PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for November, 2009

One Yard Wonders

I just received my contributor copy of the new sewing book, One Yard Wonders. I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on it for months! It’s a lovely book, featuring 101 projects that can each be made from under 1yd of fabric – a great way to use up fabric that you may have lying around in your stash!

One Yard Wonders

They’ve done a really nice job with the book – it’s spiral-bound, so it will lie flat at the page you open it to, and it has an envelope in the front containing full-sized pattern pieces for all the projects that need them.

The projects cover the full range from clothing, aprons, and quilts, to bags, pillows and toys. It looks like a great book, and I can’t wait until I have time to look through it properly and find ideas for things I could make with some of my stash fabric!

*******************

Now, not to detract from the book at all (it really is great! you should definitely pick up a copy), but on a personal level, I am very disappointed.

I contributed a pincushion and matching needlebook to the book. I was given the cutest Japanese fabric covered in tiny hedgehogs, squirrels, chickies and mushrooms, and I spent ages making sure the print was centred nicely on my pieces, picking the perfect buttons to accessorize them, and making sure my sample pieces were as close to perfect as possible so they would photograph well (I still have several 99% perfect rejects sitting in my craft room!). These are my samples that I’ve been waiting for months to see in print:

pincushion and needlebook by planetjune
Sorry for the pic quality – these were taken over a year ago (as a personal record for myself before I shipped them off), before I got the hang of my lightbox.

Luckily I thought to snap these quick photos before sending them off, because when I looked for my projects in the book, they had been bundled with this sewing machine cover, and my projects had been remade in the same huge graphic print as the cover, which doesn’t suit their size at all. Plus there is only this one picture in the book, in which my designs are practically invisible:

One Yard Wonders - Sewing Tools Trio
Can you spot my designs in this picture?

One Yard Wonders - Sewing Tools Trio
There they are! A tiny part of a busy picture.

It’s okay. I understand why they did it this way – I guess they wanted to use up the entire yard of fabric, and that makes sense. But mine were so cute! And so neat! It’s just sad when you look forward to something and then it turns out to be so very different from what you imagined it would be. I’m still happy the authors chose my projects for the book; I just think they will be overlooked by most readers because they aren’t shown in their best light. Let’s have another look at my version of my projects, as this will be the only time they’ll ever be seen:

pincushion and needlebook by planetjune
Click to see them larger

They are cute, right? Please tell me they are. I need cheering up…

UPDATE May 2012: If you don’t have the book, you can now pick up my Offset Square Wrist Pincushion and matching Fabric and Felt Needlebook sewing patterns as donationware from my shop 🙂

Comments (27)

free pattern: Punchneedle Poinsettia

I doubt you’ll remember this from previous years, but I’ve developed my own little holiday crafting tradition of creating a poinsettia every year. I’m not quite sure why I do it, but a tradition that means I only have to make one item per year and forces me to try something new each time sounds pretty good to me. I suppose at some point I’ll run out of ideas for different crafts to make a poinsettia from, but I’m nowhere near that point yet!

In 2006 (well before the recent kanzashi popularity!), I made a kanzashi poinsettia:

tsumami kanzashi poinsettia

In 2007, I designed the famous crocheted poinsettia (with free pattern):

In 2008, I created the polymer clay poinsettia (with free tutorial):

polymer clay poinsettia by planetjune

And for this year? Why, it had to be punchneedle embroidery, of course! Here’s the 2009 PlanetJune Poinsettia:

punchneedle poinsettia by planetjune
Please click through to see the larger version – it’s worth it!

If you’d like to punch your own, the Punchneedle Poinsettia pattern is free! If you’re new to punchneedle, you might also like to consider buying my eBook, The Punchneedle Handbook, which will teach you everything you need to know!

This 2.5″ Poinsettia design uses Punchneedle Embroidery for a fast and festive result. It can be made as an applique and attached to almost anything to give it a more Christmassy feel!

Here are a few ideas for use, to get you started:

  • Attach a felt backing and a pinback to make it into a removable pin
  • Attach a felt backing and hanging loop and use it as a tree decoration
  • Use washable fabric glue to attach it directly to a table runner or fabric napkin ring
  • Use fabric glue to attach it to a bag or purse as a pretty embellishment

punchneedle poinsettia by planetjune

Hope you enjoy the latest addition to my poinsettia collection!
Go to the free Punchneedle Poinsettia pattern >>

Comments (10)

Christmas Trees crochet pattern

It’s funny the way one idea can lead you to another. I was on my third failed attempt to come up with a design when I realised that the stitch pattern that didn’t work for its original use would be perfect to make something else: a lovely textured Christmas tree! And, you know, it’s actually not that long until Christmas – there are less than 7 weeks to go – so now would be the perfect time to begin your holiday crafting, if you haven’t already…

crocheted Christmas trees by planetjune

My Christmas Trees pattern is really versatile – the pattern contains two sizes as pictured, but also includes instructions to modify the pattern to any size. The design includes a lip inside the base, so the tree will stand stably without the need for stuffing it, together with additional crochet instructions to complete the base if you’d prefer to make a stuffed toy tree.

crocheted Christmas trees by planetjune

The stitch pattern for the tree is very easy if you know single and double crochet stitches, and once you’ve got the hang of it you can race through making the tree! The large tree is 5.5″ tall; the small tree is only 2.75″ tall, so you can whip one up in no time.

crocheted Christmas trees by planetjune

The pattern also includes decorating ideas for your trees (although they also look very striking with no decorations, especially in a group of 2 or 3) and bonus instructions to make my tiny crocheted star tree-topper, which I think must be the smallest crocheted star design in the world! You won’t believe how few stitches it takes to make one.

crocheted Christmas trees by planetjune

The Christmas Trees pattern is now available to purchase from the PlanetJune shop. And while you’re there, how about picking up some more seasonal designs:

Christmas crochet patterns by planetjune
Poinsettia, PocketAmi Christmas, Candy Cane and Christmas Pudding are also all available in the Holiday & Seasonal category of my shop.

I hope you like my Christmas Trees! Please leave me a comment if you do 🙂

Comments (31)

review: Facebook Advertising

For those of us with small businesses (crafty or not), advertising and marketing is always a difficult area. Very few of us can afford an advertising budget, so we have to try to make wise decisions that lead to maximum promotion with minimum expenditure.

Having said that, it could be that we’re missing out on effective advertising methods, so I thought I’d try an experiment with Facebook advertising on behalf of the entire crafting community, to see if it might be something we should be doing.

advertisement on Facebook
This is what an advertisement on Facebook looks like – I’ve circled the ad in purple

For this experiment, I spent $150 on Facebook advertising. Before you think I’m wealthy or foolish enough to waste $150 (that’s the revenue from close to 40 pattern sales!), I should mention that I received all the credit I used as promotional vouchers by signing up for Canada Post’s Venture One small business scheme and the VISA Business Network, so I haven’t actually lost anything as a result of this test.

Setting up the Ad

Facebook know their users, so you can tailor your ad to be shown to only a specific demographic. If you want to, you can specify your target age, gender, location, language, interests, etc, and only the FB users who match your profile will see your ad. In my case, I limited to residents of US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand who listed Crochet, Crocheting, or Amigurumi in their interests. This is a very powerful screening tool!

You can also choose to pay by CPC (you pay each time your ad is clicked on) or CPM (you pay per 1000 views of your ad), your maximum CPC or CPM bid, and the daily maximum you’d like to spend.

Your ad consists of a title (up to 25 characters), an image (110 x 80 pixels), and body text (up to 135 characters). Facebook have some very specific rules about the content of their ads: no abbreviations allowed (e.g. ‘&’ instead of ‘and’ is not permitted!); full sentences and punctuation are required; no excessive capitalization – it’s worth checking to make sure you follow all their rules, because…

What Comes Next

Once you’ve set up the ad, you have to wait for it to be manually approved. This takes a minimum of several hours (in my experience), and if you change anything in the ad later, you have to wait for it to be approved again before it will run. So make sure you get it right first time!

Once the ad has been approved, you can monitor stats from your Ads page, and see how many times it’s been viewed, clicked on, and the average cost you’ve paid (Facebook, like other ad systems, only make you pay the minimum you need to ‘outbid’ other advertisers, so you don’t always pay your maximum bid price). You can also pause or delete your ad if you need to.

My Experience

Facebook certainly has plenty of users. I was expecting to spend a few dollars a day, but I blew right through my initial $50 within 1 day! This is the ad I used:

PlanetJune Ad 1 on Facebook

I used the CPC model and my $50 bought me 67,252 impressions (times that the ad was shown on anybody’s screen) and 241 clicks through to my site. Not one of these clicks generated a direct sale 🙁

So, with my remaining $100, I switched a few things up. Carina pointed out that my ad did not contain the word amigurumi (well, duh, how did that happen?!), so here’s my revised ad text:

PlanetJune Ad 2 on Facebook PlanetJune Ad 3 on Facebook

I tried running the ad with the two different pictures shown above, but after a couple of thousand views I could see that the PocketAmi Christmas image was getting better results, so I pulled the AmiDogs ad and kept running the Christmas ad.

I also switched to the CPM bid model, so instead of paying per click, I was paying per view of the advert. This didn’t seem like a good plan – after all, I wanted people to click through, so that was more valuable to me than the number of views – but it turned out that my views cost me a lot less with this model, and I also got more clickthroughs! Why? Here are my theories:

  • The text was more appealing in the revised ad
  • People had seen the ad more often by now and were more tempted to click it
  • By chance: the people who happened to see the ad on Day 2 were more receptive to it

My $100 lasted for 2 days, although the morning of the first day the ad was ‘pending’ waiting for approval of my changes. The results were 290,241 impressions and 1206 clickthroughs – that’s twice as many views and 2.5x more clicks per dollar than with my first attempt!

I’m going to give you full disclosure of my revenue, in the interests of helping you make an informed decision: my Google Analytics report shows sales of only $70 resulting from these clicks, although it’s not 100% accurate (I’ve noticed it doesn’t pick up all my sales), so that could be a low estimate. So, on the surface, I didn’t even break even with my advertising budget, but this doesn’t account for the intangibles:

  • People who signed up for an account or my mailing list and may become customers at a future date
  • People who bookmarked or saved my site for later
  • People who didn’t complete checkout at the time, and returned to my site later to complete the purchase (so the sale wouldn’t show up as coming from Facebook)

Conclusions

Facebook ads are definitely interesting. I love that you can specifically target the people who are your potential customers. But the advertising costs are just too expensive for smaller businesses to justify, unless they can somehow convert almost all their clicks into sales, or sell a very expensive product where one sale would cover the advertising budget for the day/week.

Obviously, this is just going from my personal experiences, and you may have different results if you try using Facebook ads. Personally, I won’t be advertising with FB again unless I can find another promotional voucher for free credit – it’s just too expensive for my budget. Having said that, I’m still hopeful that the almost 1500 clicks I received during the course of this experiment will lead to some more new customers at a later date, as well as the few direct sales I received on the day.

I hope you’ve found this report helpful in deciding where to spend your precious funds to try to grow your business! Have you tried FB ads too? I’d love to hear about it – please leave a comment and share your experience.

Comments (20)

review: Soak Wash

Last April, we visited the Wellington Fibres Open House, to see the baby Angora goats and maybe pick up some mohair yarn for a future project. There were about 30 tiny little newborn kids who were absolutely adorable, especially when they started leaping about! We also saw the mill where the mohair fibre is processed and spun into yarn, which was very interesting, but I forgot to take any photos – the sweet little kids were just too distracting! It was still winter in Ontario, so the goats were being kept inside, hence my poor quality low-light photos, but you should get the idea:

angora goat at wellington fibres

angora goat at wellington fibres

angora goat at wellington fibres
Awww, look at the little babies!

After seeing the goats in person, I really wanted some mohair yarn to play with. (In case you didn’t know, Angora goats produce mohair; angora yarn actually comes from Angora rabbits!) Unfortunately for me, all the yarn on display in the shop was dyed in pretty jewel tones – not what I was looking for – and I couldn’t see any natural undyed yarn. As it turned out, they did have some, but it wasn’t ready to sell as it hadn’t been washed yet. They let me buy it unwashed, and I’ve been waiting to find the time to wash it ever since…

Washing natural yarns scared me – I wouldn’t want to accidentally felt the yarn together before I even had a chance to crochet with it! Enter Jacqueline from Soak, who saw on Twitter that I had yarn in need of washing, and kindly sent me some samples of Soak to try. What is Soak? From their website:

soak wash
Keep the fibers you love looking great with Soak. This rinse-free formulation is perfect for washing your laciest lingerie, your softest sweaters, hand-made quilts and even baby clothes. Soak is gentle and deliciously scented with fabric-friendly ingredients that revitalize fibers so they look great and last longer.

Now that sounds good!

unwashed mohair yarn and SOAK
My unwashed yarn with a Soak sample

I ran some cool water in the sink, and added the Soak (I tried the Aquae fragrance, which was subtle and fresh-scented). I made sure my hank of yarn was tied together at several points so it wouldn’t get tangled while wet, and then pushed it into the water so it got thoroughly wet.

SOAKing my yarn
SOAKing my yarn

I left it for about 20 mins, then carefully removed the yarn, squeezed it out gently and then rolled it in a towel to try to get some of the excess water out. Then I hung it on a plastic clothes hanger over the bath to dry fully.

clean yarn drying over the bath
Clean yarn drying

Um, yeah. This stuff works – this is the dirty residual water after I removed my precious yarn:

dirty water after washing yarn
Yuck!

Convinced, I then used Soak in the Floral fragrance to wash my PlanetJune t-shirt (which I made with an iron-on transfer and I’m always scared to wash in case the transfer flakes or cracks) and the socks I crocheted last winter, with equally good results (although they weren’t quite as dirty to begin with!).

I’m very impressed with Soak. It would be great for cleaning amigurumi – not needing to rinse it out means washing is a much gentler process for delicates. And I think I’ll be using it to wash any of my punchneedle pieces that get dirty, too! All I have to do is decide which is my favourite fragrance (I like Aquae best so far, but I still have the Citrus, Celebration and Unscented varieties to try) and then buy myself a full size bottle.

unleash soak

And now Soak have partnered with the wonderful Ravelry to release a new Ravelry-exclusive scent: Unleash, with a light, fruity, fresh, and crisp fragrance – sounds yummy. (It’s currently sold out at Ravelry, but they’ll have more in stock soon.) UPDATED: It’s back in stock! I think I might be tempted to try this one!

Soak promo
If you’d like to try Soak for yourself, I have a deal for you! Order online from soakwash.com by November 20th and use promo code ‘Holiday09’ to receive 15% off your order!

Comments (5)

  • 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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