PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

2016: year in review

It’s easy when you’re immersed in a business every day to jump straight into the next thing, keep tightly focused on the next task, and not really see how far you’ve come. This Year in Review post is the one time I actually stop and think about what I’ve accomplished over the past year…

In 2016, I released 14 new crochet patterns, adding a varied mix of animals, plants, accessories, donationware and seasonal designs to my catalogue:

2016 PlanetJune crochet patterns

I haven’t had a lot of time for non-work crafting, but I have knitted another 1.5 sweaters (although I’ve just realised I haven’t even photographed/blogged my last 2015 sweater yet – oops!) and made a few other things, including my polymer clay BB-8 🙂

2016 PlanetJune craft projects

Personal Report

From May-August, I spent 1-2 weeks of each month travelling (to the UK, Hawaii, a Kruger safari, and Canada), which was far too much, but I either take the opportunity to travel with Dave when he has observing trips and conferences, or we miss out on the chance of a short holiday at an exciting location for little more than the cost of my plane tickets.

But, especially as we decided (for safety reasons) to not announce when we weren’t going to be home, that put a lot of business stress on me. How can I stay active on my blog and social media when all I’m doing is visiting places I can’t mention or struggling to catch up and get the next pattern ready before the next trip?

It was exhausting, and it took its toll with another 2-month bronchitis episode, which forced a lapse in my knee rehab exercises, so now I have knee problems again… I know I did too much, and I’ve learnt my lesson.

But, although I’d like to travel less frequently in future, I don’t regret my choices: we had some spectacular travel adventures with memories I’ll always treasure, I got over the bronchitis, and I know I can get my knee back to its still-wobbly-but-not-painful best in time. And I have an amazing amount of new wildlife inspiration:

2016 PlanetJune wildlife pics
Clockwise from top left: I photographed a UK robin, Hawaiian turtle, Canadian chipmunk, and African elephant – all in one year!

Business Report

My most popular patterns in 2016 were my turtles, cacti/succulents, and AmiCats (all pictured below), followed by the new 2016 releases.

2016 bestselling PlanetJune crochet patterns

It’s always the case that a few bestselling patterns make up the majority of my sales, but the size and variety of my catalogue as a whole is equally important – looking at my sales statistics, I can see that I wouldn’t be able to make a good living from my patterns without having both a) a handful of very popular designs and b) many dozens of other choices.

For the past five years, I’ve kept an annual list of large project goals for PlanetJune, to complete as time permits. In 2016, I completed the last of these large behind-the-scenes projects to improve the running of my business:

  • Upgrading and relaunching my shop with new features
  • Splitting my FAQ into its own microsite with each answer on its own page
  • Adding closed captioning to all my YouTube video tutorials
  • Relaunching my newsletter with a new branded look and better anti-spam protection
  • Developing and coding an improved pattern commissions system (to be relaunched later this month – watch this space!)

What’s Next?

It’s exciting to have completed all my big projects – I usually spend a large fraction of each year working behind the scenes on tech updates and improvements. But patterns and tutorials are big projects in themselves, and there’ll always be new tech/security updates to implement, so I’m happy to start 2017 without any additional goals. If I leave myself with more time to play around with new design concepts, who knows what I’ll come up with..?

My wish for 2017 is for creative freedom, light-heartedness, and time to relax. I think PlanetJune will benefit from that too, and I hope you’ll also be able to find those things in the year ahead. Happy New Year!

Comments (6)

polymer clay BB-8 sculpture

If you’re a long-time reader, you may remember the R2-D2 sculpture I completed in 2009. Ever since I saw The Force Awakens, I’ve been wanting to make my R2 a little BB-8 buddy. I bought the polymer clay in May (it turns out FIMO Soft is available in the perfect orange colour – very convenient), and I’ve been waiting to find some sculpting time ever since. And here’s the result:

polymer clay BB-8 and R2-D2

This was not an easy project. It didn’t occur to me at first how much more difficult BB-8 would be to make than R2-D2. The detailing I did on R2 was incredibly small, and, as BB-8 is only two-thirds the size of R2, that means all the detail is even smaller.

polymer clay BB-8

And then there’s the real problem: circles. (Yes, this should have been obvious from the start…) BB-8 is a ball, where R2 is a cylinder, and all the details are based on circles, whereas R2’s are based on rectangles. Freehanding circles is hard. Freehanding rings is even harder. And then try shrinking all those rings down to fit on a ball that’s only 4cm (1.5″) tall..!

polymer clay BB-8

So yes, the circles aren’t perfect, and I had to leave out the finest level of detailing. But it’s part of the joy of a handsculpt that it’s clearly handmade – if I wanted exact perfection, I could have just bought a model BB-8 from a toy shop, but where’s the fun in that?

And now for your reward for reading this whole post: BB-8 and R2-D2 both have hidden magnets embedded within them that allow their heads to rotate! Just watch this:

polymer clay BB-8 and R2-D2
See my R2-D2 post to see how I achieved this!

It’s such a pleasure to make things just for the fun and challenge of the making. R2-D2 is very pleased with his little brother, and so am I 🙂

polymer clay BB-8 and R2-D2

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December update

I’ve started a new hobby: setting up themed photos that cram in lots of my crochet designs for my Instagram account. It takes a while to set them up, but I’m really enjoying the results! Here’s my latest one, featuring over a dozen of my Christmas designs:

a selection of Christmas-themed PlanetJune crochet patterns
A plethora of seasonal PlanetJune designs – find all the patterns here

I’m planning to make more of these crochet scenes next year – follow me on Instagram (@PlanetJune) if you’d like to see them 🙂

And, if you’re crocheting Christmas decorations or presents, please join the Christmas CAL in the PlanetJune Ravelry group and share what you’re making from my seasonal patterns (or any other PJ patterns as Christmas gifts).

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.

koala crochet pattern by planetjune
October’s winning review is Holly M‘s review of my Koala pattern:

I chose this pattern for a group project in which my office-mates and I all made a bunch of koalas and attached them to the trees at our workplace. I wanted it to be closer to koala size, so I used this exact pattern, but used a heavier yarn and bigger crochet needle, and it still turned out perfect and adorable! Everyone loved that the arms were poseable. A great, easy pattern to follow, and a true joy to make!

Guinea Fowl crochet pattern by PlanetJune
And November’s winning review is Heidi W‘s review of my Guinea Fowl pattern:

Although this looked difficult to make it was very well explained by June’s pattern instructions. I absolutely loved the body and neck technique and the finished product looks exactly like her photos! I will definitely be purchasing more patterns from June.

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

What’s next?

In preparation for my 11th year in business(!) I’m planning some changes for next year. I’m trying to cut out any tasks that are neither important nor enjoyable, to leave me with more time to concentrate on the important and fun parts of my business, and to have more time away from work.

As part of that plan, this will be the last of these ‘monthly update’ posts (I don’t think many people read them, and I can probably spend the time more usefully):

I’ll be sharing more about my future plans in my Year in Review post – I think they’ll make a positive difference in my life and in the operations of PlanetJune 🙂

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amigurumi Gingy

If you haven’t picked up my new Gingerbread Family patterns, you may not know that there are also instructions in there for making a Gingy character (based on the Gingerbread Man from Shrek)…

amigurumi Gingy - based on Gingerbread Man crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I made a super-sized Gingy, at over 8″ (21cm) tall, but, of course, you can also make a regular-sized Gingy using my pattern, or a super-sized regular gingerbread man – I just chose to demonstrate two options at once.

Gingy Embellishments

I took the opportunity to demonstrate how versatile the Gingerbread Man pattern is by decorating my super-sized sample as Gingy – you really can decorate your gingerbread men/girls however you wish, just like you do with real gingerbread!

amigurumi Gingy - based on Gingerbread Man crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I chose to leave off Gingy’s ‘broken leg’ icing, because I wanted to keep all the embellishments crocheted so you can clearly see how upsizing my regular-sized gingerbread men will look with no other changes. But if you embroidered the embellishments on your gingerbread man instead, you could make much finer lines than with crocheted chains, and add as much detail as you like.

(You can find the full details for the ‘Gingy’ embellishments I made on p9 of the Gingerbread Man pattern.)


I worked the extra-large gingerbread man by holding two strands of yarn together, with a larger hook. (See my Resizing Amigurumi article for my advice on choosing an appropriate hook size when you double your yarn.) This means you can make the embellishments using one strand of the same yarn (and a smaller hook) instead of the embroidery floss embellishments I used for the standard gingerbread men.

amigurumi supersized Gingy and regular size Gingerbread Man - based on Gingerbread Man crochet pattern by PlanetJune

A New Yarn Experiment…

Making these amigurumi gave me the opportunity to take some measurements, so now I have a much better estimate of how much additional yarn you’ll need if you hold two strands together. I already knew you’ll need more than just the obvious twice as much (2 strands means 2x yarn length), because each stitch is also larger, so uses more yarn, but how much more?

Single-strand Double-strand
Hook size E US/3.5mm I US/5.5mm
Finished height 5.75″/14.5cm 8.25″/21cm
Yarn quantity 18g 49g
Yarn length 36yds/33m 98yds/90m

So, by doubling the yarn and using a correspondingly larger hook, the finished piece was 44% larger, and took 2.7x more yarn – useful to know!

Although this won’t be an exact formula, because it depends on how tightly you crochet at each size, and how big your larger hook is compared with your smaller hook, it gives a good rule-of-thumb indication for yarn quantity when you scale up by doubling the yarn.

(I’ve added this new info to my Resizing Amigurumi article so you can refer back if/when you need it.)

Gingerbread Man crochet pattern by PlanetJune

If you’re making Gingerbread Men (or Girls) from my patterns, I’d love to see them! Please join the Christmas crochet-along in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, or post them on social media (and tag @PlanetJune so I can see your post).


Comments (1)

South Africa wildlife X: Kruger Safari

I have lots of safari photos to share with you today, from our trip back in July. Of all my experiences in South Africa, this is the one I’d been most looking forward to; Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and is as large as some European countries! In our short visit, we saw only a tiny fraction of the park and still it was more amazing than anything I could have imagined – we saw dozens of different animals and birds, including all of the Big Five and lots more.

Kruger National Park and Cape Town, South Africa
Kruger is about 1800km (1100 miles) as the crow flies from Cape Town – South Africa is a big country!

I’ve taken quite a few of these selfies this year, with me looking dishevelled and slightly delirious at having such a wondrous wildlife experience:

me with wild elephants at Kruger National Park!

Can you see the reason for my delight, over my shoulder? (Keep reading and you can share my excitement – I have close-up photos and even a little video to share with you…)

So now let’s move onto my proper photos; I’ve spent months trying to choose from over 3000 so I could show you a reasonable number! These galleries have left out a lot, but I hope they give you a taste of the real wild Africa. I’ve split the galleries so you can click into the groups you’re interested in, to see the full-size photos, and skip any you aren’t…

__(‘Read the rest of this entry »’)

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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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