PlanetJune Craft Blog

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Archive for February, 2014

changing plans and catching up

Time for a confession: my time management has had a bit of a hiccup, because of the book. I assumed that, at this stage, all I had left to do was a final read-through of basically perfect pages, but I grossly underestimated this stage of the book production process.

We’re now at the critical stage where all the different jobs – editing, photography, design and layout, illustration – come together for the first time, and all those elements, expertly created by different people, have to be carefully aligned and tweaked to get all the pieces to come together perfectly.

The reason for my misunderstanding is that neither of my other books had this stage: Paper Chains & Garlands was much simpler in terms of design and content, so there was little that could go wrong; and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi had no page design beyond the stylesheet, and all the photographs and illustrations were inserted exactly as I provided them, so, again, the pages needed little more than a cursory glance from me at this stage.

Idiot’s Guides: Crochet will be very different, with clean, attractive page layouts and professional photography – it’s very exciting, but it just takes much longer to get it all right. Each page needs to be tweaked and cuts may need to be made to get it all to fit beautifully into the design without losing any essential information.

Collaborating with the rest of the team to make sure everything ends up perfect would be painstaking and time-consuming work in the best case, but, as I’m also on the other side of the world from my team, their working day is only just beginning as mine ends. I stay up late every time we need a meeting, and email exchanges usually take the best part of 24 hours to get a simple yes/no reply, and much longer if it’s a back-and-forth conversation!

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I had to pull a few 12-hour days trying to get my Baby Sea Turtle Collection published in time for the Rav Games as promised while all this was going on. The pattern has had a great response, so I’m happy I did that, but I can’t keep overdoing things.

For the next couple of weeks, I’ll still be busy checking and re-checking every page of the book, to make sure the book is as close to perfect as we can get it before it goes to print. I’m not going to cut corners with this crucial step, so that means I’ve had to drop the ball on a few other things…

CAL roundups

This is a good thing really – it’s a clear sign that my CAL roundup posts need an overhaul. I just don’t have the time to put together roundup posts as I have in the past, but I’ve come up with a neat solution!

From now on, I’ll be posting a screenshot from Ravelry as a sample of the CAL entries, and you can click through to see all the entries in full. (This does mean you’ll need a Ravelry username to see them all, but it’s free to join and hugely beneficial to anyone who crochets (or knits). If you haven’t joined already, now would be a good time – and then come and join the PlanetJune group too so we can help you get to know Rav better!)

This change also has a big benefit for CALers: no more image dimension requirements! Upload any photos you want to your project, any size or shape, tag your project with the CAL tag (v important!), and you’re entered. My summary screenshot will show the projects with the most favourites, so it’ll add a little friendly competition – take the best photos you can and see if you can make it into the top 12 so your project will appear in the summary pic 🙂

Let’s start this off now with the January CAL roundup that I missed: the 2013 Designs CAL. All the designs I released in 2013 were eligible for this CAL, which led to a nice variety of projects. Here are just a few of the lovely entries we had:

PlanetJune 2013 Designs CAL - sample of entries
Click through to Ravelry to see all the 2013 Designs CAL entries!

(It’s a process… For the next roundup, we’ll know that everyone should tweak each project’s first photo so the project doesn’t fall off the edges of the thumbnail, as some of these do! Do click through to see them all in their full glory.)

Meerkat Design Process

The additional book work has thrown a huge spanner in the works for my plan to share the progress on my Meerkat design as I go. Something as demanding as a new design is always a challenge, and even more so if I’m sharing the details of designing it as I go – quite a nerve-wracking proposition for me!

I’ve only been able to write the first update so far, and now I think it’ll be better all round if I postpone the entire plan until after my book commitments are complete. The book and the meerkat commission both deserve my full attention, and that’s not going to happen if I try to do both simultaneously.

I’ll still share my design process as promised, and the commissioners will still get their Meerkat pattern in the not-too-distant future, but I’m going to set this aside until the book is 100% finished. I think I’ll make the Meerkat design process into a series of blog posts instead, hopefully running throughout March.

Finding a Balance

This year, I’m trying to keep a flexible attitude and be willing to change plans to keep my work level more manageable. So, although the Meerkat is on hold for a couple more weeks, I am using my non-book time productively – I have another couple of (less stressful) designs in the works, so there will be more PlanetJune patterns coming soon.

I feel confident that, once the book work is really out of the way (as I mistakenly thought it already was!) I’ll be able to find a balance without over-committing, and my life will finally calm down. And I’m really looking forward to getting stuck back into PlanetJune full time – there’s so much I want to do, and I can’t wait to be able to show you some of the other exciting designs that currently only exist inside my head – the Baby Sea Turtles were just the beginning…

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baby sea turtle collection pattern

One of the most amazing sights I’ve seen in wildlife documentaries is the night when all the baby sea turtles hatch simultaneously. They dig their way up from their sandy nests and then frantically flipper their way down the beach towards the safety of the sea, like tiny clockwork-powered toys. When they finally reach the sea, they’re transformed into miniature graceful marvels, flapping lazily under the waves like birds in flight.

I’d love to see this for myself, and, as it happens, sea turtles lay their eggs on some beaches right here in South Africa! Unfortunately, those beaches are on the east coast and I’m on the west coast, and, with my ongoing book responsibilities (we’re now in the middle of the editing/proofing cycle), making that dream a reality isn’t something that’s going to happen this year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a turtle adventure next year, but, in the meantime, I thought we could all enjoy this miracle of nature in amigurumi form, with my Baby Sea Turtle Collection!

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

The hatchlings alone would make the cutest toys – in natural or any other colours – but you can complete the scene with turtle eggs and an adorable baby turtle who is just emerging from his egg.

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Make as many baby sea turtles as you want – at only 4.5″ (12cm) long, they don’t take long to complete, and fit nicely in your hand, just like a real baby sea turtle. My original AquaAmi Sea Turtle design is still one of my most popular patterns, but you’ll be relieved to know that this baby turtle has only 7 pieces to crochet (instead of 26!) so you could make a whole beachful of babies in the time it takes you to crochet one full-size turtle 😉

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

The collection also includes the pattern for these turtle eggs. Fun fact: this egg shape is intentional; sea turtle eggs are round like ping pong balls, not ovoid like chicken eggs.

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

But my unexpected favourite part of this pattern collection is the hatching turtle. It ended up being a lot more challenging than I’d anticipated, and took three completely different design concepts to come up with a design I’m satisfied with. The first resulted in the egg being misshapen unless you’re extremely careful with the assembly and don’t touch or play with it at all after assembly, so that was no good. The second looked great until I stitched it all together and realised it looked like someone had sliced the turtle in half – definitely not the look I was going for…

The final design concept was worth the wait though – you can really see that the turtle is emerging from the egg! It’s such a clever design and I think you’ll enjoy seeing it magically come together from pieces that don’t look like they could possibly form a turtle. The pattern includes lots of photos to show every step of the assembly, so you won’t have any problems completing your baby turtle collection 🙂

Team PlanetJune - Ravellenic Games 2014

Have you joined Team PlanetJune yet for the Ravellenic Games? Join us by challenging yourself to complete one (or more) PlanetJune patterns in the Feb 7-23 Olympic timeframe. As the Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi are small pieces (and each turtle can count as its own project), they’d make perfect Rav Games entries. If you’d like to try making one (or more) baby turtles as a part of Team PJ, there’s an exclusive discount code on the pattern, available only in the team thread 🙂

I can’t wait to see baby turtles popping up in all sorts of colours (don’t forget to share yours on Ravelry when you’ve made them, so we can all enjoy them!)

And if you’re not ready to buy the Baby Sea Turtle Collection just yet, please heart or queue it on Ravelry so you don’t forget about it 🙂

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

As you can probably tell, I love, love, love baby sea turtles. I hope you’ll enjoy using this pattern as much as I enjoyed designing it!

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February update

February already! I’m still busy with book edits and didn’t manage to get any new designs ready to release in January, but there should be a new surprise PlanetJune amigurumi animal coming later this week! I also have more exciting plans for this month…

Ravellenic Games – join Team PlanetJune!

Team PlanetJune is limbering up and getting ready for the Ravellenic Games opening ceremony on February 7th! If you’re new to the games, they are a non-competitive fun yarny challenge that runs over the timeframe of the Olympics. As a member of Team PlanetJune, you’ll challenge yourself to complete one (or more) PlanetJune patterns in the Feb 7-23 timeframe, and each project you complete will earn you ‘medals’ you can display on ravelry.

Team PlanetJune - Ravellenic Games 2014

Between us, we’ll try to win as many medals for Team PJ as we can, and we’ll all be cheering each other on in the team thread. It’ll be lots of fun and I hope you’ll join us as a member of Team PlanetJune – whether you choose to participate or just to cheer us on 🙂

To sign up, all you need to do is post in the Team PJ thread in the PlanetJune ravelry group before Feb 7th, saying you’d like to join, and then start planning your projects!

Follow my Meerkat Design Process

As I have a new commission (the Meerkat) to begin at exactly the time of the games, I’m going to attempt to create my Meerkat as my entry into the Ravellenic Games.

I’ll do all my research and preparation for the design before the games begin on February 7th, and attempt to complete the design (to at least the stage of a good prototype) between the opening ceremony on February 7th and the closing ceremony on February 23rd.

I’ll be sharing my progress in the Team PlanetJune thread on ravelry, so if you’d like a rare chance to see my design process in action, please join us there.

Meerkats at Durrell (photo by June Gilbank)
I took this photo at Durrell in November. How will I translate those little scamps into crochet? Follow my progress in the Team PJ thread!

For Meerkat Commissioners: how does this affect your commission?

  • Follow along in the Team PJ thread and you’ll be able to see bonus in-progress photos of my design before it’s complete (not something I would usually do!)
  • Don’t worry: my design will not be adversely affected by the games. If I’m not completely happy with it, I’ll ‘fail’ the time challenge of the games so I can take as much additional time as I need to make it as good as possible.
  • Your pattern will definitely not be completed by the end of the games! Even if my design is finished, I’ll still have the bulk of the work ahead of me: writing the instructions, taking and editing photos, creating the pattern, and everything else that goes into every PlanetJune pattern. I have other commitments (I’m still working through the book edits), so it could take several weeks after completing the prototype design before I can complete the pattern. As you don’t usually get to see my designs until I’m ready to release the pattern, I want you to be aware of this upfront so you’re not disappointed later – it’s a slow process, but it’ll be worth it!

Review and Win contest

January’s ‘Review and Win’ winner is Alicia B, with her review of my Plesiosaurus:

amigurumi plesiosaurus by planetjune

The shaping on this water reptile is amazing. And again I love the extra info on the animal itself that June provides. You can tell she does a lot of research into her projects before she even picks up a hook and yarn. Nice bonus not much sewing on this one! Especially after some of the spikey dinos

Congrats, Alicia – I’ll email you to find out which pattern you’d like as your prize 🙂

Don’t forget: join Team PlanetJune before February 7th to take part in the Rav Games with us – it’ll be fun, I promise!

Comments (4)

  • 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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