PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

AmiDogs Set 8 crochet patterns

I’m so very excited by today’s achievement: not only do I have a complete set of three brand new AmiDogs patterns to launch, but this means I’ve completed 3 of the 4 remaining commissioned designs – finally, I’ve almost caught up with that crazily long waiting list for commissions!

Now, please allow me to introduce AmiDogs Set 8, consisting of three very diverse dog breeds: the Bernese Mountain Dog, Miniature Schnauzer, and King Charles Spaniel:

AmiDogs Set 8 crochet patterns by PlanetJune
L-R: King Charles Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer, Bernese Mountain Dog

In case you don’t want to read this whole post and just want to buy some dog crochet patterns, here are the relevant links:

Now, if you’re still with me, let’s take a closer look at the three new dog designs…

About the Patterns

It’s been an interesting challenge to make three such different dogs simultaneously. Domestic dogs, more than almost any other animal, have such a variety of shapes and colourings (and sizes, and temperaments, although those don’t really translate into my designs!) It’s amazing to think that people have encouraged this diversity with selective breeding over the centuries, and fascinating to compare how completely different various types of dog look, while still all being so obviously dogs.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a sturdy tri-colour breed with distinctive markings.

AmiDogs Bernese Mountain Dog crochet pattern by PlanetJune

And a bonus: you can also use the same pattern to make an Appenzeller, Entlebucher, or Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, or a tri-colour Australian Shepherd.

AmiDogs Bernese Mountain Dog crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Queue/fave AmiDogs Bernese Mountain Dog on Ravelry now:

The Miniature Schnauzer is a real character with his fluffy beard and eyebrows!

AmiDogs Miniature Schnauzer crochet pattern by PlanetJune

(Of course, this pattern will also make a Standard Schnauzer or Giant Schnauzer if you’re looking for a pattern for either of those breeds – the only real difference is the scale…)

AmiDogs Miniature Schnauzer crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Queue/fave AmiDogs Miniature Schnauzer on Ravelry now:

And finally, the sweet King Charles Spaniel. My design is based on the Blenheim (chestnut and white) colouring of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

AmiDogs King Charles Spaniel crochet pattern by PlanetJune

You can also use this pattern to make a King Charles Spaniel (non-Cavalier), Toy Spaniel, or Japanese Chin.

AmiDogs King Charles Spaniel crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Queue/fave AmiDogs King Charles Spaniel on Ravelry now:

The Complete AmiDogs Collection

These 3 designs bring the total number of AmiDogs patterns to 24. And, while I’ll never say ‘never again’, I think I’d need a long break before I even consider taking on any more dog breed designs. Although you may think it’d get easier with each new design, trying to distill the defining characteristics of each breed into a design that fits the overall aesthetic of the rest of the AmiDogs range – a range I started 8 years ago! – actually seems to get more difficult and constraining with time.

So, for now at least, I’m going to call it a day with these 24 designs and declare the AmiDogs range complete. 24 dog patterns, all completely different from each other – that’s quite an achievement!

I’d like to thank my commissioners for supporting me to make the final 3 designs and round out my collection. (If you haven’t already, you can log into your PlanetJune account to download whichever of the pattern(s) you helped to make possible!)

Choose Your Favourites!

If you’d like to pick up the final AmiDogs patterns, you can now buy them individually from my shop (links: Bernese, Schnauzer, King Charles), or save money when you buy all 3 as the complete AmiDogs Set 8.

Or, mix and match your favourites from all 24 AmiDogs patterns: you can choose any 3 breeds for a special price when you buy the AmiDogs Custom Set. (And if you want 6, or 9, or any multiple of 3, just add the Custom Set to your cart multiple times, choosing 3 different breeds each time!)

I hope you’ll enjoy these final 3 additions to my AmiDogs collection as much as I enjoyed designing them. Dogs are such special animals and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know much more about them over the 8-year course of this design series. :)

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September plans

This September, Dave and I will be taking a trip to the UK and Europe for a long-overdue visit to see our families – yay! We’ll be packing 5 cities in 3 countries into just over 2 weeks, and travelling by air, sea, and road. (I’m just hoping that my knee will hold up, and that there’ll be time for a little relaxation in between all that travelling…)

Unlike last year, I can’t afford to take an offline break for a whole month this year – there’s just too much to do! – but, for safety reasons, I will be going on minimal operations throughout September so it won’t be too obvious exactly when I’m travelling. Here’s your advance warning of how this will affect PlanetJune:

  • I’m closing the Crochet Tools section of my shop for the entire month of September, so please place any orders for kits, stuffing tools and stitch markers before the end of August! (You may still order during September, but I won’t ship anything until the first week of October.)
  • For everything else, I’ll be around, but not as often as usual. If you need help with a PlanetJune pattern, I recommend you follow my support triage steps before you email me, so you can hopefully find the answer you need more quickly than waiting for my reply!
  • I will be checking in while I’m travelling, so, for urgent problems only I can help you with (e.g. technical support), you’ll never be more than a couple of days away from my help.
    Note: I’ll only be checking Twitter, Ravelry and Facebook occasionally, and I won’t be able to reply to any non-essential emails until I’m back home.

I’ve pre-written and scheduled some interesting blog posts for September, and I’ll have my new commissioned AmiDogs patterns ready to release soon (next week!), so you probably won’t even notice a change unless you’re ordering a kit, or waiting for an email from me. Thanks for your understanding, and I hope you have a great month! :)

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Maker Faire Cape Town 2015

Yesterday, I attended the first annual Maker Faire in Cape Town and it was inspiring – there was lots to see and explore.

We got to see a variety of 3D printers up close and see new concepts that are being designed and created locally. The Maker Movement is clearly thriving here, with electronics, scrap sculpture and upcycling, environmentally-friendly innovations, maker groups, and even a South African-based alternative to Kickstarter for crowdfunding local projects.

Digital technologies such as 3D printing and laser cutting bring the potential for inventing creative solutions to anyone, without the need for a large startup capital or external manufacturers, and that’s especially exciting for me to see here in South Africa.

Now is a good time to be creative, and I’m excited to see the new ideas that will emerge from local makers in the near future… (Plus, I’m getting my own ideas for things I’d like to make using digital tech!)

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Tip: Feeding Yarn Through Buttonholes or Beads

Whether you’ve made a sweater, a phone cosy, or jewellery, sometimes you want to add a button to your yarn project and run into a problem… For a perfect match, it’s nice to use the project’s yarn to attach the button – whether that’s to minimise ends to weave in, or just give a polished look. But, while it’s fairly easy to find a button with holes big enough to fit the yarn through, it’s very rare to find a button that has a hole large enough for both the yarn (doubled) and the eye of a yarn needle!

crochet braid bracelet pattern by planetjune

Below, I’ve shown an example (from a Crochet Braid Bracelet, pictured above). The hole on this shank-backed button is just large enough for my yarn to fit through, but the yarn is too floppy to push through the hole. When I try, it either bunches up and refuses to go through, or separates into plies.

feeding yarn through buttonholes

The simplest trick is to wet the end of the yarn to keep the plies together while you thread the end through the buttonhole – the same technique as licking your sewing thread before you thread a hand-sewing needle. But sometimes that just isn’t enough, and with a long buttonhole like this one and/or a close fit, the yarn is still too floppy to make it right through the buttonhole.

There’s just no way to get that yarn through that buttonhole… Or is there?

feeding yarn through buttonholes

Yes there is! Here’s the magic, you need to stiffen the end of the yarn before you thread it through the button, so it’ll act like its own needle and pass easily through any buttonhole that’s large enough to fit a single strand of the yarn.

The easiest way to do that is with basic white craft glue, and here’s how to do it:

  1. Squeeze a small drop of white glue onto the end of the yarn.
  2. Using your thumb and fingertips, press and roll the end of the yarn to distribute the glue through the fibres of the yarn. For threading normal buttons, you only need to dampen about 1/2″ (1 or 2 cm) of the yarn with glue.
  3. Twist the wet plies together by rolling between your fingertips in the direction of the twist of the yarn, to hold the plies neatly together.
  4. Press the tip of the yarn gently between your fingertips to form a nice rounded point (see above photo).
  5. Leave the glued yarn to dry for a few minutes (while you wash/rub the glue off your fingers) – although, if you’re impatient, it doesn’t need to be perfectly dry to work!
  6. Thread your yarn through your buttons as desired.
  7. Snip off the hardened end of the yarn with scissors.

Easy! It works the same way as the plastic-coated ends of your shoelaces: compressing the yarn into a tight, stiff point that can pass easily through the hole. This method also works on embroidery floss, crochet cotton, or any other type of thread you want to pass through a small hole.

Bonus tip: You can also use this technique for stringing beads onto yarn or thread where the bead hole is too small to fit a doubled strand of the yarn – perfect for bead crochet, or even stringing children’s necklaces!

I hope you find this helpful next time you’re trying to feed yarn through a buttonhole (or bead) – it’s a handy little trick. :)

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South Africa wildlife VIII: Safari!

We’ve lived in South Africa for over 4 years, and still hadn’t been on a safari… Until last week, that is!

We planned to go to the Kruger National Park (one of the best places in the world to see wild African wildlife) this year, but my recovery after the knee surgery has taken a lot longer than expected, and I’m not up to being quite that adventurous just yet, so we’ve to start small(er) and work our way up to Kruger. There are smaller private game reserves that are much closer to home. We decided to visit the closest one, Aquila, for a day trip, as it’s just a 2 hour drive from Cape Town into the wilds of the Karoo.

Game reserves are nothing like ‘safari parks’ you may have visited elsewhere in the world, which are just open-plan zoos where you can drive your car through the animals’ enclosures. A game reserve is a wild area protected for conservation, where the animals (‘game’) can live wild and free in their natural environment, but safe from hunters and land development. There are no roads, only tracks, and the game drives are conducted by experienced rangers to keep everyone safe – these are true wild animals, and could be dangerous if not treated with respect.

African Elephants on safari
My favourite photo from the safari: these elephants walked right past our vehicle!

We headed out for our game drive in the 10,000 hectare reserve in an open-sided 4×4 safari vehicle driven by our ranger and guide. The Karoo is a stunning natural environment, and we saw zebra, hippopotamus, wildebeest, buffalo, white rhinoceros, lions, giraffe, springbok, eland, and of course elephants! It was an absolutely amazing experience and quite emotional for me (especially seeing wild rhinos and knowing how prevalent the poaching problem is and that these animals could be killed for their horns, despite everything that’s being done to try to stop the poachers).

Photo Gallery

I’m trying something new with my photos this time – I’ve installed a new photo gallery so you can see much larger versions of my photos. This page should load quickly with thumbnails of all the pictures (below) to give you a taste, so I can include more photos without slowing down the site. If you click any photo, the gallery will open and let you see them all super-sized – much larger than my previous photos (like the elephants above, which you can also see larger, as part of the gallery below).

I really hope you enjoy the larger photos; if you like the new gallery feature, please do let me know. (I’d like to update my previous wildlife posts with larger versions over time, if you’d appreciate seeing them too?)

This trip was an unbelievable experience, and (although of course photos don’t convey how it feels to have the privilege of getting close to some of the most amazing animals in the world, living wild and uncaged) I’m glad I can share a glimpse of it with you.

I hope this will be the first of many safaris for me in the coming years; there are lots of other private game reserves to visit, and I’m still hoping to get to Kruger one day.

Please let me know if you’ve enjoyed my photos (and the new gallery)…

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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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