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Archive for December, 2017

South Africa wildlife XI: last Kruger Safari

Last year we had our first safari trip to Kruger, and it was as amazing as you’d expect. We took two tours with experienced safari guides, and spent a day with friends who had a car. This year, for our second Kruger trip and as a finale to our African experience, we hired a car for a whole week so we could slow down and explore by ourselves.

With 7 days of venturing into the park with my rental car and camera, I ended up with about 6000 photos and some amazing memories. Hunting for wildlife ourselves was completely different from being driven around. Just stopping and sitting (safely inside the car!), you can wait and observe behaviours as the animals relax and accept you as a part of the scenery – it’s a much more intimate experience.

As this was my second safari trip, I tried to get some more candid shots this time around, and share some more unusual special moments. I’ve split them into 4 short galleries below – please click into any to see the full-size photos and read my captions.

Note: For the more typical safari experience and an introduction to Kruger, please check out my post from last year – I’ve tried not to replicate too much from there with this year’s photo selection!

Scenic shots

With this set, I’ve tried to give you some of the feeling of being out in the endless wild spaces of Kruger.


Animals going about the business of their daily lives – eating, greeting, fighting, playing…


A small selection of my favourite bird portraits from this trip (this section could have been many times longer!)


And we’ll finish with some of my favourite animal moments…

I wanted to select these photos for you while the experience was still fresh in my mind – it’s already starting to fade, but looking through all my photos has brought it right back again! I’m so thankful to have had these amazing wildlife experiences that are worlds away from anything I’ll see in Canada, and I’m glad I have my photos as a record of our adventures.

I hope these photos have given you a little taste of the magic of the wilds of Africa! Please leave me a comment if you’ve enjoyed them…

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pink cabled cardigan

This is sweater #11 of my ‘learn to knit by making a dozen self-designed sweaters’ project. (Here are links to #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 #8, #9, and #10, if you’d like to see my progress.)

pink cabled cardigan

With only 2 sweaters left to go, I didn’t think I could really claim to have conquered knitting if I’d never tried to cable, and I couldn’t put that off any longer!

I used Ysolda’s instructions for cabling without a cable needle – I’ve done all my knitting so far with just my interchangeable circular needles, and I like the idea of not needing any extra equipment where possible. Cabling is kind of fun – I don’t know why I waited so long to try it!

pink cabled cardigan

Aside from the cables, I tested out a few more new (to me) techniques with this design:

  • I read that, when making a turned hem after a provisional cast-on, using one size larger needles for the joining row gives a less visible result, so I tried that. Verdict: I’m not sure it made much difference….
  • I didn’t know how to tackle joining the part of the facing that sits behind the cable, so I left those stitches on some waste yarn and then sewed them to the back of the cable later.
    pink cabled cardigan
    pink cabled cardigan
    Verdict: I’m really happy with how neat it looks!
  • I worked the cardigan as one piece up to the armholes, but I tried using a ‘basting’ stitch at each side – one extra column of purl stitches, to be ‘seamed’ later to add stability where the side seams would normally be. pink cabled cardigan
    ‘basting’ column (L: right side, before seaming it invisibly away, R: wrong side)

    Verdict: It worked, but I think I prefer working in pieces and seaming. Call me weird, but I love mattress stitch!

Apart from that, I used techniques I’ve used before: waist shaping, and an attached icord edging all the way around (including the bottom edge and sleeve cuffs), leaving the icord detached to form buttonholes – a throwback to my very first sweater! In this case though, I think the icord echoes the width of the cables and gives a nice finish.

pink cabled cardigan

I really like the finished sweater, but keeping track of the 20 rows of the cable proved a bit frustrating at times – I’m not fully able to read the cable stitches yet to see where I am, as the shaping of the cable only really becomes apparent in later rows. I tried dropping down to fix mistakes, but because cabling takes a different amount of yarn than regular stitches, I wasn’t happy with the results and ended up having to frog 4 rows a couple of times when I’d made the open circle in the cable pattern too long or too short, and only realised much later.

I also found the cabling took too much time away from the meditative action of knitting, so I don’t think I’ll be designing many heavily-cabled pieces in the future (although, a simpler cable with an easier repeat may be an option).

pink cabled cardigan

But I’m happy with the end result, and the yarn (a cotton/acrylic blend) will make this a nice lightweight piece for warmer weather (although completely inappropriate for the current Canadian winter – I’ll look forward to wearing it next spring!)

So that was 11 of my 12 sweaters for this ‘learn-to-knit’ project completed, and at this point I was in a quandary as to what to design for the final piece in the collection. Was I still missing any essential knitting skills? (Colourwork is the obvious one, but I want these to all be wardrobe staples I’ll wear all the time, and I really don’t wear multi-coloured sweaters.)

I’ll reveal what I chose to make for the last piece in my next knitting update…

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11 Free Last-Minute Christmas Crochet Patterns

Still wondering what to give your family, friends and co-workers for Christmas? I have you covered with lots of quick and easy seasonal donationware patterns!

From Christmas decorations to stocking stuffer gifts to snuggly scarves and cowls, here are my suggestions of 11 free PlanetJune patterns for you. (You can use the online version of each pattern for free, or pay-what-you-want to download the handy easy-to-print PDF version.)

free PlanetJune last-minute Christmas crochet patterns

Links to pictured patterns (clockwise from top left):

I hope you’ll find some perfect gift ideas here – enjoy πŸ™‚

And check out the complete list of my free/donationware patterns for even more options!


back home in Canada!

I’ve been back in Canada for just over a week now and I’ve just about finished organising the most critical things, so now I can take a breath and start to enjoy myself!

Ontario landscape
Ahh, this is the beautiful Ontario that I’ve been missing πŸ™‚

Although winter hasn’t set in properly yet here, this is already the coldest weather I’ve experienced for over 6 years, but I’m enjoying the crisp, cold air and the opportunity to wear warm coats and snuggly sweaters. And, more than anything, I’m enjoying feeling safe and welcome here.

When we arrived last Thursday, after 24 hours of flights, it took another 4 hours to get all the customs and immigration paperwork sorted out before we could finally collect Maui, and then he had to stay locked in his crate for another hour while I drove us from the airport to our temporary accommodation. But, just like our move in the other direction 6 years earlier, he bounced back very quickly from his ordeal and has settled nicely into our condo.

Maui relaxing in our condo
Maui loves dozing in this chair (with a green pillow that matches his eyes – he’s so stylish!)

We (unintentionally) arrived back here just in time for Black Friday, which was quite a culture shock after years of buying practically nothing in South Africa, where the things I’d want either weren’t available or were too expensive to justify buying. I enjoyed flipping through many dozens of sale flyers, and we picked up a few home electricals that were on sale – we’ll need to re-buy everything electrical because of the different voltage here.

I couldn’t convert my South African driving license back to an Ontario license, so I knew I’d have to take written and road tests before I could buy a car here again. Apparently the local driving test centre has a 4-5 hour wait just to be seen, so I drove out to Stratford instead (no queues!) and, after an extremely stressful day – there were no test appointments available until January, but I managed to snag a cancellation – I passed both my written and road tests, so I’m now an Ontario license holder again! I’m just waiting for my new car to arrive, and then we’ll be ready to get on the road and start to explore Canada’s vast natural beauty.

beaver toothmarks
I’ve set myself a challenge to photograph a wild beaver – these toothmarks are as close as I’ve got so far!

We’ve also found a house to rent from January. It’s a brand new house in a new development in Waterloo and it’s very clean and modern inside. It’s lovely, although I’m not quite sure why anyone would need more bathrooms (four) than bedrooms (three)…. But I can’t wait to move in and turn it into our home πŸ™‚

I’m hoping to snag the massive master bedroom as my office/studio – PlanetJune needs a lot of room to house my photo studio, design and making space, computer/office suite, and supply storage! I hope that splitting one large room into separate spaces for each area of my business will help me to be more organised and stop everything from getting hopelessly muddled. I’ll let you know next year how that’s working out…

And now I’m going on a semi-sabbatical for the next few months. I’ll still be around to help with any PlanetJune problems, but I need to sort out the technicalities of moving my business to another country before the new year hits.

I’d also like to have a good break after that – the past year has been full of upheaval, and, once I’ve got everything set up here, I could really do with some time off to relax before jumping into any more big projects.

Don’t worry, my blog won’t be going silent while I’m getting settled into my new life! I’ve been stockpiling new patterns and blog posts for months now, so I have lots ready to share with you while I’m on sabbatical.

Ahhh, I’m so happy to be home! πŸ™‚

Comments (17)

  • 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.
    crocheted Canadian flag by PlanetJune
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