PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

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 🙂

Comments (2)

July update

I was hoping to be able to show you my wildlife photos from Hawaii by now, but with several thousand to go through, I’ve only been able to narrow them down to about 100 so far. I’ll try to edit that down to a more manageable number soon, so I can get the best photos posted (sea turtles!!!) for you to enjoy 🙂

Review and Win contest

You’re automatically entered in the next monthly draw every time you write a review for a PlanetJune pattern you’ve enjoyed – and you’ll also be helping future customers make an informed decision about patterns they are considering buying.

I was in Hawaii last month, so I have 2 winners to announce today:

Pansies crochet pattern by PlanetJune
May’s winner is Judy C‘s review of my Pansies pattern:

Another wonderful and fun plant pattern from Planet June! I’ve made both basket sizes and almost a dozen pins. All instructions are clear and well illustrated. The pansy flower is a bit tricky at first, but once you have done one or two, it is easy. Clever design minimizes having to sew on a bunch of different leaves. Highly recommend.

African Violets crochet pattern by PlanetJune
And June’s winner is Melissa J‘s review of my African Violets pattern:

I made one of the large versions for my mother in law after she killed the real violet I gave her years ago. She absolutely loved it! I am an advanced beginner with crochet, and I found the pattern very easy to follow. All the stitches are very basic, but it comes out looking so amazing and impressive in the end!

Congratulations, Judy and Melissa – I’ve emailed you both to find out which pattern you’d like as your prize!

What’s Next?

I’ll have a summery-themed PlanetJune Accessories pattern to launch shortly, and then I’ll be taking a break from pattern releases for a while, while I work on some big projects to launch in the fall.

And Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! I’m with you in spirit, if not in body 🙂

Comments

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 (4)

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 (9)

10th blogiversary!

Hello! I’ve just got back from travelling to the other side of the world to realise one of my life’s ambitions of watching sea turtles in the wild (and I’ll share more about that once I’ve sorted through my thousands of vacation photos…)

This blog has also been quiet for a while because I’ve been working on big PlanetJune projects – including a huge new pattern collection – so I’ll have lots to share with you very soon, but first it’s time to celebrate a big milestone: my 10th anniversary as a blogger!

10 years ago today, I started my blog with a small goal:

I hope I’ll be inspired to be more creative by keeping track of my crafts here.

Little did I know that this blog would change my life and my career path, allow me to build a successful business, and help me to meet some of my best friends and inspiring crafters all over the world. PlanetJune (the business, and my career) has all come about as a direct result of starting a little blog as a way to document the things I make, way back in 2006.

10 Years of Crafting

Here’s a sampling of my last decade of making:

10 years of PlanetJune - craft projects made by June Gilbank

During my 10 years of blogging, I’ve made and shared several hundred projects, written over 800 blog posts, and received close to 12,000 comments… It’s amazing how it all adds up!

The Changing Face of Blogging

In the past decade, the blogging landscape has changed dramatically. Social media has made blogging unnecessary or irrelevant for many people, and I’ve seen a lot of my craft-blogging compatriots from the early days either abandon their blogs, shift their focus, and/or delete their old content (which always makes me irrationally sad to see).

For me, the situation is complicated: my blog is now a place where I share information about my business (new patterns and tutorials, details about my books and crochet-alongs, and general PlanetJune news) but it’s still also a record of my personal creative pastimes. That includes both the things I make, and the things that inspire me to make, and sharing some of my wildlife and nature photos has also become an important part of my blogging.

This blog isn’t – and never will be – a cynical tool to try to drive sales. My policy has always been to only post when I have something worth posting about, so I’ve never developed a blogging schedule or strategy, or felt guilty during quiet times. I think that freedom is what makes it easy to keep my blog going, because it never becomes a burden or a chore.

Creativity & Inspiration

When I moved to South Africa five years ago, I started sharing some of my wildlife photos. Amateur wildlife photography has been a big part of my life for many years, but I’d never thought anyone else would want to see my photos until I moved somewhere ‘interesting’. Of course, now I realise that everywhere is interesting, and I take and share wildlife photos wherever I travel – 4 continents so far!

10 years of PlanetJune - wildlife photos by June Gilbank

The photography itself is just a hobby for me, but learning more about the natural world is a big part of my creative inspiration for new patterns. I’m so happy that many of the people who enjoy my work also enjoy my wildlife posts – I love being able to share a few of my photos with you, and I hope to find time to put together wildlife posts more regularly in future.

Through Thick and Thin…

I didn’t have a chance to mark my last two blogiversaries (due to my traumatic home invasion experience in 2014 and my knee surgery in 2015). I’ve spent a lot of time in recent years battling ill health and stress. Crafting is a way to regain some sense of control at times when life deals you a hand that’s hard to deal with – all you need to think about is making the next stitch.

Business-wise, it’s been a massive comfort to know that PlanetJune keeps ticking along, whatever happens, and I can keep making ends meet, no matter what I’m going through behind the scenes. But I feel that I’ve reached a turning point with my personal situation now, and things will continue to improve from this point on, so I’ll be able to get back to making things in all sorts of crafts, just for the fun of it – yay!

These days, I may not post here as often as I used to – or as often as I’d like to – but I make fewer, larger projects than in the early days of my blog when I had more time and energy to tinker and experiment with various crafts. The act of making, and my love of wildlife, are more important to me than ever, and my blog will continue to reflect those themes 🙂

Thank You!

I’d like to thank you for visiting my blog and sharing in my enjoyment of making, creativity, and nature, whether this is your first visit or you’ve been travelling with me for the entire 10 years! I have a huge list of ideas for projects waiting to be made – both new crochet patterns, and new fun craft projects to try – and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you as my blog continues into its second decade.

I could never have imagined, 10 years ago, that PlanetJune would change my life so completely, and I’m so grateful to this blog, and to everyone who has ever read my posts or left me a comment, for playing a role in that process.

Now, I wonder what changes the next 10 years will bring…

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  • Welcome to PlanetJune!

    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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