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 🙂
Team PlanetJune had such a blast with the Ravellenic Games last summer, we decided that our Christmas crochet-along this year will be a Team PlanetJune special event!
The first annual PlanetJune Reindeer Games begins on Monday November 1st, and I hope you’ll join us 🙂
Crochet anything PlanetJune as part of the PlanetJune Reindeer Games 2021 (Monday, Nov 1 – Friday, Dec 31). This is a Team PlanetJune event, hosted in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, with a similar concept to the Ravellenic Games: the idea is to challenge yourself by starting and finishing crochet project(s) before the end of the year.
It’s just for fun, like a CAL but you get to choose your projects – anything PlanetJune, including projects from my books – and earn virtual awards! During the Games, we all cheer each other on to complete our chosen projects. Our team captains will award you with your Reindeer Village medals and Antlers as you complete your project(s).
Santa and all 9 reindeer have set up their stalls in the Reindeer Games Village – have a virtual wander around and choose which you’ll visit first:
Santa’s Toy Shop – toys
Rudolph’s Gingerbread House – home/décor
Dasher’s Scarf Stand – scarves
Dancer’s Winter Wear – hats and mitts
Prancer’s WIPs Wrapping – any project started before the Games
Vixen’s Shawl Stall – shawls and wraps
Comet’s Closet – sweaters and other garments
Cupid’s Cowl Corner – cowls and neckwarmers
Donner’s Blanket Bazaar – blankets and afghans
Blitzen’s Bag Bonanza – bags and purses
You’ll receive the medal for the stall you ‘visited’ once you’ve finish your project! And you can also receive bonus Antler awards for your projects:
Santa’s Helper – showing team spirit
Angel – charity project
Carolling – crochet in public
Cookie Decorator – colourwork
Deck the Halls – embellishments
Heirloom – using a PJ pattern you’ve owned for more than 3 months
Ice Sculptor – techniques: cables, lace or Tunisian
Snowman – modifying the base pattern
Master Wrapper – complete 3 WIP projects
Super Elf – complete any 3 projects
Bah! Humbug! – complete a project on Christmas Eve
Fireworks – complete a project on New Year’s Eve
Have a Cookie – a special antler for those of us who try our best but don’t quite get to the finish line
Whether you’re crocheting your favourite PlanetJune patterns as Christmas gifts, items to sell at craft fairs or online, toys for charity, or projects for yourself, we’re ready to encourage you to complete your goals and to celebrate your successes with you!
And, even if you think you may not have time to complete a project, you’re very welcome to join the team for the community spirit and friendly chat. There’s something about PlanetJune that attracts the kindest and most supportive people, and, if you enjoy PlanetJune patterns, you’re already part of our community – do come over and say hello!
Team PlanetJune in the Rav Games 2021
To give you an idea of what to expect, in the Ravellenic Games last summer, Team PlanetJune completed 54 projects, and enjoyed 56 pages of chat! Here’s a roundup of all the wonderful PlanetJune projects that we completed in just 2 weeks:
Isn’t it lovely to see the variety of projects and be inspired by what other people are making? I expect the project mix will look somewhat different for the Reindeer Games, with more Christmas decorations and warm accessories – but who knows! You’ll have to join in to find out…
Join us for the Reindeer Games!
While the Ravellenic Games is a fast-paced sprint, the Reindeer Games is more of a gentle stroll together towards the holidays. The rules are relaxed, the timeline is extended, and having fun and supporting each other is the main goal.
If that sounds good to you, please hop over to the PlanetJune group on Ravelry, and leave a message saying “I’m in!” in the Reindeer Games thread. We look forward to welcoming you into our virtual Reindeer Games Village. 🙂
The BotaniCAL crochet-along ran from May throughout the summer, and we’ve ended up with so many gorgeous crocheted potted plants, and a few lovely flowers and fruit etc too! My cactus and succulent patterns were by far the most popular options – I’m happy to say that the succulent trend is showing no sign of fading. 🙂
All the entries are highlight-worthy, but I thought I’d share the impressive achievements of some of the most prolific CALers:
Monica (MagicalAmigurumi) made all 26 of my individual cacti and succulents – wow! (I bet making the pots got a bit boring by the end…) I hope they’re selling well for you, Monica 🙂
Dagrider made a massive succulent planter including all 16 succulents! Don’t they look so realistic, all together like that?
Alicia (aaBrink, left) and Susanna (sujavo, right) both made fabulous succulent wreaths. I love how they took the same concept and ended up with completely different (and equally lovely!) results, by choosing different colour palettes and arrangements for their succulents.
And Judy (jukatca) made all 6 cactus and succulent gardens. ‘Planted’ in real pots and sitting on her windowsill, don’t they look great?
And last but not least (except in size), Michelle (MichelleBogart) loves to make miniature amigurumi with a tiny hook and crochet thread – just look at her mini Pansies and African Violets (with a spool of sewing thread for scale)! Now that’s impressive.
Enjoy the BotaniCAL Gallery
I’ve really enjoyed watching all the plants popping up in this CAL and seeing the creativity in terms of colours, arrangements, scale, etc – there’s obviously a lot you can do with a crocheted pot plant pattern!
If this looks like fun, the next PlanetJune CAL will be starting shortly and we’d love to welcome you as a participant! PlanetJune crochet-alongs are a low stress way to try PlanetJune patterns as part of our friendly encouraging online community. There are usually small and/or free pattern options if you’re short on time or money, and we’ll offer you any help and encouragement you need, no matter your crochet skill level!
The Summer of Dinosaurs crochet-along was a huge success, with new dinosaurs joining the herd pretty much every day, until we had an amazing 129 completed projects by the end of July! Here’s an overview of all 129 dinos completed during this CAL so you can admire our epic yarny Jurassic Park (if you’d like to see any of the projects in more detail, click here to view the CAL gallery in full, but you’ll need to be a Ravelry member to see them):
What an amazing collection! I love the variety: colours, styles, sizes, customizations, and photo staging. And top quality crocheting by all involved!
This was a prize CAL, generously sponsored by Lion Brand. The Grand Prize yarn will be provided by Lion Brand and shipped directly to the winner, and I’m providing all the other prizes.
Grand Prize: 3 skeins Vanna’s Choice (the yarn I used to make all my dinosaurs!) and 1 skein of the gorgeous new Textures yarn plus a PlanetJune crochet pattern of your choice
Second Prize: a PlanetJune Amigurumi Essentials Kit plus a PlanetJune crochet pattern of your choice
Third Prize: a PlanetJune crochet pattern of your choice
Runner-up Prizes: there are no losers at PlanetJune! All other participants who complete one or more entries in the CAL will receive a 10% discount code towards your next order from PlanetJune.com 🙂
I grabbed all 129 entries and pasted them into Excel so they were in numbered rows, sorted alphabetically. Then I used random.org to generate 3 numbers between 1 and 129 (inclusive) for the winners. And they are:
Grand Prize winner: #31 kathertine Second Prize winner: #74 NeofelisNebulosa Third Prize winner: #98 pandabugcreations
Congratulations to the winners! Look out for a Ravelry PM from me so you can give me your details for your prizes. And to all the other participants, I’ll be PMing you too, with your runner-up discount code 🙂
Thanks to all of you who particiapted, for making this crochet-along so successful – it’s been an absolute pleasure to see all these wonderful ami dinosaurs popping up over the past 7 weeks!
There’s always a crochet-along running in the PlanetJune group on Ravelry. If you’d like to join a current or future CAL, please join our group and participate as often as you want – we’d love to see your projects.
With 5 more weeks to go, I thought now would be a good time to help out any of you who’ve been reluctant to join the CAL because you’re not familiar with Ravelry. Ravelry is a huge site that has a lot to offer, and that can be a bit intimidating when you first sign up and have so many options to click into. There’s definitely a bit of a learning curve to Ravelry, but the good news is that you only need to use a tiny fraction of the site to enter a PlanetJune CAL.
Don’t be scared! Just click through to my PlanetJune Crochet-Along FAQ, where I’ll show you, step-by-step, everything you need to know to add your CAL project to Ravelry and post it to the PlanetJune group.
The PlanetJune group on Ravelry, where you can find pattern support, chat about crochet (and more), make new friends, and share your love of PlanetJune patterns!
And, once you’re comfortable with the PlanetJune corner of Ravelry, I recommend you start to explore the whole site a bit further – it’s totally free to use, and it has a lot to offer anyone who crochets (and/or knits).
Ravelry includes a searchable database of pretty much every pattern and yarn in existence, so if you’re looking for something in particular it’s easy to find it. You can also see all the projects other people have made from the patterns or yarns (before you decide to buy them!) and their verdict on what they thought of it.
Don’t forget that with every Summer of Dinosaurs CAL entry, you’ll be entered to win some of the amazing prizes pictured below: your favourite colours of Lion Brand yarn, an amigurumi kit, PlanetJune patterns, and runner-up prizes for all entrants (see the main CAL post for full details of the prizes).
It’s a thrill to see new unique colourful dinosaurs popping up every day, and to have lots of new participants joining our regular band of CALers! There are 6 more weeks to go, so that’s plenty of time for even a complete beginner to crochet a dinosaur to join our virtual herd…
If you’re tempted to join the CAL but you’re new to amigurumi, or haven’t made a PlanetJune pattern before, this is a great opportunity to have a go. Even if you’ve been crocheting for years, amigurumi (and my patterns in particular) use a specific set of techniques that you may not be familiar with.
For your first dinosaur (or even your first amigurumi!) I recommend you choose the Brachiosaurus (who’s also our CAL mascot, pictured above left), as it has simple shaping, only a few pieces to stitch together, and an undeniably cute result.
I have a comprehensive range of amigurumi tutorials at www.planetjune.com/help, but you’ll only need a few of them for this CAL. To set you on the track to success, let’s take a look at the tutorials for making the best-looking dinosaurs…
The Essential Tutorials
To make beautiful amigurumi with no lumps, bumps or holes, all you need are these 4 absolutely essential techniques:
Magic Ring for Crochet
Start crocheting in the round with no hole in the middle.
Invisible Decrease for Amigurumi
Decrease without leaving any bumps or gaps.
Ultimate Finish for Amigurumi
Close up the remaining hole neatly with a smooth, gap-free finish.
Amigurumi Seamless Join
Create a smooth, almost invisible join when you stitch an open-ended piece to a closed piece.
Bonus Tips for Dinosaurs
For those dinos with horns, spikes, plates, wings and flippers, these tutorials have you covered:
What does it mean when a pattern says to flatten a piece of an amigurumi after crocheting?
Narrow Pointed Tubes for Amigurumi
My tips for making thin pointy bits on amigurumi, such as spikes, legs, horns and tails.
Basic Techniques and Troubleshooting
If you’re new to amigurumi-making or find your stitches don’t quite look right, try these tutorials (or see my Amigurumi Troubleshooter for further assistance):
Which is the ‘Right’ Side?
Which side of your work should face outwards? (And does it matter?)
Front, Back, Both Loops
Which loop(s) should you work into to make a crochet stitch?
How exactly should you wrap the yarn over your hook for crochet?
And if you still have any questions, that’s what the PlanetJune community is here for: we have lots of friendly crocheters in the PlanetJune Ravelry group who understand exactly what you’re going through, and are waiting to offer any help and advice you need. 🙂
I hope this post has tempted you to join the dino fun this summer (and, don’t forget you may win a great prize too, thanks to our CAL sponsor, Lion Brand!)
Time for a confession: my time management has had a bit of a hiccup, because of the book. I assumed that, at this stage, all I had left to do was a final read-through of basically perfect pages, but I grossly underestimated this stage of the book production process.
We’re now at the critical stage where all the different jobs – editing, photography, design and layout, illustration – come together for the first time, and all those elements, expertly created by different people, have to be carefully aligned and tweaked to get all the pieces to come together perfectly.
The reason for my misunderstanding is that neither of my other books had this stage: Paper Chains & Garlands was much simpler in terms of design and content, so there was little that could go wrong; and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi had no page design beyond the stylesheet, and all the photographs and illustrations were inserted exactly as I provided them, so, again, the pages needed little more than a cursory glance from me at this stage.
Idiot’s Guides: Crochet will be very different, with clean, attractive page layouts and professional photography – it’s very exciting, but it just takes much longer to get it all right. Each page needs to be tweaked and cuts may need to be made to get it all to fit beautifully into the design without losing any essential information.
Collaborating with the rest of the team to make sure everything ends up perfect would be painstaking and time-consuming work in the best case, but, as I’m also on the other side of the world from my team, their working day is only just beginning as mine ends. I stay up late every time we need a meeting, and email exchanges usually take the best part of 24 hours to get a simple yes/no reply, and much longer if it’s a back-and-forth conversation!
I had to pull a few 12-hour days trying to get my Baby Sea Turtle Collection published in time for the Rav Games as promised while all this was going on. The pattern has had a great response, so I’m happy I did that, but I can’t keep overdoing things.
For the next couple of weeks, I’ll still be busy checking and re-checking every page of the book, to make sure the book is as close to perfect as we can get it before it goes to print. I’m not going to cut corners with this crucial step, so that means I’ve had to drop the ball on a few other things…
This is a good thing really – it’s a clear sign that my CAL roundup posts need an overhaul. I just don’t have the time to put together roundup posts as I have in the past, but I’ve come up with a neat solution!
From now on, I’ll be posting a screenshot from Ravelry as a sample of the CAL entries, and you can click through to see all the entries in full. (This does mean you’ll need a Ravelry username to see them all, but it’s free to join and hugely beneficial to anyone who crochets (or knits). If you haven’t joined already, now would be a good time – and then come and join the PlanetJune group too so we can help you get to know Rav better!)
This change also has a big benefit for CALers: no more image dimension requirements! Upload any photos you want to your project, any size or shape, tag your project with the CAL tag (v important!), and you’re entered. My summary screenshot will show the projects with the most favourites, so it’ll add a little friendly competition – take the best photos you can and see if you can make it into the top 12 so your project will appear in the summary pic 🙂
Let’s start this off now with the January CAL roundup that I missed: the 2013 Designs CAL. All the designs I released in 2013 were eligible for this CAL, which led to a nice variety of projects. Here are just a few of the lovely entries we had:
(It’s a process… For the next roundup, we’ll know that everyone should tweak each project’s first photo so the project doesn’t fall off the edges of the thumbnail, as some of these do! Do click through to see them all in their full glory.)
Meerkat Design Process
The additional book work has thrown a huge spanner in the works for my plan to share the progress on my Meerkat design as I go. Something as demanding as a new design is always a challenge, and even more so if I’m sharing the details of designing it as I go – quite a nerve-wracking proposition for me!
I’ve only been able to write the first update so far, and now I think it’ll be better all round if I postpone the entire plan until after my book commitments are complete. The book and the meerkat commission both deserve my full attention, and that’s not going to happen if I try to do both simultaneously.
I’ll still share my design process as promised, and the commissioners will still get their Meerkat pattern in the not-too-distant future, but I’m going to set this aside until the book is 100% finished. I think I’ll make the Meerkat design process into a series of blog posts instead, hopefully running throughout March.
Finding a Balance
This year, I’m trying to keep a flexible attitude and be willing to change plans to keep my work level more manageable. So, although the Meerkat is on hold for a couple more weeks, I am using my non-book time productively – I have another couple of (less stressful) designs in the works, so there will be more PlanetJune patterns coming soon.
I feel confident that, once the book work is really out of the way (as I mistakenly thought it already was!) I’ll be able to find a balance without over-committing, and my life will finally calm down. And I’m really looking forward to getting stuck back into PlanetJune full time – there’s so much I want to do, and I can’t wait to be able to show you some of the other exciting designs that currently only exist inside my head – the Baby Sea Turtles were just the beginning…