PlanetJune Craft Blog

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Archive for January, 2015

Punchneedle Butterfly 2: Peacock

I’ve started an ongoing long term craft project to make a group of different butterflies using Punchneedle embroidery – 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.

I finished the design for my second Punchneedle butterfly in September, punched it up over my Christmas break, and backed and trimmed it this week. You may have seen my in-progress shot a couple of weeks ago on Twitter:

punchneedle butterfly: peacock by planetjune

The Peacock is arguably one of Britain (and Europe)’s most beautiful butterflies and one I remember growing up with. I thought its bright colours and bold patterning would make it a good choice for punchneedle. I used the colour-mixing technique from my Punchneedle Handbook to extend my palette and add detail along the tops of the wings and to either side of the body – I think it works well.

punchneedle butterfly: peacock by planetjune

I wired my Peacock’s wings and backed it with felt, as I did with my Sea Green Swallowtail, and I’m enjoying seeing them together in my office/studio. (By the way, they aren’t to scale because each butterfly is designed to fit inside a 6″ embroidery hoop – that allows enough size to capture some nice detail in the wings, but not so much that they take forever to complete.)

punchneedle butterfly: peacock by planetjune

My ‘wall of butterflies’ concept is slowly starting to take shape! I’ll move them to a wall once I’ve made a couple more – they’d look a little lonely at the moment. I’m looking forward to seeing the collection gradually expand over the coming months and years.

punchneedle butterfly: peacock by planetjune

I’m very happy with the way my Peacock turned out. Do you like it too? I wonder which butterfly I’ll try next… maybe a Monarch (my favourite butterfly from Canada), or a Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (to remind me of our trip to Borneo). I’d like to have a mix of butterflies with personal significance to me, species that are especially beautiful, and an overall variety of colours and wing shapes in the collection, so let me know if you have any favourites I should consider 🙂

If this post has piqued your interest in Punchneedle embroidery, take a look at my Punchneedle intro page for information on this craft and how to get started.

Comments (7)

AmiCats crochet patterns!

Ready to buy? You can find all the AmiCats patterns here!

I’ve been working on a collection of cat patterns for years now, as a companion to my large collection of AmiDogs designs (21 and counting). Cats are one of my favourite animals, but one of the most difficult to depict realistically, and I didn’t want to publish any cats until I was satisfied that I’d done justice to their feline grace and beauty.

It’s been a long process that took over a dozen prototypes to pin down, but I’ve finally reached the definitive PlanetJune cat shape, and I’m very excited to finally be able to show it to you! So, without further ado, allow me to present my AmiCats designs:

AmiCats amigurumi cat crochet patterns by PlanetJune

About the Designs

With cats, it’s all about the elegant poised shape, and, as I discovered when assembling my early prototypes, the position of certain pieces is absolutely critical. I’ve spent hours studying cat anatomy and refining my prototypes to produce a design that is unmistakably cat-shaped without spoiling the texture of the uninterrupted single crochet stitches.

To ensure that you can follow my pattern and get a beautiful, graceful, cat-shaped result without endlessly repositioning the pieces, I’ve designed the face shaping so the muzzle is built right into the cat, and the front legs are crocheted directly into the body at the appropriate position and angle. All you need to do is follow the pattern and it’ll just work!

Enjoy the magical shaping with no complications by making a Single-Coloured cat in any colour, or choose from a selection of multi-coloured cats: a black and white Tuxedo, a tortoiseshell and white Calico, and of course the classic striped Tabby.

AmiCats amigurumi cat crochet patterns by PlanetJune
Top to bottom: Calico, Single-Coloured, Tuxedo, Tabby

Although I used black eyes for my sample cats – it fits better with the PlanetJune style – I intentionally designed all the AmiCats to use 9mm eyes, as that’s the most common size of cat ‘safety’ eyes you can buy. So if you prefer more embellishment, you can use ‘cat’ eyes, embroider a mouth, add whiskers, etc etc, to give your cats the look and personality you want.

About the Patterns

I’ve included two-page appendices for both right- and left-handers that explain my innovative method for joining the legs and body while you crochet so they sit at exactly the right angle in the finished cat. The method is the same for all the AmiCats, so, once you’ve made one, crocheting more AmiCats will be easy and you’ll enjoy seeing the realistic curves of the cat appear in your hands. The simplest and least time-consuming design is the Single-Coloured cat (you can make it in any colour!), followed by the Tuxedo, then the Calico, and finally the Tabby, whose show-stopping stripes are worth the effort.

AmiCats amigurumi cat crochet patterns by PlanetJune

The pattern also includes bonus instructions to crochet the (optional) pictured nose from crochet thread or embroidery floss and a 1.25mm/size 9 steel hook, and I’ve also given illustrated instructions for making simple felt or embroidered noses, if you don’t want to try crocheting such a tiny nose.

And you can save paper and ink by printing only the appendices you need (crocheted nose; right-handed or left-handed assembly guide, or neither) from any one of the patterns – the appendices are the same for all the AmiCats.

AmiCats amigurumi cat crochet patterns by PlanetJune

You can buy each AmiCats pattern individually from my shop, or pick up the multipack of all 4 AmiCats for less than the price of 3 – that’s a great deal!

If you’re not ready to buy them just yet, please remember to heart and queue them on Ravelry!

Single-Coloured:   Tuxedo:

Calico:   Tabby:

Launch Discount

Let’s make that deal even better: for one week only, you can buy the AmiCats Collection (including all 4 AmiCats designs) for the extra-special low price of $15. To take advantage of this deal, add the AmiCats Collection to your shopping cart, and enter the discount code MEOW at checkout! (Offer ends Friday 23 January, 2015.)

AmiCats Crochet-Along

And, from today until the end of February, join us in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, where we’ll all be making AmiCats galore. I can’t wait to see all the variations popping up from all over the world! Will you follow the patterns exactly, or change some colours to more closely match your own cat(s)? Either way, please join us, and share pics of your AmiCats…

AmiCats amigurumi cat crochet patterns by PlanetJune
AmiCats have the Maui seal of approval!

These designs represent the culmination of literally years of research, sketching, and endless refinement, but I feel it was worth the effort. These patterns are so close to my heart. I hope that shows, and that my AmiCats will bring happiness to many fellow cat lovers. If you love them, please do let me know…

Comments (41)

zipped cardigan

Have I told you about my knitting goal? I’m teaching myself to knit by making myself a dozen self-designed sweaters, and learning new techniques with each one I make. I’m hoping that, by the end of this journey, I’ll be a real knitter and not have to survive on guesswork! (Here are links to #1, #2 and #3, if you’d like to see my progress.)

This is sweater #4 and, as with all the others so far, it’s not perfect – there are things I’d change if I were designing it again – but it is perfectly wearable. I actually finished knitting it a few months ago, but didn’t have a chance to block it until Christmas.

I’m not really sure if I should call this a cardigan or a jacket, but I’m wearing it as a cardigan. I wanted to try knitting a zip-up top, and I was inspired by the smooth sporty lines of a fleece top – I thought a knitted version would give a slightly less casual feel.

sage zipped cardigan
(My new camera can be remote-controlled by my phone – I took this photo by mistake while setting up the app, but it shows the fit of the cardigan nicely!)

I worked turned hems to give a smooth look, and a big turned collar. The back and front have waist shaping so, even though I couldn’t find a 2-way separating zip, it can fit over my hips at the bottom edge without stretching, but still has a fairly smooth fitted look at the waist. I knitted all the pieces bottom-up, with the body as a single piece to the underarms, and set-in sleeves.

sage zipped cardigan

The turned collar has two purposes: it matches the hems visually, and the built-in facing covers the zipper tape along both collar edges, so it looks tidy whether you have the collar open or zipped right up. I knitted the collar after completing the rest of the cardigan, so I could make it exactly the right length to fold around the top of the zip, and it turned out pretty well, I think.

sage cardigan - zip detail

Zipped right up, the cardigan works like a cosy built-in scarf, with 2 layers of knitted fabric around my neck. I wouldn’t usually wear it zipped up like this, but I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the warmth on unexpectedly windy days!

sage zipped cardigan

The yarn colour is a bit unusual – which made buying a co-ordinating zip next-to impossible, although I like the muted purple I chose in the end – but the best part about this yarn was the price: I bought it from a yarn factory outlet sale, and the entire sweater cost me the grand total of $5. It’s Bernat Satin yarn, so it’s very soft and snuggly, despite being acrylic.

sage zipped cardigan

I’m calling this one a success! Lessons learnt:

  • Knitwear and zips aren’t the best of friends, particularly with the stretchy drapey knitted fabric I prefer. Sewing it in was tricky, and, when I sit down, the zip bulges out over my tummy in a less-than-flattering way. (This could have been minimised if I’d been able to find a 2-way zip, or made a shorter length sweater, but I think I prefer buttons anyway.)
  • I misunderstood how to do a sloped bind-off, and the combination of that together with set-in sleeves and thick knitted fabric meant my shoulder seams are a little bulkier than I’d like, although I don’t think it’s too obvious until I point it out, right? (I’ve since realised my mistake, and I know how to do it properly now!)

My biggest victory with this sweater was getting my measurements spot on – it fits me perfectly all over. These measurements will be my go-to template for future sweaters, and should make designing the next ones much simpler. I love this process; I’m learning so much with each new garment I make. And, with this cardigan, I’ll be well prepared once summer ends and my house gets chilly again.

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my EU VAT position

Sorry for two posts in one day, but customers are asking how PlanetJune will be affected by the new EU VAT law, so I need to address that today…

The new EU place-of-consumption tax law that comes into effect today applies only to telecommunications, broadcasting and electronic services. In this case, an ‘e-service’ is defined as something you buy that is entirely digital, where the process is automated and has minimal human involvement.

For example: you buy an ebook from Amazon. You pay, you download your file, and that’s the end of your transaction. Nobody at Amazon did anything manually to deliver the product to you, and Amazon has no further responsibility after you receive your product.

Now, as it says in my Pattern User Licence information (linked from every pattern page in my shop):

By purchasing any PlanetJune patterns, you are not buying a copy of a pattern; you’re buying far more: a perpetual single-user licence for the pattern. Your licence entitles you to [many perks, including]:

  • Unlimited customer support from the pattern designer (that’s me: June Gilbank).

That means you’re buying as much of my time as you need to be able to complete the pattern you’ve purchased. This is not a service that can be supplied automatically by a computer! If you need my help, as per my customer support FAQ:

You can also email me directly for further assistance with any PlanetJune pattern. Please send me a photo of your work (if possible) together with a description of what’s going wrong, to help me diagnose what your problem may be.

photos from customers needing help
Photos that accompanied recent help requests (all now happily resolved)

Can you imagine emailing a photo of your crochet work-in-progress to Amazon and asking for assistance?! Knowing you have unlimited access to expert help from me, now or at any point in the future, should you have any difficulties in completing the pattern you’ve purchased, is the difference between an automated ‘e-service’ and the licence you buy from PlanetJune every time you purchase a pattern.

And that’s why EU PlanetJune customers will not be charged ‘e-services’ VAT under the new law, as I don’t provide any products without a human component attached. As any customer who has ever needed my help can testify, the personal service I provide as part of every pattern licence purchase at PlanetJune goes far beyond the scope of an automated pattern delivery with minimal human interaction.

Disclaimer: This is my understanding of the law, but I have no legal background and am unable to answer any questions regarding this topic, so please don’t ask me! I also cannot be held responsible for the decisions any similar businesses may decide to take.

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2014: year in review

2014 has been a very strange topsy-turvy year, and I’m glad to put it behind me and move forward into 2015. My 2014 goals were to spend less time working, enjoy life, explore nature and get healthy, but life threw me some curveballs that made each of those impossible. Putting this review together always helps me to get some perspective on the year, so I can appreciate what I did accomplish – which was actually quite a lot, despite the difficulties!

Although my crochet pattern output was far less than usual, with only 8 new releases (plus 4 more to come that I couldn’t quite complete in 2014), I’m very happy with how they all turned out, and I came up with some nice innovations for these designs:

2014 PlanetJune crochet patterns
PlanetJune 2014 crochet patterns

And I’m very proud of my new 264-page crochet book, Idiot’s Guides: Crochet, which was published in August:

Idiot's Guides: Crochet by June Gilbank
My latest book

I also made quite a few other craft projects – 5 crocheted, 1 punchneedle, 1 sewn:

2014 PlanetJune craft projects
My 2014 craft projects

Plus, I managed to knit 2 new sweaters for myself (one with handmade polymer clay buttons) which I haven’t had a chance to model for photos yet, so you’ll have to wait to see them!

Personal Report

2014 was a challenge both mentally and physically. My year of unexpected turns:

  • I mistakenly thought my book work was 95% complete when I turned in the finished manuscript last Christmas; I didn’t count on the several rounds of editing – initially for content as I expected, but then again and again for length as the page design (a stage absent from my previous books) started to play a part.
  • I bought an exercise ball to use instead of a chair at my computer desk, and ended up re-wrecking my knee that was injured in a car accident over a decade ago, causing months of inactivity and ongoing residual pain.
  • Disturbing a burglary in my home led to months of mental trauma.
  • An amazing week in Borneo finally got me back on track, but was immediately followed by almost 3 months of chronic viral bronchitis.

The net result of all these unexpected things was that I was essentially housebound, unhappy and not feeling at all creative for much of the year. But I did fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing orangutans in their natural habitat!

orangutan4

Business Report

My personal situation actually had a positive side: precise technical work was the one thing that distracted me from my woes and made me feel like I was still moving forward with something. And that’s exactly what happened – I ended up, without even realising it, substituting the goals I couldn’t accomplish with the other goals on my list that I’d intended to defer until after I got healthy and happy, and I ended up completing 4 of my 7 main overarching business goals in 2014!

These goals were all related to my grand plan that I began three years ago. In 2011’s review, I said:

I want to invest time into things that will, in the long run, save me time in the technical and administrative sides of the business, leaving me with a larger proportion of time to spend on the creative and instructional sides, and having a life apart from my work.

I’ve been working ridiculously hard on that for the past three years, to get the ever-expanding PlanetJune to the point where I can run the business instead of it running me. And, fingers crossed, I may now be at that point!

For the past few months, my business has been able to essentially keep me covered with ‘vacation pay’ and ‘sick pay’ when I needed them, which has been a huge relief. (I have a lot more I want to say about how I reached this point, but I’ll save that for another post.)

What’s next?

I’ve questioned myself and my goals (and sometimes my sanity) a lot throughout these years of non-stop hard work, but now I have a really clear of what I want for PlanetJune and what I don’t want:

  • I want to design unique and beautiful things, and to help others so they can make them too.
  • I don’t want to compete with anyone else, or to make decisions based on finance or greed.
  • I want to follow my own path, to do my best, and to be genuine, honest and caring in everything I do.

That’s an unusual business plan, isn’t it? But I’ve subconsciously been following these principles right from the start, and they’ve led me, almost by accident, from being an animal-loving techy girl who liked to make things into an entrepreneur with a thriving business, so I know this is the right choice for PlanetJune. I’m still that animal-loving techy girl who likes to make things; it’s just an added bonus that other people also want to make the things I come up with!

So, where to go from here? It’s time for me to really try to meet those life goals from last year: to enjoy life and nature and to get healthy. My knee is still troubling me, but I think I can carefully build back up to real exercise again (although I think my running days may be over for good!) and, now my fear has receded, I really want to be brave and get out and explore more.

As for the business, I’m going to leave my goals flexible and see where life takes me.

  • I still have a few big projects to work on to further improve the workings of PlanetJune.
  • I want to catch up on my commissioned designs, and then review how to improve that system so I’m not constantly in the position of having a huge queue like a millstone around my neck.
  • I’d like to continue to offer my crochet knowledge and tips as new tutorials for my wonderful customers.
  • I have so many ideas for new pattern designs and I need to allow myself however much time it takes to bring my most innovative concepts to life.

Most of all, I want to feel happy, healthy, and fulfilled. That’s my wish for 2015, and I wish it for you too. I’m excited to see where this year will take me and PlanetJune, and I hope this will be the best year ever – for all of us. Thank you – as always – for your support on my continuing journey, and I wish you a very Happy New Year!

Comments (14)

  • 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!

    If you'd like to get in touch, you can contact me here.
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