PlanetJune Craft Blog

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Archive for June, 2018

Summer crochet-alongs

Summertime is typically the slowest season for crochet, but perhaps I can tempt you back to your hook with a choice of two PlanetJune crochet-alongs to join in with for July and August? Both include some small, quick pattern options if you’re short on time.

If you feel like something a bit different, how about joining the new FantastiCAL, featuring all the PlanetJune crochet patterns with a fantasy/mythical theme:

PlanetJune FantastiCAL - a fantasy/mythical crochet-along
Aliens, Yeti, Unicorns and more – which will you choose?

And, with 99 participants so far and over 60 finished projects, the BotaniCAL is still going strong, so I’m extending it through to the end of August to give everyone more time to finish their projects (or start more…)

You can choose from any of the PlanetJune plant, fruit and flower crochet patterns. If you haven’t joined yet, you’re welcome to sign up, and you’ll still qualify for the CAL discount on the Succulent Collection 3 and/or 4 patterns 🙂

PlanetJune cactus and succulent crochet patterns
These are just (most of) the cacti and succulent choices – you have over 30 botanical patterns to choose from!

You’ll find both CALs in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, and you’re welcome to join either, or both.

Choose your patterns now:

Then come and join us on Ravelry and tell us what you plan to crochet this summer…

Comments

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

As always, I was not compensated for this review, and the following is based on my honest opinions!

Overview

Making Pipe Cleaner Pets by Takashi Morito was originally published in Japanese, and has now been translated into English.

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

I’ve previously reviewed another translated-from-Japanese craft book (Crafting with Cat Hair) and, like that book, this is another book of adorable crafts you’d probably never think of making until you see the book!

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

Throughout, this book has a very Japanese aesthetic. On the photo pages, the dogs are posed in cute tableaus with a variety of unrelated props – books, craft supplies, crackers – and a haiku-esque poem to introduce each dog, for example:

The morning air feels good
Now, we’ll all play ball
And bathe in the morning sun

The overall effect is charming in that bizarre Japanese craft book kind of way.

(I should mention that ‘Making Pipe Cleaner Pets‘ is a bit of a misnomer if you’re looking for a variety of pets – this is a book of dogs. It has designs for 23 different dog breeds, plus puppy-sized miniature versions of several of the breeds.)

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets
A few more of the included dog breeds.

After the cute photo gallery of all the dogs, we get to the tutorials for how to make them. The first three dogs (Toy Poodle, Pug, Boston Terrier) have detailed step-by-step instructions, including both a diagram of each step and a photo of the result.

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

Those three designs teach you the basic techniques you’ll need to make all the dogs. The other 20 dog breeds have text and diagrams only, but the basic idea is the same for all the dogs, so you’ll rarely need to look back once you’ve tackled a couple of the easier dogs.

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

My Experience

I found the perfect pack of pipe cleaner colours (two browns, grey, white and black) and got started! I planned to make 2 or 3 dogs, to give myself a chance to get the hang of the technique.

First up, I tried the Toy Poodle, the first and apparently easiest dog in the book:

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

My completed effort definitely looked like a dog, but nothing like a poodle! The legs were too short, so I decided to embrace that: I shortened them further by folding over the ends, and reshaped the face a bit (by squashing it around), and now it’s a dachshund puppy. 🙂

For my next attempt, I thought I’d try the actual Dachshund model:

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

I felt like the proportions in the instructions weren’t quite right, so I lengthened the body and shortened the legs as I made my initial bends in the pipe cleaner, and I think it looks pretty good!

Okay, I’m getting the hang of this now; time to step it up a notch with a multi-colored dog. I tried the Jack Russell Terrier:

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

I like the result – the head colours are good – but I somehow made it all a bit skinny (my fault, not the book’s). I think mine has a bit of greyhound in him 😉

And then the Pug:

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

I learnt from my mistakes and used the basic method from the book, but tweaked all the proportions to be more suited to how I think a pug should look. I ended up with lots of the dark brown showing on the back of the head, so I wove a bit more of the light-coloured pipe cleaner over to hide that. What a cute pug face!

After making a few dogs, you get a feel for what you’re doing, as the basic concept is very similar for all the dogs. I decided to make some modifications for my last two dogs…

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

The Miniature Schnauzer model seemed like a bit of a cheat to me – the white beard and eyebrows were formed separately and glued into place! Instead, I used what I’d learned from the Pug and built the beard into the face.

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

And finally, the Corgi. I used the book for the face colours, but built the body myself, plumping it up and omitting the tail completely.

The advantage of this book is that, as all the dogs are constructed along the same principles, once you’ve made a few, you should be able to get a bit more creative and extend the same principles to different animals. I thought I’d test my theory by trying – what else – a grey cat!

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

I basically made another dog, but tweaked all the proportions as I went (shorter muzzle and ears, wider face, longer neck, etc) to make it more feline. The great thing about pipe cleaner models is they are completely poseable, so it’s easy to adjust the leg positions, add a curve to the back, or reposition the tail, if you decide it doesn’t look quite right.

The book suggests some finishing touches – glued-on plastic eyes and noses, trimming some of the pipe cleaner fuzz to make e.g. pointier ears, and an occasional glued-on mouth or tongue. Even my smallest (4.5mm) animal eyes are too large for my dogs, so I decided to keep my dogs (and cat) as pure pipe cleaners. I’m sure they’d look even cuter with faces, but I like them as they are, and I like that there aren’t any glued-on parts this way – they are simply twisted pipe cleaners and nothing more.

Top Tips

  • The first stumbling block is that all the designs in this book use 1m (40 inch) long pipe cleaners, which may be common in Japan, but I’ve never seen in all my years and countries of craft shopping! The book instructs that you can instead twist multiple regular-length pipe cleaners together to make a long one, but I’d recommend you use one at a time, and twist on a new one as you reach the end of the old one – it’s a lot more manageable that way. I used 3 or 4 pipe cleaners for the main colour of each dog (and 1 or 2 of any secondary colour).
  • All the dogs’ muzzles are made by coiling the pipe cleaner and then feeding the remaining end through the middle of the coil. I found this to be impossibly difficult to do neatly, until I coiled the pipe cleaner around a narrow tube (I used a small knitting needle), which gave perfectly round coils, and a nice space in the middle for feeding the end through.

Verdict

I found the concept of pipe cleaner dog models to be fun, but it was more challenging than I’d expected. Although it looks like a kid’s craft, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for young children – it’s not easy to make a dog that looks like the photos! Teens with good dexterity and patience may enjoy making dogs, and it’s great for crafty adults like me.

The dogs are very cute and fun to pose, but there’s a bit of a learning curve, and every dog will end up with its own personality, no matter how closely you follow the directions. But that variation is part of the enjoyment of making things by hand: I feel it adds to the charm – just like a litter of real puppies, you never know exactly how each one will look until you see it!

If you persevere through a couple of practice runs, you’ll be able to make cute pipe cleaner pups too, and, once you’ve made a few dogs, you’ll see how the general idea works, and be able to try designing your own animals, if you want.

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

If you’re looking for an unusual craft to try, I can recommend Making Pipe Cleaner Pets as a fun diversion, and a great introduction to sculpting pipe cleaner animals!

Comments (8)

free pattern: Crochet Plant Hanger

Today I have a new fast and lovely donationware pattern for you: it’s my Crochet Plant Hanger!

The free version of this pattern is sized to match the small plant pots from my Cactus and Succulent Collection patterns, and you can use this pattern to make hangers for both your small crocheted potted plants and for real (approx 2″ diameter) plant pots.

crochet plant hanger by planetjune

But I didn’t stop with just one size of plant hanger…

crochet plant hanger crochet pattern

The PDF version, available for any size donation, includes additional tips, three options for the hanging loop, and any-size modifications for this pattern, so you can make a plant hanger to fit any diameter and height of round pot, using any yarn and any hook. 

You don’t need to take any measurements in advance – just hold your work up to the pot as you go, and you can custom-fit it as you crochet (much easier than it sounds!)

I really appreciate those of you who choose to donate for my donationware patterns (whether it’s a $2 or $20+ donation – every dollar counts). I’d have stopped creating ‘free’ patterns many years ago if not for your generous donations that support the creation of future donationware patterns and make it worth my while to keep creating them!

So, to show my appreciation, I give added value to the PDF version wherever I can, and in this case, it means you get a versatile pattern that you can use with any size and height of round plant pot, for real and crocheted plants!

crochet plant hanger by planetjune

Just look at how pretty that star-shaped base is on the larger sizes! That’s my favourite part of my design… 🙂

Links to the Pattern(s):

Go to the free small Crochet Plant Hanger pattern >>

Or jump straight to donate:

Pay what you want for the any-size Crochet Plant Hanger pattern >>

And if you need some crocheted plants to display in your hangers, I have you covered:

Check out the PlanetJune Potted Plant crochet patterns >>

(The plants pictured above are my Pansies, String of Pearls (from Succulent Collection 2) and Christmas Cactus.)

Not ready to make a plant hanger yet? Add it to your Ravelry queue:

PS – Don’t forget to share your plant hangers – for crocheted or real potted plants! – in the PlanetJune BotaniCAL on Ravelry 🙂

Comments (2)

  • 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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