As you can see, I have a brand new home for all my giant amigurumi – yay!
My new studio is still very much a work in progress. My vision is to set up different stations for all the aspects of PlanetJune – business and crafting – as I have a large space here, and I want to be able to get down to work on whatever I need to do without too much setup.
So far, my sewing station is set up (that was the first priority – sooo many curtains to hem for a brand new house!) and the photography station is just about ready to go:
My computer station is ready to process new patterns into pretty PDFs:
(Of course nothing goes as smoothly as planned; I was just about to get back to work when I discovered that the latest Windows update had broken something in my workflow and I can no longer lay out patterns any more using my old software.
This is a good thing really – I’ve been meaning to upgrade to better desktop publishing software for a long time, and this has given me the push to make it happen, so I’m working on developing a new template for PlanetJune patterns. Once it’s ready and I get up to speed with my new software, laying out new patterns and making edits and improvements should be much smoother in future.)
Now, back to today: I’ll give you a proper studio tour at a later date, once all the remaining boxes and piles of stuff have homes and I’ve decorated a bit, but these pics are a little preview of my beautiful space.
As you can see, I have lots of natural light in my studio (there are 6 windows!) which is going to come in very handy.
Hang on, is that a PlanetJune hoodie you’re wearing there, June? Why yes, it is! Isn’t it cool?
Rush Order Tees offered to send me a custom hoodie of my own design. I chose a dark grey men’s size small hoodie so I can wear it as a jacket, and I thought that printing my logo in white would look good against the dark grey.
The process was seamless: they have their own designers who optimize your logo or artwork for printing and check that the colours, alignment, etc are perfect. I approved the proof they sent me and they printed and shipped my hoodie within a couple of days.
Can you see, their designers actually optimized my logo so the ring around my yarn planet is actually a very pale grey instead of the white I originally asked for? It’s a nice touch (and of course I could have requested they change it back to white if I hadn’t liked it).
If you’d like to order some custom apparel too, Rush Order Tees offer t-shirts, hoodies, hats and more. I’m very happy with my hoodie – the quality of the Hanes Ultimate Cotton zip up hoodie is good, and the printing of my logo is clear and crisp. Plus it’s fun to walk around the neighbourhood (the only place I ever go these days…) wearing my own merch 😀
Now, back to setting up my new pattern template, and then I’ll finally be ready to publish a new pattern – it feels like it’s been forever since I was able to do that!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into my new studio… More to come 🙂
Summary: I’m moving house next week, and I’ll be mostly offline for the rest of the month (apart from answering customer support emails).
We closed on our new house in January, but haven’t been able to move in yet due to covid-related manufacture/supply delays in our new appliances (something we weren’t informed of until we’d already paid for them in full… )
I was told we’d have our appliances by the start of April, so I gave notice to our landlord and planned for an April move.
The Appliance Saga
This situation has been a comedy of errors. I was notified in March that the fridge we ordered in January was now discontinued, so they offered us the upgraded model instead. It was only two weeks later that they bothered to mention that our new fridge wouldn’t be in stock until… wait for it… August!
What to do?! We couldn’t keep paying for two houses for another four months (assuming the promised August delivery date even happens…), so I decided to proceed with the move and persuaded the appliance company to deliver and install everything else in the meantime.
Ooh, shiny! Don’t they look fancy?
And, as for the fridge, I’ve bought a mini fridge in the meantime to tide us over:
Don’t laugh – my poor little fridge already has an inferiority complex from being in such a large space!
Living like this is going to be a ‘fun’ challenge for the next few months… We’re trying to eat as much fridge and freezer food as we can before we move, to minimise waste. And I’m looking forward to how luxurious it’ll feel when the new full size fridge/freezer finally arrives 😀
COVID Scare Update
Things were moving forwards, until I got an email warning me that I may have been exposed to COVID by one of the appliance installers..! We were all wearing masks, of course, and I tried to stay as far from them as possible in the house while they worked, but it was still a scary prospect. I had to get tested and faced the possibility of having to isolate and postpone the move if I tested positive.
Thank goodness, I dodged the bullet and my test came back negative, so we were back on track…
Moving house is exhausting. I thought that a local move would be simple, but I still have to organise and pack, load and unload my little car hundreds of times, and unpack it all at the other end.
My bad knee means that carrying heavy things is not an option, and carrying even light things up and down stairs is a problem for me. (We’re hiring movers for the big things, but we want to get all our personal stuff moved over and organised before move day so we can enjoy living in our new house instead of being surrounded by boxes for weeks…)
It’s coming along, slowly but surely…
Half of the contents of the PlanetJune office/studio – including my full yarn stash – has already left here for the new house 🙂
I have four (or more?) patterns in various stages of completion, but I don’t have the brainspace to finish any of them to my standards right now. So I’m officially taking the rest of April away from PlanetJune to concentrate on getting our forever home set up, and getting our rental home ready to return to the landlord.
(I’ll still be doing my daily tech and admin tasks and responding to customer support emails, of course – running a one-person business means there’s no such thing as true “time off”. So if you need me for anything, don’t worry – I’ll still be here for you, within a day or two.)
And now, I’d better get back to prepping for the move – wish me luck!
Over the holidays, I decided to give myself a fun organisation project: creating a box of yarn swatches for all my amigurumi yarns, so it’ll be easy to see all my options and make choices.
Being able to see at a glance all the yarns I have available for my designs is so handy – this could be a really useful project for you too, if you make a lot of amigurumi and have a large yarn stash!
Here is the glorious result:
Isn’t it wonderful?! It’s like looking at a selection box of chocolates, but calorie-free and without the one that nobody likes.
There’s so much pretty colour here, and so much potential for what those colours could become… I feel like I’m an artist and this is my paint box.
Why Make a Swatch Box?
As a professional amigurumi designer, I have a lot of yarn in my stash. More specifically, a lot of worsted weight acrylic from several brands. Some are close enough in weight and appearance to be mixed within a project, and others aren’t (just look at my worsted weight yarn comparison to see how broad a category ‘worsted weight acrylic yarn’ really is!)
All my ami yarns are filed in plastic drawers, and every time I need to pull yarn options for a new project, I have to open several drawers, grab multiple balls of yarn, and then select the best combination of shades that could work for what I have in mind and also match in weight, sheen and texture.
This often leaves me with 10 or more balls of yarn scattered around and the hassle of cramming all the rejected yarns back into their appropriate (and usually overstuffed) drawers. Not ideal.
Making the Swatch Box
I bought lots of the plastic bobbins that are usually used for storing embroidery floss, and wrapped each one with a single layer of yarn, leaving a small space at the top to write the colour name. I used the slits at the bottom of the bobbin to hold the yarn ends in place. To finish each bobbin, I used a yarn needle to pass the yarn ends beneath the wrapped yarn on the back of each bobbin, then trimmed the excess.
I labelled each bobbin with a simple code (due to lack of space):
top left corner : brand (e.g. B = Bernat)
top right corner: yarn line (e.g. S = Satin)
And then wrote out the full colour name below that.
I found a plastic divided box that had sections large enough to hold several bobbins, and organised the swatches first by brand and yarn line, then by colour family.
Do you think I have enough yarn options? (Trick question: of course I don’t! That’s what the extra space and spare bobbins are for…)
After the Swatch Box
This box has changed everything for me. Today I pulled shades for a potential upcoming design, and I just opened the box and could see all my options at once. Within a couple of minutes, I had a selection ready to go, and now I can just go to the appropriate yarn drawer (as indicated from the bobbin) and grab only the shades I need to use.
I can use the holes at the top of each bobbin to clip the collection together while I use them so none go astray.
And, when I’m finished, I can easily refile the swatch bobbins in the box.
Yes, I ‘wasted’ about 2ft of each yarn in making these bobbins, but it was definitely worth it to me – just opening the box and looking at my yarn palette is so inspiring!
Now I can’t wait to grab my hook and get ‘painting’ (well, ‘sculpting’ would be more accurate) with some of these pretties…
Every year, I write a wrap-up to see how far I’ve come over the past year and set a direction for the year ahead.
I don’t think anyone in the world can say that 2020 turned out the way they’d planned, and I’m no exception!
I’ve been very fortunate to not have been directly impacted by COVID-19, other than isolating, social distancing, mask wearing, etc since March. But despite that, I haven’t had the best year, healthwise: I’m still struggling with fatigue problems, and the bad fall I suffered in July left me with a couple of months of post-concussion symptoms (and brain injuries aren’t exactly conducive to productive work…)
Thanks to the pandemic and my head injury, this year has been a bust for me, in terms of quantity of new work. I’ve only published 6 new patterns, and I’ve made little or no headway on my bigger plans and ambitions. But it’s not all bad news!
I think that any progress in 2020 counts as a win, and I’ve definitely made progress. 2020 marks a huge milestone for me: I now have over 300 self-published PDF patterns, ebooks and craft tutorials – isn’t that amazing?!
And I succeeded in completing my most complex design to date. Designing that tortoise shell was an achievement in itself, but figuring out how to explain it clearly in pattern form was a huge undertaking, and, with hindsight, 2020 wasn’t the best year to push myself into such innovation…
I could have been much more productive in terms of quantity if I’d stuck to tried-and-true ‘safe’ ideas. But where’s the fun in that?! I’ve been designing amigurumi for 14 years now, and I have to follow my curiosity and keep trying new things, otherwise I’d be completely bored by now. (And, btw, I’m not bored at all – I still have so many ideas that I haven’t explored yet!)
I also followed up on my plan to post more crafts (not just crochet) on my blog this year with a few tutorials:
And some other craft projects:
(Plus there’ll be a few more projects – knitting, crochet, weaving – that I haven’t finished writing up yet.)
Spending time writing all these craft posts was a bit of a gamble in this age of digital distraction, but I was so happy with the response the non-pattern posts received! I love posting about what I’m making and hopefully inspiring people to try more crafty ideas along the way, and it’s really rewarding to know I still have interested blog readers who find value in my longer-form content in this fast-scrolling social media-filled world. (By the way, huge thanks to everyone who took the time to leave a comment this year and let me know you’re enjoying my posts – I really appreciate it!)
My bestselling patterns this year were the Turtle Blanket and Baby Sea Turtles, Bearded Dragon, and Love Hearts (thanks to their repurposing by healthcare professionals and caring crocheters as COVID-19 comfort hearts). Pine Cones, Farmyard Goats and Mushrooms pushed the usual cats, dinosaurs, succulents etc further down in the PlanetJune charts – a bit of a surprise there, but I’m very happy to see different patterns gaining in popularity and joining the bestseller ranks.
And, once my brain was back to firing on all cylinders, I managed to complete a massive behind-the-scenes project last month that had been on hold since March: a much-needed upgrade of my shop. Although the difference won’t be visible to you, I started over and rebuilt the entire shop from scratch with the latest code updates to keep it safe and secure. It was a lot of work, but if the shop code is clean and simple, it’ll be easier to keep things updated and make improvements in the future.
I decided at the start of 2020 to officially ‘retire’ from being an amateur wildlife photographer. That seems like a shame on the face of it, but the pressure of having to take my camera everywhere and try to get ‘good’ photos had started to spoil the relaxation of appreciating the environment and enjoying the wildlife I see. Now I can just enjoy time outside in nature with Dave and Maggie without being stuck behind a lens or worried that my photos won’t be good enough – just appreciating it in the moment is enough.
My biggest personal breakthrough in 2020 was to finally seek therapy for my PTSD and anxiety disorder. After many months of counselling and learning CBT techniques, I not only feel much calmer, but also better equipped to deal with new stressful situations whenever they come up.
And my biggest joy of 2020 (and one with the most serendipitous timing, just before the lockdowns etc began) was adopting my rescue dog Maggie at the end of January. As a first time dog mama, I’d been so nervous to take this step, but it only took one look at her to know that she and I were meant to be together.
I’ve already written about how much she’s helping me, and I’ve devoted a lot of time this year to helping her blossom: from a timid, neglected, skin-and-bone scrap who didn’t know any commands and cried whenever I left her side, to a happy, healthy pup who recognizes dozens of words and knows she’s part of a loving forever family. That’s my most important and rewarding accomplishment of the year.
I have so many things I want to make: videos! ebooks! new designs! new techniques! new products! but even in writing this list I realise that sounds exhausting.
I know I’m not capable of doing things by halves, so there’s no such thing as a “quick” video or blog post for me – it just doesn’t fit with my detail-oriented personality, for better or worse. And I know my energy reserves are limited; pushing myself today just means I’ll be too tired to do anything tomorrow, so I have to try to respect my limits.
So I’m looking to be strategic with where I spend my energy. I’m trying to make it easier for people to find PlanetJune and discover my huge back catalogue of treasures. If that could completely support me financially on an ongoing basis, like a successful author living on the royalties on their past books, it’d give me the time to follow my inspiration without any pressure.
Last year, my wishes were 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), and inspiration (a new decade is a perfect time to try new things, and I have a feeling I have some great ideas coming!)
And, although I couldn’t have guessed the global challenges the year would present, those goals turned out to be an excellent 2020 coping strategy, and, in re-reading them, I realize that they still ring completely true for me today.
So, my wishes for 2021 are for:
acceptance of the things I can’t control
appreciation of all the good things in my life, no matter how small
inspiration to keep moving forwards and trying new things
For me, these are calm, centred guiding principles to live by. They stood me in good stead last year, and I want to keep going on this path and keep making slow, steady progress this year.
If my wishes sound good to you too, I hope you’ll also be able to find a way to apply them to your life this year. I wish you a very Happy New Year, and a safe and happy 2021!