PlanetJune Craft Blog

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Archive for June, 2012

under pressure

It’s time for me to take a step back for a while. I’ve been suffering recently with killer tension headaches and I need to take better care of myself.

I’ll let you into a secret: my patterns and tutorials are only any good as a result of endless hours of research, planning, and refinement, but my finished products look so simple and effortless that, looking back, I never really remember how long it took me to make them (especially as I’m always working on several things at once, so it’s hard to log the time spent on each one).

I have so many ideas: there are masses of designs I want to make, and all kinds of tutorials and crochet experiments I want to work on. Realistically, I probably have enough design and tutorial ideas on my to-do list to keep me working full-time for the next 2-3 years – and that doesn’t include the new ideas and suggestions that I add every week or so…

I can’t keep up with myself – I’m so excited about what I’m creating that I want to do everything!

Unfortunately, that’s not practical… Not unless I pace myself. So, here’s the slow-down plan:

  • Assigning a timeframe to my creative work puts needless pressure on me. I’ve hinted at a series of cat designs I’m working on, but something still isn’t quite right with them. Sometimes the only solution is to set it aside for a while, so I’m shelving the cats until new inspiration hits. Apart from commissions, my designs should take however long they need to be the best I can make them.
  • Another arbitrary deadline (monthly video tutorials) needs some wiggle room, so my next video tutorial will be a little later than planned. I’ve developed brand new techniques to demo in my Perfect Stripes for Amigurumi tutorial, so it’ll be worth the wait.
  • As of right now, I’m on a 3-day rejuvenating work-free weekend – I’ll be doing some knitting (2nd project ever!) and maybe designing a new cross stitch pattern as a stress-relieving craft for the coming months.
  • I’ll keep trying to figure out a balance. You may not see me online as much as usual throughout July – I’ll be visiting my parents for a while, and just trying to do less of everything.

Yes. Reading back over this list, it sounds good – I feel like my pressure release valve has just been activated…

Comments (21)

open zip files on your iPad

My patterns are instantly downloadable after purchase, as zip files. These pose no problem to current computers, which have built-in unzipping software (so you can open them and access the PDFs stored inside). But, unfortunately, iDevices have no native way to handle zip files, and iPad users have been understandably frustrated that their patterns are in a format they can’t read without first downloading them to their computer.

Good news! One of my customers (thanks Jessica!) told me yesterday that there’s now a free app you can get for your iPad called iDownloads+. It allows you to download and open zip files on your iDevice, and then view the PDFs on-screen, print them, and/or transfer them to your computer.

UPDATE: Android users, see my companion tutorial on ZArchiver for Android.

I thought I’d give you a brief tutorial on how to use iDownloads+. There may be other apps with similar functionality, but iDownloads+ is one (free) way you can download and open zip files from your PlanetJune account on your iPad/iPhone.

(Please note: I don’t own an iDevice and can’t provide support for iPad/iPhone apps, so please don’t ask me if you have questions about this – I’m just providing this information as a service to iDevice users who have previously been unable to download and open their zipped patterns via iPad/iPhone.)

To view your PlanetJune patterns on your iPad

  1. Download iDownloads+ from the App Store.
  2. In your browser (Safari), go to your PlanetJune account and tap the download link for your pattern.
  3. From the menu that opens, select Open in… and select iDownloads+ from the list. The zip file will be saved in iDownloads+.

    open zip files on your iPad

  4. Tap Extract to open the zip file. You’ll see a new folder with the same name as the zip file in the Files list on the left.

    open zip files on your iPad

  5. Tap the folder. You’ll see a list of the PDF(s) inside the zip file.
  6. Tap the PDFย to view it onscreen through iDownloads+.

    open zip files on your iPad

  7. (To hide the left menu so you can see your PDF in fullscreen mode, tap Hide Files List at the top of the screen.)

    open zip files on your iPad

  8. Advanced: iDownloads+ also lets you print your patterns, andย transfer the PDF files to your computer via WiFi (using your browser) or via USB (using iTunes Sync). For details, go to Settings and then FAQ in iDownloads+.

I tested iDownloads+ today (hence these screenshots) and it works very well. Good news for all iPad owners! I hope you find this information helpful ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments (9)

crocheted gaming dice pattern

Gamers, take note: they’re here! My set of giant crocheted gaming dice, by popular demand:

crocheted d20 system gaming dice by planetjune

I cut out felt numbers to make my dice, but this is a fiddly and time-consuming technique, so I’m not recommending that you do the same: I give tips in the pattern for using fabric paint or embroidery to create the numbers, in addition to the templates I used to make my felt numbers and full numbering diagrams to create a perfect set of gaming dice.

Of course, the Gaming Dice pattern isn’t just numbering diagrams: it also has the ‘missing’ d10 shape – the only odd-one-out dice shape that isn’t one of the Platonic solids, and hence not part of my original set! I had a real challenge on my hands to create the d10 shape: it’s not formed from regular polygons like other dice, but from 10 kite shapes that combine into a pentagonal trapezohedron.

Not only was I constrained by the limits of making a good pattern (i.e. something that you can follow without tearing your hair out or getting confused) but it had to match the look, style and size of the 5 platonic solids in my Polyhedral Balls pattern, to make a complete matched set. And, after many prototypes, this is the d10 I came up with:

crocheted d10 shape by planetjune
I crocheted it in grey to separate it from the other colourful balls, as it’s not part of the Polyhedral Balls pattern and I’m hoping not to confuse anyone with this addition!

Because of the constraints, the final d10 shape looks slightly less pointed from the side (above, left) than a real d10, but the shape is essentially correct, and it functions perfectly as a die – one side always lands facing up, and all 10 sides are equal, so there’s equal chance of any number coming up.

Gaming Dice is my first Expansion Pack pattern – although I have another 9 in the works, and ideas for even more – so I hope I’ve set everything up clearly in the shop so people will understand what exactly they are buying. (If anything is confusing, or you think may be confusing to someone else who hasn’t read the explanation in this post, please do let me know so I can fix it before I bring out any more Expansion Packs!)

What is an Expansion Pack?

Expansion Packs by PlanetJune

  • An Expansion Pack is an add-on to an existing PlanetJune pattern.
  • The Expansion Pack lets you modify or add to the original pattern to create something else.
  • You cannot use the Expansion Pack alone – you must also purchase the original pattern in order to be able to complete the pictured items in the Expansion Pack pattern.

Gaming Dice, in particular, includes:

  • The crochet pattern and assembly diagrams for the pentagonal trapezohedron (aka d10 shape!)
  • Full numbering diagrams to accompany the assembly diagrams (for the d10 and all 5 of the original set), in right- and left-handed versions
  • Tips and suggestions for numbering the dice with fabric paint or embroidery
  • Templates for the felt numerals I used for my sample dice

You can buy the Gaming Dice Expansion Pack for $3 individually from the shop, or, if you haven’t yet bought the Polyhedral Balls pattern, you can select it as an add-on to that pattern before you add it to your shopping cart, and save $1 on the pair.

Launch Discount

Now, as I only just released the Polyhedral Balls a couple of weeks ago, you’re probably wishing you’d waited to buy it so you could get the combined-purchase discount, but don’t worry – I’ve figured out a way for you to get the discount too!

If you’ve already bought Polyhedral Balls, all you need to do is add the Gaming Dice Expansion Pack pattern to your shopping cart, together with anything else ($5 minimum), then use the code GAMERSRULE at checkout to get your discount! (Valid until end of June 2012.)

Note: If you don’t need anything else right now, this also applies to Gift Certificate purchases, so you can pick up a $5 gift certificate now, get your discount, and have $5 in your PlanetJune account ready for your next purchase, or to send to a crocheting friend!

crocheted d20 system gaming dice by planetjune

I’ve been planning for a long time to create Expansion Packs that extend the value of patterns you’ve already bought without you having to pay the full price again for something similar. I’m very interested to see how well this first one works out. There’ll be more to come! ๐Ÿ˜€

Comments (13)

chameleons!

I just have to share pics of the first chameleons people have made from my new pattern – I knew it would look great in variegated/ombre yarns as well as solids, but now I can prove it! And I think the page in my pattern with posing suggestions and examples was worth adding too – just look at these brilliantly-posed examples:


theMarkofSMB & CrochetChrisie


yasminlangley & theMarkofSMB


yasminlangley & Veggie


planetjune & theMarkofSMB

(If you’re wondering about the significance of that last pic, Michigan J Chameleon is a reference to this wildlife post of mine!)

These were made as part of the Free-For-All CAL in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, but I couldn’t wait for a whole month to share them with you. Thank you to Monica, Chrisie, Yasmin and Becky for letting me share their photos – I love how the yarn choices and poses give each chameleon his own personality, don’t you?

Comments (6)

6th blogiversary

Yes, that’s right, I’ve now been blogging for 6 years! Somehow, that doesn’t seem as surprising to me this year – usually it’s a big ‘wow’ moment when I realise my blogiversary is approaching…

Year 6 Review

This was a year of acceleration (and braking). After the stress of Year 5 (an intercontinental move and extended sickness and injury) I started Year 6 trying to get back up to speed. In fact, I worked so hard I was stressed up to the eyeballs. I took December off from designing to relieve the pressure on myself, and took 2 weeks off from everything except essential daily admin over Christmas.

This gave me an inkling of the direction I wanted to move towards – producing high quality work and still having some time left to have a life aside from work. But the break also got me fired up and ready to make changes, so I’ve been setting up a lot of new ‘pieces’ to the world of PlanetJune that will make life run more smoothly for me in future.

PlanetJune logo

I created a new commissions system, finished my new logo, built and coded a new blog design and menu, launched a page to promote people who sell ready-crocheted PlanetJune designs, built up my FAQ, committed to producing at least one video tutorial per month…

Unfortunately, the result of all these grand plans was that I ended up even busier than I was before Christmas!

In between all my other PlanetJune work, I managed to design and publish 24 new crochet patterns:

PlanetJune year 6 crochet patterns

That’s barely more than the 22 I released the previous year, but I’m aiming for quality with my designs, not quantity. I think it’s always worth putting in the extra time to create something special, and that also holds true from a business/profit standpoint: 1 amazing design can easily bring in more money from long-term sales over the years than 10 mediocre patterns.

Goal Review

My strange situation meant I didn’t set myself any real goals for Year 6:

I need to figure out the logistics of operating from here and how to get myself back on track under such different conditions. […] I need to prioritise getting settled into my new life and getting my health back. Only then can I really focus on making PlanetJune everything I know it could be if I only had the time.

While it hasn’t been easy, and I’m still not 100% settled here, I’ve basically met the ‘adjusting’ goals and moved onto expanding and improving PlanetJune and the resources I offer – yay!

What’s Next?

If you’ve read my post from a couple of weeks ago on beating craft business overwhelm, you’ll already know the strategies I’m working on implementing to make the ever-growing PlanetJune more sustainable with less work on my part: automating, prioritising, and re-energising.

I love doing what I’m doing here with PlanetJune; I really do. Even though I’ve worked incredibly hard to reach this point, I know how lucky I am to be in the position to do what I love for a living, and I don’t take that for granted. Yes, I am slightly overworked right now because I’m in the midst of building all my new systems, but that won’t last forever and then I’ll have the payoff: being able to concentrate on the work I really enjoy: creating, innovating, and explaining crochet techniques. I can’t wait!

Thank you for continuing to accompany me on my PlanetJune adventure – now onwards, into Year 7!

Comments (8)

Commissions: version 3

My Commissions system for new crochet patterns is working out so well – in only 3 months since the launch it’s already pushed me to create three completely original design challenges, with more on the way. I’d like to thank everyone who’s trusted me to come up with high quality designs by pledging towards these pattern commissions…

koala crochet pattern by planetjune platypus crochet pattern by planetjune chameleon crochet pattern by planetjune
None of these designs would exist without the people who pledged towards them!

However, as I mentioned in yesterday’s Chameleon post, my system still isn’t perfect – I’m finding it a bit of a challenge to keep up with my commissions and still make progress on the other exciting designs I have queued up on my to-do list. (If you’re part of the PlanetJune Ravelry or Facebook communities, you’ll have more of an idea about those upcoming designs!) Last week, I had three fully-pledged designs in the queue (Chameleon, Sea Otter, Rottweiler), and, at a promised one-month completion time for each design, that puts a lot of pressure on me.

When I originally came up with the idea for my Commissions process, it was going to be just for new AmiDogs breeds, and the $60 limit seemed fair. At the last minute, I added various other animal designs to the commissions list before I launched the system, without really thinking that through. The pledges went crazy and I immediately had to raise the totals to $90 as things were getting out of control. What I didn’t tell you at the time was that I then pledged $30 towards each AmiDogs design myself, as I still felt that a $60 AmiDogs commission is the right level – $90 for a new dog pattern seemed unrealistic.

Even with that price increase, the commissions system still hasn’t stabilised to a manageable level for me, so it’s time to implement another round of changes…

planetjune crochet pattern commissions
My new tiered commissions include pre-pledges (see explanation below)

Timeframe Extension

I’m modifying the completion time for newly-commissioned designs from 1 month to 6-8 weeks, starting immediately with the Sea Otter – hopefully I won’t need that long for every design, but I’d prefer to have the breathing room so I’m not constantly designing under deadline pressure and I have time to work on my other designs in between commissions.

Price Increase

I’m raising the total commission cost again, from $90 to $120. The minimum pledge amount is still unchanged at $6. I initially kept the price low because I didn’t anticipate that so many people would pledge at the minimum $6 level. I also underestimated the level of interest in this concept – even at $120, it’ll only need 20 people to pledge $6 each (or fewer people with larger pledges) to get a design fully funded.

The price increase will take effect immediately, but, for the two designs that had already been fully pledged at $90, I’ve already committed to designing those at the $90 level, so I’m making up the difference with pre-pledges (see below) so don’t worry, pledgers, Sea Otter and Rottweiler are still fully pledged.

Now, if you’re thinking that your favourite dog breed will never get fully pledged at this rate, don’t worry; I have another new mechanism to take care of that:

Pre-Pledges

While most of the animals on my commissions list have a wide general appeal, the designs that are similar to others I’ve already made (e.g. a new dog breed) are mostly of interest to people who have an interest in that specific breed. The pre-pledge acts as a discounted commission price on these designs, so, for example, a $120 commission with a pre-pledge of $60 needs only another $60 to become fully pledged.

I’ve deleted my own $30 pledges towards the AmiDogs on the list, and replaced them with $60 pre-pledges, so the price for a new AmiDogs breed is now only $60.

planetjune crochet pattern commissions
e.g. here the Scottie has a $60 pre-pledge, so, with $42 already pledged, it only needs $18 more to become fully pledged

I called it a pre-pledge because it is subtracted from the required commission total before you have a chance to start pledging towards the design. You can see the pink pre-pledge bars on the chart, and the pledged amounts now only need to fill the remainder of the white space to become fully pledged. I hope that makes sense!

The pre-pledge capability means I can now tailor the total price required for any commission to any value up to the maximum. This may come in handy in future as I add more design ideas to the commissions list – it gives the system a little more flexibility.

Next Steps

I’ll be adding some new design suggestions to the list once I’ve had a chance to sort through the requests and choose some new animals to add, but I’ll be away visiting my parents next month, so I’ll probably wait until August to add them to the system.

Although my commissions system may still need some additional tweaks before it reaches long-term stability, I think these changes are a step in the right direction. Once I find the right price point for the non-dog patterns, I think it’ll work very well as the gauge of popularity I’d hoped for (as it already is for the AmiDogs): for example, without these commissions, I’d never have guessed that a Rottweiler design would be in more demand than a beautiful King Charles Spaniel!

It’ll be interesting to see what happens when I add another dozen or so new design ideas to the list – I’ll let you know when I do that, so you can pledge if any of your favourite animals come up…

Comments (1)

Amigurumi Chameleon crochet pattern

That’s right, it’s my 3rd commissioned design – the Chameleon!

Chameleon amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Thank you to my chameleon pledgers – this design was especially fun for me, as I could run out into the garden to consult with my ‘pet’ (actually wild) chameleon, Kermit, whenever I had a shape or proportion question ๐Ÿ˜€

Chameleons are probably the most fascinating of lizards because of their unique physiological adaptations. Here are a few of the most interesting chameleon facts for you!

Chameleon Fun Facts

  • There are well over 150 species of chameleon, ranging from under 1″ to 30″ in length.
  • Most chameleons are found in Africa and Madagascar.
  • A chameleon shoots its amazingly long tongue at its insect prey. The tongue is as long as its body and has a suction cup on the end to capture the insect.
  • Chameleons move slowly for camouflage, with a swaying motion like a leaf blowing in the breeze.
  • Chameleon colour changes are usually due to stress or other emotions, not for camouflage as popularly believed.

I can attest that chameleons are very hard to spot if they want to stay hidden! I’ve spent hours playing ‘where’s Kermy’ in my garden, and sometimes I find him on a branch I swear was empty moments before ๐Ÿ˜€

Kermy is a Cape Dwarf Chameleon, and he obviously influenced my design decisions – especially with the bright green colour – but my aim was to create the archetypal chameleon without getting too fussy with excessive details. So here are the factors I needed to build into my design:

  • Chameleons have large eyes, but their eyelids are fused together leaving only a small opening for them to see through. Each eye can swivel independently through 180° so chameleons can hunt and look for predators in all directions simultaneously.
  • Chameleons have amazing Y-shaped feet to grip onto branches. (They actually still have 5 toes on each foot: the toes are just joined together into forward- and backward-pointing groups.)
  • A chameleon’s prehensile tail can be held straight out for balance, curled around a branch for stability when climbing, or coiled tightly when asleep.

Chameleon amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Some species have large horns, spines, crests or stripes, so, if you’re feeling especially creative and want to make a different type of chameleon, you could crochet extra pieces and add them. Of course, chameleons are found in almost every colour: red, blue, yellow, brown, orange; the easiest modification would just be to make one in a different colour – or wouldn’t a chameleon look amazing crocheted in a variegated yarn?

This design does use pipe cleaners for poseability, so please, as always, be sensible and omit the wires from a toy for babies or young children. (I give tips in the pattern for how to make your chameleon still look good if you choose to omit the wires.)

Chameleon amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

(A little note about my Commissions process – it’s still going strong – in fact, my 4th and 5th commissions were fully pledged before I even had a chance to complete this one! I didn’t anticipate this level of demand when I set up the commissions process, so I’ll be making some more changes later today or tomorrow – see my next blog post for details.)

Chameleon amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune
With my arm for scale – he’s about 8″ long with his tail fully coiled up!

If you pledged towards the commission, you should have already received your copy of the pattern. Otherwise, if you’d like to make a chameleon of your own – or a whole troop in different colours – you can now pick up the Chameleon crochet pattern from the PlanetJune shop! I hope you like it ๐Ÿ™‚

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

Comments (14)

June update

Monthly update time! I’ll keep it short and sweet…

Free-For-All CAL

Free-For-All means you have free choice to make any PlanetJune patterns you want! Crochet-along with us from now until July 15th in the PlanetJune Ravelry group. (If you’re new to CALs, check out the PlanetJune Crochet-Along FAQ.)

There are currently 118 patterns to choose from, but not for long – I have 3 new patterns that will hopefully all be ready before the end of this month, if all goes well…

Review and Win contest

May’s ‘Review and Win’ winner is Yasmin L, with her Red Fox & Arctic Fox multipack review:

Red Fox & Arctic Fox crochet patterns by PlanetJune

I love these patterns, not only were they great value but they were also so simple to follow!! At no point did i have to stop and think the pattern through before continuing! After making one Arctic Fox I’m now having requests for more!! Thanks for the amazing patterns.

Congrats Yasmin – I’ll email you to find out which pattern you’d like as your prize ๐Ÿ™‚

To be entered into this month’s draw for a free pattern of your choice, just write a review of any product in my shop – thank you!

I’m so grateful to everyone who writes a review in my shop, as they really are the best way for prospective customers to be assured of the quality of my patterns – a fellow customer leaving an honest review is a more credible source than any marketing-type blurb I could write in the description. So I’d like to give a special mention to Monica from Magical Amigurumi, who has been crocheting her way through pretty much all my patterns, and last month went back through the list of everything she’s made and left over 30 reviews! Thank you, Monica!

Craft Tutorials

Iโ€™m still (very slowly!) adding my most popular craft tutorials as handy printable PDFs (donationware) in the shop. New arrivals this month include the Polymer Clay Poinsettia and my beautiful realistic Tissue Paper Carnations (from my Folding Trees days):

polymer clay poinsettia by planetjune tissue paper carnations by planetjune

If you’d like to make these, or my other craft projects, you can find all my donationware craft tutorials in the shop. (And thank you to everyone who’s already donated towards my tutorials – I really do appreciate it!)

Comments (3)

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