PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for May, 2014

teaching with PlanetJune patterns

Did you know that you can teach classes using my paid or donationware/free patterns? Well, today I have a PlanetJune Story for you on just that topic, from Beth Graham, a designer and teacher who works and teaches crochet at Shall We Knit? in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. (You can connect with Beth on Ravelry or Facebook.)

Shall We Knit? is a crochet friendly shop featuring rooms of yarns, fiber, books, and inspiration for knitters, crocheters, and spinners. You can contact the store for info on their crochet classes and one-on-one instruction. Sadly, I just missed out on the chance to count them as my own local yarn store, as they relocated to my old home town of Waterloo shortly after I left for South Africa! I’m still a bit sad about that even now; just look at all that pretty yarn…

Shall We Knit?, Waterloo, Ontario
Shall We Knit? photo, borrowed from

Beth taught an Amigurumi Apples class last Saturday, and has kindly offered to share her experience with us. Over to you, Beth:

I offered a successful class at Shall We Knit? featuring June’s Amigurumi Apples pattern. The two-hour project class on beginner amigurumi introduced crocheters to the adjustable loop technique, the formula for creating flat circles using increases and decreases to create 3-D shapes, and June’s ingenious invisible decrease.

amigurumi apples class

Because of the apple’s simple, yet elegant, design, students left the course feeling quite clever, and – even better! – having finished their projects!

amigurumi apples class

Amigurumi Apples is a perfect teaching tool for introducing all these techniques and more, and I highly recommend it to other instructors considering a beginner amigurumi class. (I got permission from June to use the pattern prior to the class and purchased a copy for each student.)

amigurumi apples class

Well done, Beth – it sounds like your class was a great success! I’ve taught classes using a few of my patterns and I know how good it feels to guide new crocheters – or new amigurumists – to complete their first amigurumi. Once they’ve mastered the basic skills, they’ll have the confidence to attempt any amigurumi pattern.

As Beth said, it’s easy to teach with any PlanetJune pattern (paid or donationware) – all you need to do is purchase a copy of the pattern for yourself and one for each of your students. So, if you work in a yarn store or teach crochet classes independently, why not use a PlanetJune pattern for your next class?

Please see my Teaching FAQ for further details, and don’t forget to take a couple of photos of your class – I’d love to share them here!


pattern re-releases: Donationware

I’m updating my entire back catalogue of patterns with extra information and tips and a new space-saving layout, and re-releasing them in batches as they are ready. Please see the Pattern Re-Release FAQ for more information.

Today I have a big new batch of re-releases for you. This batch includes 13 donationware crochet patterns, and 6 donationware craft tutorials. Note:

  • This batch doesn’t include the PlanetJune Accessories donationware – all my Accessories patterns will be re-released in a separate batch.
  • All later donationware patterns/tutorials that aren’t included here are already in the new format!

All these crochet patterns are now updated and re-released:

donationware crochet patterns by planetjune

And all these craft tutorials:

donationware craft tutorials by planetjune

If you’ve previously donated towards any of these patterns or tutorials, the update(s) are now ready for you to download in the new format!

Log back into your PlanetJune account at any time in the next 2 weeks and you’ll see the download buttons for these purchases have been re-enabled, so you can click and download the new versions.

If you have lots of past orders in your PlanetJune account, you don’t have to hunt for the right ones; just follow these simple steps:

  1. In your PlanetJune account, click Show All Orders.
  2. At the top of that page, click to the list of all your past purchases.
  3. Find the pattern/tutorial name in the alphabetical list.
  4. Click the order number to go directly to that order.
  5. Re-save your pattern/tutorial 🙂

If you have any questions about the pattern reformat project, or you received the patterns through a different mechanism (and so don’t have an order for them in the PlanetJune shop) but you’d still like the new versions, check the Pattern Re-Release FAQ for more information.

(There’ll be more pattern re-releases coming soon – if you’d like to get an email notification each time a new batch is ready, sign up for the Crochet Pattern Updates mailing list.)


a plan to make butterflies…

I’m really enjoying butterflies at the moment. I love sitting in the sunshine and watching the butterflies float over my garden, but they almost always refuse to land and let me capture them in a photo. Here’s my favourite photo I’ve managed to take so far, thanks to the lure of my pretty Pompom Tree:

butterfly photo
I think it’s a Common Zebra Blue (it was blue on top!) but don’t quote me on that…

We’ve visited Butterfly World in the Cape Winelands – a butterfly house makes it much easier to see all sorts of butterflies close up and take photos, and we’ll definitely be going back – but it somehow feels like cheating once you know they have to import 300 chrysalises every week to keep the tropical butterflies on display, so it’s not exactly a natural environment… Anyway, here’s one of my favourite Butterfly World pics:

butterfly photo
No idea what type of butterfly this is (Butterfly World is a bit lacking in info), but just look at those markings!

And, in my downtime, I’ve been enjoying playing Flutter: Butterfly Sanctuary on my phone – it’s a beautiful, non-competitive, casual game where the goal is to attract and raise different species of butterflies in your own little patch of rainforest. It’s even educational, as all the butterflies are based on real species and there’s a fun fact to discover about each species! (Yes, this is the kind of game I’d be making if PlanetJune ever expanded into game design!)

flutter: butterfly sanctuary
If you’re looking for a relaxing casual game for Android or iOS, I can recommend Flutter!

Naturally, my thoughts turned to making some butterflies of my own – bright, beautiful butterflies to display in my house and inspect whenever I want, many-coloured and patterned after real species. I can’t achieve that level of detail in crochet without tiny stitches (my hands say no thanks) or lots of surface embroidery (to me, that’s ‘cheating’ – it’s not my design style) and then I remembered my old friend punchneedle embroidery

Punchneedle is the perfect medium for the butterflies I want to make! Using multiple colours doesn’t increase the difficulty the way it would in crochet, and I can choose from hundreds of shades of embroidery floss to make each butterfly just right. I haven’t had a chance to do any punchneedle since before I left Canada, and now I’m going to make time to play – it’ll be healthy to have a fun ongoing non-work-related craft project. I’ll be making them in a similar fashion to my Punchneedle Poinsettia design, so I’ll cut each one to shape after I finish the embroidery and there’ll be no background around the wings:

punchneedle poinsettia by planetjune

My vision is to make a group of different butterflies – all different colours and shapes but all based on my interpretation of real species – and mount each one individually on a wall so they all ‘fly’ together in a colourful cloud. The great part of my plan is that each butterfly will be its own mini work of art, so there’s no pressure to complete the project – I can just design a new butterfly whenever I feel like it, buy the right shades of floss, make the embroidery, and then add it to the group. The project will be finished when I get bored with it, or my swarm of butterflies may continue to grow forever…

Isn’t this a great idea? My first punchneedle butterfly will be one of my friends from the Flutter game: a Sea Green Swallowtail – I’ll share the results with you soon!

Comments (6)

Meerkat crochet pattern

It’s taken a while to get to this point, but my Meerkat crochet pattern is finally ready to release!

Meerkat Fun Facts

  • Meerkats live in southern Africa and are related to mongooses.
  • They live in clans of about 20 in large underground burrows.
  • They primarily eat insects but also munch on scorpions (they bite off the poisonous sting first).
  • One meerkat always stands guard to look for danger such as eagles and jackals while the others forage for food.
  • Their dark eye patches act like sunglasses to protect their eyes from the strong desert sun!

meerkat amigurumi crochet pattern by planetjune
Amigurumi meerkat reporting for guard duty!

What Makes a Good Cover Photo?

As I’ve been talking about my process with this design (see the Design Reports #1, #2, #3 and #4), I thought I’d give you one last glimpse into what goes into a PlanetJune pattern: the cover photography.

My pattern was ready before the end of April, and all that was left was to take the cover photos. I had a great plan to take them while my Mum was visiting: we’d be passing through all sorts of natural African landscapes, so I’d take my camera and meerkat with me and take his photos on location in his natural environment!

We picked a day forecast for intermittent clouds and set out, only to find non-stop brilliant sunshine all day, which was great for Mum on her holiday – we had a lovely day relaxing in the sunshine and admiring the views – but not quite right for my cover shoot:

meerkat amigurumi crochet pattern by planetjune

Full sun means deep shadows, and that’s not what you need for cover photos! Although appealing photos play a critical part in selling a design, it’s very important that you, the potential customer, can clearly see exactly what you’re trying to make. A set of dull studio photos where you can look at the meerkat from every angle is more useful than a stunningly artistic nature photoshoot where you can’t really see the meerkat well. In these photos, the eye patches are overshadowed by actual shadow, the arms cast distracting dark shadows on the body, and the tail is all but invisible in deep shade.

I tried again in a different spot, but the sun was unrelenting (although I still think this photo is really cute!):

meerkat amigurumi crochet pattern by planetjune

So my pattern was stalled until Mum had gone back home and I could head back to my studio to recreate the Meerkat’s natural environment, PlanetJune-style.

I’m so glad I gave myself permission to drop the deadlines with my pattern commissions – I really wouldn’t have been happy to release the pattern with unhelpful cover photos, and I think taking the extra time at every stage of this design and pattern-creation process has really paid off. The final photos may not have the realism of the location shoot, but you can appreciate the meerkat’s cuteness much more with this set of photos, don’t you think?

meerkat amigurumi crochet pattern by planetjune

If you were one of my patient patrons who commissioned this pattern, the pattern is, at last, ready for you to download from your PlanetJune account – thank you!

For everyone else, don’t you think you need a meerkat to watch over you while you work? Buy the Meerkat pattern from the PlanetJune shop and you can crochet your very own meerkat sentry!

Or, if you’re not ready to buy just yet, add Meerkat to your queue or favourites on Ravelry, so you don’t forget about it:

I hope you like my Meerkat – getting to this point has been quite a journey, hasn’t it?!

I’ll be taking a short break before I begin my next commission. Life keeps throwing unexpected challenges at me, and illness and worry make everything a struggle. As I said in my Year in Review plan, I need some time with absolutely no commitments to escape this whirlpool of stress and ill-health, then I’ll have the energy to do justice to my Camel commission! I’ve been looking forward to making my camel for a very long time, and I still am – I just need a little space to breathe first 🙂

Comments (19)

May update

My Mum has come all the way to South Africa to visit me at the moment, so my Meerkat pattern release (and newsletter) will be a bit delayed while I spend some quality time with her – I’m sure you understand; these opportunities don’t come around very often. But we’re planning a day trip tomorrow and we’ll be taking the Meerkat and my camera along with us so he’ll be ready for his close-up if we spot the perfect location for his photoshoot!

AquAlong CAL

For this month’s crochet-along we’ll be making all things related to life in marine and fresh water – join us in the PlanetJune ravelry group for the AquAlong, with an amazing 21 PlanetJune patterns to choose from:

PlanetJune AquAlong CAL 2014

So much choice… Which of these will you pick to join in the aquatic fun in the CAL thread on ravelry?

Spring/Easter CAL Report

The March-April CAL has now ended, with 51 gorgeous entries that really captured the essence of Spring. Here’s a sampling of the entries (click the pic to see them all on Ravelry):

PlanetJune Spring/Easter CAL 2014 - sample of entries

Review and Win contest

You’re automatically entered in the next monthly draw every time you write a review for a PlanetJune pattern you’ve enjoyed – and you’ll also be helping future customers make an informed decision about patterns they are considering buying.

April’s ‘Review and Win’ winner is Lisa J, with her review of my Aardvark:

Aardvark amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

After spending a few weeks perusing all the helpful info on PlanetJune, I was ready to take the plunge and buy a pattern. Couldn’t decide which one I wanted first, so started alphabetically with the lovely Aardvark – and I’m so happy with the results! The instructions are meticulous, precise, and easy to follow. I also followed June’s tutorial for invisible seaming, and voila! Everthing came together perfectly. I really appreciate June’s attention to detail, and I can’t wait for the meerkat pattern!

Congrats, Lisa – I’ll email you to find out which pattern you’d like as your prize. And the meerkat is coming very soon 😉

Comments (2)

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    June Gilbank

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