PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Armadillo crochet pattern

Time to show you the results of my latest crochet pattern commission: I’ve designed an amigurumi Armadillo!

Armadillo crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Armadillo Fun Facts

  • Armadillos are very unusual-looking mammals; they are covered in bony plates of armour that form a protective shell over their backs.
  • They are primarily nocturnal, live in burrows, and eat insects.
  • Armadillos come from South and Central America, and there are 20 different species. My design is based on the nine-banded armadillo (the only variety that’s also found in the United States).
  • The bands in an armadillo’s armour provide flexibility. The nine-banded armadillo may actually have between 7 and 11 bands (my design has 7)!
  • Although you’ve probably heard that armadillos roll into a ball to escape predation, only three-banded armadillos have this ability; other armadillos run away or can jump several feet into the air to escape danger.
  • A nine-banded armadillo always gives birth to exactly 4 identical babies (quadruplets!)

Armadillo crochet pattern by PlanetJune

About the Pattern

It was an interesting challenge to come up with techniques to replicate the shape and texture of an armadillo’s amazing armour while still creating a sturdy toy without any holes that could leave ugly gaping holes. I spent a long time playing with different stitches and shaping techniques to give the effect I wanted without making the pattern overly-complicated, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

I hope my photos convey the shape of the armour and the way it curves over the neck and tail just like it does on a real nine-banded armadillo. The armadillo uses three different techniques to produce that wonderful textured armour over the back and on the tail, but the pattern still only uses combinations of the most basic crochet stitches.

Armadillo crochet pattern by PlanetJune

My nine-banded armadillo is 13″ (33cm) long – although a large fraction of that is tail! The special techniques used for crocheting and assembling the armadillo’s armour are all explained in full in the pattern, with lots of step-by-step photos to help you along the way.

Armadillos & Aardvarks…

Armadillos and Aardvarks are an example of convergent evolution – although they hail from different continents and aren’t closely related, they have similar diets and lifestyles and they independently evolved to look similar. I find this concept fascinating, so I designed my Armadillo to form a matched set with my Aardvark – don’t they look cute together?

Armadillo crochet pattern by PlanetJune

(Now I just need to design an Anteater and Pangolin to complete the ‘family’ of long-nosed insectivorous mammals!)

Ready to Crochet?

I’d like to thank everyone who commissioned this design – it was certainly a challenge to develop such innovative techniques, but one I was very happy to undertake! You can download the pattern from your PlanetJune account whenever you’re ready – I hope you’re as pleased with the results as I am…

Armadillo crochet pattern by PlanetJune

If you weren’t one of the commissioners, my Armadillo pattern is now available to purchase from the PlanetJune shop.

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

I really hope you like my Armadillo design!

Comments (5)

Summer of Dinosaurs CAL

The PlanetJune Summer of Dinosaurs crochet-along (CAL) starts today and runs through to the end of July. If you haven’t joined a PlanetJune CAL before – maybe you’re intimidated about joining Ravelry, or just haven’t found the time to sign up? – this is a great time to join, as this is a prize CAL, sponsored by Lion Brand, with prizes for all participants!

PlanetJune Summer of Dinosaurs CAL - pattern options

You can join this CAL by making any of the 18 PlanetJune amigurumi dinosaur patterns (all pictured above). These patterns are always popular because they’re simple to follow (with no colour changes), work equally well in any colour you can imagine, and make lovely sturdy toys for both girls and boys of all ages.

How to Join

It’s really easy to join a PlanetJune CAL:

  1. Join Ravelry and add a profile pic to your profile.
  2. Join the PlanetJune Crochet Designs group.
  3. Make a dinosaur based on any PlanetJune dinosaur pattern and enter it in the CAL (instructions are given in the Rules below, and in the CAL thread)

(See my FAQ How do I enter a PlanetJune CAL? for more details on how to complete steps 1 and 2.)

Prize Details

PlanetJune Summer of Dinosaurs CAL - prizes
Note: pictured yarn colours and crochet patterns are just examples – winners may choose any colours/pattern

Grand Prize: 3 skeins Vanna’s Choice (the yarn I used to make all my dinosaurs!) and 1 skein of the gorgeous new Textures yarn (all generously provided by Lion Brand, winner can choose colours) plus a PlanetJune crochet pattern of your choice

Second Prize: a PlanetJune Amigurumi Essentials Kit plus a PlanetJune crochet pattern of your choice

Third Prize: a PlanetJune crochet pattern of your choice

Runner-up Prizes: there are no losers at PlanetJune! All other participants who complete one or more entries in the CAL will receive a 10% discount code towards your next order from PlanetJune.com :)

Rules

For each entry in the CAL (and contest), make a dinosaur based on any PlanetJune dinosaur pattern and enter it as follows:

  1. CREATE a new project for your dinosaur
  2. LINK the project to the PlanetJune pattern you’re using
  3. TAG your project PJDinoCAL2015
  4. ADD a photo of your completed project
  5. MARK your project as ‘Finished’
  6. POST the photo in the CAL thread

(If any of this doesn’t make sense, don’t worry – the PJ group moderators are ready to help and answer any of your questions. New Ravelry users are always welcome and no question is too stupid!)

To be counted as a valid entry, your project must be started on or after June 12 2015, and it must meet all of the above criteria by the end date of this CAL: before the end of July 31 2015 (in your local time).

That gives you 7 full weeks to make your dinosaur(s), and you’re welcome to complete and submit multiple entries – just make sure you create a new project for each dinosaur and follow the CAL instructions for each one.

The contest is open to everyone, worldwide – yay! Prizewinners will be drawn as follows: one entry into the draw per completed project that meets all the CAL requirements. Grand, Second and Third prizewinners will be chosen by random drawing; all other participants who complete at least one project as specified will receive the Runner-up prize. Prize notifications will be made by me (June) by Ravelry mail, so check your Rav inbox!

Grand Prize yarn to be provided by Lion Brand and shipped to the winner (if you’re from outside the US you’ll be responsible for any duty and/or import taxes on the prize); all other prizes to be provided by me :)


PlanetJune Summer of Dinosaurs CAL

Are you as excited as I am? I think this is going to be an especially fun CAL, and I hope you’ll join us! Let the Summer of Dinosaurs begin…

Comments (4)

June update

New Prize CAL coming soon!

If you like dinosaurs, you have some treats in store… June 12th will mark not only the release of the new Jurassic World dinosaur movie, but also the start of the PlanetJune Summer of Dinosaurs!

From June 12th until the end of July, we’ll be going dino-crazy in the PlanetJune Ravelry group with all 18 of my amigurumi dinosaur patterns. These patterns are always popular because they’re simple to follow (with no colour changes), work equally well in any colour you can imagine, and make lovely sturdy toys for both girls and boys of all ages.

PlanetJune dinosaur crochet patterns

Lion Brand

And, as if that’s not exciting enough, this will be a prize CAL

Lion Brand have generously offered to sponsor this CAL with a yarny prize! (All the dinosaurs you see in the above photo are made from their lovely Vanna’s Choice yarn – it’s perfect for this sort of sculptural amigurumi.) I’ll also be kicking in some PlanetJune prizes, so this is going to be one CAL you won’t want to miss.

I’ll give you all the details in a post on the CAL launch date, but you can start get a head start by choosing your favourite dinosaurs and yarn colours right now (and joining the PlanetJune group on Ravelry, if you haven’t already). To be entered for the prizes, you can’t start crocheting until the official start date of June 12th, but you can pick up your patterns and yarn now, so you’ll be ready to go on the 12th!

You can find all the PlanetJune dinosaur patterns, individually and in sets, here in my shop.

Plant-Along CAL

While you’re waiting for the dino CAL to begin, the Plant-Along CAL continues until June 11th in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, so you still have some time to grab a PlanetJune botanical pattern and join in with making some spring flowers.

PlanetJune Plant-Along CAL crochet pattern options

The Primroses (top left in the above photo) have been the surprise favourite this time around – and the small pot is pretty quick to whip up, so you can still make one before the end of this CAL!

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.

AmiCats amigurumi cat crochet patterns by PlanetJune

May’s winner is Jennifer B‘s review of my AmiCats Single-Coloured Cat (second from left in the above photo of the AmiCats Collection):

This pattern is so well-written and designed that anyone can make a realistic and awesome cat just by following instructions. They include positioning of body parts which allowed me to place limbs in just the right spot. The chest joins to the legs in a unique technique that creates a smooth and realistic front of the cat. The sitting cat’s body shape is so accurately cat-shaped it just astounded me. I made the first one like my sister’s first cat she had so many years ago. I plan to make remembrance cats for her of the four cats she’s had. Thank you for the best patterns ever!

Congratulations, Jennifer – I’ve emailed you to find out which pattern you’d like as your prize!

Health update

I was looking forward to telling you in this update post that my knee is really improving, but I managed to catch a bad cold and chest infection that’s kept me in bed for the whole of the past week… My knee is very sore now after returning to rehab yesterday for the first time in over a week, but, apart from that short-term setback, it’s definitely been getting stronger.

I’m very grateful to the systems I’ve built for PlanetJune that allow me to take time off to rest when I need it without having to worry about money. Setting my health as my top priority for this year has been quite a revelation: I’d usually be battling on through every illness so I wouldn’t let my customers down, and I’d end up completely exhausted. Now I’ve realised the obvious: doing that doesn’t help anyone in the long term. Taking care of myself will hopefully get me to a point where I can be much stronger and more productive, so everyone wins.

What’s Next?

My week of rest last week has definitely paid off, and I’m all ready get back to working on my Armadillo pattern (look out for that very soon…) and preparing for our Summer of Dinosaurs. Fun times ahead!

Comments (3)

Crochet Terminology

This is the final post in my three-part series aimed predominantly at crocheters outside North America. For the rest of the series, see Yarn for Amigurumi and Crochet Hook Styles.

Non-Standardised Terminology

The names of the crochet stitches are, unfortunately, not standardised throughout the English-speaking world. Most crochet patterns you’ll find through online sources are written in US terminology (which is why I call this ‘standard’ terminology) – but if you buy/use a pattern written or published in UK/Aus, that may not be the case.

Conversely, if you learnt crochet from a British or Australian source, or some other countries with a historical British influence, you probably know the UK terminology. Your ‘double crochet’, for example, refers to a different stitch (US single crochet) than a US double crochet (which is equivalent to your ‘treble crochet’) – confusing, huh?

Note: If you’re not sure which terminology you use, look at my single crochet tutorial: right-handed or left-handed. If you know this stitch as a ‘double crochet’, you’re using UK terminology!

US/UK Conversion Table

Here are the most common stitches with their equivalent US and UK names:

US Stitch Name UK Stitch Name
chain chain
double crochet treble crochet
half double crochet half treble crochet
slip stitch slip stitch
single crochet double crochet
triple (or treble) crochet double treble crochet

The basic rule is that the UK stitches are always named one step higher than their US counterparts.

Converting Amigurumi Patterns

Amigurumi patterns aren’t too difficult to decipher, as they are (almost) always worked in (almost) all single crochet stitches (i.e. ‘double crochet’ stitches in UK terminology), so it’s very easy to convert these patterns between US/UK. Using the above table, you’ll see that chain and slip stitch are unchanged, so it’s just the single/double crochets you may need to change to convert to your preferred terminology.

Note: All PlanetJune patterns – amigurumi and accessories – are written in standard (US) terminology, but, to prevent confusion, my patterns always also include a conversion table at the start for all stitches used, so you can look up the pattern abbreviations and see which stitch should be used, whichever terminology you’re used to.

Terminology Tips

  • There is no stitch known as ‘single crochet’ anywhere in UK terminology, so, if you see any pattern that uses ‘sc’ stitches, you know it’s a standard/US pattern. UK/Aus: work a dc in place of every sc, and convert all other stitches.
  • If you see an amigurumi pattern worked in ‘dc’ stitches, but the stitches look like those of a regular amigurumi, it’s almost certainly a UK pattern and you should work a US single crochet everywhere the pattern calls for a double crochet. UK/Aus: work the pattern as written.
  • If in doubt when you use an indie pattern that doesn’t have a terminology table to clarify the stitches, check with the pattern designer.
  • A pattern in a book or magazine will almost always use the terminology of the publication’s country of origin, but you can check the description of the stitches used (usually at the start or end of the book/magazine) to make sure.

It’s very unfortunate that when you find a crochet pattern that calls for, for example, a ‘double crochet’ stitch, that may mean one of two different stitches depending on where the pattern was published (or which terminology the designer/publisher decides to use), but I hope this post will help to clear up the confusion!

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Crochet Hook Styles

This is the second of three information posts aimed predominantly at crocheters outside North America. See also last week’s Yarn for Amigurumi, and the final post: Crochet Terminology.

the differences between in-line and tapered crochet hooks

Crochet hooks come in two main styles: in-line, and tapered. Within North America, these are often known as Bates and Boye styles, respectively, for the most common brands of each style. Outside North America, the tapered hook shape is used almost exclusively, and you may not be able to find any in-line hooks locally.

I think this is unfortunate, as I find the in-line hook shape preferable for forming uniform-sized stitches, and for not snagging the tip of the hook on my previous stitches as I draw up each loop:

  • The head of an in-line hook has the same size, shape, and alignment as the shank (where your working stitch sits on the hook), so you can draw the hook back through each stitch in one straight line.
  • If you’re not careful when using a tapered hook, you can easily make too-small stitches by forming them over the narrow tapered neck (between the throat and the fixed-width shank).

I should be clear though: although I have a strong preference to use in my own crocheting, there is no ‘best’ style of hook; just as you may hold your hook differently to me, you may also prefer a different style of hook. I can’t guarantee that my preference will work for you, but if you plan to crochet a lot, I do recommend you try more than one hook style, if you have the option, so you can find a brand you find comfortable and easy to use.

Buying In-Line Hooks

Susan Bates hooks (also sometimes sold as Red Heart brand) are the most well-known in-line hook, and my preferred brand, both for making amigurumi and for crocheting accessories and larger items. If you live outside North America and are importing yarn from abroad or buying from an online shop that stocks them (see my Yarn for Amigurumi post for a selection of online yarn shops that ship worldwide), I recommend you add one Susan Bates aluminium (US: aluminum) hook in your most-used hook size to your order, so you can see if you like it. If you do, you can invest in a selection of all your favourite sizes (or even a complete set) in your next order.

Note: I find the bamboo-handed Susan Bates hooks are especially comfortable, if you can find them. This isn’t a sponsored post (I don’t do that sort of thing!) – just my real opinion. :)

If you can’t find a Bates hook, or just don’t like metal hooks, there are other brands that also make in-line hooks, so I suggest you look around your local (and online) shops to see what you can find. You can use my graphic above as a handy reference to compare with the hook you’re thinking of buying, so you can tell what you’re looking for.

UPDATE: I’ve done some sleuthing and there’s a shop on amazon.co.uk that sells US craft products – including all the Susan Bates hooks! They do ship from the US, but the postage is free, so if you’re in the UK, you may want to check out SuperMart on amazon.co.uk – that link will show you all the aluminium Susan Bates hooks, so you can find your favourite sizes, both bamboo-handled and the slightly cheaper all-metal hooks. :)


Which hook style do you favour: in-line or tapered? (I’d be especially interested to hear why you love tapered hooks, if you do!) Please leave your opinions and brand recommendations below!

Comments (18)

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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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