PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Punchneedle Butterfly 3: Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing

I’ve started an ongoing long term craft project to make a group of different butterflies using Punchneedle embroidery – all different colours and shapes but all based on my interpretation of real species – and mount each one individually on a wall so they all ‘fly’ together in a colourful cloud.

It took me the best part of a year to sketch up the design for my next Punchneedle butterfly, and only a few pleasurable hours to transfer my design, punch it, wire the wings, back it with felt, and trim it… You may have seen my in-progress shot a couple of weeks ago on Twitter:

punchneedle butterfly: rajah brooke's birdwing by planetjune

Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing is the national butterfly of Malaysia, and all our attempts to spot one during our trip to Borneo last year were in vain. I decided to make up for that disappointment by creating my own in punchneedle – the bold electric green on black makes for a spectacular design…

punchneedle butterfly: rajah brooke's birdwing by planetjune

Each of my punchneedle butterflies is designed to fit inside a 6″ embroidery hoop, so my collection is definitely not to scale. While my Peacock and Sea Green Swallowtail are both much larger than their real-life counterparts, birdwing butterflies are huge, and my ‘Brooke Butterfly’ (as they called it in Borneo) is actually just about life-sized!

punchneedle butterfly: rajah brooke's birdwing by planetjune

This brings my little collection to three, and I think my butterflies are almost ready to leave the safety of my shelves and migrate to their eventual wall display. I’ll probably get started on that when I’ve completed one more design…

punchneedle butterfly: rajah brooke's birdwing by planetjune

This is a very long-term project for me, but I’m so enjoying seeing my small collection slowly grow with each new butterfly. I think I’ll try to make a Monarch next, although it’ll be fiddly to make: punchneedle is best suited for bold shapes, not fine lines. But the Monarch is my favourite butterfly from my time in Canada, so it wouldn’t feel right to omit it just because it’ll be a challenge.

While it’s a shame that my punchneedle patterns don’t really sell well enough to justify making any more, there’s a silver lining to that too: it gives me the freedom to call this project pure art, with no constraints for making the butterfly designs easy to replicate by others. If that changes at some point in the future, I’d publish all my butterfly patterns as an ebook and grade the designs by difficulty, so it’s still not a bad idea to make my Monarch. And, if not, I’m enjoying making my butterfly collection, and I hope you’re enjoying seeing them!

If this post has piqued your interest in Punchneedle embroidery, take a look at my Punchneedle intro page for information on this craft and how to get started.

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Origami Poinsettia papercraft tutorial

In celebration of my new PlanetJune Papercraft ebook and donationware tutorials, I decided to design a papercraft poinsettia to add to my collection…

origami poinsettia by planetjune

The ‘petals’ of this Poinsettia are made with origami techniques, and the ‘flower’ is assembled with wire (with an option for sewing thread) – that can also be used to create a stem or hanging loop – and beads for the centre.

Did you know that the red ‘petals’ of a poinsettia are actually bracts – modified leaves – and only the central yellow parts are the flowers? So, while this isn’t actually a ‘flower’ in the case of a poinsettia, you can also make this design as a pretty flower at any time of year!

If you don’t have origami paper, inexpensive gift wrapping paper is the perfect thickness for paper folding. You only need to cut 3 squares to make a flower, and you’re bound to have some leftover wrapping paper before Christmas, so don’t throw it away! My origami poinsettia measures 3″ (7.5cm) in diameter, but it can be easily scaled to any size by starting with larger or smaller squares of paper. Beads or a button add the finishing touch to this lovely easy decoration.

The origami techniques in this design are very simple – this would be a fun introduction to paper folding if you haven’t tried it before – and once you’ve learnt how to fold a leaf you’ll be able to whip up a poinsettia (or several!) very quickly. If you’d like to give it a go, the link to the free tutorial is below, and, as always, if you choose to thank me with a donation, you’ll get the handy printable PDF version :)

Go to the Origami Poinsettia tutorial >>

The Poinsettia Collection

I only had one year off before I felt compelled to return to my tradition of crafting a new Poinsettia ornament every year. This new design brings the total up to 9! Here are all the previous PlanetJune Poinsettias:

tsumami kanzashi poinsettia by planetjunecrocheted poinsettia by planetjune
polymer clay poinsettia by planetjunepunchneedle poinsettia by planetjune
felt poinsettia by planetjunebeaded poinsettia by planetjune
thread crochet poinsettia by planetjuneknitted poinsettia by planetjune

Top (L-R): 2006 kanzashi poinsettia (no tutorial); 2007 crocheted poinsettia
2nd Row (L-R): 2008 polymer clay poinsettia; 2009 punchneedle poinsettia
3rd Row (L-R): 2010 felt poinsettia; 2011 beaded poinsettia
Bottom Row: 2012 thread crochet poinsettia; 2013 knitted poinsettia

(You can find all my Poinsettia designs as PDFs in my shop, or use the links above for the free online versions.)

Happy seasonal crafting!

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basic knitted v-neck pullover

This is sweater #8 of my ‘learn to knit by making a dozen self-designed sweaters’ project. (Here are links to #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7, if you’d like to see my progress.)

basic brown knitter pullover by planetjune

After the fine yarn and lace of my last cardigan, I wanted a more relaxing knit for my next project. I decided to go for a really basic V-neck pullover, not too fitted so I can wear layers and long-sleeves underneath when it’s cold, but with some shaping so it fits over my hips but isn’t too boxy.

Even though the end result is simple – plain stockinette throughout with 2×2 rib for the collar, hem and cuffs – I still got to try some new techniques and expand my skills. I’d just bought Sally Melville’s Craftsy class ‘Essential Techniques Every Knitter Should Know‘ (and, as an aside, I loved this class – highly recommended, particularly if you’re interested in knitting sweaters).

Some of Sally’s recommendations made me feel less like I’m muddling through my knitting journey, as I’d reached the same conclusions as her (so I must be doing something right!), while other tips were new to me, and I tried a few in this sweater.

(In fact, Sally’s thinking on knitwear design decisions seems like such a good match for mine that I’ve since also bought her book, Knitting Pattern Essentials: Adapting and Drafting Knitting Patterns for Great Knitwear – I can recommend that too!)

basic brown knitter pullover by planetjune

My new techniques with this sweater:

  • I used lifted increases for the first time, on Sally’s recommendation, and tried her shortcut for simplifying them. Thumbs up to that.
  • I also tried her technique for faster mattress stitch seaming (although I love seaming my knits – it’s like magic! – so I’ll probably stick with my usual slower method, going through every row, in most cases).
  • I refined the cuffs and hem I used for my shawl-collar pullover by switching to smaller needles to reduce the bulk. Definitely an improvement.
  • I did my first pick-up-and-knit for the neckband (I usually knit it as a strip then sew it on) and that worked fine – I even managed a sort of mitered corner at the point of the V.
  • And I decided to weave in the ends as I finished each part of the sweater. Although that’s a bit scary because you have to trust you won’t want to change anything later, it worked well for a simple sweater like this, and made the finishing process at the end much easier!

basic brown knitter pullover by planetjune

I feel like this one came together in no time (making it in worsted weight yarn didn’t hurt) and the finished sweater is warm, cosy, and snuggly – just what I was hoping for.

Of course, it’s now summer in South Africa, and far too hot to be wearing something like this! So please excuse me if I look less than comfortable in these photos (especially the one above – the sun came out and I was roasting!) but I’ll be very happy to wear this properly once the weather cools down again here – my house is freezing in winter and this will be just what I need to keep warm.

The confidence I got from making this simple design quickly and well made me think I was ready to take a bit of a leap for my next design and try something completely different. It’s not finished yet, but I’ll show you how that turned out, soon…

I can hardly believe I’m two-thirds through this project now! I’ve knitted 8 wearable sweaters for myself in just over 3 years – when I started, I didn’t seriously think I’d ever get this far – and I’m enjoying every minute of this learning experience.

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Snow Star Ornaments crochet pattern

It’s hard to come up with a new Christmas design – with thousands of patterns to compete with, it’s not easy to think of something original that hasn’t been done before, but I’m confident that my Snow Stars are a completely new concept!

Snow Star Ornaments crochet pattern by PlanetJune
This pattern collection is really three patterns in one:

  • An amazing one-piece, no-sew, seamless amigurumi star
  • Three quick and easy crocheted snowflakes
  • A set of beautiful Christmas decorations

The Star

I’ve spent the last couple of years playing around with prototypes for a one-piece crocheted star that’s smooth and lovely all over, with no sewing at all required, and I finally figured it out. It’s truly magical how it comes together; while you crochet it looks like it’ll never work, but as you start to add the stuffing it magically turns into a plump adorable star before your eyes. And all with little more than single crochet stitches! I hope you’ll be as excited to try this technique as I am to have invented it.

Snow Star Ornaments crochet pattern by PlanetJune

(And, as a bonus, my star also makes a lovely seamless one-piece baby toy. Embroider features to make it truly baby-safe, or, for a child past teething age, you can insert standard animal eyes before you stuff and close the star.)

The Snowflakes

With the star design complete, I’ve spent the last few weeks crocheting endless snowflakes, tweaking my designs until I developed a set of three that met all my criteria:

  • Pretty and well-balanced designs
  • All completely different but complementary
  • Sized to fit perfectly on the star when made with the same yarn
  • Not too chunky, even in worsted weight yarn

Snow Star Ornaments crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I’m really happy with the results! And, as the snowflakes are small even with heavy yarn, when you size them down with crochet cotton and a small hook, you end up with most adorably tiny snowflakes! (My thread samples pictured above are just over 2″ diameter with size 10 thread and a B US/2.25mm hook) – and you could go even smaller if your hands don’t mind tiny hooks.)

These perfectly formed beauties only take minutes to complete, and would be perfect as gift-toppers, to accent your Christmas place-settings, or anywhere else a tiny wintery decoration is needed – and the pattern includes stiffening instructions so your flakes won’t droop.

The Snow Stars

Put it all together, and you have a dazzling and completely original tree ornament. All the snowflakes fit perfectly on the star, and the star forms a colourful backdrop to each snowflake. Make your stars in any colour to match your Christmas decor, then add your favourite snowflake design! Instructions for adding a hanging loop are included in the pattern, so you can easily add your Snow Stars to your tree or to a garland.

Snow Star Ornaments crochet pattern by PlanetJune

The Pattern

Snow Star Ornaments is a detailed 10-page pattern. In addition to the written crochet pattern instructions, it includes right- and left-handed stitch diagrams for all three snowflakes, and lots of photo tutorials (for the special stitch used, stuffing and assembling the star and ornaments, stiffening the snowflakes, and adding an optional hanging loop).

But I’ve also laid it out to be print friendly: if you’d like to print it out, you can save paper and ink by printing just 3 pages:

  1. The star crochet pattern
  2. The snowflake written instructions
  3. The page with the appropriate snowflake stitch diagrams for you (right- or left-handed)

The Crochet-Along

As you may know, we’re hosting a Christmas CAL in the PlanetJune Ravelry group – you can join in by making any PlanetJune Christmas-themed patterns (including this one!) and posting a photo to the CAL thread. If you’d like to join the CAL by making Snow Star Ornaments, click through to the CAL thread and take advantage of the CAL discount for this pattern.

Snow Star Ornaments crochet pattern by PlanetJune

If you’d like to buy the pattern, you can find it here in my shop (but don’t forget to grab the CAL discount code first!). 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 my Snow Star Ornaments! And I hope it’s not too early to say Happy Christmas (or seasonal holiday of your choice) :)

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How to Fold a Triangular Shawl

how to fold a triangular shawl by planetjune

If you’ve been bitten by the shawl-crocheting bug, it can be easy to build up quite a collection! As part of the Accessories CAL (in the PlanetJune Ravelry group), I thought now would be a good time to discuss how you store your shawls. I used to hang mine in my closet, but I quickly ran out of hanging space, and now I prefer to keep them all neatly folded in a plastic storage box.

Triangular shawls, in particular, can be a bit tricky to fold for storage, so here’s my method to turn any size and style of triangular shawl into a tidy rectangle.

Step 1: Hold your shawl with the point facing down:

how to fold a triangular shawl by planetjune

Step 2: Bring the top left corner across to the top right corner:

how to fold a triangular shawl by planetjune

Step 3: Bring the bottom point up to the top left corner:

how to fold a triangular shawl by planetjune

Step 4: Bring the top right point across to the top left corner:

how to fold a triangular shawl by planetjune

And that’s it: a perfect rectangle. If your shawl is large, you may want to fold it in half again before you store it (but I think you can figure out how to do that without a photo…)

So now you can go from this:

Cozy Mesh and Palm Leaves shawl crochet patterns by planetjune

to this tidy little stack of crocheted loveliness!

Cozy Mesh and Palm Leaves shawl crochet patterns by planetjune

And – in case you’d like to make a few more shawls so you can practice your folding technique – you can find all my shawl patterns here 😉

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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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