PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

silver thermal pullover

After ‘graduating’ from my long term project to teach myself to knit through designing and making 12 sweaters, I wasn’t at all bored with sweater knitting, so my next project was bound to be… yep, another sweater to add to the pile!

As soon as I arrived back in Canada I loaded up on Michael’s Loops & Threads brand Woolike yarn – it’s a super-soft super-fine non-wool yarn with amazing yardage for the price, and I wondered what it’d be like to make a whole sweater from such fine yarn.

The answer? An incredible amount of work, but the result is my favourite sweater to date!

silver thermal pullover by June Gilbank

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for this sweater, so I started by knitting plain stockinette sleeves while I pondered. It was slow going with such fine yarn and small needles, but I was encouraged to continue because the knitted fabric felt so soft, and looked so smooth and fine when I draped it over my arm.

I was worried that the fine knit wouldn’t keep my torso warm enough, so I decided on a thermal stitch pattern for the body. This was the slowest thing ever to knit, but the pattern is neat and stretchy and snuggly, so it was a pleasure to watch it grow, however slowly.

silver thermal pullover by June Gilbank

The fine yarn and stretchy stitch pattern gives it a wonderful flattering drape, even with no shaping built in. Doesn’t it look good?

silver thermal pullover by June Gilbank

It was very fiddly to stitch the sleeves to the body neatly – with hindsight, I should have worked the last 2 stitches at the armhole edges in stockinette so I’d have a plain unpatterned edge for joining. My first seaming attempt ruined the whole look of the sweater, so I unpicked the join and tried again very slowly and carefully. I think it took the best part of an hour to seam each sleeve, but it was worth it.

After seaming, I finished my sweater with simple 1×1 rib cuffs and bands, which, again, took forever – switching between knit and purl for every single tiny stitch slows things down considerably – but now I could see that it was going to be a gorgeous sweater, I didn’t mind at all.

silver thermal pullover by June Gilbank

I love this sweater! The patterned body and smooth arms; the v-neck that isn’t too deep (for warmth); the fit that I intentionally made loose enough to wear with a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath to keep me warm, but still nicely fitted… I’d have cried at spending so much time on it if it hadn’t turned out well, but it’s exactly what I hoped it would be.

I’d have liked to switch to smaller needles for the ribbing for the cuffs and bands, but I was already using my smallest (3mm) needles, so the ribbing isn’t quite as neat as I’d like, although I don’t think you’d notice if I hadn’t pointed it out, right?

If I were making this sweater again I’d buy smaller needles for the ribbing, and maybe add a tiny bit of extra height to the shoulders, but overall I’m very pleased with how this one turned out, and it’s now my favourite sweater in my wardrobe!

What’s next in my knitting adventure? I’m trying something other than a sweater for once – I’m in need of a really warm hat…

Comments (6)

Heart Cactus Collection crochet pattern update

I’ve just updated my sweet Heart Cactus Collection pattern to add a new cactus option, so now the collection includes three different heart-shaped cacti (plus matching large and small 3-dimensional hearts).

Heart Cactus Collection crochet patterns by PlanetJune

These cacti make a quick little crochet project, with their perfect heart shapes, rounded pots, pretty flowers, and minimal sewing required. If you haven’t picked up the pattern yet, now’s a great time – Valentine’s Day is only a month away, so now’s the time to start making your heart-themed gifts. And the best part is that a potted heart cactus looks cute all year round πŸ™‚

(If you’ve already bought the Heart Cactus Collection pattern, your PlanetJune pattern licences always include all future pattern updates. I’ve updated the pattern now with the additional cactus pattern and new photos, so please feel free to download it again from your PlanetJune account!)

Heart Cactus Collection crochet patterns by PlanetJune
The cuddly hearts are also included in the pattern!

And here’s an extra bonus: did you know the heart cacti are sized to be part of my mix-and-match Cactus and Succulent collections? You can add a heart cactus to your next succulent garden, or mix and match the pots between any of the patterns!

Cactus and Succulent crochet patterns by PlanetJune
Can you spot the 3 heart cacti?

Buy the Heart Cactus Collection pattern here in my shop. Or, 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 the updated Heart Cactus Collection! When you make one, please remember to tag me @planetjune if you share it on social media, so I can enjoy seeing your creation too πŸ™‚

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2018: year in review

Today marks the first day of my second decade of full time self-employment! I’ve just read back over all my previous Year in Review posts and it’s been an epic journey so far. I sometimes forget how much time and heart I’ve put into PlanetJune to reach this point, but I’m pretty proud that here I am, 10 years later, doing exactly what I set out to do – making my living at the intersection of my passions for crafts and nature, through designing, creating and writing…

Over the years, these annual review posts have formed a clear record of what I’ve accomplished, and writing them each year helps me to think about what I’ve learnt each time and what I’ll do differently next year.

2018 Achievements

This year, I published a range of new crochet patterns that included something in each of my design categories – animals, plants, accessories and seasonal:

2018 PlanetJune crochet patterns

I’ve added to my tutorial library with a few new tutorials:

2018 PlanetJune tutorials

I rebranded my YouTube video tutorials with a fresh new look and created an animated logo that I’ll be using for my new crochet videos:

PlanetJune crochet video tutorials

I also rephotographed all my PlanetJune Accessories shawl and wrap patterns, so now the photos all have a cohesive look and you can see the designs more clearly:

PlanetJune Accessories shawl and wrap crochet patterns

Behind the scenes, I’ve been improving the backend of the business, with new payment and processing systems, sales tax collection, and adding to my library of responses to common questions.

And I’ve made time for more making in 2018 – both crafting and cooking (although I don’t want to get into food blogging – my food always tastes better than it looks, anyway!) I’ve been enjoying experimenting with some new (to me) materials and ingredients and creating something useful or beautiful or delicious or just fun with them:

2018 PlanetJune crafting

(And there’s a little sneak peek photo above for two projects I haven’t blogged about yet: my giant amigurumi gingerbread man and a new handknit sweater! I’ll tell you about those soon…)

For most of the year, I’ve also been working on a big project – a crochet ebook – that hasn’t launched yet, so between planning, writing, editing, making samples, photographing, editing photos, page layout, project managing and more, I’ve been pretty busy! I’m in the last stages (final edits and cover photos) now, so it’s coming soon.

Settling In

Although we arrived back in Canada at the end of 2017, the first half of 2018 was filled with moving into our new house, sleeping on the floor of an empty house until we finally got all our belongings back, selling our old house and jumping through hoops to try to get permission to move the money out of SA, and Dave changing careers. All of that took a lot more time and energy than I anticipated, and now it’s all over, I’m still feeling a little shell-shocked from the whirlwind of all the move-related stuff.

I also completely underestimated the way that mental health works. You may have noticed that I like to do everything myself (like running all aspects of PlanetJune), but that just wasn’t working in this case – although my panic attacks dropped off as soon as we reached Canada, I still didn’t feel right and I couldn’t snap myself out of it. I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a general anxiety disorder as well as the PTSD.

Although there’s no magic cure, I feel so much better now that I’m getting professional help, so I want to put my experience out there in case it can help anyone else: mental health is at least as important as physical health, and there’s nothing weak about asking for help.

Looking Forward

I am so happy in my life now – I still don’t 100% believe it’s real. It’s been a long stressful road to get here, including receiving my Canadian citizenship in tears the day before leaving for Africa with no idea if I’d ever return. But this long journey has led to me being so grateful for everything I now have, and an appreciation of how fortunate we are.

I’m still struggling with my energy levels, and I have a host of relatively minor but inconvenient health issues, but I’m trying to give myself grace when these interfere with my business plans. I know I need to look after myself first, and PlanetJune second, so I have to plan carefully to make the best use of my time and energy.

I want to focus this year on designing amazing new patterns and creating high quality video tutorials. My biggest problem is deciding which of my many ideas to try: I’m trying to work out if there’s a way to balance being productive with following the flow of creativity and allowing the best ideas the time they need to blossom. (My bestselling patterns of 2018 were the new Succulent Collections, and they wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t given myself months to research, develop and prototype to build the collections.)

After closing my crochet tool shop last April, I’ve been investigating options to be able to offer limited runs of my Detail Stuffing Tools in future, and I think I’ve found a solution that will work – more on that later. And I have some ideas for really fun new products too, but we’ll have to wait and see if I have time to develop those any further in 2019 or if they’ll have to wait for the 2020s(!) – I’m determined not to let myself get spread too thin.

Last year, I wished for peace, calm and quiet strength, and re-reading those words now, that’s exactly what I’ve been building for myself all year, although I hadn’t realised it until just now! My attitude now is to take time to appreciate what I have and what I can accomplish, and not dwell on what I can’t.

My wish for this year is a continuance of that: focus, determination and acceptance. I wish all those things for you too, and a very, very Happy New Year!

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free pattern: Amigurumi Santa Hat

What could make a better gift than an amigurumi animal for Christmas? How about an amigurumi animal wearing a Santa hat?!

amigurumi santa hat crochet pattern by planetjune

Get in the seasonal spirit with my charming Santa hat pattern, designed especially to fit most amigurumi! You can whip up a hat in mere minutes, and add a festive touch to amigurumi or other small toys.

amigurumi santa hat crochet pattern by planetjune

The basic online version of the pattern includes the largest pictured size for the hat, and is designed for an eyelash yarn trim. As I like to reward people who chose to donate for my donationware patterns, the PDF version of this pattern also includes special bonus content:

  • specifics for making the other sizes of hat
  • additional photos
  • alternate patterns for the trim/bobble that are optimised for regular yarn and bouclé/textured yarns

As always though, the basic pattern 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.

amigurumi santa hat crochet pattern by planetjune
L-R: small (with bouclé trim), medium (with worsted weight trim), large (with eyelash trim)

Have fun with my Santa Hat pattern! Don’t forget to share photos of your amigurumi/toys/pets wearing their Santa Hats, and tag me @planetjune so I’ll get to enjoy them too πŸ™‚

Go to the Amigurumi Santa Hat pattern >>

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bonus Canadian flag crochet pattern!

I was planning to use my Maple Leaf pattern as the basis for a crocheted Canadian flag in time for next Canada Day, but, well, I couldn’t wait that long, so here it is!

Canadian Flag crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I designed my flag background to exactly fit the large Maple Leaf pattern as part of a perfectly proportioned Canadian flag.

It’s made with linked stitches so the background is smooth and has no holes, and you can either stitch or glue the Maple Leaf in place. It works up as about 9.5″ (24cm) wide by 4.75″ (12cm) tall using worsted weight yarn, but you can resize both leaf and flag if you want to make a larger or smaller flag.

The flag is perfect to hang as decoration as it is, or you can also use it as a component, for example:

  • Make several flags and string them together into bunting or a garland
  • Make a second single-coloured flag and crochet the two together around the edges, adding stuffing before you close the last side, to make a mini decorative pillow
  • Combine multiple flags, offset between single-coloured flag-shaped rectangles, into an afghan, cushion cover, or anything else you want to make!

And here’s the best news: the Canadian Flag (Background) pattern is now an absolutely free bonus PDF with the purchase of the Maple Leaf Collection pattern! (If you’ve already bought the Maple Leaf Collection, log back into your PlanetJune account and you’ll see the new PDF file available in your order for you to download too.)

Canadian Flag crochet pattern by PlanetJune

If you haven’t bought it yet, you can pick up the Maple Leaf Collection (with free bonus Canadian Flag) pattern from my shop here πŸ™‚

If you don’t have a Canadian connection, the maple leaves (in autumnal shades) make perfect Thanksgiving decorations.

And, if you are Canadian, I hope you’ll enjoy the bonus flag pattern too!

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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!

    If you'd like to get in touch, you can contact me here.
    crocheted Canadian flag by PlanetJune
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