PlanetJune Craft Blog

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diamond painting kits compared

After my review of diamond painting, I decided to jump in and buy some kits! I ordered my favourite Diamond Dotz kit – the Graceful Swimmer sea turtle – and I also picked up a cheap but pretty kit from amazon of a purple-tinted landscape so I could compare the quality of the two.

Quality

I’d expect the quality of an expensive kit to be higher than a cheap kit, but what are the actual differences, and do they affect the appearance of the end product and/or how enjoyable the kit is to make? Let’s take a look…

Price: I paid $49 (Canadian dollars) + tax for my Diamond Dotz kit, and only $8 + tax for my amazon cheapy! Although the branded kit is much larger than my cheap one, the smaller Diamond Dotz kits don’t cost much less ($40ish) so there’s still a massive difference in price between them and the unbranded kits.

Packaging: The Diamond Dotz canvas was rolled neatly in a protective box, so it had no creases. The cheap canvas was folded flat around the diamond packets, so the canvas was very creased and it wouldn’t lie flat when I first opened it (although it did flatten out when the diamonds were added).

Canvas: The canvas backing is definitely nicer on the expensive kit, but I’m not sure that matters at all – you won’t see the fabric once the piece is finished and it’s been framed or mounted.

diamond painting canvases
The cheap kit (left) has a rougher canvas backing that’s not finished as nicely as the more expensive kit (right).

Tools: Although the tools provided with both kits are similar, the Diamond Dotz tool has a comfort foam grip, the tray has a spout to pour unused diamonds neatly back into their bag without spillage, and the pink wax comes in a little plastic jar.

diamond painting tools
I prefer the Diamond Dotz toolkit (left) because of the foam grip on the tool and the spout on the tray.

Diamonds: My Diamond Dotz kit has square diamonds, and the unbranded kit has round ones (more on that later…). Both kits included far more diamonds than needed to complete the picture. This is intentional, as some of the plastic diamonds will always be flawed, so you can just discard any that would detract from your finished picture without worrying that you’ll run out.

diamond painting - flawed diamonds
Misshapes, holes, extra material, blobs – you can expect to find a few of these in every kit

Interestingly, I actually found far more flawed diamonds in the expensive kit than in the cheap kit! In both cases, though, there were so many spares that I had dozens of every colour left at the end, despite being very picky and discarding any with the slightest imperfection, so the flaws weren’t a problem in either case.

Adhesion: With my cheap kit, a small section of the adhesive surface stuck to the plastic cover sheet along one of the creases where the canvas had been folded to ship. When I pulled back the cover sheet, the adhesive came away with it, so there was no glue to stick the diamonds to in that area. Apart from that one area, the adhesive surface worked well.

diamond painting - adhesive problem
Oh no! The diamonds just won’t stick in this patch where the letters are visible!

Even though my expensive kit was many times larger, I had no problems at all with adhesion – every diamond stuck down perfectly.

Diamond Shape

While the diamond shape happens to be a difference between my kits, it’s just something to be aware of. Neither round nor square diamonds is necessarily a better or higher quality choice.

  • Square diamonds fill the entire picture without any spaces, so they give an extra-shiny and neat finish. It’s satisfying to line them all up perfectly and the result is stunning, but it is a bit slow and fiddly to place each one exactly straight.
    a diamond painting with square diamonds
  • Round diamonds are very fast to place, as you don’t need to orient them. A little of the backing canvas shows through between the circles, but it’s so much faster and easier to do, it makes for a joyful project!
    a diamond painting with round diamonds

I’d definitely recommend choosing a kit with round diamonds if:

  • you’re buying a kit for a child to use
  • you have less dexterity in your hands or any vision problems
  • you want a very relaxing project

But if you like a little more of a challenge, the square diamonds give a brilliant result.

I did have one small issue with the round diamonds on my cheap kit: some of the letter symbols were so large that there was no way to cover the entire symbol with the diamond. You can only see it if you look closely:

close up of a diamond painting with round diamonds
Can you see the tiny dots of black below the diamonds in the middle of this photo?

It’s very minor, but it frustrates me, as this would have been easy to avoid (don’t use the largest letters M and W as symbols, or use a slightly smaller font when printing the design). Although this wouldn’t happen with square diamonds as there are no spaces between the diamonds for the backing to show through, this is a flaw in this specific kit design, not a problem with using round diamonds in general, so don’t let this put you off round diamonds!

Misleading Imagery

Here’s where things could go wrong if you buy a cheap kit – I recommend you check that the images you see online include a shot of the finished diamond painting or the chart you’ll receive, not just the original artwork the design is based on.

Branded kits like my Diamond Dotz turtle show a picture of the finished product on the box, so you know exactly what you can expect from the kit you’ll be making.

my finished Graceful Swimmer Diamond Dotz kit
My finished project is lovely! And it looks exactly as I expected it would from the box art.

The cheap Chinese kits you can find on Amazon (for example) often only show the original artwork the kit was based on in their listing photos, and the image you’ll be forming will look very blocky and pixelated in comparison. There’s nothing wrong with buying one of these kits, provided you realise what you’re getting. For example, here’s an amazon listing photo (left) and what they left out of the listing: a photo of the completed kit (right):

amazon listing photo of a diamond painting vs the finished kit
I won’t leave you a link to this kit, as I’m not trying to call out this one in particular; this is just one of many misleading examples. You can see how, if you’re buying a kit based on the photo on the left, you may be surprised or disappointed if your artwork ends up looking like the image on the right – they are definitely not the same…

The listings also usually show a digital mockups of ‘the finished kit on a wall’ – not only is the image completely different from the kit you’re buying, but the size is misleading too! For example, here’s a ‘photo’ of my cheap kit:

misleading amazon listing photo of a diamond painting

Let’s compare that with my completed kit:

a cheap diamond painting project

It’s less than 10″ (25cm) square, but the listing image above makes it look twice that size, far more detailed than it is, and pure purple instead of mostly pink!

In general, more abstract and less detailed source images work better for any pixel art, like cross stitch, perler beads, etc. The detail is limited to the size of your pixels (diamonds in this case) – you can’t create a fine line when your ‘paintbrush’ is the width of a diamond! A larger canvas allows for more pixels and therefore more detail.

I’d never consider buying a kit without seeing at least a digitally-rendered example of how the finished product is actually supposed to look. So I recommend, if you’re buying a cheap kit from amazon or similar, you check the reviews for those that include images and see if someone has posted a photo of their finished project. That way, you’ll know in advance whether you’ll like the result, and you won’t be disappointed.

Verdict

I’m happy with both my kits, for different reasons. The square diamonds with the large canvas took a long time and made a beautiful picture, and the round diamonds with the small canvas made for a satisfyingly quick, relaxing project.

With the branded kit, I knew exactly what I was getting and what the finished product would look like, and I imagine the image was carefully selected and customized by hand to be ideal for a diamond painting.

With the cheap kit, I suspect an automated process generated the chart from a pretty picture with little manual input, but if you choose your kit carefully, you can still end up with a lovely result at a fraction of the cost of a branded kit. (I actually prefer the pinky shades in my kit to the purple digital mockup, so I’m not at all disappointed.)

I do have one other recommendation if you’re using budget-friendly kits: I really loved the foam grip and the tray with a spout in my Diamond Dotz kit, so I’d recommend you upgrade your tools! For example, you can buy a Diamond Dotz Accessory Kit (amazon link) including 2 tools, 2 foam grips, 2 trays with spouts and 2 spare wax blocks for only a few dollars. I always recommend investing in good tools, and here’s no exception. You can reuse the same tool and tray while you make as many cheap kits as you want!

closeup of my finished Graceful Swimmer Diamond Dotz kit
It definitely wasn’t cheap, but I think my beautiful sea turtle kit was worth the cost – the square gems are so even and sparkly, and I love the picture!

Next up in my diamond painting adventure…

  • Figuring out how to frame my sea turtle art so I can enjoy it! I’ve bought some wood and I’m going to attempt to mount it like a stretched canvas (although I’m not sure exactly how yet). More on that in my next diamond painting update!
  • I also need to fix that annoying bare spot in my pink landscape diamond painting. I’ve done some research and it sounds like the solution to this is to buy ‘repositionable tacky glue’ to re-tack the surface – I’ll report back on how that worked out next time, too…

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Join the Reindeer Games crochet-along!

Team PlanetJune had such a blast with the Ravellenic Games last summer, we decided that our Christmas crochet-along this year will be a Team PlanetJune special event!

PlanetJune Reindeer Games 2021

The first annual PlanetJune Reindeer Games begins on Monday November 1st, and I hope you’ll join us 🙂

Crochet anything PlanetJune as part of the PlanetJune Reindeer Games 2021 (Monday, Nov 1 – Friday, Dec 31). This is a Team PlanetJune event, hosted in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, with a similar concept to the Ravellenic Games: the idea is to challenge yourself by starting and finishing crochet project(s) before the end of the year.

It’s just for fun, like a CAL but you get to choose your projects – anything PlanetJune, including projects from my books – and earn virtual awards! During the Games, we all cheer each other on to complete our chosen projects. Our team captains will award you with your Reindeer Village medals and Antlers as you complete your project(s).

Santa and all 9 reindeer have set up their stalls in the Reindeer Games Village – have a virtual wander around and choose which you’ll visit first:

PlanetJune Reindeer Games Village awards

  • Santa’s Toy Shop – toys
  • Rudolph’s Gingerbread House – home/dĂ©cor
  • Dasher’s Scarf Stand – scarves
  • Dancer’s Winter Wear – hats and mitts
  • Prancer’s WIPs Wrapping – any project started before the Games
  • Vixen’s Shawl Stall – shawls and wraps
  • Comet’s Closet – sweaters and other garments
  • Cupid’s Cowl Corner – cowls and neckwarmers
  • Donner’s Blanket Bazaar – blankets and afghans
  • Blitzen’s Bag Bonanza – bags and purses

You’ll receive the medal for the stall you ‘visited’ once you’ve finish your project! And you can also receive bonus Antler awards for your projects:

PlanetJune Reindeer Games Antler awards

  • Santa’s Helper – showing team spirit
  • Angel – charity project
  • Carolling – crochet in public
  • Cookie Decorator – colourwork
  • Deck the Halls – embellishments
  • Heirloom – using a PJ pattern you’ve owned for more than 3 months
  • Ice Sculptor – techniques: cables, lace or Tunisian
  • Snowman – modifying the base pattern
  • Master Wrapper – complete 3 WIP projects
  • Super Elf – complete any 3 projects
  • Bah! Humbug! – complete a project on Christmas Eve
  • Fireworks – complete a project on New Year’s Eve
  • Have a Cookie – a special antler for those of us who try our best but don’t quite get to the finish line

Whether you’re crocheting your favourite PlanetJune patterns as Christmas gifts, items to sell at craft fairs or online, toys for charity, or projects for yourself, we’re ready to encourage you to complete your goals and to celebrate your successes with you!

And, even if you think you may not have time to complete a project, you’re very welcome to join the team for the community spirit and friendly chat. There’s something about PlanetJune that attracts the kindest and most supportive people, and, if you enjoy PlanetJune patterns, you’re already part of our community – do come over and say hello!

Team PlanetJune in the Rav Games 2021

To give you an idea of what to expect, in the Ravellenic Games last summer, Team PlanetJune completed 54 projects, and enjoyed 56 pages of chat! Here’s a roundup of all the wonderful PlanetJune projects that we completed in just 2 weeks:

Ravellenic Games 2021 - Team PlanetJune crochet projectsRavellenic Games 2021 - Team PlanetJune crochet projectsRavellenic Games 2021 - Team PlanetJune crochet projects

Isn’t it lovely to see the variety of projects and be inspired by what other people are making? I expect the project mix will look somewhat different for the Reindeer Games, with more Christmas decorations and warm accessories – but who knows! You’ll have to join in to find out…

Join us for the Reindeer Games!

PlanetJune Reindeer Games 2021

While the Ravellenic Games is a fast-paced sprint, the Reindeer Games is more of a gentle stroll together towards the holidays. The rules are relaxed, the timeline is extended, and having fun and supporting each other is the main goal.

If that sounds good to you, please hop over to the PlanetJune group on Ravelry, and leave a message saying “I’m in!” in the Reindeer Games thread. We look forward to welcoming you into our virtual Reindeer Games Village. 🙂

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Turtle Beach blanket crochet patterns

I’ve revamped my incredibly popular Turtle Beach blanket design into two new patterns, showcasing two different designs and two different colour schemes that you can mix and match: cool and calm true blues or tropical teals, in the classic colourblock design or my new ombrĂ© version.

Turtle Beach blanket crochet patterns (Classic Blue and Teal Ombre versions) by PlanetJune
Left: Classic Blue Turtle Beach blanket; Right: Teal Ombré Turtle Beach blanket

The more I look at them, the more undecided I am about which Turtle Beach blanket I like best – how about you?

Turtle Beach blanket crochet patterns (Classic Blue and Teal Ombre versions) by PlanetJune

Here’s the Classic Blue Version:

Turtle Beach blanket crochet pattern (Classic Blue version) by PlanetJune

And the Teal Ombré Version:

Turtle Beach blanket crochet pattern (Teal Ombre version) by PlanetJune

Just look at that rippling wave effect!

The good news is you don’t have to choose; you can make either colour scheme in either style, or one of each! And, as well as selling the patterns separately, I’ve bundled them into a Turtle Beach Blanket multipack, including both the Classic Blue and Teal OmbrĂ© blanket patterns.

About the Patterns

I’ve packed these patterns full of information – each one includes complete row by row crochet instructions for the 8 most common classic afghan sizes, ranging from a small baby blanket through to a king size afghan. For each afghan size, the yardage for each colour is also provided, so you’ll be able to order all your yarn at once and know you have enough.

Turtle Beach blanket crochet patterns (Classic Blue and Teal Ombre versions) by PlanetJune

Blanket/Afghan sizes included:

  • Baby (approx 24×32″, 60x80cm)
  • Lapghan/crib (approx 36×48″, 90x120cm)
  • Toddler (approx 40×48″, 100x120cm)
  • Throw (approx 48×60″, 120x150cm)
  • Twin (approx 60×85″, 150x215cm)
  • Full/double (approx 74×85″, 190x215cm)
  • Queen (approx 80×90″, 200x230cm)
  • King (approx 96×90″, 245x230cm)

Choosing Yarns

For this pattern I’ve used light worsted weight yarns (medium #4 weight), specifically Red Heart Soft and Bernat Satin. You don’t need to use exactly the same yarn as me – the most important factors are to find colours that you like and that work well together, and that are readily available to you!

As worsted weight yarns can vary considerably in thickness and sheen, I also recommend that you try to choose yarns that are similar to each other if you can’t find all the shades you need within one brand and line of yarn. See my worsted weight yarn comparison for examples and my recommendations for which yarns can be mixed and matched.


The Turtle Beach Collection

With the release of these patterns, I’ve also taken the opportunity to revamp all my other related patterns into a full Turtle Beach Crochet Pattern Collection. You can mix and match patterns within the collection to make your own custom blanket:

  • Mix and match colour schemes and stripe patterns with the Classic Blue and Teal OmbrĂ© blankets.
  • Add custom details (an edging and puffy 3D seafoam effect) with the Ribbed Ripple/Turtle Beach donationware blanket pattern.
  • Add any combination of the original 3D stuffed baby sea turtles, the new flat appliquĂ© turtles, and puffy or flat starfish.

Turtle Beach Collection crochet patterns by PlanetJune
Left: Classic Blue blanket; stuffed 3D turtles
Right: Teal Ombre blanket; flat appliqué turtles

Turtle Beach Collection crochet patterns by PlanetJune
Clockwise from top left: 3D seafoam, puffy starfish, flat starfish, squared-off edging

Turtle Beach Collection Deals!

You can explore the details of all the patterns in the Turtle Beach Collection here, but here’s a rundown of just the new deals:

  • I’ve bundled both new blanket patterns into a Turtle Beach Blanket multipack, including both the Classic Blue and Teal Ombre blanket patterns.
    Turtle Beach blanket crochet patterns (Classic Blue and Teal Ombre versions) by PlanetJune
  • Baby Sea Turtle Collection now includes a full bonus pattern for a Swimming Turtle to stitch to your blanket. (If you’ve already bought this pattern, you can download it again from your PlanetJune account and you’ll automatically get the latest version.)
    Swimming Turtle - part of the Baby Sea Turtle Collection crochet pattern by PlanetJune
  • You can also now buy a multipack of all 8 baby sea turtle patterns (turtle, hatching turtle, swimming turtle, turtle egg, with all four options in both 3D and flat versions).
    Baby Sea Turtle Collection & Appliques - 8 crochet patterns by PlanetJune
  • And, if you already donated more than the average amount of $3.50 for the original Ribbed Ripple/Turtle Beach blanket pattern, and you’d like to buy the new blanket pattern(s), I can issue you with a credit for the additional amount you paid (over $3.50), to put towards the new Classic Blue version. ETA: For the rest of October 2021 only, even if you donated under $3.50, I’ll still send you a discount code!To get your discount, just email me with the following details:
    1. The order number for your original donation (you can find this in your PlanetJune account or your confirmation email)
    2. Which option you’d like to apply your credit to:
      • Turtle Beach Blanket (Classic Blue Version)
      • Turtle Beach Blanket multipack (includes both the Classic Blue and Teal Ombre blanket patterns)

    I’ll send you a discount code, or, if you’ve already ordered the new patterns, let me know and I’ll send you a gift certificate for you to use later!


Phew! That was a lot of info to get through! I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing all the options in this post, and that you’ll have fun choosing your favourite options from the Turtle Beach Collection. Once you’ve selected your blanket size, colourway and stripe pattern, flat and/or stuffed turtles, and any of the other optional extras, you’ll be able to mix-and-match to make a gorgeous one-of-a-kind blanket.

Turtle Beach blanket crochet patterns (Classic Blue and Teal Ombre versions) by PlanetJune

I’d love to see your finished blankets (or anything else you’ve made from my patterns) – please do share photos with me! I’m @PlanetJune everywhere (on ravelry and social media) or you can email me – I always love to hear from you 🙂

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worsted weight yarn comparison: huge update!

I published my original worsted weight yarn comparison almost a decade ago, as a way to show that, even though two yarns are both labelled as 100% acrylic and worsted weight, they may be too different (in terms of thickness, softness and/or shininess) to mix within the same project and get a good result.

Since then I’ve had many requests for an update including more common and modern yarns, so we could all use it as a lookup table to find suitable matches. With more local craft stores closing and the trend towards online shopping, it’s becoming more difficult to just go into a shop and compare yarns directly, so I decided to go for it and create a useful resource for all of us!

I asked my Ravelry group members to send me samples of worsted weight acrylics from their stashes, and they really came through for me – I had dozens of different yarns to compare! A huge thanks goes to ravelers SilentSilence, MagicalAmigurumi, JEMCCreations, somelady42 and abjCrochet for their help with this project. 🙂

worsted weight yarn samples

I sorted and labelled all the samples, then I realised I had a daunting task ahead of me: trying to figure out how to categorize and catalogue these samples in a way that would a) be useful and b) let me add to the results in future…

Can We Just Calculate the Thickness?

With my wide range of samples, I was hoping to discover a trend that we could use to determine yarn similarities in future without having to compare specific yarns side by side. I hoped to come up with some numbers so you could just look up the details of a yarn online and then do the calculation to figure out for yourself whether it should be a lighter or heavier worsted weight yarn.

Using the weight and yardage info from the ball band of each yarn, I calculated the weight per metre of each of my yarn samples in the hope that this would give an indication of the thickness of the yarn. While this may work for broader differences between yarn weights (e.g. a fingering weight yarn would definitely weigh less per metre than a bulky weight yarn!), within the worsted weight category I found absolutely no correlation between the nominal length per gram according to the ball band and the actual thickness of the yarns.

So no, we definitely can’t use the information on the ball band as a way to compare different worsted weight acrylic yarns.

My Testing Methods

I had an idea that winding bobbins with the yarns may be a good way to compare yarns without crocheting a sample with each, so I tested my theory by carefully winding bobbins with leftover yarn from the exact same balls I crocheted my original samples from, way back in 2012! (Luckily I never throw anything away…)

And here are the results! First, the original samples:

worsted weight acrylic yarns

And secondly, the bobbins:

worsted weight acrylic yarns

Each of my bobbins is wound in exactly the same way, with the same number of wraps. I’ve arranged my yarn bobbins in the same colour order as the size order from my crocheted samples, and you can see that there are clear height differences in the yarn wound onto the bobbins that correspond to the size difference I found in the crocheted samples. So this seems like a good indicator of yarn weight.

But that’s not the only factor; the best chance of getting a good match between yarns seems to be by visual and tactile comparison, so I’ve looked at, touched and compared samples of each yarn side by side to assess their thickness, sheen and texture.

Categories

As with my original comparison, I’ve split the yarns by two measures:

Weight: I’ve named my categories the same as before:

  • light worsted weight
  • worsted weight
  • heavy worsted weight

Appearance and Texture: In my original comparison, I called these sheen, slight sheen and no sheen. I’ve clarified the category headings now:

  • soft and shiny
  • slightly soft/shiny
  • sturdy and matte

Here’s an example from each of the categories (I’ve chosen samples that vary in both weight and appearance/texture):

worsted weight acrylic yarns - differences

Left: light worsted weight; soft and shiny
Middle: worsted weight; slightly soft/shiny
Right: heavy worsted weight; sturdy and matte

Hopefully you can see the differences! Between the left and right samples there’s a huge difference in both thickness and appearance, and the middle sample lies somewhere between the two in both measures.

So, I’ve ended up with 9 different categories: for each of the three weights, there are three appearance/texture options.

Results

With over 40 samples wound, labelled and categorized, I’m finally ready to share the results with you!

worsted weight acrylic yarns

I’ve published the results in a table here: Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison. The blog isn’t the best format to display them in, so, I’ve also compiled them into a 3×3 table in a downloadable PDF file, with weight across the top and appearance/texture down the side. This is a free download that you can grab from my shop for no charge 🙂

Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison - a free 2 page PDF file by PlanetJune

I’ll keep both versions updated as and when I receive new yarns to include. (And, if you have a worsted weight acrylic yarn you’d like me to add to the list, please scroll to the ‘What’s Missing’ section at the bottom of the Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison webpage for details of how you can send me a sample!)

I hope you find this resource useful! And don’t forget to download the PDF version from my shop now – no charge, no catch – it’s my gift to you 🙂

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