PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for June, 2014

pattern re-releases: Miscellaneous

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 another new batch of re-releases for you. This batch includes 11 amigurumi patterns with no theme, as these are all the remaining miscellaneous patterns. It might be easier to tell you what this batch doesn’t include: as of this batch, all PlanetJune crochet patterns have been updated except for 2 categories: PlanetJune Accessories and the Fuzzy patterns (including Ice Cream Bear).

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

miscellaneous amigurumi crochet patterns by planetjune
Ami Paint Set, Red Fox, Arctic Fox, Fruit Bat, Groundhog, Easter Eggs, Farmyard Pigs, Yeti & Bigfoot, Christmas Baubles, Chinchilla, Kingfisher

If you’ve previously purchased any of these patterns, 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 name in the alphabetical list.
  4. Click the order number to go directly to that order.
  5. Re-save your pattern ๐Ÿ™‚

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.)

Comments

burgled (update)

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who took the time to leave me a message after my last post about the burglary. Reading them has meant a lot to me. These days, so few people comment on blogs, and it feels good to know you’re still out there reading what I write. I really appreciate all your advice and messages of support – thank you.

I still feel sick thinking about how lucky I was to be unharmed – at least physically – and how this could happen again (with far worse consequences) at any time, but here’s a quick update on my situation in case you’ve been worrying about me.

Fixing the Damage

All our belongings that were taken have been replaced. We’ve actually done quite well out of that: everything was insured, and having 2-4 year old laptops and tablets replaced with their current equivalents means nice shiny new models in place of the old slower ones.

But, in a great example of the relaxed pace of ‘Africa time’, I still have no front door! The company our insurance contracted to fit the replacement door and security door finally came to measure for the new door on Friday (9 days after the burglary…), but it’ll probably take another 2 weeks before the new door is made and can be fitted. In the meantime, our old door has been boarded up and screwed into the frame, so don’t worry: this delay isn’t a security problem, it’s just a bit frustrating not having a front door that opens.

Home Security

Thank you for all the advice – I’m definitely not considering buying a gun, but I’d like a dog, if I can figure out if Maui would be happy with that, and if we can find the right dog for our family. I’ve been considering getting a dog for several years, but it’s a big long-term commitment and I’ve never felt 100% sure that I’m ready. Maybe this will be the push I need, so I’ll have the bonus of a barking alarm as an additional burglar deterrent…

I live behind high spiked gates, with bars on all the windows and metal gates over all the doors. I assumed that would keep me safe, but it’s obviously not enough. I’m hoping the replacement doors will be more secure, and we’re also going to see if we can change how the alarm system works so I have more protection against intruders while I’m working from home all day.

Data Security

One excellent thing has come of all this: I’ve had to seriously address the issue of protecting my data with some sort of offsite backup, so I don’t lose my business files (or personal documents). Several of you suggested cloud storage, but I don’t feel that’s a secure solution for sensitive information. I already use Dropbox for saving ideas and sharing files with other people, but I’m not convinced it’s sufficiently safe for important private data such as my business files, tax records, etc.

I now have an excellent solution (thanks to Aleksandra’s recommendation) – I’ve created my own private, secure, cloud storage on my own web server. It works exactly like Dropbox, so all my files are automatically synced whenever I update them, I have access to all my data from any computer or mobile device. The difference is that my data is all encrypted at my end, so only I have the decryption key, and it’s only stored on my own server, so there’s far less risk of a security breach. And, because my server lives in North America, it’s 100% safe from South African burglars ๐Ÿ˜‰

I know this probably won’t help many of my readers, but in case anyone googling for secure offsite data backup and file synchronization finds this post, I’m using Seafile for my own private cloud storage. A one-sentence review: it’s open source, completely free if you have your own server, and so far I’ve found it very easy to use: my files are auto-syncing from my computer, and I can easily access anything I need using the Android app on my phone and tablet. (I also found a similar solution called OwnCloud, but I haven’t tried it, so that’s not a personal recommendation, just another option you could consider.)

Moving Forward

Well, I’m trying to, at least. I’m still very jumpy, and every noise sounds like an intruder preparing to break in and attack me, but I have a plan for that: if I see anyone on my property, I’ll hit the panic button to set off the alarm, and hopefully scare them off before they get into the house. I feel a bit safer knowing I have some way to protect myself if I see anyone coming.

I’ve also made lots of progress on several of my big long-term projects – trying to take my mind off being scared – although there’s nothing to see yet, as I haven’t been able to do any final quality checks while I’ve been too exhausted to think clearly. But this means there’ll be lots of new PlanetJune stuff coming very soon…

Things are getting better. Thank you for caring. ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments (15)

burgled…

Last week was my 8th blogiversary, but that was the last thing on my mind at the time. I had a horribly traumatic week: I disturbed a burglary in progress at my house, and I’m still very shaken up by the experience. I’ll tell the story here for those who want to know, and then I’ll try not to discuss it again. I’d love to hear messages of support or advice, but I don’t want to answer questions, please – it’s still all too raw, and dwelling on it makes the terror flood back.

I’ve never really felt safe in South Africa, but I assumed that, locked up in my house with security bars on all the windows and doors, and protected by an armed response security group, I was safe to be alone at home all day. Not true: the burglars easily forced my front gate, security gate and front door with just a crowbar, in the middle of the day.

I was photographing birds in my back garden, and when I walked back into the house I found two men in my living room, holding armfuls of my stuff. When they saw me, they ran outside to a waiting car. At the car, they turned back and just looked at me, and time stood still… Then they jumped into the car and sped off before I could even grasp what was happening. They got away with the TV, our laptops, my tablet and a few other bits of tech, and our front door and security gate are now wrecked and useless.

Almost a week later, I still can’t stop replaying it over and over in my mind. They may well have been armed; the police sounded very surprised that I hadn’t been attacked. That moment – where the burglars hesitated and stared at me before deciding to drive off – haunts me: if they’d made the other decision, I’d have been completely defenceless with all the doors between us hanging broken and useless…

(And, on a lesser scale of scariness from my lucky escape, but still a big eye-opener: I realised later that I was also only a minute or two away from losing my entire business! Luckily they hadn’t reached my big PC when I disturbed them, so I still have all my critical PlanetJune data. I feel a bit sick that I’ve lost design notes and reference pics from my tablet, but it could have been far worse. Our insurance will cover replacement tech, we’ve changed all the passwords we can think of, and I’m figuring out an off-site backup strategy so I won’t come this close again to losing everything I’ve worked so hard to build.)

I feel violated and traumatised by this whole experience. I’m trying to get back to a normal routine, but I don’t even have a new front door or security gate yet, I’m not sleeping well, and every sound sends me running around the house checking all the doors. It’s awful to not feel safe in your own home. How do you get over something like this? It just fades with time, I suppose?

So, I’m going to skip my 8th blogiversary roundup. I’m sure I’ve done lots of good stuff over the past year, but that all seems a bit hollow right now. I’m just glad I’m still around to start my 9th year of blogging. Thank you for sticking with me – at a horrible time like this, it’s good to remember I have friends all over the world who do care that I’m still here.

I’ll be back soon with a more cheerful post!

Comments (50)

Guinea Fowl crochet pattern

This is one of those ideas that came to me on a whim and then I couldn’t possibly not make it! There are flocks of wild guinea fowl around Cape Town, and I see, or at least hear, them several times a week. It’s hilarious to watch a group of empty-headed guinea fowl following each other around, especially when one starts to run and they all follow, bobbing along at surprising speed!

Guinea fowl have beautiful spotted feathers, a plump, shapely body, and a colourful featherless face – the perfect combination of eye-catching colouring and exaggerated appearance to form a bold, stylized design:

Guinea Fowl amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune
Colour! Shape! Isn’t it fun?

Inspiration

I didn’t think a bird with such detailed markings would be something I could reproduce for a crochet pattern, but then I saw the colourful, stylized guinea fowl designs on ceramics by local artist Dragana Jevtovic. It suddenly occurred to me that I could use a similar concept in my own work, by also representing the tiny guinea fowl spots on a larger scale. With that thought, an impossibly detailed surface pattern became perfect for amigurumi. This could be the start of new explorations of colour and pattern for me; I’m so happy with the eye-catching result of this first design!

amigurumi guinea fowl and real feathers
I like to pick up guinea fowl feathers when I see nice ones like these; they’re too pretty to leave on the ground.

Guinea Fowl fun facts

  • Guinea fowl (aka guineafowl or guineahens) are found in the wild throughout Africa south of the Sahara desert, but they have also been domesticated.
  • There are several species of guinea fowl, but the most recognisable (and the one on which I based my design) is the helmeted guinea fowl.
  • Guinea fowl make excellent farm ‘watchdogs’, as they squawk loudly whenever potential danger approaches, sending all the chickens running to safety!
  • They eat insects and ticks as well as seed, so domestic guinea fowl are handy to keep around the garden for pest control.
  • Guinea fowl can fly, but prefer to run from danger. At night, they fly up into a tree to roost.

Guinea Fowl amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

About this pattern

As well as a lovely ornamental amigurumi, a guinea fowl would make a perfect toy, with its large cuddly body, and bright colours and patterning. Don’t be intimidated by the combination of shaping and frequent colour changes – I carefully designed this pattern to have separate shaping rounds and colour changing rounds, so you never have to worry about both at once! And, when you’re making the spots, the other yarn is always carried, so there are no knots to tie and no ends to weave in. It’s surprisingly simple, and very satisfying to see the beautiful body shape come together.

Guinea Fowl amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

If you’d like to make a guinea fowl (or a whole flock!), you’ll find my Guinea Fowl pattern in the new Birds category of the PlanetJune shop.

Or, if youโ€™re not ready to buy just yet, add Guinea Fowl to your queue or favourites on Ravelry, so you donโ€™t forget about it:

I hope you’ll enjoy this design as much as I enjoyed creating it! Please let me know what you think in the comments ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments (10)

June update

I went to an optician last week and discovered that my short-sightedness has actually reduced considerably (a side-effect of getting older!) and my glasses are now much too strong. My eyes have been under constant strain as a result, and that’s probably why I’ve been getting increasingly frequent headaches over the past few months. Headaches make me slow because it’s hard to concentrate, and sometimes stop me from working altogether. I’m hoping that, once my new glasses arrive, the headaches will stop and I’ll be able to be much more productive – fingers crossed…

Commissions Update

By popular demand, I re-added the AmiDogs King Charles Spaniel option to my commissions list this week. For some reason, almost nobody pledged when it was last on the list, but this time, it was fully pledged within 2 days! (I’ll have to think about what that may mean for future commissions.) But, this means I now have 3 AmiDogs commissions in a row – I think that’s about my limit, so I’m putting further AmiDogs on indefinite hold, at least until I complete the 3 dog commissions I already have.

Once the commissions queue is shorter (or in a few months’ time if the queue keeps growing), I’ll hold another commissions review and decide which of the remaining options to remove from the list and which new ideas to add! If you’ve been sending me suggestions, I haven’t been ignoring them; I’m just saving them all up for my next review.

It’s time for me to start my next commission, so I’m currently collecting the pledge monies for the Camel design. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into this one! I’ve bought some lovely baby camel yarn to make one with, so the Camel will become the latest member of my Natural Fibres collection (with the alpaca Alpaca and the angora Baby Bunny).

Fiction and Fantasy CAL

For this month’s crochet-along we’ll be using any PlanetJune pattern(s) to create something with a tie-in to fiction – take your favourite characters and props (from books, movies, TV shows, or anywhere else) and bring them to life in crochet! Here are a few pattern ideas to get you started – can you figure out which books and movies I was thinking of when I selected these?

PlanetJune Fiction and Fantasy CAL 2014

Customise the Boy and/or Girl patterns from my Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi book into your favourite character and get advice from our group members who have lots of experience with embellishing and customising amigurumi people. Or, make animals and props that feature in stories, books and movies – stick to the pattern, or get as creative as you want!

Please join us in the PlanetJune ravelry group for this CAL – it’s going to be a fun one ๐Ÿ™‚

AquAlong CAL Report

The May CAL has now ended. Congratulations to all the participants – it was lovely to see so many beautiful aquatic animals being crocheted throughout the month. Baby Sea Turtles were the runaway favourite pattern this time around, and we got to see how they look in a huge varieties of colourways (spoiler alert: they’re all super-cute)! Here’s a sampling of the entries (click the pic to see them all on Ravelry):

PlanetJune AquAlong 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.

May’s ‘Review and Win’ winner is Rebecca D, with – coincidentally fitting the themes of this post! – her review of my Orca (Killer Whale):

Orca (Killer Whale) amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I was astounded by the beauty of the animal emerging from my crochet hook as I followed PlanetJune’s design. I bought it focused on the accuracy of black-and-white colouration, so I was halfway done before I realised just how perfectly the orca’s head was shaped too. I can tell from the pattern just how complicated it was for June to design, but although it requires concentration, it’s very easy to crochet. I’m overwhelmed by the appearance of the final piece. I bought the pattern thinking solely of my sister, a big orca fan, but it’s such an amazing piece that I will definitely need one of my own.

I’m glad you enjoyed it Rebecca, and congrats – I’ll email you to find out which pattern you’d like as your prize ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments (1)

  • 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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