PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for January, 2011

PlanetJune Stories: Sandy Grabowski

After people buy my patterns, that’s often the end of my involvement with them – I rarely get to see the end results, or what people do with their creations after they’ve made with them. With PlanetJune Stories, I hope to change all that! I want to discover and share how amazing my customers are with this new series of posts, each featuring one of my customers and his/her personal story.

My first PlanetJune Story features Sandy Grabowski of Cincinnati, OH, and the heartwarming tale of how she came to crochet this impressive AmiDogs collection:

PlanetJune stories

Sandy writes:

I have crocheted for many years. When my son was young, I started making creatures using the wonderful patterns that were available then from Annie’s Attic, when Annie had first started up her business. He would go through the patterns as I was making one and say, ‘Make this one next, Mom!’ As he grew up I turned to other projects, huge afghans and such, but a few years ago I wanted to go back to making creatures. It’s such fun to take a single strand of yarn and a simple hook and end up with an almost-living being with a personality. But what to do with them when I was done?

The solution was that I offered them to the Ronald McDonald House here in Cincinnati (there are many of them across this country and throughout the world). The dedicated staff there provides a home-like place to stay for the families of children who are undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital. Each child who comes gets a basket of goodies, and often one of my creatures is in it. It gives me a warm feeling as I work to know that my creatures may bring a smile to a a child in a difficult situation and perhaps become a lifetime companion.

In my never-ending search for patterns, I discovered PlanetJune and purchased all the AmiDogs patterns (and many others), and recently I decided that for my next shipment, I would crochet all of them at once. This marvelous group portrait is the result. I embroidered the eyes for safety reasons and gave each one a colorful collar and a smile. June Gilbank is an artist in not only creating such wonderful, true-to-life creatures, but in making it possible for anyone to make them through her lovely patterns and her most excellent and useful book (which shows how you can design your own!). The staff at the Ronald McDonald House is always amazed at the versatility of what can be done with crochet. Thanks so very much, June, and all the best to you in your big South African adventure!!!

And thank you, Sandy, for sharing your story with us! Here are Sandy’s dogs in close-up:

PlanetJune stories

PlanetJune stories

Aren’t they lovely?! So full of personality! I’m sure Sandy’s dogs have brightened the days of a lot of children at Ronald McDonald House.

Do you have a PlanetJune Story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Please email your story to june@planetjune.com, together with one or more high quality photos showing what you’ve made from PlanetJune patterns. If I choose your story to feature here on the blog, I’ll send you a free pattern to say thank you!

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free pattern: love hearts

In plenty of time for Valentine’s Day, I have a new crochet pattern to share today: Love Hearts! String them into a garland, add a pin back to make a cute brooch, or fill a bowl with pretty hearts for Valentine’s Day decorating.

love hearts crochet pattern by planetjune

This is a clever little pattern to make sweet hearts in three sizes – each heart builds on the pattern of the previous heart. You can also make a bonus puffy heart to give a total of 4 different designs in this one pattern:

love hearts crochet pattern by planetjune
A: Small Heart; B: Medium Heart; C: Large Heart; D: Puffy Heart

It’s a fun pattern; although it’s worked in the round, it’s the opposite of amigurumi, as you’ll use a variety of crochet stitches to form the heart shape. And unlike other hearts I’ve seen, this one has no chains between the stitches, so it forms a nice solid shape. Once you get the hang of the pattern you’ll be able to whip up dozens of hearts in no time at all!

The Love Hearts 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 Love Hearts pattern >>

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AmiDogs Border Collie crochet pattern

First pattern of 2011! Actually, this is a bit of a cheat – this was a commissioned pattern that I completed in December, but I haven’t found the time until now to list it in my shop.

AmiDogs Border Collie marks the 18th breed in my AmiDogs series:

AmiDogs Border Collie amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

You can vary the angle and height of the ear crease to make your ami collie match any special Border Collie in your life, and I also give pattern modifications if you’d like to make a Border Collie with fully erect ears.

AmiDogs Border Collie amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Now, this should be the point where I say “and with this 18th design, that means AmiDogs Set 6 is now available to purchase…” but that’s not the case, because all my amigurumi (including the 3 dogs in question), my light tent, and my prop box including the grass and sky backdrop, are all packed away. So, there’ll be no Set 6 multipack for a while at least, until I can take the group photo of them all together!

BUT all is not lost! You can make a custom set including all the breeds who will make up Set 6 (American Akita, Greyhound or Whippet, and Border Collie), or any 3 other breeds of your choice, for the same price.

AmiDogs Akita amigurumi crochet pattern by planetjune AmiDogs Greyhound (or Whippet) amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune AmiDogs Border Collie amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune


So you can grab the individual Border Collie pattern, or, to save money, buy him as part of a custom set of any 3 AmiDogs patterns.

Hope you like my collie!

Comments (5)

signed bookmarks!

Since before my book was released, I’ve been trying to figure out a way for you to get your copies signed. I’m not ideally located to do signings, and I don’t think my stardom has reached the levels of world signing tours quite yet! Unless you’d like to buy one of my limited edition signed copies, you’ve been out of luck, and that’s just not good enough, is it?

Here’s my solution: I’ve had some exclusive Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi bookmarks professionally printed, with a nice space in the middle for me to sign your bookmark especially to you. Keep the bookmark in your copy – it’ll be useful as well as a way to get your copy ‘signed’ without the logistical difficulties or costs!

CIG to Amigurumi bookmark by planetjune

And here’s the best part: as a personal thank you for buying my book, the bookmark is FREE to you if you’re already buying anything that includes a shipping cost (that’s anything from the Eyes, Tools & More category in my shop: eyes, noses, Detail Stuffing Tools, stitch markers, or the hugely popular new Amigurumi Accessory Kits), and, if not, you can just pay the postage cost for me to send it to you. How does that sound?

CIG to Amigurumi bookmark by planetjune

The signed bookmark is exclusively available as a free product in the PlanetJune shop. To add a bookmark to your next order, just tell me your first name so I can personalize it to you, select your shipping cost (free if you’re buying any other non-pattern items, or select your location as appropriate), and add it to your shopping cart. Easy!

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catching up

Uh-oh, I’m behind on posting already… Time to catch up!

First up, December’s ‘Review and Win’ contest winner is… Meg P, with her review of my Lacy Bobbles Cowl pattern:

PlanetJune Accessories Lacy Bobbles Cowl crochet pattern

I love the ease, the drape and the finished look of this pattern! It crochets up quickly (maybe two evenings), and is easily adaptable to a variety of yarns, including readily available sock yarn. The diagram, photos and very detailed, clear instructions can help even an inexperienced crocheter make this design. I love the fact that I can print just the pages I need for each project!

Congratulations, Meg, I’ll email you to find out which pattern you’d like as your prize!

* * *

And this is long overdue: Create and Decorate magazine wrote a nice feature on PlanetJune in their Christmas issue (December 2010), focussing mainly on my Detail Stuffing Tool and my Fuzzy Friends crochet patterns. They also kindly sent me a copy of the magazine.

Create & Decorate magazine

I’d never seen Create and Decorate before – it’s not commonly (if at all) sold in Canada. It’s very much a traditional crafts magazine and, while the majority of the content focuses on a country/primitive style (not really my style), there’s a lot I liked about it. It includes a huge range of projects, covering sewing, rug-hooking, painting, paper craft and more, and – get this – no less than four punchneedle projects (big cheer from me!). The pull-out full-size pattern section is a great bonus if you want to make any of the projects, and there are some techniques in there that got me thinking (embroidered cardboard Christmas ornaments, a rug-hooked 3D Canada Goose, even a Coconut Macaroon recipe… quick, better skip past that page before the temptation gets to strong…)

And then there’s the ‘Finds’ section by Judi Kauffman:

PlanetJune featured in Create & Decorate magazine
Click to read the feature

Thanks very much to Create and Decorate for featuring me, and a big belated hello to any Create and Decorate readers who are stopping by!

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toy shelves

Three years ago (almost exactly! it was Jan 19th 2008) I posted about the glass shelves I’d bought from IKEA for displaying my crocheted animals in my craft room. Here’s how it looked back then:

toy shelves
Awww, evidence of a fledgling crochet pattern business!

Things have changed just a bit since then! As I have to depersonalise my craft room and turn it back into a bedroom so we can sell the house, I thought I’d better take some pics for posterity before I have to dismantle everything (sniff). So here’s the current state of my toy shelves:

planetjune toy shelves
It’s a bit tricky to fit everything into one photo, as the shelves take up the full length of one wall!

As you can see, I expanded from 2 shelves to 4. I was actually planning another IKEA trip to get yet another pair of shelves just before we found out we’d be moving – things are more than a little cramped on the shelves at the moment, and I don’t even have everything on display!

Credit for another artist: the beautiful sea turtle print you can see on the wall above my orangutan is by Ron Krajewski (dogartstudio).

After a few failed attempts, I managed to get a panoramic shot of everything (this is actually 4 photos I stitched together!):

planetjune toy shelves
I promise it’s worth the click through to Flickr for the large version – you can’t see anything at this scale!

I must confess I’m feeling a little bit proud of myself, looking at that photo. I just did a quick head count: 52 on the top shelf and 70 (I think! I kept losing count) on the bottom shelf…

Can you spot your PlanetJune favourites up there?

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2010: year in review

Can it really be 2011 already?! The past year has just flown by. My second full year of self-employment, and I really didn’t know how things would go: could I build on my 2009 success and continue to grow my business?

At the start of 2010, I was buried deep in writing (and illustrating, and photographing…) my first crochet book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi, which was released in October:

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amigurumi by June Gilbank

All the book stuff was really time-consuming (writing, photography, edits, illustrations…), so I thought I’d have a pretty empty photo-mosaic of my 2010 craft projects, but that, surprisingly, wasn’t the case – look what I made!

planetjune 2010 roundup

In 2010, in addition to increasing my amigurumi pattern ranges with 20 new designs, and launching my Detail Stuffing Tool, I spent most of the summer designing, writing and modelling(!) for my first PlanetJune Accessories collection of wearables (at the bottom of the mosaic above). I’d definitely like to pursue this line further in the coming year…

In my spare time (ha!) I completed 2 big art projects – Reepicheep and my punchneedle globe – and learnt how to knook (that’s knitting with a crochet hook, if you didn’t know). I also made my first foray into stop-motion animation, to create a video trailer for my book:

I hosted five seasonal Crochet-Alongs in 2010 (the Groundhog-Along, Spring CAL, Summer CAL, Fall CAL and the just-completed Christmas CAL). That was fun, but a little too much for one year, I think! I’ll take a break from hosting them for a while, and figure out the direction I’d like to take for future CALs. (Let me know if you have suggestions…)

My resolution from last year was to “learn to say ‘no’ to some things and to set priorities” and I’ve been moderately successful in that – I made some very difficult decisions and turned down 2 book offers, a book contribution offer and several commissions because of time constraints and/or lack of sufficient compensation. Running a one-person business is a big deal, especially as the business grows and I’m still the sole employee managing all the work that goes along with it, so I’ll have to keep going with the ‘prioritising and saying no’ resolution even more in 2011!

Having said that, I’m very happy with the success of PlanetJune in 2010 – the increase in income I saw in 2009 has more than held true this year, and I’m starting 2011 from a pretty solid footing, although some things, e.g. finding out we’ll be moving to South Africa soon, have put a dent into some of my grander plans, as you can probably imagine 🙂

For the next few months, I need to be in full-on ‘getting ready to move to another continent’ mode. It’s going to be a challenge – both personally and for my business – but it’s one I’m (just about) ready to embrace. This is a chance for me to start fresh; to declutter my life and my business and concentrate on what’s really important to me. So that’s my resolution for 2011: to figure out what’s really important to me and to be true to myself in the decisions I make.

Although I really want to expand and improve, my PlanetJune priority for the next few months will be to keep things ticking over rather than growing the business. I probably won’t be as prolific as usual, or as visible online, while we get everything organised and make the big move to Cape Town. But, once we get settled in our new home, I’ll be able to concentrate fully on taking PlanetJune to the next exciting stage, whatever that may be!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past year. Your comments and friendship (and orders!) have meant the world to me, and help keep me sane when I feel totally overwhelmed by everything. I hope you’ll accompany me, here and on Twitter and Facebook, on my 2011 adventure.

I wish you a very Happy New Year, and your own adventures in 2011!

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    June Gilbank

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