PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for My Craft Business

New PlanetJune Crochet Tools: Limited Edition

A quick announcement today: for one week only, until October 4th, I’ve re-opened my Crochet Tools shop with some old favourites and new offerings. Pre-order now and I’ll ship your package by the start of November, in plenty of time for Christmas gifts ūüôā

Detail Stuffing Tools

The ever-popular PlanetJune-exclusive stuffing tools are back, in all 5 cheerful colours:

Detail Stuffing Tools for Amigurumi and Plush by PlanetJune

The Detail Stuffing Tool lets you get a grip on your stuffing, stuff the tiniest pieces and stuff right into the corners with ease. Don’t miss out on your chance to grab my bestselling tool that’s already an essential for thousands of amigurumi makers!

Go to Detail Stuffing Tool >>

More Crochet Tools

Feast your eyes on these beauties:

Crochet Tools by PlanetJune: extra-strong stitch markers, yarn needles, embroidery and handsewing needles

PlanetJune stitch markers¬†are back in new extra-strong black plastic with a wider opening, but still with the same rounded tip that won’t snag¬†your yarn, a secure clasp that won’t pop open accidentally,¬†a large enough size (3cm/1.2″) to be able to open and close easily, and a super-cute safety pin shape. Sold in a set of 5.¬†Go to Stitch Markers >>

Needles in Flip-Top Pebble Cases¬†– finally, the perfect way to store your needles so you won’t lose them! The stylish flip-top Pebble container is smooth and flat and easy to slip into your project bag, but large enough not to be mislaid. Each high quality needle slides into its own space in the Pebble, so it’s easy to see if you’ve forgotten to replace it after use. John James is a renowned English needle brand that I’ve used for years and highly recommend.

  • Knitters Pebble (jade green).¬†I didn’t name it – we can call it a¬†Crocheters Pebble¬†if you prefer!¬†Whether you’re stitching your¬†pieces together or weaving in loose yarn ends, a high quality yarn needle makes the task of finishing your crochet (or knit) projects much easier.¬†The strong steel passes smoothly¬†through even the smallest spaces, and the¬†rounded tip won’t damage your fibres. Includes 3 large assorted yarn needles.¬†Go to Knitters Pebble >>

And, as I expect some of you enjoy other crafts too, here are some other handy pebbles you might enjoy:

  • Tapestry Pebble (lavender purple). Whether you’re stitching features onto an amigurumi or enjoying a relaxing embroidery or cross stitch session, high quality tapestry needles make all the difference. The slightly rounded¬†tips slide between your fibres without damaging them, giving a smooth finish to your work. Includes 6 assorted¬†tapestry needles.¬†Go to Tapestry Pebble >>
  • Household Pebble (pink).¬†Whether for emergency repairs or hand sewing projects, every household needs a selection of high quality sharp needles. Use them to stitch on buttons, fix loose seams, hand-sew soft toys, and for all your other hand sewing needs. Includes 12 assorted general hand sewing needles.¬†Go to Household Pebble >>

Buy More, Save More!

Christmas is coming, and wouldn’t these tools make perfect stocking stuffers for your yarny friends and family too? Here’s an added bonus if you want to stock up on several items – use these discount codes at checkout to save on your tools purchase:

  • Spend at least¬†$10¬†on tools, save¬†10%¬†with code¬†SAVE10
  • Spend at least¬†$15¬†on tools, save¬†15%¬†with code¬†SAVE15
  • Spend at least¬†$20¬†on tools, save¬†20%¬†with code¬†SAVE20

Choose your Crochet Tools now! >>


I hope you like this selection of essential tools I have for you. Don’t forget to order before the tool shop closes on October 4th, and, as my stocks are limited, if there’s something in particular you have your eye on, don’t wait!

Happy tool shopping ūüôā

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Professional Design vs Hobby Design

If you’ve ever considered upgrading your craft/design hobby into a business, this post may offer an interesting insight, as I’m now both a professional designer in one field (crochet) and a hobby designer in another (knitwear), so I can speak to both sides of this.

12 knit sweaters project

My Hobby/Pro Designer Experiences

I’m really enjoying my journey as a knitwear designer – I get to design, make and wear my own clothes, and that feels like a pretty amazing process. Every now and then, I feel a little wistful that I’m not parlaying my designs into a new income stream by selling patterns for my sweaters. It may seem like an obvious next step, but there are many reasons why I don’t want to do this.

Knitting is my hobby. I enjoy doing it for relaxation in between my crochet designs. I like making clothes for myself, that fit me and in colours I’ll wear. I can take months or years to finish a design and it doesn’t matter. If something isn’t perfect I can fudge it to make it good enough to wear.

Crochet is my business. It’s how I earn my living. I enjoy the challenge of developing new designs – and I love the things I design! – but there’s always a voice at the back of my head thinking ‘How well will this translate into a pattern? How can I explain this technique? Can I simplify anything to make it more enjoyable to crochet?’ Every new design has to be as good as I can possibly make it, and, while I never hurry an individual design, there’s always pressure to have regular new pattern releases, to keep PlanetJune in people’s minds and keep my business going.

PlanetJune Accessories 2018 Shawl crochet pattern collection

Support. I’ve built an extensive website full of tutorials to help crocheters successfully follow my patterns. I don’t have the time or inclination to do that for knitting techniques. At best, I could provide links to other sites that offer tutorials, and that’s not the level of service people expect from me.

PlanetJune Crochet Video Tutorials on YouTube

Fitted garments. I intentionally don’t design fitted garments in crochet. When I design and knit clothes for myself, I make them to fit me (short and pear-shaped). There are so many different body types and shapes, and it’s important that your clothes fit your shape as well as your size, or they won’t look or feel good on you. And I love making knitwear for myself that makes me feel good when I wear it!

silver thermal pullover by June Gilbank

If I designed a (knit or crochet) garment in the style I like as a pattern for sale, I’d have to:

  1. design it for ‘standard’ body measurements
  2. make a standard-sized sample (that wouldn’t fit me well!)
  3. find a ‘standard’ shaped lady to model it for the pattern photos
  4. either accept that ‘non-standard’ bodies (i.e. most people!) won’t be 100% happy with the result of my pattern, or offer extensive customization advice for how to modify the sizes to fit your own shape

The other option would be to change my design style to create very simple, non-fitted, rectangle-based garments that will work for most people as-is, but that’s not a style I’d enjoy either making or wearing. (There are also plenty of designs like that already, so I probably wouldn’t even make any money from trying to sell something I didn’t want to make in the first place!)

My Decision

I’m sure there are many more potential difficulties I haven’t even thought of, but just these few are more than enough to keep me from starting down the path of publishing my knitwear designs.

I know I don’t have time to start a parallel second career, and certainly not to run a knitwear pattern business with the level of quality and support that (I hope) people have come to expect from PlanetJune.

So, at least for the foreseeable future, I’m keeping my knitting (and garment design) on a purely hobby level. But I do love sharing what I’ve made, and I hope my projects will inspire others to try knitting (or crocheting, or sewing) a garment. It’s a very empowering feeling to be able to make your own clothes, and so satisfying when you get it right and it actually fits!

12 knit sweaters project

Hobby or Business?

Finding a way to make a profitable business from your hobby may sound like a dream come true, but it has the potential to suck all the joy out of your hobby, and, at best, it permanently changes your relationship with your craft.

I’m endlessly grateful that I’ve been able to build a successful business from my crochet designs. I try to keep innovating and developing new techniques to keep my designs fresh and exciting – both for my customers, and for my own enjoyment and improvement in my craft!

PlanetJune pattern selection

But, even so, I do sometimes miss the freedom of being able to create more complex crocheted art pieces that wouldn’t make a good pattern. Keeping my knitting as a purely creative outlet, with no motive other than making things I want to make, has given me that freedom back. It’s a way to balance the pressure of creating for my business with the joy and relaxation that only comes with making for fun.

WIP cardigans - knit and crocheted - by planetjune

So, the moral of the story is: there’s no right answer as to whether you should try to turn your hobby into a money-making venture:

  • A hobby gives you complete artistic freedom, relaxation, enjoyment, and personal satisfaction.
  • A business reduces all those things in exchange for the possibility of success: happy customers, recognition, more financial freedom, etc.

Having a hobby can give you a release from the stresses of everyday life. Turning it into a business adds to those stresses, but if you’re willing to put in time, hard work, and the determination to keep going even when you don’t feel like it, turning your hobby into a business can be very rewarding.

Or you could keep it more casual – instead of aiming to start a serious business enterprise, you could have a ‘hobby business’, where you sell a few things you’ve made to pay for your craft supplies etc, but don’t try to scale it up into a full-time business.

On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for the pure joy of making just for fun! Maybe you should keep your craft as a hobby, like my knitting- it’s important to protect the things that make you happy. ūüôā


So, what’s your experience? Have you ever considered turning your hobby into a business? Have my words made you think about doing (or not doing!) it? Or have you already tried, and how did that change your relationship with your hobby?

I’d love to know! Please leave your thoughts in the comments below…

Comments (6)

2018: year in review

Today marks the first day of my second decade of full time self-employment! I’ve just read back over all my previous Year in Review posts and it’s been an epic journey so far. I sometimes forget how much time and heart I’ve put into PlanetJune to reach this point, but I’m pretty proud that here I am, 10 years later, doing exactly what I set out to do – making my living at the intersection of my passions for crafts and nature, through designing, creating and writing…

Over the years, these annual review posts have formed a clear record of what I’ve accomplished, and writing them each year helps me to think about what I’ve learnt each time and what I’ll do differently next year.

2018 Achievements

This year, I published a range of new crochet patterns that included something in each of my design categories – animals, plants, accessories and seasonal:

2018 PlanetJune crochet patterns

I’ve added to my tutorial library with a few new tutorials:

2018 PlanetJune tutorials

I rebranded my YouTube video tutorials with a fresh new look and created an animated logo that I’ll be using for my new crochet videos:

PlanetJune crochet video tutorials

I also rephotographed all my PlanetJune Accessories shawl and wrap patterns, so now the photos all have a cohesive look and you can see the designs more clearly:

PlanetJune Accessories shawl and wrap crochet patterns

Behind the scenes, I’ve been improving the backend of the business, with new payment and processing systems, sales tax collection, and adding to my library of responses to common questions.

And I’ve made time for more making in 2018 – both crafting and cooking (although I don’t want to get into food blogging – my food always tastes better than it looks, anyway!) I’ve been enjoying experimenting with some new (to me) materials and ingredients and creating something useful or beautiful or delicious or just fun with them:

2018 PlanetJune crafting

(And there’s a little sneak peek photo above for two projects I haven’t blogged about yet: my giant amigurumi gingerbread man and a new handknit sweater! I’ll tell you about those soon…)

For most of the year, I’ve also been working on a big project – a crochet ebook – that hasn’t launched yet, so between planning, writing, editing, making samples, photographing, editing photos, page layout, project managing and more, I’ve been pretty busy! I’m in the last stages (final edits and cover photos) now, so it’s coming soon.

Settling In

Although we arrived back in Canada at the end of 2017, the first half of 2018 was filled with moving into our new house, sleeping on the floor of an empty house until we finally got all our belongings back, selling our old house and jumping through hoops to try to get permission to move the money out of SA, and Dave changing careers. All of that took a lot more time and energy than I anticipated, and now it’s all over, I’m still feeling a little shell-shocked from the whirlwind of all the move-related stuff.

I also completely underestimated the way that mental health works. You may have noticed that I like to do everything myself (like running all aspects of PlanetJune), but that just wasn’t working in this case – although my panic attacks dropped off as soon as we reached Canada, I still didn’t feel right and I couldn’t snap myself out of it. I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a general anxiety disorder as well as the PTSD.

Although there’s no magic cure, I feel so much better now that I’m getting professional help, so I want to put my experience out there in case it can help anyone else: mental health is at least as important as physical health, and there’s nothing weak about asking for help.

Looking Forward

I am so happy in my life now – I still don’t 100% believe it’s real. It’s been a long stressful road to get here, including receiving my Canadian citizenship in tears the day before leaving for Africa with no idea if I’d ever return. But this long journey has led to me being so grateful for everything I now have, and an appreciation of how fortunate we are.

I’m still struggling with my energy levels, and I have a host of relatively minor but inconvenient health issues, but I’m trying to give myself grace when these interfere with my business plans. I know I need to look after myself first, and PlanetJune second, so I have to plan carefully to make the best use of my time and energy.

I want to focus this year on designing amazing new patterns and creating high quality video tutorials. My biggest problem is deciding which of my many ideas to try: I’m trying to work out if there’s a way to balance being productive with following the flow of creativity and allowing the best ideas the time they need to blossom. (My bestselling patterns of 2018 were the new Succulent Collections, and they wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t given myself months to research, develop and prototype to build the collections.)

After closing my crochet tool shop last April, I’ve been investigating options to be able to offer limited runs of my Detail Stuffing Tools in future, and I think I’ve found a solution that will work – more on that later. And I have some ideas for really fun new products too, but we’ll have to wait and see if I have time to develop those any further in 2019 or if they’ll have to wait for the 2020s(!) – I’m determined not to let myself get spread too thin.

Last year, I wished for peace, calm and quiet strength, and re-reading those words now, that’s exactly what I’ve been building for myself all year, although I hadn’t realised it until just now! My attitude now is to take time to appreciate what I have and what I can accomplish, and not dwell on what I can’t.

My wish for this year is a continuance of that: focus, determination and acceptance. I wish all those things for you too, and a very, very Happy New Year!

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PJ Accessories Shawls and Wraps update

In preparation for the launch of my upcoming 2018 PlanetJune Accessories crochet pattern collection of shawls, I decided to revisit my older shawl and wrap pattern photos. When I published my first collections of PJ Accessories patterns in 2010-2012, I didn’t have a mannequin, and the old photos (with me modelling the shawls) don’t really show my designs at their best!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve washed and reblocked all my older design samples, and photographed them all on my mannequin. And here’s the result – all the PlanetJune Accessories shawl and wrap patterns to date, with three styling ideas for each one:

PlanetJune Accessories Shawl and Wrap crochet patterns (2010-2017)

Ahhhh! Don’t they look good?! I’m thrilled with how much more clearly the new photography shows my designs, and how much more cohesive the range now looks.

If you’d like to see any of these shawls and wraps in more detail, click here to see all my shawl and wrap patterns. Or, if one in particular has caught your eye, here are the direct links to all the pattern pages (clockwise from top left in the above image):

* patterns with updated photography

All these patterns (and many more other accessories) are available as part of my Custom Set of any 3 PlanetJune Accessories patterns for a special price. Click here to mix-and-match your bargain set now!

PlanetJune Accessories crochet patterns - new covers

(By the way, only the covers of the patterns pictured above have changed, but, if you’ve already bought any of these patterns and would like the latest version with the updated cover photos, you can of course re-download the new versions from your PlanetJune account.)

Sneak Peek Time…

Next week I’ll be adding my 2018 collection to the PJ Accessories range – here’s a quick teaser to whet your appetite for the new additions:

PlanetJune Accessories 2018 Shawl crochet pattern collection (teaser pic)

The new shawl collection will include three different shawl shapes, and they’re all very versatile: as well as making them in the same size and similar yarn to my samples, you’ll be able to choose to use pretty much any yarn weight and customize them to any size, if you prefer.

Check back next week, or make sure you’re signed up for my newsletter to get a reminder so you don’t miss the launch discount for the new collection ūüėÄ

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Closing Sale: PlanetJune Crochet Tools

This is your last chance to shop from the PlanetJune Crochet Tools shop before it closes forever…

PlanetJune Crochet Tools: Detail Stuffing Tool and Stitch Markers

I’m selling off my remaining stock of Detail Stuffing Tools and Stitch Markers for Crochet with deep discounts if you buy multiples of the same item – I recommend you get some spares, as they are so easy to misplace, and the discount will help offset your shipping costs:

  • 10% off when you buy 1
  • 20% off when you buy 2
  • 30% off when you buy 3
  • 40% off when you buy 4
  • 50% off when you buy 5 or more

The discounts are automatically applied – just select the quantity you’d like and add the item to your cart, and you’ll see the lower prices there.

This is also your last chance to grab a free signed bookmark! Tell me who to sign it to and add it to your tools order at no additional cost.

I’ll be closing the Crochet Tools shop at the end of April, or sooner if everything sells out before then, so please don’t wait if you want to place one last order of Stuffing Tools and Stitch Markers before they’re gone forever. I only have a hundred or so of each item left, and, once I send out my next newsletter, this message will reach many thousands of people, so they may sell out quickly…

Click through to the Crochet Tools shop to place your order now. ūüôā
 


As I like to run PlanetJune transparently, I’ll also share the reasons why I made the decision to close my Crochet Tools shop. Keep reading if you want the behind-the-scenes view!

In January, Canada Post eliminated their Light Packet option for international shipping, meaning that the lowest price to ship a small packet out of Canada is now about $6 (USD) to the US, and about $8.50 internationally (and those prices are much higher if you want tracking and insurance).

I investigated alternatives to make that cost more reasonable for my customers, and found that I could cross the border to mail my packages from the US at far lower rates, or pay a reshipping service to do that for me.

If selling my tools was the focus of my business and I had hundreds of orders per week, something along those lines could be a good solution. But the crochet tools are just a tiny sideline for me – the money I make from them only represents a fraction of one percent of my income. I’d lose money if I tried to reship in small quantities, or I’d have to raise my prices to compensate.

So, the only remaining option is to pass the new high Canada Post shipping costs onto my customers. They’re far too high for most of my customers to be happy to pay, so I made some estimates of how many sales I’d lose as a result of the increased shipping cost. Based on these, my best guess is that I’d make only approx 1-2 orders per week in future. The cost of time and fuel to make the trip to the post office every week, just to ship a single low-value order, would leave me making a loss on every order unless I raised my prices significantly, and, again, I don’t want to do that.

The upshot is that there’s no way for me to run my Crochet Tools shop any more without losing money, and so the only sensible business decision is to close it down. But I didn’t want to leave anyone in the lurch, hence the closing-down sale as a last chance for anyone who hasn’t got around to buying their tools from me yet!

I love my crochet tools line. They’re cute and colourful, and so useful. I’m keeping a dozen spare stuffing tools for myself, because I don’t know what I’d do without one – I’ve tested all kinds of alternatives and I’ve found nothing that even comes close for stuffing small amigurumi pieces.

But nothing lasts forever, and my crochet tool shop has had a good run. This decision will be a good thing for PlanetJune in the long term – further simplifying and streamlining the business will leave me with more time to concentrate on innovating with new designs, and creating new tutorials to help you perfect your crochet technique.

So, please click through to my Crochet Tools shop now and grab any tools you need before it’s too late! I don’t want you to miss out…

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  • Welcome to PlanetJune!

    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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