PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for My Craft Business

PlanetJune End-of-Year 2020 Crochet-Along

This year has been a struggle for everyone, so let’s try to end it on a high note, and celebrate our love of crochet together, with prizes for everyone!

The annual PlanetJune Christmas Crochet-Along (CAL) is back, but it’s even more inclusive this time around. You can enter the End-of-Year 2020 CAL any time from now until the end of the year by:

  • Crocheting any PlanetJune Xmas/winter-themed patterns you’re making for your holiday decorating
  • Crocheting any PlanetJune pattern you’re giving as a holiday gift or as a donation to a good cause (or selling to someone who’s buying it as a gift)
  • Crocheting any PlanetJune pattern you’re making for yourself – remember, you deserve treats too!

Basically, you can make any PlanetJune patterns you want – the more the merrier! Share what you’re making and join our crochet party as we approach 2021.

Come to the PlanetJune group on Ravelry and join the fun! Share your crochet plans, post photos of your projects in progress, let everyone else know you like their projects, and (of course) post pics of your finished projects so we can all appreciate them.

If you don’t use Ravelry, or can’t at the moment due to their accessibility problems, see the ‘How to Enter’ section below for how to participate via social media instead.

Prizes

Thanks to a generous anonymous benefactor, we have extra prizes this year:

  • First prize: $20 PlanetJune Gift Certificate
  • Second prize (2 winners): $10 PlanetJune Gift Certificate
  • Participation prize (2 winners): $5 PlanetJune Gift Certificate
  • Runner-up prize (everyone else!): 10% PlanetJune discount code to spend in 2021

Pattern Options

While you aren’t limited to my seasonal patterns with this CAL, I thought I’d whet your appetite for project ideas with a collage of all my Christmas patterns:
Christmas crochet patterns by PlanetJune

Isn’t that amazing? There are soooo many to choose from! You can find all these patterns at www.planetjune.com/xmas – including plenty of free/donationware options if funds are short 🙂

How to Enter

Ravelry Users
Post a pic of your PlanetJune projects to the CAL thread in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, and tag your projects with PJCAL2020 in order for them to appear as part of the CAL.

New to Ravelry or PlanetJune CALs? See my Crochet-Along FAQ for all you need to know!
Non-Ravelry option
If you are unable to use Ravelry, you can still enter the contest by:
  1. Posting a photo of your finished PlanetJune project on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
  2. Tagging me (@PlanetJune) in the post so I’ll see it
  3. Using the hashtag #PJCAL2020 in the post so I know it’s an official entry (only use the hashtag once per entry please, even if you post multiple photos or in multiple places!)

Example message “Here’s my entry into the @PlanetJune End-of-Year CAL! #PJCAL2020” (and add your photo, too!) 

Rules

  • Prizes will be drawn from all eligible entries, starting from first prize and working down the list, with a maximum of one prize per person.
  • You’ll receive one entry per PlanetJune pattern used in a completed project and tagged PJCAL2020 (if you make e.g. a Christmas wreath using 5 different patterns, you’ll get 5 entries).
  • Entries will be capped at 8 per person, to give everyone a chance of winning.
  • Bonus entry option (for the participation and runner-up prizes only): even if you don’t manage to complete a project, you can still be entered into the contest – all you need is to have posted at least 5 posts in the CAL thread. So do join in the conversation – you’ll be guaranteed at least a runner-up prize!

I do hope you’ll join us for this PlanetJune end-of-year crochet party – I’m really looking forward to seeing what you’re making from my patterns, as holiday gifts or for yourself! See you in the ravelry group or on social 🙂

Comments

Tortoise: a 10-month (or 10-year!) design study

I’m so happy with the reception my Tortoise patterns have had already! Thank you so much to everyone who’s already bought them or shared them on social – I’m so glad you love them too!

Tortoise crochet pattern and Simple-Shell Tortoise, Turtle & Terrapin expansion pack by PlanetJune

It’s been a very long journey to get to this point, so I thought I’d put together a visual diary of creating my most complex, detailed and challenging pattern to date.

For anyone who looks at the pictures of my finished tortoises and thinks that doesn’t look so hard to design, this post should be an eye-opener! Although my style is to create designs that look smooth and simple, the process is anything but.

So here goes: a decade to get properly started, and then 10 months to get finished!

2011: Conception

I came up with the idea to make a tortoise along the same lines as my AquaAmi Sea Turtle, with a segmented shell and amigurumi-style head and limbs.

AquaAmi Sea Turtle crochet pattern by PlanetJune

There were a couple of other cute tortoise patterns out there, but they all had circular shells and that’s just not right: tortoises have very oval-shaped shells. I sketched out a design for the shell segments that would make an oval shell using simple geometric shapes, and started crocheting.

initial concept for tortoise crochet pattern by planetjune
The initial concept for the shell

Once I started to assemble my pieces, I quickly realised the problem with my design: it was going to produce a flattish shell top. That’s fine for a sea turtle, with its streamlined shape for swimming, but completely wrong for a land tortoise with its domed shell.

I was a fairly new designer back then, with only a few years of experience, and the challenge of creating a very specific asymmetrical 3D shape from simple geometric segments was beyond me – I just didn’t know where to go from there – so I set it aside, and the notes and prototypes were filed for later…

amigurumi wip by planetjune
You can see a couple of the original shell segments (with some dinosaur parts!) in this work-in-progress photo from 2011 – before I realised my idea wasn’t going to work…

2012-2017: Research

Moving from Canada to South Africa in 2011 brought an unexpected benefit. Although I knew that tortoises must live wild somewhere in the world, I only specifically knew about giant Galapagos tortoises, until I made the delightful discovery that ‘normal’ tortoises are pretty common in conservation areas and empty wild spaces in the Cape!

Throughout my years in Africa, I had endless opportunities to meet and study tortoises, from spotting wild tortoises while I was out in nature…

tortoise photo by June Gilbank

… to hanging out with rescued tortoises at my local wildlife sanctuary, World of Birds (tortoises live for a very long time, and keep growing throughout their lives, so ‘cute’ pet tortoises are often abandoned when they get too large)…

June and a tortoise

… to braking for wild tortoises crossing the road in undeveloped areas (and ‘awwww’ing whenever I spotted an adorable baby tort!)…

tortoise photo by June Gilbank

… to getting to hold those baby torts and learn more about them at an education and conservation centre…

tortoise photo by June Gilbank

In all that time, I learnt to appreciate these fascinating reptiles more than ever, and study their shells and markings up close.

2020: Realization

January

After my Christmas break, I was ready to jump into new designs for 2020! With an extra decade of design experience under my belt, I had a new idea for how to tackle that tortoise shell shape.

After all my research time, I knew exactly what I was aiming to create: a life-sized realistically-shaped tortoise with correct (if simplified) shell structure:

  • The carapace (upper shell) has 13 main scutes (segments) with 5 vertebral scutes down the middle, 4 costal scutes around each side, plus a rim of marginal scutes.
  • The plastron (lower shell) is shaped to give the legs room to emerge, and has a gular (throat) scute at the front.

You don’t need to know all those details, but when you look at the tortoise, it should just look right to you, from all angles.

prototype tortoise by PlanetJune
An early prototype: the general idea is good, but it’s too boxy and the scute shapes are all just a bit wrong

prototype tortoise by PlanetJune
Completely reworked in shape and size, this is almost the final shell design, minus the edging

prototype tortoise by PlanetJune
It’s beginning to look like a tortoise!

February

The basic design was finished – and check, check, check, I’d included all the features I wanted in the shell, the shape was lifelike, the size was great, and the shell fit around the body beautifully.

Tortoise crochet pattern by PlanetJune
Tortoise crochet pattern by PlanetJune

You probably think great, I was 90% done and it’d all be smooth sailing from there? If only that were true – the fun designing part was now basically finished, but a lot of hard work was still to come…

March

To take my mind off the lockdown etc, I decided to test my prototype instructions by making a giant tortoise (using the techniques from my Complete Guide to Giant Amigurumi)…

giant tortoise in progress by planetjune
My biggest (and certainly heaviest) giant amigurumi to date!

It was so much fun to make, but it highlighted a lot of things I’d need to explain in the pattern, and that I’d need to refine the design to simplify the assembly process. It turns out that coming up with the design, although it was a long time in the making, was just a small step in the process of producing this pattern – being able to clearly explain something that’s so unique was a whole new challenge.

May

I started prototyping expansion pack ideas while trying to figure out how on earth to make a useable and enjoyable pattern from my well over 150 step-by-step photos and 16 pages of handwritten notes…

prototype tortoise by PlanetJune
Maggie looks a little perturbed by the shell-less tortoises!

July

I felt like the pattern was starting to get into shape, but I still had parts I hadn’t figured out how to explain clearly when I had my accident and temporarily broke my brain. Concussion meant no chance of making progress on such a high-level task – I couldn’t concentrate on anything, let alone something so demanding.

giant amigurumi tortoise by planetjune

My giant tortoise was now part of the family and a fixture in my living room, but I wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to have any crocheted relatives around the world…

giant amigurumi tortoise by planetjune
Yes, my giant tortoise is bulkier than Maui and Maggie combined!

September

With the post-concussion symptoms finally fading, I could get back to whipping this pattern into shape. But – disaster – I couldn’t remember anything I’d been planning to include, or where I’d left off! I had to make another complete tortoise from my notes so I could re-learn the design well enough to explain it clearly.

handwritten notes for tortoise crochet pattern by planetjune
My 16 pages of handwritten notes – there’s a pattern hidden in there somewhere…

I started to regret thinking this could even be possible – the shell was so complicated, and there were no precedents to consult for any of the techniques I’d come up with to make this design work with 18 pieces and no sewing at all (except the back legs).

I threw out pages and pages of explanation I’d put into the pattern that were either too technical or relied on too much expertise – I didn’t want to drown you in irrelevant info, or for this to be a pattern that only a few advanced amigurumists would be able to tackle!

I kept tweaking the techniques and the instructions to make things clearer and cleaner and easier to follow, but it felt like I’d never reach the end of this marathon.

October

Success! With 18 pages, over step-by-step 70 photos with lots of annotations to make things even clearer, and separate right- and left-handed versions, I finally had a pattern that I could be proud of. I’d tried to include solutions to everything that could possibly trip you up, so your questions are answered before you even think to ask them.

Tortoise crochet pattern by PlanetJune

This pattern is unlike anything you’ve seen before. If you follow it carefully and add stitch markers at all the specified places to make sure everything will line up, it’ll guide you step-by-step through the whole process to make a fantastic tortoise!


It’s very fitting that this design is a tortoise: it took a lot of small slow steps to go from a vague concept to a great idea to a satisfying design to a solid finished pattern, but, as in the Tortoise and the Hare fable, slow and steady wins the race.

I always try to give every design the time it needs to become the best pattern it can be. (But I do hope that my ideas won’t all take 10 years to come to fruition from now on!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into my design and patterning process. And if you’d like to enjoy the results of all that work, you can pick up my Tortoise crochet patterns from my shop!

Comments (5)

concussion & customer support

I think I was a bit optimistic in my last health update: post-concussion syndrome can take weeks or months to abate, and I definitely haven’t fully recovered yet. I still get incapacitating headaches on some days, and I sometimes struggle to find the right word when I’m talking. Plus fatigue, sleep problems and a severe lack of concentration and energy… I’m working when I can, but some days I’m just not up to it.

And I seem to be having some memory lapses too, which is quite unsettling. For example, I actually wrote last week’s blog post three weeks earlier, but not only did I forget to post it, I forgot I’d even written it

How does this affect you? Well, thanks to all of this, I’ve just discovered that a few customer support requests may have slipped through the cracks. I don’t have the energy to wade back through a month of email and messages from other channels and follow up with everyone to check whether I’ve completed your request, so I’m going to just start fresh from today.

  • If you’re waiting to hear from me, please email me again (june@planetjune.com).
  • If you’ve contacted me via social media or rav PM, please email me for help instead (june@planetjune.com).

Having all my customer support requests in one place will make it much easier to manage them as I continue my recovery.

Thanks for your continued patience, and I’m so sorry if your message is one that slipped past me – it’s incredibly frustrating to me too; this is not the level of customer service I’m known for, but I can’t just wish myself better! I highly recommend you try to avoid head injuries, if you have that option… 🙂

Comments (8)

update: back from sick leave

Thank you all so much for your kind comments and well-wishes about my accident.

Because of the concussion, my head has been hurting too much until now to spend more than a few minutes at a time on my computer or phone, so I haven’t replied to anyone individually (either here or on social) to say thanks, but please know that it meant a lot to me to get your messages when I was feeling very sorry for myself!

A little health update

Most of my injuries are healing nicely. I have a dentist’s appointment this weekend for my broken tooth, and hopefully by then the concussion will have completely faded and it’ll be safe for me to drive myself there and back. I’m still feeling a little confused, but the killer headaches have faded and I’m coming back to myself.

It was a pretty scary experience, but reading some of the comments people have left me about their similar falls onto concrete that resulted in a broken arm or pelvis, or still having occasional head problems years later, I’m counting myself lucky that I have no lasting damage beyond a ruined pair of expensive glasses and a broken front tooth (and I’m hopeful that my dentist can restore my smile so you’d never know the difference – I know that’s just vanity, but please keep your fingers crossed for me on that front!)

And a little work update

As you’ll already know if you get my newsletter (and if you don’t, sign up now!), my next crochet pattern was due to be a Tortoise with a very detailed crocheted shell. Finishing the shell assembly instructions is still a little beyond my slightly-concussed brain, so I’m putting the pattern on hold for a couple more weeks, or until I’m completely recovered.

But I do have a different design I’ve been working on that needs none of that pesky careful thinking to find exactly the right phrase that most clearly describes an innovative process, so I should have a new pattern for you soon – it just won’t be the one I’d planned to release this month!

I’m still taking things slowly and needing plenty of naps and rest sessions, so please be patient with me as I try to catch up with everything I let slide last week without overdoing things and making my head hurt again…

Comments (7)

I’m on sick leave

I had a bad fall the other day and smashed my head into a concrete sidewalk. I’ve fractured a front tooth and broken my glasses, and I have a concussion as well as cuts and bruises, a fat lip and a big lump on my head.

It hurts my head to use the computer or my phone and I think I need to go on ‘sick leave’ for a few days to recover.

Please be patient if you need anything from me – I will get back to you, but it may take some time!

Comments (31)

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    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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