PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for January, 2020

a new addition!

I’ve been dealing with a new batch of PTSD-related stuff for the last few weeks, since I was triggered by an incident in my neighbourhood. It’s exhausting to go from feeling pretty much okay to being thrust back into panic attacks and hypervigilance again.

As a result of that, I started to more seriously consider getting a little emotional support dog, and my therapist agreed it’d be a very good idea. After searching all the local shelters, I found the dog that sounded like my perfect match – even just reading her description made me cry with how much she sounded like exactly what I was looking for. Plus, she’s totally adorable…

Maggie dog

It was a bit of a snap decision to adopt her (although I’ve been debating for years whether or not the time was right to get a dog), but when life hands you an opportunity, you have to grab it or miss out!

Maggie dog

So, here is my new baby, Maggie. She’s 7 years old and we think she’s mostly Miniature Poodle (or even Toy Poodle – she’s a tiny little scrap!) and she’s a curly-coated lovebug. She doesn’t know any words except her name as yet, but she’s a very good girl. ๐Ÿ™‚

Maggie dog

Maggie is only two thirds of Maui’s size, but he’s very unsure of her at the moment even though she’s not even slightly interested in him. I’m hoping they’ll learn to get along, or at least to ignore each other. They’ve touched noses twice now, so I think there’s a chance they’ll become friends eventually!

Maggie dog

She’s already done wonders for my PTSD – sitting with a warm little dog sleeping on your lap is incredibly soothing, and patrolling the neighbourhood with my tiny fearless companion at my side puts things back into perspective.

But, there’s a bit of a learning curve to integrate a dog into our household! I’ve never lived with a dog before, and I’m reading and googling and trying to figure out dozens of things every day. I’ve signed us up for a training class, but that doesn’t start for another week so I’ll have to muddle through until then.

Maggie dog

My life is a bit upside down right now as a result of all this, but I’m trying to practice the ‘acceptance of my situation’ that was one of my goals for this year. It’s incredibly frustrating that I don’t have a new pattern ready to debut this month, but, on the bright side, until I was distracted by life, I’d been working on a special new design that I’m really excited about. Every time I walk past my prototype I smile – it’s one of the best things I’ve ever designed! I’ve had to put the pattern on hold until I get my brain back to working at full capacity; it’s impossible to be creative and clever and innovative when you’re completely drained. I know it’ll be worth waiting for, and a few more weeks isn’t going to make any difference in the grand scheme of things.

Maggie dog

Thanks to my starting to learn how to be a good dog parent, plus lots of dog walking and dog shopping and dog/cat mediation, I’m utterly exhausted right now – but it’s for a much healthier reason than the fear and stress of the last weeks!

Maggie dog

Once Maggie and I get settled into a routine, I think she’ll make an excellent PlanetJune assistant, helping me to stay calm and focused (and providing plenty of cuteness inspiration, of course).

Maggie dog

Please welcome my sweet little Maggie to the PlanetJune family!

Comments (46)

PlanetJune Stories: Seth’s Dinosaurs

Today’s PlanetJune Story is very special – it’s from Seth, one of my youngest customers at only 10 years old! Seth, with a little assistance from mom Amy, has become quite the amigurumi prodigy, and I think you’ll be impressed by his story, and his beautifully crocheted dinosaurs.

And now over to Seth:


Hi, Iโ€™m Seth from Utah! I am ten years old and love to crochet.

PlanetJune Stories: 10 year old Seth and his crocheted dinosaurs

Two years ago my cousin crocheted a pink jellyfish for me. I loved the animals she made and I wanted to make some for myself. I learned how to chain and single crochet, so that I could make a snake.

Last year for Christmas, I got a kit to crochet safari animals. My first lion took me two days straight to finish, but now I can crochet a dinosaur in only five or six hours. I have almost 100 crocheted critters plus three crocheted pet nets to hang them from my bunk bed.

PlanetJune Stories: 10 year old Seth and his crocheted dinosaurs

Crocheted animals are fun to make and are super cute and squishy. I love showing my animals to people and they sometimes want to start crocheting too. (The โ€œcrochet bugโ€ is very contagious!)

I also love dinosaurs! I love the dinosaur patterns from PlanetJune because they are so fun to crochet and so realistic. I got my first dinosaur pattern for my birthday in July and loved it. The sewing tutorials on PlanetJune helped my dinosaurs to look really good. After I made dinosaurs for myself, I crocheted a few more to sell so I could buy even more dinosaur patterns.

PlanetJune Stories: 10 year old Seth and his crocheted dinosaurs

I have had a lot of fun and learned lots while building my dinosaur collection. So far I have crocheted all 18 PlanetJune dinosaurs and created two of my own โ€“ Barosaurus and Deinosuchus โ€“ using my own ideas and pieces of Juneโ€™s patterns!

PlanetJune Stories: 10 year old Seth and his crocheted dinosaurs


(Back to me, June, again!)

Seth, I’m so impressed with your skill and passion for making amigurumi animals – and that you’re starting on designing your own creations too! You clearly have a talent for this, and I’m so happy to see how much you enjoy my patterns!

(I’ve asked Seth’s mom, Amy, to share her perspective and tips on teaching kids to crochet in the next PlanetJune Story, so look out for that soon, especially if you’d like to encourage and support your own children on their own crochet journey!)

Thank you so much, Seth, for sharing your story with us today ๐Ÿ™‚
Please leave Seth a comment if you’ve enjoyed this post!

Do you have a PlanetJune Story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Please email your story to june@planetjune.com, together with one or more high quality photos showing what you’ve made from PlanetJune patterns. If I choose your story to feature here on the blog, I’ll send you your choice of pattern from my shop to say thank you!


PS – If you’re feeling inspired to crochet dinosaurs too, you can find all the PlanetJune Dinosaur crochet patterns here in my shop. ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments (33)

Adventures in Machine Knitting

Well yes, I seem to have picked up another new fibre-crafting hobby!

A few weeks ago, I somehow ended up on Facebook Marketplace, and noticed someone in my neighbourhood was selling something called the Ultimate Sweater Machine

knitting machine
It’s the ultimate!

I mean, how could I pass that up?! It even has the prestigious “As Seen on TV” award ๐Ÿ˜‰

I knew nothing about machine knitting, but I love crafting tools and learning new skills, so I couldn’t resist.

The machine was complete but for the instruction manual and – oh! the tragedy! – the patterns for the ’90s-chic designs pictured on the box. It did come with some instructions, but I have no way to view them…

knitting machine
Yep, this is old!

I began to question the sanity of my purchase, but thank goodness for YouTube – there were plenty of tutorials there to get me started. I clamped the machine to the front of a desk and I was ready to go:

knitting machine
I got lucky – the machine matches the length of my desk perfectly

My machine is about as simple as it gets. It only knits stockinette, and there’s no motor or electronics or automation – you operate it by pushing the carriage back and forth across the row of latch hooks. One pass equals one row of stockinette.

knitting machine
Pretty latch hooks, all in a row

In case you’re like me and wondering how on earth this works, here’s a 10-second explanation: inside the purple carriage, the angled bars on the green plate direct the raised peg near the back of each hook, which pushes each hook in and out as you move the carriage along. The hook is moved forwards to grab the yarn in the open latch, and then moved backwards, which closes the latch, draws the new yarn through the existing stitch, and drops the old stitch off the hook.

knitting machine
It’s a simple but clever mechanism

It’s possible to make increases, decreases, lace and cables with the machine, but you have to move each stitch in turn into its new position (which takes ages) before you knit each row – it’s a completely manual process.

(If you wanted to do ribbing, or any other stitch pattern consisting of both knits and purls, there’s no way to do that except to drop every stitch that should be a purl, and hook it back up in the other direction with a crochet hook or latch hook – I’m not sure if you’d save much time at all after all that faffing around!)

After a few stitch-dropping fiascos, I got the hang of the machine and knitted a rag hem (a reusable provisional weighted hem). The machine is incredibly fast when you’re just knitting back and forth – it just takes a couple of seconds to knit a full row!

knitting machine
Woohoo! I knitted something on the machine!

I made two more rag hems, both for practice using the machine and as gauge swatches for my first ‘proper’ project (blog post coming soon…)

And here’s the rag hem in action as I start swatching for another project:

  • The weighted rod slides inside the bottom edge of the hem to weigh down the project
  • The pink thread temporarily attaches the project to the hem
  • The yellowish-green yarn is the first row of my project

knitting machine
Rag hem in action

Here’s the finished swatch before I bound it off. It looks pretty strange, because the stitches are hugely stretched out across the machine, and the front of the fabric faces away from you as you knit:

knitting machine
Knitting in progress (with the rag hem at the bottom)

After removing the project from the machine, the stretched stitches retract back into regular knitted fabric. Flip it over, and you have rows and rows of stockinette:

knitting machine
Looks like knitting!

I have big plans for this machine – in theory, I should be able to design a handknit sweater and knit my design much more quickly than on manual needles. You may consider it cheating, but I’ll still have to form every increase and decrease myself at the right places, and do all the assembly and knit the ribbing by hand. It’s just a different way to knit, and I think I’m going to enjoy it!


Have you ever tried machine knitting? Or do you think it’s cheating to use a machine?!

I’d love to hear about your experiences, or if you have any resources or tips to share. Let me know in the comments below!

Comments (10)

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments (24)

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