PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for April, 2012

Pocket-Along CAL roundup

The challenge with the Pocket-Along CAL was to either crochet animals from my pocket-sized patterns, or to miniaturize any of my other patterns by using fine yarn and a tiny hook. What I wasn’t expecting was how many people would do both – take the pocket-sized patterns and shrink them even further! You’ll see a lot of photos here with the crocheter’s hand for scale – most of the entries are keyring-sized, and in fact, you’ll see several with keychains attached.

Pocket-Along CAL at PlanetJune

For the first time this month, I’ve asked participants to follow my new guidelines for CAL photo submissions. By having all the photos supplied at a standard 4:3 ratio, I was able to write some code that will automatically generate all the photos and participant credits below – you can’t imagine how much time this will save me over time, with one of these roundup posts to write every month! (I should mention that my code orders the entries randomly, so don’t look for any patterns here.)

Don’t forget to keep reading to the end of this post for details of the May CAL – starting tomorrow!

Now onto the roundup…

__(‘Read the rest of this entry »’)

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Amigurumi Platypus crochet pattern

Here’s my second design commissioned using my new Commissions process: a Platypus! Thank you to everyone who commissioned this design from me – I hope you like the end result…

Platypus amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

You probably already know that the platypus is a highly unusual-looking animal. When it was first discovered, the specimen was thought to be a hoax (like a jackalope) assembled from a beaver and a duck!

Platypus Fun Facts

  • Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) are only found in eastern Australia.
  • They are monotremes (egg-laying mammals).
  • Platypus are semi-aquatic. They live in burrows and hunt for their food (insects and shellfish) along river bottoms.
  • It’s almost impossible to breed platypus in captivity, which is why very few people have seen one in real life – you won’t see them in many zoos.
  • The plural of platypus is sometimes written as platypus, platypuses, platypi, or platypodes!

I thought I had a pretty good idea what a platypus should look like, based on toys, cartoons, and the description of ‘beaver + duck’, but when I started my research I found I was wrong; a google image search shows a huge confusing variety, so I had to learn a lot more about them before I could truly understand what I was looking at. I watched the platypus section of David Attenborough’s wonderful The Life of Mammals over and over to see what they look like in motion, and spent a long time researching platypus features so I could make my design accurate. Here’s what I found:

  • Although all 4 platypus feet are webbed, the front feet are hugely oversized and used for paddling. The back feet are smaller and used only for steering while swimming.
  • A platypus uses its tail to store fat reserves, so a healthy platypus does not have a flat tail like a beaver’s tail.
  • Platypus eyes are located just back from the beak. It keeps its eyes closed while swimming and uses electrolocation to detect food with receptors on its sensitive bill.
  • It’s very easy to understand why people thought the platypus was a hoax: the base of the bill has a really interesting shape which makes the bill look like it’s been stuck onto the front of the face and doesn’t belong there.

So I took all these facts and built them into my design to make it more realistic. My design uses a couple of neat tricks for shaping the beak and feet/legs, but it’s still easy to crochet – I always try to find that balance for my patterns.

Platypus amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Platypus amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

It turned out to be more of a design challenge than I’d anticipated, but, several beak and foot prototypes later, I’m very happy with the result – the final shaping techniques are simple and elegant, and I think he looks really sweet. As a fun extra touch, his webbed feet are also slightly poseable – you can move them around to make him ‘swim’ 🙂

Platypus amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I wonder which design will be commissioned next… (By the way, I have many more designs I’m also working on, so don’t worry if nothing else from the list is fully pledged for a while – there are other PlanetJune designs in the works!)

Platypus amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

If you pledged towards the commission, you should have already received your copy of the pattern. Otherwise, if you’d like to make a platypus of your own, you can now pick up the Platypus crochet pattern from the PlanetJune shop! I hope you like it 🙂

If you’re not quite ready to buy though, how about queuing Platypus on ravelry so you don’t forget about it?

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invisible decrease for amigurumi [video]

Link easily to this tutorial in your patterns: www.planetjune.com/invdec

After the magic ring, what’s the one other technique you need if you want to create beautifully finished amigurumi? The invisible decrease (abbreviated invdec) – it’s absolutely invaluable. Nobody likes to look at a lumpy bottom, and that’s true even for amigurumi rear ends! The invisible decrease is as good as its name – you’ll have no more bumpy or gappy decreases once you’ve mastered this technique.

invisible decrease for amigurumi video tutorial, by planetjune

In addition to the obvious use in amigurumi, you can also use the invisible decrease for any piece worked in single crochet, in the round, without turning (e.g. hats). As it leaves unworked loops on the back of the piece, you won’t want to use it for anything where you turn between rows/rounds, or where both sides will be on display.

(If you already know how to invdec, you can skip this video, if you like – there’s nothing extra that I didn’t show you in my original invisible decrease photo tutorial – but I’m building my crochet tutorials video library and that has to include the essential basics as well as clever tips and new techniques. My next video will show you a brand new crochet technique I just developed!)

And now to the video tutorial (in right- and left-handed versions, of course):

Invisible Decrease for Amigurumi (right-handed)

Click to watch this video on YouTube.

Invisible Decrease for Amigurumi (left-handed)

Click to watch this video on YouTube.

Note: The videos may look a little small embedded in the blog: if so, you can fullscreen them or click through to YouTube to watch them full-sized 🙂

UPDATE: If your invisible decreases aren’t quite invisible and still look a little gappy, see my follow-up tutorial for tips to perfect your invdec stitches.

If you enjoy my crochet tutorial videos, please help to spread the word about them, and/or subscribe to the PlanetJune YouTube channel.

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PlanetJune Stories: Cherie Fishlock

Today’s PlanetJune Story is from Cherie Fishlock and comes to us from Australia. (Isn’t it amazing how crafting connects us all into one big global community?)

Cherie writes:

I’ve been crocheting for a year and am self taught. June’s book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi, was my go-to guide when crocheting amigurumi especially after I discovered the brilliance of the invisible decrease.

Thanks to June’s amazing emperor penguin pattern I won first prize at the Royal Show in Canberra, Australia in the beginner’s crochet class. I also won champion. It was great seeing the penguin amongst all the crocheted blankets.

I just want to thank June for the well written pattern. I must confess that I crocheted it at the last minute and her clear instructions made the process so much easier especially since I had never done colour changes before.

Unfortunately I couldn’t give June the credit she deserves; I wrote on the entry that it was designed by planetjune.com however that was not displayed.

Considering it was the first show I had ever entered I must say I’m now hooked. 😉

I am impressed: my Emperor Penguin, with its white belly and black back, is my most ambitious pattern for colour changes and Cherie obviously handled them like a pro to scoop the prizes with her lovely penguin.

Congratulations, Cherie – I’m really glad that my pattern could help you showcase your crochet skills and capture the attention of the judges 🙂

PlanetJune stories
Cherie’s Emperor Penguin.

PlanetJune stories
Cherie showing off her prize-winning penguin at the show!

PlanetJune stories
Excellent achievements: certificate, ribbon and rosette.

All very well-deserved, I think, don’t you? Please leave Cherie a comment if you’ve enjoyed this post!

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 your choice of pattern from my shop to say thank you!

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Cape Town wildlife XI

This is the eleventh post in my monthly series on the fascinating nature I encounter here in South Africa.

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve now been in South Africa for a whole year! Table Mountain, recently voted as one of the 7 new wonders of the world, towers over Cape Town and the entire city is arrayed around its base. When you live somewhere (as opposed to visiting on vacation) you somehow never get around to doing the major tourist attractions, so we’d never been up it. Then we had a visitor, which meant we also got to do lots of sightseeing around the city, including a trip up the mountain. It’s pretty spectacular, and I thought it deserves its own post, so you can enjoy it too…

Table Mountain is named for its 3km long flat top, which means once you get up the mountain, you can walk along the top without having to do any climbing (yay!) There are paths to walk up the mountain, but we opted for the cable car.

table mountain
The cable car is torture if you, like me, hate heights and get motion sickness, as it has big glass windows and rotates as it climbs. It’s worth it though…

table mountain
Hello Cape Town! The mountain you can see here is called Devil’s Peak and I can see the other side of it from my kitchen window 🙂

The Cape Peninsula has its own ecosystem and a massive amount of biodiversity. The plant life is called fynbos and occurs nowhere else on Earth.

table mountain
Beautiful flowers sprout from cracks in the rocks

table mountain
Naturally-occuring bonsai trees

table mountain
Lovely succulents

And there’s lots of wildlife up here too…

table mountain
Speckled Pigeon

table mountain
Red-winged Starling

table mountain
Black Girdled Lizard

table mountain
Southern Rock Agama

table mountain
My favourite, a dassie! (Click through if you didn’t read about them in my October post.)

table mountain
I included this dassie photo so you can see how sure-footed they are climbing and running among the rocks – those feet really are adapted for mountain climbing.

table mountain
Hummingbirds are native to the Americas. The African equivalents are called sunbirds and they are similar in size and colouring to hummingbirds. This is a female (hence the drabness) – I hope I’ll be able to show you some photos of a more colourful male at some point!

table mountain
Although they don’t really hover like hummers, sunbirds do have similarly adapted beaks so they can reach down into the base of flowers for the nectar.

We spent 3 glorious hours walking around on the mountain top, looking at all the different views and unusual plants, watching the wildlife, and taking in the unspoilt atmosphere. We all managed to get very sunburnt despite our sunblock, but it was well worth it – I definitely agree that Table Mountain should be known as a wonder of the world!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s photos – please leave me a comment if you liked them.

Comments (12)

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    June Gilbank

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