PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Incyanity yarn review

I’d like to introduce you to a new Canadian indie yarn hand-dyer, Cheyenne Brammah of Incyanity!

Cheyenne is a long-term customer of mine and she sent me some test skeins of her hand-dyed yarn for my feedback before she launched her shop. But, as always, the following is based on my honest opinions, and I’ve been waiting for the launch so I could tell you how much I enjoyed these yarns!

Cheyenne has a great eye for colour, and choosing her palettes from her own nature photography is inspired – each shade tells a colour story, illustrated by the beautiful photos. Just look at these stunning yarn/photo combos in the lush launch colourways:

Incyanity yarns (photos by Cheyenne Brammah)

I always appreciate bringing inspiration from the natural world into my designs, and looking at these yarns together with their inspiration photos makes my heart happy.

My Experience

Incyanity yarns

Incyanity yarns come in 100g hanks, and are dyed onto high quality bases (currently merino/silk, merino/nylon and merino/bamboo are available). I chose a merino/nylon (teal) and a merino/silk (purple) to test, both in fingering weight – the perfect weight for crocheted shawls!

My yarn was securely packaged and arrived in perfect condition. They looked lovely in the hanks, and even more stunning once I’d wound them into cakes. This is some seriously pretty yarn…

Incyanity yarn

The tonal teal is a lovely shade. It’s just varied enough to provide some fun tonal changes while you crochet, but not so busy to distract from a beautiful stitch pattern in the finished piece.

Note: This shade is a preview of an upcoming colourway. It’s bluer than the Canyon Cascade colourway, but otherwise similar in the tonal variation.

Incyanity yarn

The variegated Amethyst Sky is gorgeous in the skein and absolutely stunning after being wound. Just look at those rich purples tempered with icy blue – this colour scheme could have been designed just for me!

Note: The yarn base felt very nice to me, but Cheyenne wasn’t satisfied with the softness or sheen, and she has since found a vastly superior base for her Incyanity silk blend yarns. You can see how much more pronounced the sheen is now by comparing the same yarn in the shop with the photos of my test skein 🙂

Incyanity yarn in Amethyst Sky colourway

It can be a challenge to find the right stitch pattern for a very variegated yarn in crochet, so I tested it out with this linen stitch swatch to see how the colours would play together. Very pretty! I can definitely see this as a lovely hat or cowl. But, in the end, I chose an unfussy lace stitch pattern for this skein (see my shawl below!), and I think the result is beautiful like this too.

Verdict

I really enjoyed working with both yarns. They felt soft and bouncy, they didn’t split at all while crocheting, the yarn colours didn’t fade at all after soaking (a very important test!), and both blocked out beautifully.

And I think the results speak for themselves – the two shawls I made from my yarn are just gorgeous in these rich colours:

Diamond Lace Wrap crochet pattern by PlanetJuneSweetheart Lace Shawl crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Left: Diamond Lace Wrap; Right: Sweetheart Lace Shawl

If you’re looking for a high-quality, stunningly-coloured, nature-inspired hand-dyed yarn to elevate your next crochet or knit project, I recommend you check out Incyanity 🙂

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free pattern: Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds

I recently started using a facial toner, and suddenly I was throwing out more cotton pads in a week than I usually use in a year! I try to minimise the amount of trash I generate, and, as the bathroom bin started to fill, I decided this had to stop. Enter my new free crochet pattern: washable, re-useable Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds.

PlanetJune Accessories Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds crochet pattern

Use these washable rounds anywhere you’d use a disposable cotton round or facial wipe – for cleansing, toning, or removing makeup – and save money while helping the environment! They crochet up in minutes, take very little yarn, and make a pretty and practical gift.

Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds are easy to clean – simply toss the used pads into a mesh laundry bag or a drawstring bag and run them through your washer and dryer with your laundry.

PlanetJune Accessories Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds crochet pattern

As I like to reward people who chose to donate for my donationware patterns, the PDF version of the Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds pattern also includes the bonus pattern for the Mini size (pictured above; I find this size is perfect for applying my toner!) and additional instructional photos and tips, including left-handed photos. As always, the pattern for the Standard size is free for you to use, and you need only donate if you’d like to thank me for my time in creating it, or if you’d like the easy-to-print PDF version with the bonuses.

Go to the free Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds pattern >>

Or jump straight to donate:

Order the Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds pattern >>

Not ready to make them yet? Add this pattern to your Ravelry queue:

I hope you’ll find this pattern useful! And every step we can make towards helping the environment by reducing waste is a step in the right direction, no matter how small.

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Using a Stitch Marker in Amigurumi [video tutorial]

My next few crochet video tutorials will be in response to customer requests. If there are other crochet techniques you’d like me to cover in future videos, please leave a comment below, or email me (june@planetjune.com) with your suggestions!

If you’ve ever lost your place while crocheting in a spiral, or discovered that you must have made a mistake many rounds earlier, I highly recommend you use a stitch marker to mark the start of every round while you crochet your amigurumi! But how do you go about doing that? How does it help you avoid mistakes, and what do you do if you realise you’ve made one?

Or, if your pattern directs you to mark a specific stitch while you crochet, how exactly do you do that?

thumbnail image for the crochet video tutorial 'Using Stitch Markers in Amigurumi'

In my latest video, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about using a stitch marker with amigurumi (or any other crochet worked in a continuous spiral), including:

  • How to mark the first stitch of the round
  • How to fix a mistake
  • How to mark a specific stitch

As always, the video is available in right-handed and left-handed versions.

This video is ideal for amigurumi beginners, but I recommend you watch it even if you’ve been making amigurumi for years – you may still pick up a tip or two!

Go to the Using Stitch Markers in Amigurumi video tutorial >>

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Reduce hand pain by releasing your trigger points

Hand and wrist pain is a common story for crocheters, knitters, and other crafters who spend a lot of time making repetitive motions with their hands.

If you visit the doctor, you may be told you have carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, arthritis, an RSI (repetitive strain injury), and that may be the case… or it may not.

Before you consider serious medical treatments like steroid injections or surgery to help with your hand pain, I’d suggest you read my story below, and see if you can fix yourself without the need for drugs or surgical interventions.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, and if your doctor has diagnosed you with a condition, their recommended treatment may be the right solution for you. But I’d recommend you try this simple self-administered pressure treatment first – it can’t make things any worse, it’s fast and free, and it may relieve you of serious pain!

My Story

In 2007, I was mis-diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.

The pain was debilitating. I could no longer perform everyday tasks without agonizing pain: turning a door handle; pushing open a door with my palm; using a computer mouse; operating a can opener…

I was referred to a specialist, given a fancy wrist brace to lock my wrist straight, and told that if that didn’t fix the problem, my only other options were steroid injections or carpal tunnel surgery.

I wore the wrist brace for months, and learned to mouse left-handed. The brace helped with the pain, but the problem didn’t go away.

Eventually, I found a cure that was ridiculously simple, I could perform on myself at no cost, and has completely fixed the problem.

None of the doctors I visited considered this as a possibility.

The cause of all my debilitating wrist pain was a knotted muscle near my elbow.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points & Referred Pain

When you overuse a muscle, it can cause sensitive areas of tight fibres to form, creating a knot in the muscle. The point where the knot forms is called a trigger point, and pressing on it causes an achy pain.

Now, here’s the crazy part: the muscle knot at the trigger point can cause serious pain in a different part of your body. This is called referred pain.

So the pain you feel may be caused by a trigger point elsewhere. No matter how much you treat your hand or wrist, you won’t be able to fix the problem if the pain, like mine, is caused by a trigger point in your upper forearm!

Treat Yourself

Once you know where the trigger point is that’s causing your pain, you can ‘unlock’ it – and stop the referred pain – by releasing the muscle knot yourself.

I learnt this ischemic pressure technique by watching a video from Dr Jonathan Kuttner, an expert in chronic muscle and joint pain. He has a couple of quick videos that explain the process – I highly recommend you watch them:

The process is the same to ‘turn off’ any trigger point. The key is to start with low enough pressure on the trigger point so it doesn’t hurt, then to gradually increase the pressure, but never to the level where it hurts.

(From experience, I can tell you that, if you’re too forceful, you’ll end up feeling like you’ve bruised yourself, and you don’t do any good. Slow and gentle is the way to go.)

My Treatment

Coincidentally, the trigger point Jonathan demonstrates ‘turning off’ in his video is the same one that caused my carpal tunnel-like symptoms and wrist/hand pain, so I could follow the instructions in his video exactly.

I’ve never been able to feel the nodule of knotted muscle he describes, but I know I’m in the right place when I feel the tender spot on my arm.

Treating hand and wrist pain with trigger point pressure therapy on the upper forearm

In 2009, when my condition was agonising, I could press the trigger point in my arm and immediately feel the referred pain in the back of my hand and wrist! That’s what convinced me that this was a) a real phenomenon and b) the cause of my problems.

Here’s me from an email I sent in 2009 when I’d just cured myself of my supposed ‘carpal tunnel syndrome’:

The myofascial thing is amazing – my wrist was so painful I couldn’t put any pressure on it while it was at all bent, so I couldn’t even open a door or a jar without it being agonisingly painful. I got one of those wrist splint things and it helped me to avoid the pain but it didn’t get better. And then I was googling and found this AMAZING thing – basically it was a referred pain caused by a muscle knot just below my elbow. And by doing gentle acupressure [sic] with my finger on this point, I healed it! I know it sounds like rubbish, but it’s totally true – when I pushed this exact spot on my arm, I could feel the pain in my wrist, even though I wasn’t doing anything to my wrist. Total magic.

Since then, I’ve rarely had the pain escalate to the terrible point it was at. I always treat it as soon as I realise what’s happening, and the knot has never had a chance to form as badly as it was back then.

I’ve developed the same problem in the other arm too, and now I can always find the trigger point on each arm – I feel a tender ache when I press on them. I try to do the ischemic pressure treatment whenever I remember, to stop the knot from forming in the first place. This works really well for me!

Finding Other Trigger Points

There are trigger points all over the body, and you can consult a trigger point diagram (like this one) that shows the position of the trigger point (marked with an X) and the possible locations of referred pain for that point (shown as a cloud of red). You can use those to help diagnose if any of your unexplained chronic pains may be caused by trigger points, and try to deactivate them if so.

I’ve had several other problems with pain that have also turned out to be trigger point related:

  • I get pain at the base of my thumbs when I crochet (or use my phone) too much, and I’ve discovered that there are two trigger points in the thumb. Treating the lower trigger point at the base of the thumb seems to help me.
  • I also occasionally get terrible upper back pain. When I have it, I can never get comfortable and I can’t sleep for the pain. The back pain turned out to be caused by trigger points, and now when my upper back and shoulders are hurting, I can usually fix it by unlocking the trigger points in my levator scapulae or trapezius muscles. (Here’s Jonathan’s article Trigger Points for Neck Pain).

Give It a Go

I have no idea how many people with hand pains from crochet or other crafts may also actually be suffering from a simple trigger point caused by a knotted muscle in their forearm, but please do try some trigger point pressure therapy and report back here if it helps!

A couple of tips on what to expect:

  • If your pain is bad, I’ve found that it may take daily sessions over a week or two to completely turn off the trigger point, but you should be able to feel an improvement immediately.
  • Your trigger points will probably reactivate in time, but knowing where they are and how to treat them means you can fix yourself in future before the stage of agonising pain, limited function and sleepless nights.

I hope this works for you as well as it has for me.

Here’s to more crafting, with less pain! 🙂

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crochet for Canada Day

My patriotic Beaver just can’t wait until Canada Day (July 1st) to start his celebrations!

Beaver and Canadian Flag crochet patterns by PlanetJune

I’ve just updated my Maple Leaf Collection crochet pattern to also include instructions for making this small thread Canadian Flag too – it’s perfect for an amigurumi to hold.

If you’ve already bought the Maple Leaf Collection, log back into your PlanetJune account, go to your old order for the Maple Leaf Collection and re-download the Canadian Flag Background PDF – you’ll see a new page at the end with the updated details for the thread flag!

Canadiana crochet patterns

I have a small, but growing, collection of Canadian-themed patterns now – the adorable Beaver, and the Maple Leaf Collection (which includes the Canadian Flag background):

Beaver and Maple Leaf Collection (including Canadian Flag) crochet patterns by PlanetJune

Find all my Canadiana crochet patterns here!

Are there any other Canadian icons you’d like me to add to my Canadiana pattern collection? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Welcome to PlanetJune!

    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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    crocheted Canadian flag by PlanetJune
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