest of your amigurumi. My new modified BLO technique solves this problem!

better BLO tutorial - the holes above the unworked front loops are eliminated with my technique
The holes above the unworked front loops are eliminated with my technique

Now, before we get started, I should explain what this technique is not: this is not a new method for patterns that are worked in BLO throughout. Using it in that way would change the shape of the finished pieces (more about that later).

This technique is best used to replace occasional BLO details in a piece worked in both loops, e.g. the round of BLO stitches used for turning sharp corners in amigurumi patterns. Just as you can replace a “ch 2” start with a magic ring, and an “sc2tog” with an invisible decrease, you can replace that round of BLO with my modified BLO (in any amigurumi pattern) and it’ll give your amigurumi a much nicer result.

What’s wrong with BLO?

The problem with BLO stitches compared with stitches worked in both loops is that they can easily stretch open. When you’re making amigurumi, where the stitches are stretched by the stuffing, this results in taller stitches with larger gaps between each round.

better BLO tutorial - comparison of samples worked in normal sc and sc in back loops only
L-R: sc worked in both loops, sc in back loops only

(I discussed this in more detail in my tutorial Front Loops, Back Loops, Both Loops.)

Why Use BLO?

But BLO has several uses as an accent in amigurumi designs, for example:

  • to add textural detail with the unworked front loops
  • to add anchor points for additional stitches worked back into in the unworked front loops
  • to turn sharper corners than you can achieve with regular single crochet stitches

This last one is the main use of BLO in amigurumi, and the situation that you can most improve with my new technique! Although BLO makes a nice corner, it does leave the fabric looser and more floppy around that round, because the stitches can stretch open.

A Better BLO

When you look at a single crochet stitch, you usually work into both the front loop and the back loop at the top of the stitch:

better BLO tutorial - step 1

But, if you rotate your work forwards a bit, you can see that there’s another horizontal bar just beneath the back loop, at the back of the stitch (below, left).

To improve the appearance of your BLO, work each stitch into both the back loop and this back bar (below, right).

better BLO tutorial - step 2

Are you left-handed? Here’s how it’ll look for you:

better BLO tutorial - step 2 (left-handed)

You can see the stitch in action in the videos below:

Video Tutorial (right-handed)

Video Tutorial (left-handed)

Note: The videos may look a little small embedded in the blog: if so, you can fullscreen them or click through to YouTube (links: right-handed; left-handed) to watch them full-sized 🙂

Stitch Comparison

So you can see the difference this technique makes, let’s compare the modified BLO stitch with a standard single crochet (worked in both loops) and a standard BLO single crochet.

I’ve crocheted the same sample 3 times, once using each stitch.

better BLO tutorial - comparison of samples worked in normal sc, modified scBL, and standard scBL
#1: single crochet in both loops
#2: modified BLO single crochet
#3: BLO single crochet

As you can see, the modified BLO does not stretch out like a BLO stitch; the stitches are much closer in size to a standard single crochet (although very slightly smaller still, as the stitches are tighter).

Comparing the BLO and modified BLO in close-up:

better BLO tutorial - comparison of stitches worked in standard scBL and modified scBL
Left: BLO; right: modified BLO

You can see that the gaps that result from standard BLO stitches are eliminated with this technique, and the stuffing doesn’t show through between the stitches.

So this modified stitch is a much better match for a standard single crochet, as it keeps the tight, solid appearance of a regular amigurumi, and doesn’t leave any unwanted gaps.

Caveats

  • Do not use this technique for a piece designed to be worked in back loops only. As you can see, using the modified BLO stitch with a pattern designed to be worked entirely in BLO would give the same problem as working the pattern in both loops – the shape would be compressed vertically.
  • I recommend you use this technique only as an accent stitch for pieces crocheted predominantly in both loops. (The only reason I crocheted the above sample piece entirely in modified BLO is to give you a clear way to compare the differences between the size and shape of the stitches.) This stitch is more difficult to work than either standard or BLO single crochet, because the back bar is tighter, so I don’t suggest you ever crochet an entire piece using this technique!

In Practice

better BLO tutorial - sample piece with sharp corner made by modified BLO round at edge of base

I crocheted this little amigurumi-style pot as a sample to demonstrate this technique. The corner formed by the modified BLO round is neat and firm, and it’s actually a little sharper than the corner you get from a standard BLO stitch.

Conclusion

You can safely use the modified BLO to replace a single round of stitches (or any number of individual stitches) worked in back loops only in any amigurumi pattern.

It prevents the gap from forming below each BLO stitch as the fabric stretches, and it maintains the firm solidity of the amigurumi fabric throughout your piece.

While this isn’t an essential technique, it’s another ‘upgrade’ you can use with any pattern (like my invisible increase) to improve the look of your amigurumi.

I know I’ll be using it for all my BLO details in future, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

Comments (11)

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    June Gilbank

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