PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for August, 2010

Cactus Collection crochet patterns

I’ve been planning a cactus collection for a few months now – I know I’m not exactly the first person to come up with the idea to make a crocheted cactus, but my idea was to make my designs more realistic than the cartoonish cacti I’ve seen before.

I always like to base my patterns on solid research so they look as realistic as possible, and when I started to investigate, I found a huge number of really interesting-looking cacti to crochetify: I started out sketching 8 different types, and then had so many great ideas for how to create them, I couldn’t decide which to cut!

crocheted cactus collections 1 and 2 by planetjune

I spent a lot of time developing different techniques and effects for each cactus, so I hope you can see that it’s not the same basic pattern with tweaks for size and shape here: each cactus is completely different from all the others.

8 plant designs plus 2 pots seemed a bit excessive for one pattern – that’s almost a book, not a pattern! – so my solution was to split the patterns over two cactus collections: you can buy your favourite collection without breaking the bank, or buy both (at a huge discount!) and mix-and-match cacti from each collection to create your perfect cactus garden.

crocheted cactus collection 1 by planetjune
Cactus Collection 1

crocheted cactus collection 1 by planetjune
Cactus Collection 1

Each collection comes with both the individual-sized pot pattern and the larger cactus garden pot pattern:

  • An individual cactus makes a quick and sweet gift – or you can anthropomorphize it with some eyes and a smiley mouth to make a super-cute version!
  • Two or three (or more) individual cactus pots look great arranged in a line along your windowsill.
  • The larger cactus garden makes a beautiful decoration – and you’ll never have that problem where one of the collection dies and you’re left with a big empty space in the pot!

crocheted cactus collection 2 by planetjune
Cactus Collection 2

crocheted cactus collection 2 by planetjune
Cactus Collection 2

If you’d like to buy either or both of the Cactus Collection patterns, you can find them all in my shop. Don’t forget that there’s huge savings to be had if you buy the set of both collections.

As a special bonus for my newsletter subscribers, Twitter followers and Facebook fans, I’ll be giving out a special discount code to use with these patterns this week – so look out for that too!

crocheted cactus collection 1 by planetjune
Collection 1 includes (clockwise, from top left): Notocactus, Moon Cactus, Mammillaria, Echinocereus.

crocheted cactus collection 2 by planetjune
Collection 2 includes (clockwise, from top left): Micranthocereus, Cephalocereus, Opuntia (Paddle Cactus), Ferocactus (Barrel Cactus).

Which is your favourite?

UPDATE: adding some clearer links to where you can find the patterns:
Buy Cactus Collection 1
Buy Cactus Collection 2
Buy Cactus Collections 1 & 2 (at a bargain price!)

Comments (17)

in limbo

The blog is a little quiet because I’m playing a waiting game at the moment, so I don’t have a lot I can blog about yet:

  • Waiting for my new book to be released (less than 6 weeks to go!)
  • Waiting to see an advance copy – they should be printed by now and I can’t describe just how nervously excited I am that I’ll soon be able to hold a copy in my hands… (And then I’ll be able to finally share some details with you!)
  • Waiting to announce my new secret project that I’m busying away at behind the scenes…
  • Waiting to finally complete my 2 new crochet patterns that I’ve been working on for weeks – they expanded in scope far beyond what I originally imagined, so it’s taking much longer than I’d anticipated to write and photograph the instructions.

yarns for my next pattern
These yarns have morphed into something special – I hope you’ll agree when I reveal my new designs early next week!

In the meantime, I’m working on so many projects at once, it feels like nothing is getting finished, and I miss that satisfied feeling of having completed a project. It’s made doubly scary as August is always a quiet month for sales (if you have a business, do you find that too, or is it just me?!), so I’m working hard with nothing to show for it yet and not that much money coming in either.

Ah, the perils of self-employment…

Normal service will resume shortly, I’m sure 🙂

Comments (11)

getting an ITIN (for non-US contract workers)

…You’re probably thinking “huh?” right about now, and I know this post won’t have much interest to most of my readers, so if you’re not a non-US resident or citizen who wants to do contract work for US companies (for example: writing articles or patterns for US magazines, or writing or contributing to a book for a US publisher), you can skip the rest of this post!

Since I’ve been through the process of getting an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) I keep getting people referred to me for information about how to go about getting one. It wasn’t easy for me to find out the answers, so I’m sharing them here so that fellow non-US freelancers and contract workers can find this post through Google and figure out how it’s done without having to go through all the hassles I did.

This is how I did it, as a Canadian resident, but this information should apply to all other non-US contract workers and freelancers too; just substitute your own country for Canada throughout the rest of this post.

Note: I’m not a qualified tax professional and this information is based solely on my experience in late 2009. Please check with irs.gov or a certified acceptance agent (see below) to see if anything has changed before you submit your application.

Why do I need an ITIN?

If you’re Canadian and have no tie to the US, you should be paying Canadian income tax on your earnings, not US tax. However, if you want to do contract work for a US company, the IRS (the US Internal Revenue Service) requires the company to withhold 30% of your earnings to submit towards your US taxes, so you’ll only receive 70% of your money. (You then have to pay your Canadian taxes on that income as well.)

Although you can claim the withheld US tax back at a later date, there’s an easier way: if you submit Form W-8BEN to the company you’re working for, they don’t need to withhold the 30% US tax, and you’ll receive 100% of your payment (which, of course, you’ll report as income on your Canadian tax return).

To complete Form W-8BEN, you need to have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Your ITIN proves that you have no US ties and therefore do not need to pay US taxes.

How do I get an ITIN?

To apply for an ITIN, fill in Form W-7 and submit it, together with proof of identity and foreign status, to the IRS. (Let me warn you: Form W-7 is a minefield and it’s very easy to make a mistake on it and have it rejected.) This also means you have to mail off your passport to the US as proof of being non-American. You’d probably prefer to avoid that, right?

Okay, so here’s the best way around that: there are IRS-authorized Acceptance Agents outside the US (in Canada, and internationally) that you can visit. These agents can certify that they’ve seen your passport (so you don’t need to send it anywhere) and will also help you complete and submit your Form W-7 without making any mistakes.

It cost me about $120 (plus tax) – it’s not cheap to visit an accountant! – but it was well worth the money. Mine found and fixed a mistake I’d made on my application and wrote the letter certifying my identity and proof of foreign status. My application was approved and I received my ITIN about 6 weeks later.

How do I use my ITIN?

Once you have your ITIN, it’s yours to keep – it’s like a Social Security Number, except it proves that you’re not required to pay US taxes. You can fill in your number on Line 6 of Form W-8BEN and submit that form to each US company you work for, and you’ll be paid 100% of your earnings, without any US tax withheld.

Recap

If you’re not a US resident or citizen, you can receive 100% of your US earnings without the 30% federal tax withheld by following these steps:

  1. To get an ITIN, find an acceptance agent to help you submit Form W-7 to the IRS and to certify that they’ve seen your non-US passport.
  2. When you receive your ITIN, fill it in on Line 6 of Form W-8BEN.
  3. Submit a completed W-8BEN to every US company you do contract/freelance work for.

Yes, getting an ITIN is a hassle, a long process, and an expense (unless you’re willing to mail your passport to the US), but it’s worth it in the long run if you plan to do contract or freelance work for US companies: once you have your ITIN, you’ll never again have to claim back US taxes. 🙂

Comments (7)

punchneedle globe WIP (part 2)

So, as everyone guessed from my last post (yeah, I didn’t think it’d be much of a stumper!), my ongoing punchneedle project is going to be a 3D globe, embroidered onto two flat circles (with wedge-shaped gaps around the edges so I can stitch them into hemispheres later) and then stuffed and stitched into a full globe.

punchneedle project - work in progress

It’s pretty ambitious, and even more so than I first imagined when I decided on the size: as the fabric will be curved after punching it, the loopy stitches will end up splaying further apart than usual, so I’m punching my stitches very close together so you (hopefully) won’t be able to see the fabric between the stitches after the globe is assembled. It’s sloooow going, but also quite nice to have a ‘mindless’ project I can work on – designing projects all the time is tiring, and, now I’ve completed the design for the globe, this is a soothing project to work on when I’m watching TV, just filling in each area with the right colour.

As you can see from the picture below, I have completely finished 2 of the 12 sections of the southern hemisphere, and I’m partway through the rest. And – hey – is that Australia I spy?

Here’s something that’s made it more fun though: Jessica at How About Orange linked to these cute printable floss bobbins designed by Wild Olive, and I thought they’d inject a bit of cute into the process.

I printed a sheet of bobbins onto white cardstock and cut them out (yes, I did pick the 4 shades that were closest to my floss colours – silly things like that make me happy). In contrast to the globe, they were a very quick and satisfying project!

Here’s a little papercrafty tip for you: to cut a smooth curve like these bobbin edges, hold the scissors steady and rotate the cardboard as you cut.

punchneedle project (work in progress) + cardboard bobbins

As I punch with 3 of the 6 strands of floss at a time, I usually cut a 1.5m length of floss, split it into two, and then leave the other 3-strand length languishing in my project box until I need it. Now I can wind the spare length onto the bobbin, and it’ll be neatly stored until I need that colour again. And I’ve even pre-cut and split an entire skein of the blue floss and wound all the lengths onto my blue bobbin, so I won’t be interrupted with cutting new lengths during my next punchneedle session. (As I’m working on the southern hemisphere, there’s a lot of blue ocean to fill in!)

Printable cardboard floss bobbins: recommended! They may not last forever, but they make me smile and I can always print more when these wear out. Or – shock horror – use the other shades that I already printed… but I don’t know if my matchy-matchy self will allow me to do that: green thread on a red bobbin? That’s just crazy talk! 😀

Comments (6)

free pattern: amigurumi apples

Here’s a realistic amigurumi apple: it’s not just a ball with a stalk attached, it’s actually the shape and size of a real apple!

amigurumi apples crochet pattern by planetjune
Can you spot which is the real apple? Haha!

Give one to your (or your child’s!) favourite teacher, make a bowlful in red and green as a decorative centrepiece, or add a pair of safety eyes and an embroidered smile to make a sweet-as-apple-pie toy.

amigurumi apple by planetjune
It’s so realistic I almost want to take a bite

The apples crochet pattern is free for you to use. If you’d like to thank me with a donation, you’ll get a handy printable PDF version of the pattern as a thank you 🙂

Enjoy!

Go to Amigurumi Apples pattern >>

Comments (5)

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    June Gilbank

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