We had to say our final goodbye to our beautiful cat Maui this week.
Although we knew it was coming, we’re still completely devastated to have lost our boy, and I know that many of you have got to know and love him over the years too. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that Maui has been a huge part of PlanetJune – he’s been my assistant, supervising my work, since the very beginning. And, of course, there would be no AmiCats designs without Maui as my muse!
But let’s try not be too sad – Maui has lived a long, happy and adventurous life, and we’re so grateful to have been with him for so long and to have so many beautiful memories. I’ll share a few moments with you today.
We adopted Maui from a shelter when he was a year old. When we adopted him, he was a very sweet but independent boy – he didn’t get along with other cats, which was perfect for us. He was always reserved with new people, but he adopted us right back immediately, rubbing around our ankles and purring as soon as we got him home.
He loved watching our birdfeeders out of the window, and the local squirrels loved to tease him through the window!
Whenever we left the house, he’d sit in the front window and watch us go – it was so cute to see his little face in the window.
Once he realised we’d be together forever, he mellowed and relaxed, and his favourite pastimes were sunbathing and snuggling with us.
And also eating… He really loved his food, and he was so smart that he figured out how to get his paw up into his feeder and sneak extra food. We had to change his feeder for a Maui-proof one eventually, so he didn’t get too fat!
Maui was our constant companion through 6 house moves and two moves halfway around the world and back. He was so strong and brave, and adapted quickly to every change – all he needed to be happy was to be with us.
And he somehow knew the difference between his toys and my yarn and amigurumi and never, ever tried to mess with my yarn!
When we added Maggie to our family in 2020, Maui took it in stride, as always. We bought him a cat tree so he could have a safe place to relax, and he loved curling up in there to survey the world or snooze the day away.
Maggie loved her brother and often slept at the foot of the cat tree to be close to him. They definitely treated each other like family, and they had lots of contented times sunbathing together on the rug by the window.
Maui has been a huge part of our lives for so long, and although the last few months of his decline have been heartbreaking, we had 16 amazing years of love together that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
His loss leaves a huge hole in our lives, but we’ll try to follow his example: to be strong and brave, adaptable, and always make the best of any situation.
Rest well, dearest Maui. You’ll always be with us.
The first annual PlanetJune Reindeer Games crochet-along has just finished, and it was a huge success! It was a lovely sociable way to end the year, and provided a good escape for everyone from all the usual end-of-year stresses.
Over the 2 month CAL, we had a very active time – 48 pages of chat! – and an amazing 104 completed projects:
I’m going to make the Reindeer Games an annual event, so look out for my announcement next October if you’d like to take part in the 2022 CAL (or sign up for my monthly newsletter now so I can send you a reminder!)
In the meantime, I’m collecting feedback on how we can make the games better and smoother for the next run. The advantage of running my own event is that everything can be changed and improved, in collaboration with the PlanetJune community. There’s a thread in the PlanetJune Ravelry group where we can discuss suggestions and decide what changes can be made – I hope you’ll share your ideas there.
And please feel free to comment here too, especially if you don’t/can’t use Ravelry – having an (additional) off-Ravelry way to participate is one of the possible improvements I’d consider for next year, if people would appreciate that. If there’s another online location that you’d prefer to use instead of Ravelry, do let me know. A Facebook group? A Discord server? Something else?
Congratulations to everyone who participated in the first Reindeer Games, and thank you to everyone who makes the PlanetJune community such a friendly, welcoming environment. It’s a pleasure to be a part of it and to get to know you all – and to see the beautiful creations you make from my patterns 🙂
Writing my Year in Review post every year helps me to see what I’ve accomplished, think about what I’ve learnt, and decide what I’d like to do differently in the following year.
Who’d have thought that this year would be, in many ways, harder than 2020?!
This year, I’ve only published 7 new patterns all year – only one more than I managed in 2020! But considering everything else that’s been going on, I’m not letting myself feel bad about that.
While I didn’t publish any specific crochet tutorials this year, I was doing crochet-related research instead that will benefit us all in future! I organized my stash with my worsted weight yarn bobbins, and I completed two massive crochet investigations (Scaling Amigurumi and the huge Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison), both of which have helpful tables of results to help you with amigurumi-making.
My craft projects this year have helped me stay calm through the difficult times, as always. Diamond painting has definitely been a joyful discovery for me; it’s just mindless enough to be relaxing without being boring.
I crocheted ami-Maui and ami-Maggie, and I finished the year with a few more fun crochet projects for myself (I haven’t had the chance to blog about those yet, but there’s a sneak peek in the pic below).
And this reminds me that I haven’t done a stitch of knitting all year! I still haven’t had a chance to set up my knitting machine in my new studio, and I haven’t felt like picking up the needles either… I’m sure that’s about to change though – I always come back to my crafts eventually, and Maggie needs some new dog sweaters.😉
I’ve also spent a lot of my ‘making’ time this year customizing curtains for the new house: including sheers and curtains, I’ve hemmed 32 panels to each fit the windows they cover – I only finished the last ones this week! And I’ve been baking bread – I’m making good use of the breadmaker my Mum bought for me as a housewarming gift:
Yes, I like experimenting with bread recipes!
So there’s been lots of creativity going on in 2021 – and that’s just the way I like it. 🙂
In 2021 I pushed myself out of my comfort zone:
I gave an hour-long live presentation for the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters’ Guild. It was an honour to be invited – it was their first ever crochet presentation, so I felt like I had something to prove, to try to explain some of the benefits of crochet to knitters! The presentation was given over Zoom, and despite my getting a little flustered and overheated under my studio lights, I had dozens of my amigurumi and crocheted accessories at the ready to illustrate my points, and I had lots of interest and good feedback, so I think it went well.
I also reached the astounding milestone of 100,000 subscribers to my YouTube channel (I’ll be writing a post about that when I receive my award!), and used this as an excuse to force myself to be brave enough to show my face on video for the first time ever – something I’ve been planning to do for years, but never got comfortable enough to make it happen until the presentation gave me some courage to film a special video to commemorate this occasion. (If you haven’t seen the video yet, take a look now!)
I made some big behind-the-scenes improvements:
When the latest Windows update broke something in my workflow I invested in a professional desktop publishing software package. I’m still grappling with the learning curve (one of the reasons why I haven’t been able to publish more patterns this year) but I can already see how much smoother and more flexible the process is going to be in future.
I managed to get my shop listed in the Google Shopping tab, and I’m a large fraction of the way to getting Google Seller Ratings enabled for PlanetJune. These will both increase my visibility in search results and hopefully lead to more sales on an ongoing basis.
And I had some more big projects on the go:
I set up a massive new annual crochet along – the PlanetJune Reindeer Games – for the holiday season, complete with special virtual medal graphics. Creating the games was a ton of work, but the first year has been a big success (blog post coming soon!) and it’ll be much easier to run the games in future years.
And I signed a contract for a secret project that I can’t tell you about yet! I’ll be able to reveal the details some time next year. 😉
This year I’ve moved house (into our beautiful new forever home that wasn’t completely finished when we took possession, and only had the final fixes – and the fridge! – arrive this month, so it’s basically taken the entire year to get everything organised).
I’ve dealt with the decline of my beloved cat Maui, and now I’m adjusting to managing his kidney disease and diabetes. And I’m still struggling with my own ongoing fatigue issues.
Then there’s the ongoing stress of the times that we’re all going through. Things are different these days, and I often don’t have the energy to show up online for social media and all that stuff, even though I miss my online friends there and I know it would be ‘good for business’ to show up regularly. But I find social media overwhelming and exhausting, and I need to stay away from it most of the time to protect my mental health.
Speaking of mental health, I’m doing much better there – I’ve stopped needing therapy for the PTSD and anxiety disorder, and I feel so much better that I’ve been tapering off my anxiety meds for the past few months. It’s a very slow process – it takes weeks for the brain to adjust to each reduction – but I’m down to 1/8 of the minimum effective dose now, so I’ll be completely drug free soon!
Musings on Long-Term Self-Employment
Being self-employed means there’s no ladder to climb; no promotions or bonuses I can aim for, and yet, there is a reward for putting in 14 years of service (so far) at PlanetJune: having several hundred patterns in my catalogue thankfully means I don’t need to stick to a strict publishing schedule in order to stay afloat. So when external circumstances mean I can’t be very productive, that’s okay – I can still get by on sales from my past 14 years of design work.
I’m still just as passionate as ever about my work and my craft, and I’m not going anywhere, it’s just that it takes longer for me to produce anything new these days! Maybe that’ll change in future, and maybe not – it’s okay either way. Quality over quantity, always.
The common theme that runs through my 2021, and one I hadn’t noticed until looking at it all together like this, is that everything I’ve done (crochet research, tech improvements, trying new and scary things) has been like planting seeds that will continue to bear fruit in the future. So, looking at it that way, perhaps 2021 has been more productive than I’d realised…
My overall goal for PlanetJune is to create work I can be proud of while making enough money to support the life I want to live. I’m not going to set specific goals for 2022 – I have a few big projects planned, and other than that we’ll see where inspiration strikes.
Last year, my wishes were for acceptance (of the things I can’t control), appreciation (of all the good things in my life), and inspiration (to keep moving forwards and trying new things). Those are still excellent guiding principles that I aim to live by, but as we head into the third year of the pandemic, I want to change the focus a bit.
So, my wishes for 2022 are for:
resilience to keep going through the tough times
grace to not beat myself up when reality falls short of expectation
hope to look forward to the better things to come
I wish the same for you – and that you’ll be happy, healthy and safe in 2022. Happy New Year!
Just in time for the holiday season, and in honour of the PlanetJune Reindeer Games, allow me to present my latest design: the Reindeer/Caribou!
I’ve had a realistic reindeer on my list of ideas for the past few years, but, with the PlanetJune Reindeer Games CAL in full swing, this seemed like the perfect time to bring my idea to life. There are dozens of cartoony reindeer amigurumi patterns out there, but I’ve never seen one that actually looks like a real-life caribou!
Reindeer/Caribou Fun Facts
Reindeer/Caribou are found in cold Northern climates around the world: Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia and Russia.
Why two names? Although they are the same species, they are called Caribou in Canada and Alaska and Reindeer in Europe.
In winter, their soft hoof pads retract to keep their feet warm and expose the sharp hoof rims, which let them dig through the snow to find their favourite food: reindeer lichen!
They are the only deer species where the females have antlers as well as the males.
And an extra fun fact for Christmas: Male reindeer shed their antlers before Christmas, while females don’t shed theirs until spring… That means, as all Santa’s reindeer have antlers, they must all be female! 😀
About the Pattern
I’ve tried to capture the essence of the Caribou in this pattern – long body, short legs, wide hooves, tiny tail, shoulder hump, colouring, and, of course, the spectacular antlers (more on those in a bit!)
I’ve included two versions in this pattern – as well as a realistic Caribou, with just a couple of modifications (larger eyes and a red nose), you can make your very own adorable Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!
The most exciting part of this pattern has to be the antlers – each antler is all crocheted together, with no sewing involved! They are a little fiddly because they’re so thin, but I’ve explained it all step-by-step in the pattern, so take it slowly and you’ll end up with stunning realistically-shaped reindeer antlers.
Note: I do recommend you check out my Narrow Pointed Tubes tutorial (also linked in the pattern) if you’re not used to making narrow tubes or turning them right-side out – if you watch my video, you’ll know exactly what to expect when you make the branches of the antlers!
I really hope you’ll enjoy this pattern, whether you want to make Rudolph as a Christmas gift for a special someone, a realistic Caribou, or some amigurumi Reindeer as holiday décor!
And, if you’re a Ravelry user, I do hope you’ll join us for the PlanetJune Reindeer Games – this crochet-along runs until the end of the year, and I’m hoping we’ll see enough amigurumi reindeer to have a full team to pull Santa’s sleigh this year. 🙂