That’s right, I can’t quite believe this, but I now have over 100,000 YouTube subscribers! And YouTube have sent me a shiny silver Creator’s Award to commemorate the achievement – how cool is that?
I actually hit 100k in December (I have over 101k now!) and I wanted to do something to celebrate right away, so I decided to be brave and show my face on video for the first time ever, as well as giving you a glimpse into my design process as I celebrated by crocheting a silver play button.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s my video:
Note: The video may look a little small embedded in the blog: if so, you can fullscreen it or click through to YouTube to watch it full-sized 🙂
When my real award arrived, I was surprised by how close my crocheted version turned out to be! The shape of the button is pretty close, and the size of the button and the ‘play’ triangle are almost perfect…
Let’s pretend I intentionally designed it to be exactly the right size, okay?
I can’t describe how strange and cool it feels to be a part of a top tier of YouTube, especially because I don’t play the game the way you’re ‘supposed’ to – I don’t publish content regularly, I don’t fish for subscribers, I don’t have clickbait-y titles…
My strategy has always just been to make clear, concise and helpful crochet tutorial videos, and it’s so validating to have this recognition that PlanetJune is a valuable YouTube resource, even if I’m not a typical YouTuber!
(I don’t suggest you try to follow in my footsteps if you want to grow your own YouTube channel – it’s taken me over 10 years to reach this point using my lack-of-strategy, so there’s a distinct lack of instant gratification with my method! But this is the way it works for me; I don’t plan to go anywhere, and I’ve always been playing the long game of quality and commitment.)
By the way, it turned out to be quite tricky taking a photo of my award – especially as a selfie – because the play button itself is mirrored!
See? The truth behind my selfie magic is revealed… 😀
Woohoo! 100 thousand subscribers… isn’t that mind-blowing?! I’ll definitely have more videos coming soon – I can’t let a tenth of a million people down, can I?
There’s something about giant amigurumi that’s just so appealing. I love how quickly you can make a huge soft toy or decoration! So on December 1st I tweeted:
I may have just decided to crochet a giant purple mushroom and a giant blue gecko… These seem like entirely reasonable and useful items that need to exist in the world, right?
The reason for those colours? I had lots of random blanket yarn that I bought last year from the yarn factory outlet store without considering that the colours I like for clothing etc (purples, blues, etc) don’t really translate into useful colours for a lot of amigurumi (lots of browns and neutrals)…
Blanket yarn is so bulky, it takes up a lot of storage space, so keeping a stash of giant yarn isn’t the best idea. This plan would use up a good chunk of my blanket yarn stash, and all I’d need to buy is one ball of white for the mushroom stalk!
And here are the results:
My Giant Mushroom uses mushroom design ‘C’ from my Mushroom Collection crochet pattern, and less than one ball each of the cap and stalk yarn colours.
I love how the giant gills turned out. The head was initially flopping about far too much for my liking, so I unstitched the cap from the base and used the technique for stiffening stuffed pieces (from my Giant Amigurumi ebook) to fix it.
My Giant Gecko gave me some problems at first – after using the yardage calculator from my giant amigurumi ebook, I realised I didn’t have enough of any single yarn colour to make the whole gecko. I didn’t want to buy more yarn for my stashbusting project, so I decided to base my gecko (very loosely) on a neon day gecko – lime head, aqua body, teal legs.
I was very uncertain about this project when I’d crocheted all the pieces but not yet assembled anything – I was pretty sure it was going to look terrible! But I’d forgotten the PlanetJune maxim:
Trust The Pattern
…I give this advice all the time, but forgot to take it myself!
Lots of my designs can look weird and wrong when you’re partway through making them, but if you just trust the pattern and follow along with all the steps, it magically comes together in the end. (That’s why I often need to tweak my prototypes multiple times before everything comes together in a way that looks deceptively simple in the final pattern. )
And yes, my gecko turned out just like I’d originally imagined he would:
I kept my fingers crossed that I’d be able to make the legs work without the original pipe cleaners inside them – imagine how large the pipe cleaners would have to be to work for a 3-ft long gecko! With normal amigurumi, you can skip the wires in the legs and just stitch the legs into a fixed bent position, but I wasn’t sure that technique would hold up with this size and weight.
Although my giant gecko’s legs won’t support his weight, they don’t have to – his belly touches the floor and the legs just stick out to the sides, so there was no problem in the end. He looks pretty realistic considering he’s 9 times larger than a real neon day gecko!
And then there’s my Giant Tortoise! I actually made him at the same time I made all the normal-sized tortoises for my Tortoise pattern, but I never got around to showing him to you.
He looks very similar to a real-life giant tortoise in shape and size – I love him so much! And isn’t he cute with all the ‘baby’ (aka regular-sized) tortoises?!
I didn’t make any changes at all to the pattern except for scaling up the hook and yarn to Giant size and using my standard Giant Amigurumi techniques.
Thanks to the double construction of the shell with the crocheted body inside, there’s nowhere with gaps for the stuffing to be exposed, and the finished tortoise is satisfyingly sturdy – as you can see, I sometimes use him as a footrest!
Crochet your Own Giant Amigurumi
Have I tempted you to try giant amigurumi for the first time? My ebook,The Complete Guide to Giant Amigurumi, will give you all my tips and tricks for upscaling a regular amigurumi pattern to giant size.
And here are the links to my crochet patterns for all the patterns I used here:
We had to say our final goodbye to our beautiful cat Maui this week.
Although we knew it was coming, we’re still completely devastated to have lost our boy, and I know that many of you have got to know and love him over the years too. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that Maui has been a huge part of PlanetJune – he’s been my assistant, supervising my work, since the very beginning. And, of course, there would be no AmiCats designs without Maui as my muse!
But let’s try not be too sad – Maui has lived a long, happy and adventurous life, and we’re so grateful to have been with him for so long and to have so many beautiful memories. I’ll share a few moments with you today.
We adopted Maui from a shelter when he was a year old. When we adopted him, he was a very sweet but independent boy – he didn’t get along with other cats, which was perfect for us. He was always reserved with new people, but he adopted us right back immediately, rubbing around our ankles and purring as soon as we got him home.
He loved watching our birdfeeders out of the window, and the local squirrels loved to tease him through the window!
Whenever we left the house, he’d sit in the front window and watch us go – it was so cute to see his little face in the window.
Once he realised we’d be together forever, he mellowed and relaxed, and his favourite pastimes were sunbathing and snuggling with us.
And also eating… He really loved his food, and he was so smart that he figured out how to get his paw up into his feeder and sneak extra food. We had to change his feeder for a Maui-proof one eventually, so he didn’t get too fat!
Maui was our constant companion through 6 house moves and two moves halfway around the world and back. He was so strong and brave, and adapted quickly to every change – all he needed to be happy was to be with us.
And he somehow knew the difference between his toys and my yarn and amigurumi and never, ever tried to mess with my yarn!
When we added Maggie to our family in 2020, Maui took it in stride, as always. We bought him a cat tree so he could have a safe place to relax, and he loved curling up in there to survey the world or snooze the day away.
Maggie loved her brother and often slept at the foot of the cat tree to be close to him. They definitely treated each other like family, and they had lots of contented times sunbathing together on the rug by the window.
Maui has been a huge part of our lives for so long, and although the last few months of his decline have been heartbreaking, we had 16 amazing years of love together that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
His loss leaves a huge hole in our lives, but we’ll try to follow his example: to be strong and brave, adaptable, and always make the best of any situation.
Rest well, dearest Maui. You’ll always be with us.
The first annual PlanetJune Reindeer Games crochet-along has just finished, and it was a huge success! It was a lovely sociable way to end the year, and provided a good escape for everyone from all the usual end-of-year stresses.
Over the 2 month CAL, we had a very active time – 48 pages of chat! – and an amazing 104 completed projects:
I’m going to make the Reindeer Games an annual event, so look out for my announcement next October if you’d like to take part in the 2022 CAL (or sign up for my monthly newsletter now so I can send you a reminder!)
In the meantime, I’m collecting feedback on how we can make the games better and smoother for the next run. The advantage of running my own event is that everything can be changed and improved, in collaboration with the PlanetJune community. There’s a thread in the PlanetJune Ravelry group where we can discuss suggestions and decide what changes can be made – I hope you’ll share your ideas there.
And please feel free to comment here too, especially if you don’t/can’t use Ravelry – having an (additional) off-Ravelry way to participate is one of the possible improvements I’d consider for next year, if people would appreciate that. If there’s another online location that you’d prefer to use instead of Ravelry, do let me know. A Facebook group? A Discord server? Something else?
Congratulations to everyone who participated in the first Reindeer Games, and thank you to everyone who makes the PlanetJune community such a friendly, welcoming environment. It’s a pleasure to be a part of it and to get to know you all – and to see the beautiful creations you make from my patterns 🙂
Writing my Year in Review post every year 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.
Who’d have thought that this year would be, in many ways, harder than 2020?!
This year, I’ve only published 7 new patterns all year – only one more than I managed in 2020! But considering everything else that’s been going on, I’m not letting myself feel bad about that.
While I didn’t publish any specific crochet tutorials this year, I was doing crochet-related research instead that will benefit us all in future! I organized my stash with my worsted weight yarn bobbins, and I completed two massive crochet investigations (Scaling Amigurumi and the huge Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison), both of which have helpful tables of results to help you with amigurumi-making.
My craft projects this year have helped me stay calm through the difficult times, as always. Diamond painting has definitely been a joyful discovery for me; it’s just mindless enough to be relaxing without being boring.
I crocheted ami-Maui and ami-Maggie, and I finished the year with a few more fun crochet projects for myself (I haven’t had the chance to blog about those yet, but there’s a sneak peek in the pic below).
And this reminds me that I haven’t done a stitch of knitting all year! I still haven’t had a chance to set up my knitting machine in my new studio, and I haven’t felt like picking up the needles either… I’m sure that’s about to change though – I always come back to my crafts eventually, and Maggie needs some new dog sweaters.😉
I’ve also spent a lot of my ‘making’ time this year customizing curtains for the new house: including sheers and curtains, I’ve hemmed 32 panels to each fit the windows they cover – I only finished the last ones this week! And I’ve been baking bread – I’m making good use of the breadmaker my Mum bought for me as a housewarming gift:
Yes, I like experimenting with bread recipes!
So there’s been lots of creativity going on in 2021 – and that’s just the way I like it. 🙂
In 2021 I pushed myself out of my comfort zone:
I gave an hour-long live presentation for the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters’ Guild. It was an honour to be invited – it was their first ever crochet presentation, so I felt like I had something to prove, to try to explain some of the benefits of crochet to knitters! The presentation was given over Zoom, and despite my getting a little flustered and overheated under my studio lights, I had dozens of my amigurumi and crocheted accessories at the ready to illustrate my points, and I had lots of interest and good feedback, so I think it went well.
I also reached the astounding milestone of 100,000 subscribers to my YouTube channel (I’ll be writing a post about that when I receive my award!), and used this as an excuse to force myself to be brave enough to show my face on video for the first time ever – something I’ve been planning to do for years, but never got comfortable enough to make it happen until the presentation gave me some courage to film a special video to commemorate this occasion. (If you haven’t seen the video yet, take a look now!)
I made some big behind-the-scenes improvements:
When the latest Windows update broke something in my workflow I invested in a professional desktop publishing software package. I’m still grappling with the learning curve (one of the reasons why I haven’t been able to publish more patterns this year) but I can already see how much smoother and more flexible the process is going to be in future.
I managed to get my shop listed in the Google Shopping tab, and I’m a large fraction of the way to getting Google Seller Ratings enabled for PlanetJune. These will both increase my visibility in search results and hopefully lead to more sales on an ongoing basis.
And I had some more big projects on the go:
I set up a massive new annual crochet along – the PlanetJune Reindeer Games – for the holiday season, complete with special virtual medal graphics. Creating the games was a ton of work, but the first year has been a big success (blog post coming soon!) and it’ll be much easier to run the games in future years.
And I signed a contract for a secret project that I can’t tell you about yet! I’ll be able to reveal the details some time next year. 😉
This year I’ve moved house (into our beautiful new forever home that wasn’t completely finished when we took possession, and only had the final fixes – and the fridge! – arrive this month, so it’s basically taken the entire year to get everything organised).
I’ve dealt with the decline of my beloved cat Maui, and now I’m adjusting to managing his kidney disease and diabetes. And I’m still struggling with my own ongoing fatigue issues.
Then there’s the ongoing stress of the times that we’re all going through. Things are different these days, and I often don’t have the energy to show up online for social media and all that stuff, even though I miss my online friends there and I know it would be ‘good for business’ to show up regularly. But I find social media overwhelming and exhausting, and I need to stay away from it most of the time to protect my mental health.
Speaking of mental health, I’m doing much better there – I’ve stopped needing therapy for the PTSD and anxiety disorder, and I feel so much better that I’ve been tapering off my anxiety meds for the past few months. It’s a very slow process – it takes weeks for the brain to adjust to each reduction – but I’m down to 1/8 of the minimum effective dose now, so I’ll be completely drug free soon!
Musings on Long-Term Self-Employment
Being self-employed means there’s no ladder to climb; no promotions or bonuses I can aim for, and yet, there is a reward for putting in 14 years of service (so far) at PlanetJune: having several hundred patterns in my catalogue thankfully means I don’t need to stick to a strict publishing schedule in order to stay afloat. So when external circumstances mean I can’t be very productive, that’s okay – I can still get by on sales from my past 14 years of design work.
I’m still just as passionate as ever about my work and my craft, and I’m not going anywhere, it’s just that it takes longer for me to produce anything new these days! Maybe that’ll change in future, and maybe not – it’s okay either way. Quality over quantity, always.
The common theme that runs through my 2021, and one I hadn’t noticed until looking at it all together like this, is that everything I’ve done (crochet research, tech improvements, trying new and scary things) has been like planting seeds that will continue to bear fruit in the future. So, looking at it that way, perhaps 2021 has been more productive than I’d realised…
My overall goal for PlanetJune is to create work I can be proud of while making enough money to support the life I want to live. I’m not going to set specific goals for 2022 – I have a few big projects planned, and other than that we’ll see where inspiration strikes.
Last year, my wishes were for acceptance (of the things I can’t control), appreciation (of all the good things in my life), and inspiration (to keep moving forwards and trying new things). Those are still excellent guiding principles that I aim to live by, but as we head into the third year of the pandemic, I want to change the focus a bit.
So, my wishes for 2022 are for:
resilience to keep going through the tough times
grace to not beat myself up when reality falls short of expectation
hope to look forward to the better things to come
I wish the same for you – and that you’ll be happy, healthy and safe in 2022. Happy New Year!