PlanetJune Craft Blog

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2019: year in review

My long-established ritual in the last weeks of each year is to pull back from the day-to-day and look back over the entire year so I can put together my Year in Review post.

Writing these posts helps me to see what I’ve accomplished, think about what I’ve learnt, and decide what I’d like to do differently in the following year.

2019 Achievements

In 2019 I published 14 new crochet patterns plus 2 re-releases (I added an extra cactus design to the Heart Cactus Collection and the Canadian flag pattern to the Maple Leaf Collection):

2019 PlanetJune crochet patterns

(Can you guess what the surprise pattern hit of the year was? My Bearded Dragon! It must have taken a little while for word to spread, because, after a slow start, it’s become one of my top sellers!)

I self-published my first crochet ebook, The Complete Guide to Giant Amigurumi, in right- and left-handed versions:

The Complete Guide to Giant Amigurumi ebook by June Gilbank - available in right-handed and left-handed versions

I’ve added to my tutorial library with nine new tutorials:

2019 PlanetJune tutorials

And I’ve knitted, crocheted, sewn, woven and needlefelted projects in my downtime, plus a few more fun projects that I haven’t had a chance to blog about yet (time spent writing is time spent not crafting!)

2019 PlanetJune craft projects

Last summer, I decided to stop logging customer support requests for my business. I’d been tracking them every day for over 5 years, and, at this point, the value of the time I’m saving is much higher than the value of the data I’m losing. I’ve used the data to assemble an arsenal of template responses to the questions I most commonly receive, so it’s served its purpose.

And, in the autumn, I opened my pop-up crochet tool shop for the first time, and it worked well. Opening the online pop-up shop occasionally to offer a limited run of my stuffing tools is a way to let me balance my time and commitments without having to let people down by discontinuing my tools completely. I also successfully introduced some new tools to the pop-up shop, so I think this will be a good model going forward.

To further my own learning this year, I attended an inspiring photography workshop and completed a very useful voice artist course.

I also collaborated with my Mum to publish her book of original Scottish music and, now I’m an Amazon publisher, I’ll be able to use what I’ve learnt to produce and publish more books in future.

Musings on Blogging

I’ve been battling with the ‘shoulds’ when it comes to my blog for the past few years: as my blog supports my business, I should mostly publish things that relate to my business; I should publish posts on a regular schedule; I should use my blog to make more money by adding annoying adverts all over the place, etc…

But, it’s my blog! Sharing what I’ve been making and hopefully inspiring you to add more creativity to your life in the process is one of the reasons why I started blogging in the first place, and I want to make more time to document and share all my creative pursuits here, not just my crochet designs and tutorials.

It makes good business sense to only share product-related posts: blogging about my hobby projects takes time and doesn’t make me any money (the only downside of sticking to my guns and not allowing ads to interrupt my website…) – craft blogging without ads is not paid work, and it’s not exactly play either.

Even so, this year I’ve tried several new hobbies that I haven’t found the time to blog about yet, and I want that to change next year. It’s strange to get to the end of the year and look back for the photos of my craft projects and discover that many of the things I’ve made aren’t posted here, but I’ve still been making the time for creative play – it’s one of the things I enjoy best in the world – and I want to share all of that with you again!

I hope you’ll enjoy it too when I do. I find social media to be mentally exhausting, so I love the thought of being more present in my own quiet little corner of the internet, and hopefully re-engaging with you all about the joy of making via chat in the comments below each of my posts.

Managing my Energy

I’ve been working to improve my sleep quality and reduce my anxiety levels this year. My mental and physical health are both much better than they have been for a long time (yay!) but I still have an ongoing unexplained fatigue problem that makes my daily life much more challenging than it used to be.

It’s very frustrating to have so many ideas for things I want to do, but not enough energy to make them all happen, especially if I need to reserve enough energy for making dinner and other daily commitments. These days, I can’t manage more than an hour or two of anything – work or play – without getting completely worn out.

But I’ve recently started experimenting with a new way to manage my energy: if I have two or three sessions per day, separated by long rests or naps, I’m more productive overall than trying to push through when I get exhausted.

It feels like I’m being lazy and wasting time, but when I do rest for an hour or two it often gives me the energy for another creative burst (or to go grocery shopping, exercise, or do whatever else needs to be done). It’s not ideal, but I think this will be better than a constant struggle to keep going, and hopefully this fatigue won’t last forever.

Looking Forward

This year my priorities are to continue to develop innovative new crochet patterns, to do enough tech upgrades to keep my website running smoothly, and to share more of my crafting here on the blog.

And, above all that, to keep self-care at the top of the list – my design breakthroughs don’t happen unless I have enough time and rest to get my brain working at full capacity.

Last year, I wished for focus, determination and acceptance. My focus has been compromised by my lack of energy these days, and my determination to push through that has only led to more exhaustion, so acceptance – trying to make peace with my situation – has become even more important in making the most of my life.

My wishes for 2020 are for:

  • acceptance of the things I can’t control, like my fatigue problem, and the bigger problems in the world
  • appreciation for all the good stuff in my life – I’m so fortunate in many ways
  • inspiration – a new decade is a perfect time to try new things, and I have a feeling I have some great ideas coming!

I hope you’ll continue to accompany me on my creative journey into this next decade, and I hope 2020 brings you fresh creative energy too! Happy New Year 🙂

24 Comments »

  1. i shared with facebook so wrote a long-ish comment with my post
    under name marecrochets or full name. and yes, about fatigue +

  2. Ruth Lister said

    Happy New Year June and thanks so much for sharing the review of your 2019 year. You certainly did fit a lot into the year and it is pleasing to read that you intend to take more care of yourself in 2020, along with the rest of your exciting ideas. So much of what you have said resonates with me, as I too have suffered with fatigue over the years. The hardest thing is accepting that we are not superhuman and that we are not being lazy. We can certainly be our own worst enemy!
    It is so refreshing not to have to fight through all the annoying adverts on your page. I have been following your blog now for almost 5 years since I took up crochet again. I love your patterns and explanations.
    Kind regards
    Ruth ??

    • June said

      Thank you, Ruth! It’s a shame that my fatigue problems seem to resonate with many of my readers – I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. On the other hand, knowing that we’re not alone in this and so people will probably understand if we fail to be superhuman (or even ‘normal’) is a comfort.

      And I’m very glad to know that you notice and appreciate the lack of ads – thanks!

  3. Ladka said

    I crochet only occasionally but enjoy reading your blog nonetheless – for your generosity, accuracy, detail. I like the blog for letting the author be felt behind the posts. I like it because it’s add-free.
    So, being almost a noncrocheter I like to visit regularly.
    Thank you for blogging!

    • June said

      Thank you, Ladka! It’s so interesting to know why you visit and what you enjoy about my posts – I really appreciate your comment.

  4. Linda Wise said

    Hello, I’m Linda and i seldom comment unless i have a specific comment or question. I felt compelled to say i SO understand your fatigue. I have Lupus and very often am plagued with the inability to do or finish ANYTHING. My therapy is crochet even when my hands don’t want to co-operate. I am inspired by your email because it was factual, informative & your dedication to your crafts. I wanted to thank you.

    • June said

      Thank you so much for saying this, Linda. It’s so difficult when our bodies don’t co-operate with our wishes, but it’s a comfort to know we’re not alone, isn’t it?

      I completely agree that crafting offers a huge benefit to our mental health in these situations. I crocheted and knitted my way through a long recuperation from knee surgery, and it kept me going through years of PTSD-related problems. Now, even when I don’t have the energy to actually make anything, I can google and do online research for future designs, find inspiration and enjoyment in things that other people are making, and make plans for what I’ll make when I recover – without all that I’m sure I’d be miserable.

  5. Alice said

    With so much of the online world now dominated by slick corporations or folks that are focused on being “on-brand” I find your corner of the internet refreshing, real, and relatable.

    This is exactly the kind of site that got me online in the first place (as you well know). It’s harder than ever to make connections with people who are near you in proximity … or maybe that’s just affecting us city folks … so it’s nice to find real people who enjoy creativity and making as much as I do. Especially the fiddly details of how best to do specific techniques! I recently crocheted something for a friend for Christmas and I used your invisible increase and decrease tutorials to make it look amazing. 🙂

    I want my time on the internet to be used to connect with real people about real things. The more you show yourself as a real person, the more I will enjoy visiting. The fact that you’ve been able to turn your creativity into a business is fantastic (and inspirational!), but it’s secondary to why you’re interesting. You’re interesting because you’re creative … not because you’re a pattern writing machine. 😉

    As for taking care of yourself. You’re not the only one! We all have a human to care for … ourselves … and it need physical things, emotional things, and all sorts of things to keep it going. Different things at different times for different people … but we all have to tend to ourselves all the same. Again, I appreciate you showing up as a real human. I hope you find balance in your life and all of the other things you are wishing for in 2020. 🙂

    • June said

      Thanks so much for the vote of confidence, Alice – I think I’ve been slightly brainwashed by all the ‘business advice’ I’ve read into trying to be so professional that I lost something along the way – the June in PlanetJune! I’m not trying to grow PlanetJune into a massive business – it’s always going to be just me doing everything, and that’s the way I want it to stay, so I think I need to throw out a lot of that business advice (as you know)…

      It’s my work that needs to always be professional, not me! I’m just a real person, and I think the lovely responses I’ve received on this post show that I shouldn’t be afraid to share more of June the person, and not just PlanetJune the ‘brand’. I’m so happy that people are clearly still reading my words and will respond when they resonate. I hope it’s a sign of a return to deeper communication through thoughtful blogging and thoughtful responses (instead of mindless social media ‘likes’) and forging real connections with other real people across the world – as I did with you in the dim and distant past 😀

  6. Jennifer said

    I would also love to hear about any other crafts you are trying out, and I hope you get your self-care issues working optimally for you. I have been struggling for an extended time period with a sleep schedule that keeps being at an inappropriate time on the clock face, resulting often in interruptions from the outside world or not enough sleep which frustrates me, but I haven’t been able to get it sustainably corrected yet. I hope 2020 is a wonderful year for you, and the start of an even greater decade, with much success in all areas!

    • June said

      I can relate to that, Jennifer! I’ve been concentrating on improving my sleep too, which has really helped me. A few things that worked for me (you may have tried them all already, but my own experience is all I can offer):

      • Melatonin tablets helped me to get to sleep at a more ‘correct’ hour. (Once your body clock has reset you can stop taking them.)
      • Going to bed much earlier than usual and planning to read or listen to audio for a while before sleeping – as soon as I notice I’m drifting, I stop and go to sleep.
      • Buying a weighted blanket really helped make my sleep more refreshing and less restless – highly recommended if your sleep quality isn’t great.
      • Jennifer said

        Thanks so much for sharing your suggestions! I have been curious about how well the weighted blanket idea would work, but hadn’t tried them yet….Thanks again, and happy New Year!

        • June said

          You’re very welcome! Again, this is just my experience and I can’t promise you’ll have the same results, but this is the weighted blanket I bought: RelaxBlanket

          • Jennifer said

            Thanks! I’ll take a look at that. = )

  7. Hilary said

    Thank you June for your courageous words which resonate with me and I’m sure, many others. Your creativity continues to inspire. I wish you well as we move forward into 2020 and the new decade. Thank you again for wonderful patterns!

    • June said

      Thank you, Hilary! I always hope that when I’m honest and vulnerable about my difficulties it’ll help other people to feel better about themselves too – we’re all only human and we all have problems we have to deal with. But I think it’s so important to celebrate what we have accomplished, not just to beat ourselves up about what we couldn’t do because of our current situation, whatever that may be.

  8. Nancy F said

    I have enjoyed reading your posts and working your designs for several years now. I particularly love your detailed writeups of technique experiments. I applaud your decision to focus on self-care, and will appreciate all the more the posts and designs when they happen.

    • June said

      Thank you so much, Nancy. I don’t think I’d be able to stop the detailed experiments even if I tried – it’s just the way I think! – but I’m very happy to know it’s interesting to you too; that means it’s worth me taking the time to keep writing them all up properly so I can post them here 🙂

  9. The bearded dragon pattern is sooo cute, and your tutorials are a go-to for me. Keep up the good work!

    • June said

      Thank you, Sheep of Delight! (Cute name, btw.) I’d been wanting to make a bearded dragon for a few years, just for myself, so it’s especially lovely for me that other people are enjoying it too – I hadn’t realised there were so many other beardy fans around 🙂

      • I tend to make amis of animals I’d like to keep as pets but can’t, but I haven’t done many reptiles yet.

        • June said

          Me too – a lot of my amis are my surrogate pets! And my plant designs too – I’m not great at keeping real plants alive, so the crocheted ones let me have plenty of relaxing greenery around without worrying about them dying 😉

  10. Katy said

    Happy New Year! I would definitely enjoy reading more about other crafts you do, in addition to crochet stuff. I enjoy your writing, and your thorough explanation of things that are new to me. I hope you do decide to add those crafty things to your blog. ?

    • June said

      Thank you so much, Katy – that’s great to hear! I’m definitely going to do it; I just need to decide what to blog about first. I have lots to choose from, so I won’t run out of subject matter for a while (if ever!)

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