PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for August, 2015

September plans

This September, Dave and I will be taking a trip to the UK and Europe for a long-overdue visit to see our families – yay! We’ll be packing 5 cities in 3 countries into just over 2 weeks, and travelling by air, sea, and road. (I’m just hoping that my knee will hold up, and that there’ll be time for a little relaxation in between all that travelling…)

Unlike last year, I can’t afford to take an offline break for a whole month this year – there’s just too much to do! – but, for safety reasons, I will be going on minimal operations throughout September so it won’t be too obvious exactly when I’m travelling. Here’s your advance warning of how this will affect PlanetJune:

  • I’m closing the Crochet Tools section of my shop for the entire month of September, so please place any orders for kits, stuffing tools and stitch markers before the end of August! (You may still order during September, but I won’t ship anything until the first week of October.)
  • For everything else, I’ll be around, but not as often as usual. If you need help with a PlanetJune pattern, I recommend you follow my support triage steps before you email me, so you can hopefully find the answer you need more quickly than waiting for my reply!
  • I will be checking in while I’m travelling, so, for urgent problems only I can help you with (e.g. technical support), you’ll never be more than a couple of days away from my help.
    Note: I’ll only be checking Twitter, Ravelry and Facebook occasionally, and I won’t be able to reply to any non-essential emails until I’m back home.

I’ve pre-written and scheduled some interesting blog posts for September, and I’ll have my new commissioned AmiDogs patterns ready to release soon (next week!), so you probably won’t even notice a change unless you’re ordering a kit, or waiting for an email from me. Thanks for your understanding, and I hope you have a great month! 🙂

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Maker Faire Cape Town 2015

Yesterday, I attended the first annual Maker Faire in Cape Town and it was inspiring – there was lots to see and explore.

We got to see a variety of 3D printers up close and see new concepts that are being designed and created locally. The Maker Movement is clearly thriving here, with electronics, scrap sculpture and upcycling, environmentally-friendly innovations, maker groups, and even a South African-based alternative to Kickstarter for crowdfunding local projects.

Digital technologies such as 3D printing and laser cutting bring the potential for inventing creative solutions to anyone, without the need for a large startup capital or external manufacturers, and that’s especially exciting for me to see here in South Africa.

Now is a good time to be creative, and I’m excited to see the new ideas that will emerge from local makers in the near future… (Plus, I’m getting my own ideas for things I’d like to make using digital tech!)

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Tip: Feeding Yarn Through Button Holes or Beads

Whether you’ve made a sweater, a phone cosy, or jewellery, sometimes you want to add a button to your yarn project and run into a problem… For a perfect match, it’s nice to use the project’s yarn to attach the button – whether that’s to minimise ends to weave in, or just give a polished look. But, while it’s fairly easy to find a button with holes big enough to fit the yarn through, it’s very rare to find a button that has a hole large enough for both the yarn (doubled) and the eye of a yarn needle!

crochet braid bracelet pattern by planetjune

Below, I’ve shown an example (from a Crochet Braid Bracelet, pictured above). The hole on this shank-backed button is just large enough for my yarn to fit through, but the yarn is too floppy to push through the hole. When I try, it either bunches up and refuses to go through, or separates into plies.

feeding yarn through buttonholes

The simplest trick is to wet the end of the yarn to keep the plies together while you thread the end through the buttonhole – the same technique as licking your sewing thread before you thread a hand-sewing needle. But sometimes that just isn’t enough, and with a long buttonhole like this one and/or a close fit, the yarn is still too floppy to make it right through the buttonhole.

There’s just no way to get that yarn through that buttonhole… Or is there?

feeding yarn through buttonholes

Yes there is! Here’s the magic, you need to stiffen the end of the yarn before you thread it through the button, so it’ll act like its own needle and pass easily through any buttonhole that’s large enough to fit a single strand of the yarn.

The easiest way to do that is with basic white craft glue, and here’s how to do it:

  1. Squeeze a small drop of white glue onto the end of the yarn.
  2. Using your thumb and fingertips, press and roll the end of the yarn to distribute the glue through the fibres of the yarn. For threading normal buttons, you only need to dampen about 1/2″ (1 or 2 cm) of the yarn with glue.
  3. Twist the wet plies together by rolling between your fingertips in the direction of the twist of the yarn, to hold the plies neatly together.
  4. Press the tip of the yarn gently between your fingertips to form a nice rounded point (see above photo).
  5. Leave the glued yarn to dry for a few minutes (while you wash/rub the glue off your fingers) – although, if you’re impatient, it doesn’t need to be perfectly dry to work!
  6. Thread your yarn through your buttons as desired.
  7. Snip off the hardened end of the yarn with scissors.

Easy! It works the same way as the plastic-coated ends of your shoelaces: compressing the yarn into a tight, stiff point that can pass easily through the hole. This method also works on embroidery floss, crochet cotton, or any other type of thread you want to pass through a small hole.

Bonus tip: You can also use this technique for stringing beads onto yarn or thread where the bead hole is too small to fit a doubled strand of the yarn – perfect for bead crochet, or even stringing children’s necklaces!

I hope you find this helpful next time you’re trying to feed yarn through a buttonhole (or bead) – it’s a handy little trick. 🙂

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South Africa wildlife VIII: Safari!

We’ve lived in South Africa for over 4 years, and still hadn’t been on a safari… Until last week, that is!

We planned to go to the Kruger National Park (one of the best places in the world to see wild African wildlife) this year, but my recovery after the knee surgery has taken a lot longer than expected, and I’m not up to being quite that adventurous just yet, so we’ve to start small(er) and work our way up to Kruger. There are smaller private game reserves that are much closer to home. We decided to visit the closest one, Aquila, for a day trip, as it’s just a 2 hour drive from Cape Town into the wilds of the Karoo.

Game reserves are nothing like ‘safari parks’ you may have visited elsewhere in the world, which are just open-plan zoos where you can drive your car through the animals’ enclosures. A game reserve is a wild area protected for conservation, where the animals (‘game’) can live wild and free in their natural environment, but safe from hunters and land development. There are no roads, only tracks, and the game drives are conducted by experienced rangers to keep everyone safe – these are true wild animals, and could be dangerous if not treated with respect.

African Elephants on safari
My favourite photo from the safari: these elephants walked right past our vehicle!

We headed out for our game drive in the 10,000 hectare reserve in an open-sided 4×4 safari vehicle driven by our ranger and guide. The Karoo is a stunning natural environment, and we saw zebra, hippopotamus, wildebeest, buffalo, white rhinoceros, lions, giraffe, springbok, eland, and of course elephants! It was an absolutely amazing experience and quite emotional for me (especially seeing wild rhinos and knowing how prevalent the poaching problem is and that these animals could be killed for their horns, despite everything that’s being done to try to stop the poachers).

Photo Gallery

I’m trying something new with my photos this time – I’ve installed a new photo gallery so you can see much larger versions of my photos. This page should load quickly with thumbnails of all the pictures (below) to give you a taste, so I can include more photos without slowing down the site. If you click any photo, the gallery will open and let you see them all super-sized – much larger than my previous photos (like the elephants above, which you can also see larger, as part of the gallery below).

__(‘Read the rest of this entry »’)

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Summer of Dinosaurs CAL roundup

The Summer of Dinosaurs crochet-along was a huge success, with new dinosaurs joining the herd pretty much every day, until we had an amazing 129 completed projects by the end of July! Here’s an overview of all 129 dinos completed during this CAL so you can admire our epic yarny Jurassic Park (if you’d like to see any of the projects in more detail, click here to view the CAL gallery in full, but you’ll need to be a Ravelry member to see them):









What an amazing collection! I love the variety: colours, styles, sizes, customizations, and photo staging. And top quality crocheting by all involved!

The Prizes…

PlanetJune Summer of Dinosaurs CAL - prizes

This was a prize CAL, generously sponsored by Lion Brand. The Grand Prize yarn will be provided by Lion Brand and shipped directly to the winner, and I’m providing all the other prizes.

  • Grand Prize: 3 skeins Vanna’s Choice (the yarn I used to make all my dinosaurs!) and 1 skein of the gorgeous new Textures yarn plus a PlanetJune crochet pattern of your choice
  • Second Prize: a PlanetJune Amigurumi Essentials Kit plus a PlanetJune crochet pattern of your choice
  • Third Prize: a PlanetJune crochet pattern of your choice
  • Runner-up Prizes: there are no losers at PlanetJune! All other participants who complete one or more entries in the CAL will receive a 10% discount code towards your next order from PlanetJune.com 🙂

I grabbed all 129 entries and pasted them into Excel so they were in numbered rows, sorted alphabetically. Then I used random.org to generate 3 numbers between 1 and 129 (inclusive) for the winners. And they are:

Grand Prize winner: #31 kathertine
Second Prize winner: #74 NeofelisNebulosa
Third Prize winner: #98 pandabugcreations

Congratulations to the winners! Look out for a Ravelry PM from me so you can give me your details for your prizes. And to all the other participants, I’ll be PMing you too, with your runner-up discount code 🙂

Thanks to all of you who particiapted, for making this crochet-along so successful – it’s been an absolute pleasure to see all these wonderful ami dinosaurs popping up over the past 7 weeks!

There’s always a crochet-along running in the PlanetJune group on Ravelry. If you’d like to join a current or future CAL, please join our group and participate as often as you want – we’d love to see your projects.

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August update

Anyone for (Crocheted) Fruit?

I was honoured that some of my crocheted fruit patterns were used to create the farmer’s market-themed window of the Lion Brand Yarn Studio store in Manhattan! (All the non-PlanetJune fruit and veg were freestyled by the creators of the window display.) I’d love to see this window in person, wouldn’t you?


Photo courtesy of Lion Brand.

Read all about it in the Crochet World newsletter (no longer available), or try my free patterns to make your own: Amigurumi Pears, Amigurumi Citrus Collection (and Amigurumi Apples – not pictured above, but the perfect way to round out your crocheted fruit salad!)

Summer of Dinosaurs CAL

The Summer of Dinosaurs CAL was a massive success, with well over 100 entries! I’ll be posting the winners of the contest and a roundup of our amigurumi dinosaur army here in a couple of days 🙂

Free-For-All CAL

Keeping it simple for the summer, the August crochet-along is a free-for all! That means free choice: you can join in by making any PlanetJune patterns, including finishing up WIPs you’ve already started.

You can make any PlanetJune patterns from my shop (amigurumi and accessories), any free patterns from my website, or any of the patterns from my books – lots to choose from! Luckily Ravelry has a nice list of all 212 patterns on my designer page if you feel like browsing 🙂

(Until I wrote that paragraph, I had no idea I had so many designs. That’s an average of 25 designs per year for the 8.5 years I’ve been a crochet designer… Wow!)

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.

As I didn’t post a monthly update in July, I have two winners to announce today 🙂

crocheted lion and lioness by planetjune

June’s winner is Heather R‘s review of my Lion & Lioness pattern:

Having made both the lion and lioness, I could not have been more thrilled with this pattern! June’s pattern is both realistic and adorable. This pattern includes loop stitch for the lion’s mane – something I had never attempted – but the instructions are very clear, and there is even a video online which is incredibly helpful. I found the pattern easy to follow and loved the end result!

AmiCats amigurumi cat crochet patterns by PlanetJune

And July’s winner is Jaclyn M‘s review of my AmiCats Calico Cat (far left in the above photo of the AmiCats Collection):

This was the first pattern I bought from PlanetJune, and I was not disappointed! The pattern is very easy to follow, with lots of pictures and detailed instructions. I was very pleased that my cat came out looking like the picture. In fact, I was so pleased that I bought two more AmiCat patterns!

Congratulations, Heather and Jaclyn – I’ve emailed you both to find out which pattern you’d like as your prize!

What’s Next?

This month, I’ll be busy with three AmiDogs design commissions, and I’ll be working on some new amigurumi, PlanetJune Accessories designs and non-crochet craft projects for next season. I’m hoping to squeeze in a visit to my family some time this year, so I have to try to get ahead now so I can afford to take some time off later – I love being self-employed, but it does require careful planning… 🙂

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    June Gilbank

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