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Archive for July, 2014

IG Crochet 4: Patterns Part 1

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

This is Day 4 of my week of posts telling you all about my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which will be released in 5 days, on 5th August.

For my main intro to the book, how to order your copy, and the other posts in this series, please see my main IG: Crochet info page.

To round out the book, I’ve designed a range of stylish original accessories and home decor patterns in a variety of simple, textured and lacy stitches. All the patterns include stitch diagrams and schematics where needed, and give modification tips if you want to use a different gauge or make a different size.

I’ve arranged the patterns in approximate order of difficulty, so you’ll learn more as you make each one, using the stitches and techniques I taught you earlier in the book.

Today and tomorrow, I’ll give you a little insight into the thought processes behind my designs and what makes each one special. Here’s Part 1…

Flecked Scarf

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Flecked Scarf pattern
I love this design! I spent ages fiddling around with swatches to develop this stitch pattern that cleverly adds flecks of the contrast colour in an offset pattern, while each row of the scarf is crocheted in only one colour, so there’s no colour changing to worry about!

Can it get any better? Yes, it can: the fringe has the dual purpose of incorporating all the yarn ends, so there’s no weaving in either!

A simple and fun pattern with a stylish and impressive end result for not much work – isn’t that the best kind of pattern?!

Cozy Cowl

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Cozy Cowl pattern
This cowl should be a go-to pattern for quick gifts. I came up with this stitch pattern that adds texture without too much chunky stiffness – getting a nice drape is always a concern when designing crocheted accessories.

As this cowl is worked flat, you have the freedom to keep crocheting until you like the feel of it wrapped around your neck. You can keep going to turn it into a long scarf, or even add buttons to make it a button-up cowl – there are large enough holes between the stitches that you won’t need to make buttonholes.

The best part for me is the ends: if you choose not to join the cowl into a loop, you get a lovely wiggly line along each end – no need to add an edging! But if you do join it as I show in the pattern, I’ve designed the wiggles to mesh together perfectly, so your seam will be practically invisible.

Phone or Tablet Slipcover

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Phone or Tablet Slipcover pattern
This slipcover will let you throw your device into your bag without worrying about it getting scratched. It’s easy to customise the pattern to fit any size of portable electronic device, there are no fasteners to grapple with, and the slim fit means you can travel light without carrying a bulky case.

I came up with a simple but beautiful solid, cushioning stitch pattern that will protect your devices without looking boring. I’ve put this design through its paces: my phone has been thrown into my handbag (in my original prototype of the phone case) every day for over a year and is completely unscathed.

Note: The phone used in this photo is slightly smaller than the one I crocheted the case for, so don’t worry – follow my instructions for your own devices and the slipcover will be a perfect snug fit.

Handy Baskets

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Handy Baskets pattern
Sometimes single crochet really is the best choice – and not just for amigurumi! It makes a solid, sturdy fabric that’s perfect for more dimensional items like baskets.

But, to keep my design original and interesting, I gave my set of 3 nesting baskets a few clever twists: they are seamless, with a sharp, crisp corner around the bottom, and I developed an amazing but simple new invisible join for single row stripes, which makes the contrast stripe and the top edge look totally seamless! They are worked with 2 strands of yarn to give a thick, sturdy result.

Placemat and Coaster Set

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Placemat and Coaster Set pattern
I wanted a solid but textured stitch pattern for my placemat and coaster set: too open or too textured a pattern leaves your mug in danger of tipping over! I played with all sorts of stitch combinations and swatched until I found the perfect match, with a simple but interesting looking stitch pattern, and a little (but not too much!) texture. The reverse single crochet edging adds the perfect finishing touch.

I chose a natural-coloured linen-blend yarn for my samples, for a natural, rustic feel, but standard kitchen cotton would be a perfect choice for yours. Of course you can use any colour (or stripes of colour, alternating every 1 or 2 rows) to match the style of your dining room. Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted one of my coasters in use under my mug of tea on my new homepage 😉


And, with that, we’re halfway through the Gallery of Patterns – what do you think so far? Stay tuned for the final 5 patterns, in tomorrow’s post…

Note: all images reprinted with permission, Alpha Books, a member of DK.

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IG Crochet 3: Stitch Galleries & Motifs

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

This is Day 3 of my week of posts telling you all about my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which will be released in 6 days, on 5th August.

For my main intro to the book, how to order your copy, and the other posts in this series, please see my main IG: Crochet info page.

I’ve included two stitch gallery chapters in IG: Crochet, plus a chapter on motifs.

Stitch Galleries

The beauty of crochet is that you can create a huge variety of stitch patterns from a few simple stitches. The Easy Stitch Gallery (Chapter 10) shows you how to create completely different effects using only the most basic stitches: chain, single crochet, half double crochet, and double crochet.

IG Crochet: Easy Stitch Gallery patterns
Easy Stitch Gallery patterns

The Intermediate Stitch Gallery (Chapter 15) demonstrates how you can combine all the crochet stitches you’ve learnt in the previous chapters to create a huge variety of decorative effects, from lacy, open stitch patterns, to densely textured patterns, and everything in between.

IG Crochet: Intermediate Stitch Gallery patterns
Intermediate Stitch Gallery patterns

All my stitch patterns in both chapters include a clear swatch photo, full written instructions, and a charted stitch diagram. If you follow my advice on swatching (see Gauge, p64-67) to make sure you select a hook size that will work with your yarn to produce a fabric you love, you can choose any of these stitch patterns to easily make any rectangular shaped object, such as a dishcloth, a scarf, or a blanket – just pick a stitch pattern and decide how big you want to make it, then start crocheting!

Motifs

And I’ve also included a chapter on Motifs (Chapter 13), with useful info and tips for making perfect motifs, and a selection of 5 patterns: the classic granny square, a solid variant on a granny square, a circle-in-square design, and a granny triangle and hexagon. You’d be amazed how many different formulae there are for making motifs like these, and I used a combination of maths and lots of prototyping to come up with what I consider to be the best patterns for each of these designs, that give the flattest and straightest-edged results, even before blocking.

IG Crochet: Motif patterns
My motif patterns

I alternated between two colours for the rounds in my motifs, to make the pattern as clear as possible for you to follow. All my motif patterns include full round-by-round text instructions (with photos of each round, for those new to motif-making), a charted stitch diagram, and a general pattern for extending the motif to be as large as you want.

And then you can choose any of the joins from the several options I demonstrate in Finishing Techniques (Chapter 9 – my favourite is the Flat Slip-Stitched Seam) to crochet or stitch your motifs together into a blanket, bag, scarf, or whatever else you want!


Check back tomorrow, when I’ll show you the first half of the Gallery of Patterns I designed exclusively for this book!

Note: all images reprinted with permission, Alpha Books, a member of DK.

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IG Crochet 2: Tutorials & Practice Projects

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

This is Day 2 of my week of posts telling you all about my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which will be released in 7 days, on 5th August.

For my main intro to the book, how to order your copy, and the other posts in this series, please see my main IG: Crochet info page.

Tutorials

Making really clear, easy to follow tutorials is something I’ve been perfecting for years, so I knew exactly what I wanted for the tutorials in this book:

  • Lots of photos, so you’re walked through every stitch step-by-step.
  • Ultra-close-up full-colour photos with relevant loops/stitches highlighted so you can really see exactly what you’re looking at.
  • Arrows that show exactly where to put your hook and point out any features to watch out for.
  • Extra tips and tricks to make your crocheting life easier.

In short, I made this experience as close to one of my video tutorials as I could manage in book form, so you can see exactly what my hook is doing at every stage of each stitch.

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - sample tutorial page

My instructions are detailed and complete, and the hundreds of photos are in full colour, clear and close-up, so a beginner with no prior crochet knowledge can watch my fingers and replicate my movements as I walk you, step-by-step, through every stage of learning to crochet.

I’ve covered everything from the very basics that most books gloss over in a sentence (e.g. How exactly do you ‘yarn over’? What does ‘draw up a loop’ really mean?) in a series of chapters that build your skills gradually until you’re ready to learn a variety of more advanced stitches and techniques to help you perfect your work (e.g. How do you ‘weave in ends’? What is ‘blocking’ and how and when should you do it?).

Practice Projects

Throughout the chapters I’ve included a selection of practice projects – original patterns that let you try out your new skills and make something pretty in the process. Your first projects shouldn’t have to be embarrassing or dull!

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 1: Three Simple WashclothsIdiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 2: Colorblock Potholder
Three Simple Washcloths – a perfect first project for the novice crocheter.
Colorblock Potholder – get to grips with colour changes and basic edgings.

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 3: Triangle BuntingIdiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 4: Circular Coasters
Triangle Bunting – make top-down and bottom-up triangles that form exactly the same final shape, so you can practice both increases and decreases and make a pretty decoration in the process.
Circular Coasters – try out working in the round and using a combination of different basic crochet stitches in the same pattern.

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 5: Pretty HeadbandIdiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank - Practice Project 6: Puff Stitch Scarf
Pretty Headband – make a chainless foundation and try your hand at reading a charted stitch diagram.
Puff Stitch Scarf – an introduction to combination stitches, and perfecting those tricky puffs!

Of course, even if you’re not a crochet newbie, these beginner-friendly projects are also pretty enough to be given as gifts, or just to make for yourself 😉

Tip: If you’re beyond absolute beginner level, I’d recommend you add a little more pizzazz to the most basic project – the washcloths – by adding my Basic Edging (p50-51), or any of the other edgings from Edgings & Adornments (Chapter 14).


I’m only just getting started with showing you what I’ve included in this book – I told you it was epic! In tomorrow’s post, we’ll look at the Stitch Galleries and Motifs chapters, and then on Thursday and Friday I’ll finally get to show you my patterns…

Note: all images reprinted with permission, Alpha Books, a member of DK.

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IG Crochet 1: About the Book

This is Day 1 of my week of posts telling you all about my new book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which will be released in 8 days, on 5th August. For my main intro to the book, how to order your copy, and the other posts in this series, please see my main IG: Crochet info page.

Overview

Idiot’s Guides: Crochet was an ambitious project, as I had so much valuable content to include. The end result is 264 pages and 750g (that’s over 1.5lbs!) of crochet techniques and beautiful patterns. To start this week, I thought I’d give you a taster of why this book is unique and special…

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

Tutorials

If you’ve bought my Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi, you’ll know I like to cover every detail in my books, so you’ll have a valuable reference source you’ll consult over and over again as you want to learn about new techniques or refresh your memory on something you haven’t done for a while. But, in this book, I’ve been able to go into much more detail, starting from the very basics of crocheting, and creating a clear, easy-to-follow, comprehensive guidebook, with hundreds of full-colour close-up photos.

I’ll share more about the tutorials in tomorrow’s post.

Tips and Tricks

If you’re already an intermediate or advanced-level crocheter, please don’t think there’s nothing in this book for you! I’ve included all my helpful tips and tricks throughout the book – I bet you’ll find at least something you didn’t already know in there…

Patterns

And my patterns are definitely not only for beginners. Although they are all easy to intermediate level, I didn’t let that stop me from creating beautiful, elegant designs for every project. You’ll also find all the pattern extras that I always include in PlanetJune Accessories designs: full text instructions, charted stitch diagrams, schematics, and helpful resizing tips so you can customise your project with my guidance.

I’ll reveal details of all my patterns on Thursday and Friday.

Modifications

a variety of yarns by planetjune

I strongly feel that crochet patterns are not just there to be followed to the letter: a good pattern should be a jumping-off point, and crocheters should be emboldened to change colours, finished size, yarn type and thickness, and know you can still end up with beautiful results and have created something uniquely your own, using a yarn you really love.

I’ve seen the lovely results of this time and again with the projects people have made from my PJ Accessories designs, and yet most patterns are written so rigidly, without inviting the possibility of making your own tweaks. In IG: Crochet I encourage this kind of customisation, and include tips with every pattern as starting points for making your own modifications.

(Next week, I’ll be showing you some projects I’ve made by modifying the book patterns, so you can see what I mean!)

Photography

This book was a whole new experience for me, as it had 2 photographers: I photographed my hands and my test samples for all the tutorials and technical photos, but all the stylish photos of my finished projects and the appealing photos on each chapter opener page were taken by the talented photographer Becky Batchelor (who also did the graphic design and layout).

This means you get the best of both worlds: my clear, close-up detailed photos wherever I’m teaching you something, and Becky’s gorgeous eye-candy photos everywhere else. They show off my designs beautifully and make the book a pleasure to flip through and enjoy visually.

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank

 

Spot the difference? The top spread has my close-up technical photos and the bottom spread includes one of Becky’s lovely photos.


Throughout the rest of this week, as a countdown to the release date of August 5th, I’ll be giving you more detail about the different aspects of IG: Crochet:

  • Tuesday: Tutorials & Practice Projects
  • Wednesday: Stitch Galleries & Motifs
  • Thursday: Patterns (part 1)
  • Friday: Patterns (part 2)

Stay tuned!

Note: cover images reprinted with permission, Alpha Books, a member of DK.

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PlanetJune redesign

I’m unbelivably excited to finally be able to write this post – my website redesign has been over 5 years in the making, and now it’s ready to launch! Just for kicks, let’s take a look back over the history of the PlanetJune website that brought us to this point:

In January 2009, I made PlanetJune my full-time job and redesigned my homepage so it matched my blog (below, right) instead of looking like a random hobby site (below, left):

PlanetJune homepage, pre-2009 PlanetJune homepage, 2009-2014

I started working on my logo design, but got stuck, and it took another 3 years before I came up with my logo and put it up on the blog:

PlanetJune blog header, 2007-2012
Before logo (above) and after (below)
PlanetJune blog header, 2012-2014

And then I stalled again – although it’s bugged the perfectionist in me to know how disjointed the rest of my site was, my life has been a non-stop rollercoaster ride for the past 2 years, and I just haven’t the time to do anything about this. But now, with my new crochet book launching, completing this redesign is my opportunity to let my work finally speak for itself.

Today marks the culmination of a 5 year journey from becoming a serious business owner to creating a website that actually reflects that.

Here’s the all-new and much improved homepage! I’ll show you a screenshot below, but please do click through to see it in its full glory – it’s big and bold and I love it.

new PlanetJune homepage

I didn’t design this entirely alone – although I built everything myself, I did invest in design consultations with a professional web designer (Brandi at aShadow) who was absolutely invaluable. The basic layout and all the nice visual touches on the homepage came from Brandi’s ideas, and I’d probably still have been staring at a blank page without her creative input! Consulting with an expert was also a great way to find out about some new css and jquery tricks that weren’t around the last time I did this kind of web dev work, without having to put in all the research hours myself.

Once I finalised the new homepage design, I overhauled the rest of the site to match. The new PlanetJune layout is wider, with my name at the top of every page (as it should be!) and the page title moved to below the menu bar instead. I’ve dusted off my web developer hat and built some new pieces and pages that bring all the disparate pieces of the site together more closely and reinforce the PlanetJune identity, with the same header, top menu bar, and new bottom footer menu on every page of the site, and a ‘Quick Links’ sidebar on the left (everywhere except the homepage and the shop).

new PlanetJune layout top

I then used my web usability experience to make the site easier to use: you can login to your PlanetJune account from anywhere on the site (instead of having to go to the shop first); and I’ve tweaked the menus so the multitude of confusingly different things I have to offer are organised by what you’d like to do:

  • Buy (pattern shop, commissions, buying toys from PJ sellers)
  • Learn (tutorials, free patterns, punchneedle info)
  • Info (blog, FAQ, pattern user licence, pattern catalogue)
  • About (my bio, testimonials, publications, my art projects)
  • Follow (social media and other places to find me online)

I think that makes at least some sense, and it’s definitely clearer than before! (Even I didn’t know where to look in the old menus…)

My website may not be perfect – and the shop, in particular, still needs more work when I have time – but I hope it accomplishes my goals for this project:

  1. To make every page instantly recognisable as part of PlanetJune
  2. To make it clear what I offer and let you find those things more easily

I hope you agree! This has been a massive but rewarding undertaking; I’m pretty proud of myself for accomplishing this. I think it makes a huge difference to my website, and I really hope you’ll enjoy the improved PlanetJune experience. Please do let me know what you think of it in the comments…

By the way, I’ve tested everything as much as I can, on as many devices as possible, but, please, if you see anything strange, broken, or confusing as you travel around PlanetJune in future, do let me know so I can fix/improve it – thanks!

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    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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