PlanetJune Craft Blog

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Archive for Crochet

Simple-Shell Sea Turtle crochet pattern

A few months ago, I had a very clever request from a customer, to design a large adult version of the turtle from my Baby Sea Turtle Collection pattern. It was such a good idea – my AquaAmi Sea Turtle pattern is an epic amigurumi showstopper, but all those shell pieces take forever to crochet – wouldn’t you like to make a simpler large sea turtle?

So here it is, a Simple-Shell Sea Turtle expansion pack (below, right) for my AquaAmi Sea Turtle (below, left):

AquaAmi and Simple-Shell Sea Turtle crochet patterns by PlanetJune

Note about size: The turtles in the above photo are different sizes because the original Sea Turtle is crocheted with bulky yarn and a G7 hook; the expansion pack is crocheted with worsted weight yarn and an E hook. You can crochet either turtle in either size (details in the patterns); if you use the same yarn and hook for both, the finished turtles will be the same size!

As you can see, both turtles have the same realistic shaping and flippers, but the new pattern gives you a simple but cleverly-shaped shell instead of the beautifully-patterned but time-consuming original shell. With only two shell pieces to crochet instead of twenty, you’ll save a lot of time!

About the Pattern

This Expansion Pack gives a simplified shell for my large AquaAmi Sea Turtle. The result gives an ‘adult’ sized turtle (about 9.5″/24cm long when made in worsted weight yarn) that matches my Baby Sea Turtle pattern (sold separately).

Simple-Shell Sea Turtle crochet pattern by PlanetJune

It includes all the modifications required to crochet a Sea Turtle much more quickly than the original AquaAmi Sea Turtle, with simple but well-shaped one-piece top and bottom shells.

Simple-Shell Sea Turtle crochet pattern by PlanetJune

And, if you’re making a turtle blanket as a gift, now you can add a larger matching cuddly turtle toy to go with it!

What is an Expansion Pack?

Expansion Packs by PlanetJune

  • An Expansion Pack is an add-on to an existing PlanetJune pattern.
  • The Expansion Pack lets you modify or add to the original pattern to create something else.
  • You cannot use the Expansion Pack alone – you must also purchase the original pattern in order to be able to complete the pictured items in the Expansion Pack pattern.

AquaAmi and Simple-Shell Sea Turtle crochet patterns by PlanetJune

You can buy the Simple-Shell Sea Turtle Expansion Pack for only $3.50 individually from the shop, or, if you haven’t yet bought the original AquaAmi Sea Turtle pattern, you can buy the multipack of both turtles, and save 50c on the pair.

Launch Discount

If you’ve already bought the original turtle pattern, you won’t be able to save that 50c. But, for 7 days only, add the Simple-Shell Sea Turtle Expansion Pack pattern to your shopping cart, together with anything else (totalling $5 or more), then use the code MORETURTLES at checkout and you’ll still get your discount! (Valid until next Tuesday: 13th March 2018.)

Note: If you don’t need anything else right now, this also applies to Gift Certificate purchases, so you can pick up a $5 gift certificate now, get your discount, and have $5 in your PlanetJune account ready for your next purchase, or to send to a crocheting friend!

PlanetJune Sea Turtle Patterns

Baby Sea Turtle Collection, AquaAmi Sea Turtle and Simple-Shell Sea Turtle crochet patterns by PlanetJune

This new addition means I now have three different sea turtle patterns, letting you make all the different options above (and even more if you resize all the patterns) – but they all match nicely, so you can build a sea turtle family with as many of the different pattern options as you wish!

In case you’re confused about which pattern makes which turtle, here’s the rundown of all the PlanetJune sea turtle patterns – and yes, it’s turtles all the way down…

Baby Sea Turtle Collection, AquaAmi Sea Turtle and Simple-Shell Sea Turtle crochet patterns by PlanetJune

A note about sizes: The top two pictured turtles were both made with worsted weight yarn. If you use only worsted weight yarn, these are the two turtle sizes you’ll make with my patterns: approx 4.5-5″ long for the babies, and 9.5″ long for any of my adult turtle patterns.

But you can choose to make a variety of turtle sizes: the third turtle down is made with bulky weight yarn, increasing the adult turtle length to 11″, and the giant 18″ long turtle at the bottom was crocheted with the same pattern, but two strands of bulky weight. The difference in size between the green turtle and the giant turtle is caused solely by the yarn and hook choices!

Read more about how to resize amigurumi by changing the hook and yarn sizes here.

If you’re not ready to make – or add to – your Turtle family just yet, don’t forget to heart and queue them on Ravelry so you don’t forget about them:

AquaAmi Sea Turtle (original): 

Simple-Shell Sea Turtle (new):

Baby Sea Turtle Collection:

I’m so happy with this new addition to my sea turtle collection – I feel like I have a turtle for every occasion now! 

Comments (4)

easy fleece and crochet cushion cover

Sometimes a project is so simple that it seems like cheating! I’d planned to sew a cover for this new body pillow once I had time to buy fabric and set up my sewing machine, but then I spotted a fleece blanket in the dollar store with a convenient blanket-stitched border…

fleece body pillowcase with crocheted trim by planetjune

I draped it around my pillow, and it was almost exactly the right size to make a soft and snuggly cover (surely a sign that this project was meant to be).

fleece body pillowcase with crocheted trim by planetjune

In case you don’t know, adding a border of blanket stitches around the edge of any fabric project makes the perfect set-up row for a crocheted trim – you can just insert your hook under the edge of each blanket stitch to begin each stitch of the first row:

fleece body pillowcase with crocheted trim by planetjune

Top tip: If you’d like to add a crocheted trim to any fabric item, just use a sharp needle and crochet thread, embroidery floss or fine yarn to blanket stitch around the edges of the fabric first, and then you can add any crochet border you want, by crocheting into the blanket stitches.

(And if you need some ideas for border stitch patterns, I can recommend Edie Eckman’s two books on just that topic!)

I’d loved this Red Heart Soft yarn in shade Watercolors in the ball, but soon realised when I tried to crochet with it that every stitch turned out as a different colour, which made the result way too busy for anything I’d wear. But this project has just a single row of crochet, so the different colours can shine without being buried by the next row. I did try out a few more interesting stitch patterns for my edging, but the constantly-changing colour is interesting enough – why over-complicate things?!

fleece body pillowcase with crocheted trim by planetjune

I tested a variety of hooks with my yarn and the blanket stitches, and determined that anything larger than a G (4mm) was too big to fit easily under the blanket stitches, so I went with the G. I folded the blanket in half and, starting at one end of the fold, began to single crochet around, inserting my hook under the blanket stitch at the edge of both layers of fabric to begin each stitch.

fleece body pillowcase with crocheted trim by planetjune

Top tip: I was worried that the two halves may not stay aligned as I continued to crochet around, so I grabbed my Wonder Clips (highly recommended for any crafters, especially to replace pins when you sew – and if you crochet or knit you can also buy them in an extra-large size to keep your pieces together when seaming). I matched the corners and clipped them together, added a clip halfway between them, and then kept adding more clips halfway between the previous ones until I had a clip every few inches.

fleece body pillowcase with crocheted trim by planetjune

As I crocheted around the edge, I added a few extra stitches around the curved corners, and anywhere the blanket stitches seemed spaced a little too far apart for one single crochet stitch to be large enough to get to the next stitch without being stretched too far.

Once I got to the second open corner, I inserted the pillow, and then crocheted along the last open short edge to close the remaining gap. I fastened off, leaving an extra-long yarn end which I ran underneath all the stitches on the short edge, so I can easily retrieve the end and unravel some stitches if I need to remove the pillow to wash the cover, and then crochet it back up afterwards.

And here’s the end result – simple, but effective:

fleece body pillowcase with crocheted trim by planetjune

I think this project was a perfect use for my yarn and adds a touch of colour to a basic cushion cover (especially in a variegated yarn which does all the work for you).

If I’d started making the cover from scratch instead of using a pre-made blanket, I’d have done 2 things differently:

  • Cut 2 rectangles of fleece instead of one large piece, so I’d have a crocheted border around all 4 sides of the cushion
  • Made the blanket stitches in a different colour, to either blend in with the fleece, or co-ordinate with the yarn

But, overall, I’m very happy with this project – definitely half an hour well spent!

How about you? Have you ever considered adding a crocheted border to a fabric project?

I’ve always liked the idea of crocheting a trim around the bottom edge of a skirt – maybe this will inspire me to make it happen next summer 🙂

Comments (6)

Fennec Fox crochet pattern

The Fennec Fox might just be one of the cutest animals out there, and it’s even cuter in crochet!

Fennec Fox crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Fennec Fox Fun Facts

  • Fennec Foxes are the smallest foxes in the world.
  • They live in the deserts of northern Africa and eat insects, rodents and plants.
  • Their massive ears stop them from overheating and help them to locate prey underground.
  • Fennec Foxes live in family groups, in large underground dens which they dig into the sand.
  • Their paw pads are covered in thick fur to protect them from the desert heat.
  • They can survive without water, getting all the moisture they need from their food and dew.

Fennec Fox crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Don’t you think this adorable little Fennec Fox is so distinctive with his huge ears, cute little nose and black-tipped tail?

You can buy my Fennec Fox pattern alone, or in a new foxy multipack with his cousins (Red Fox and Arctic Fox):

red, arctic and fennec fox amigurumi crochet patterns by planetjune

Note: The new ‘Three Foxes’ multipack replaces the old ‘Red Fox & Arctic Fox’ deal, so that item is no longer available for purchase. (If you bought it previously, both your fox patterns are still available in your PlanetJune account, of course.)

Special Deal!

I’ve set up an amazing deal for these foxes: the Multipack is only $11 – that’s buy two fox patterns, get the third free!

Note: If you’ve already bought the Red and/or Arctic Fox, you can still get a deal, for this week only! (Valid until next Tuesday: February 13 2018).

  • If you’ve already bought one fox and want the other two, buy the Multipack, email me with your order numbers (or dates) of both your fox orders, and I’ll send you a $3 PlanetJune Gift Certificate.
  • If you’ve already bought both the other foxes, buy the Fennec Fox, email me with your order number(s) (or date(s)) for all your fox orders, and I’ll send you a $3 PlanetJune Gift Certificate.

Or if you only want your favourite fox, you’ll find each pattern individually in my shop too 🙂

Handy Links:

I hope you’ll enjoy my fox patterns! Which is your favourite?

Comments (1)

Stitch Tension in Amigurumi: an investigation

Link easily to this page in your patterns:

Today, I’d like to dispel a common amigurumi myth…

In amigurumi, as with all crochet, you should always be keeping tension on the yarn to keep your stitches compact and regular. But I often hear misinformation that you should be ‘crocheting tightly’ to make amigurumi, and that’s not true at all!

The tightness of amigurumi stitches refers to the tension of the small stiff stitches of the fabric you produce, not to the tension in your hands while you crochet.

Showing is better than telling, so allow me to demonstrate, via a new crochet investigation, how to make perfect amigurumi stitches without hurting your hands!

Experiment 1: Effect of Hook Size

I crocheted the same sample amigurumi cup shape 3 times with different sized hooks and the same worsted weight yarn each time. I crocheted the same way as I would when making a scarf or anything else – I kept my tension even, but didn’t try to pull my stitches tightly or pull back on the yarn after pulling up each loop.

I used my standard amigurumi E hook (3.5mm), and, to show the effects of changing hook sizes, I tried a larger H hook (5mm) and a smaller C hook (2.75mm).

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

You can see that the stitches are neat and even in all three samples and, as you may expect, using a larger hook results in a larger finished piece that’s both taller and wider than the same piece crocheted with a smaller hook.

See how the smaller hook samples can stack inside the larger ones? There’s quite a size difference!

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

What you can’t tell from a photo is how stiff the fabric of each sample is. With the H hook, the fabric is too floppy to hold its shape well. With the E hook, the fabric is much firmer and holds its shape much better. With the C hook, the piece is even firmer and feels very solid.

I simulated the effect of adding stuffing by gently stretching out each piece between my fingers, so you can see the gaps between the stitches:

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

As you can see, the H hook fabric is far too open for an amigurumi; the gaps between the stitches are very noticeable. With the E hook, the stitches have smaller holes between them, so the stuffing would be far less visible. And, with the C hook, the gaps between stitches are almost invisible.

So here’s the result of changing hook size: a smaller hook gives a smaller and firmer crocheted piece, with tighter stitches and smaller gaps between the stitches.

These are the properties we want for amigurumi fabric! A stiff, sturdy fabric that holds its shape and has tiny gaps between the stitches is exactly what we need for crocheting a 3-dimensional sculpture.

Choosing the Right Hook Size
The C hook was the smallest hook I could manage with this specific yarn (Caron Simply Soft, a light worsted weight yarn), and I had to stop and undo a stitch a few times, when my hook hadn’t grabbed all the plies of the yarn. I wouldn’t recommend using a hook quite this small, as it’s annoying to have to undo your work whenever you realise you have a snag in your stitches from splitting the yarn with the small hook.

My Recommendation: In practice, with a light worsted weight yarn like this, I might go down to a D hook for the best balance of small, tight stitches and not splitting the yarn as I crochet. For the heavier worsted weight yarns, I still recommend an E hook for most amigurumi.

(See my Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison for more about the differences between different yarns that are all labelled as worsted weight!)

Experiment 2: Effect of ‘Crocheting Tightly’

Now, part two of this investigation. I returned to my standard E hook and tried crocheting the same sample piece yet again, but this time I followed the misunderstood advice of ‘crocheting tightly’. I held the yarn tightly and pulled back on it against my hook each time I formed a loop, so each loop was tight around the hook and as small as possible.

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

Both these samples were crocheted with the same hook. As you can see, the ‘tight’ piece is smaller and firmer than the normally-tensioned piece, but at what cost?

When you crochet with too-tight tension, your stitches are so small that it’s hard to work back into them, and that’s what happened in this case: it was an effort to force my hook into each stitch. My yarn-holding hand began to cramp from pulling the yarn so tightly, and I didn’t enjoy the process of crocheting at all. Even finishing this small piece was very hard work.

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

Yes, the tight piece is definitely smaller (and therefore ‘better’ for amigurumi) but crocheting it was a horrible experience!

The Tension Exception
In amigurumi, chains and slip stitches should not be crocheted with your usual tension. These stitches need to be crocheted with an extra-relaxed tension (or a larger hook), or they’ll be too small to work back into.

See my tutorial Chains and Slip Stitches in Amigurumi for more on this.

Experiment 3: Comparing Smaller Hook and Tighter Tension

Now, let’s compare the small (C hook) sample from Experiment 1 with the extra tight tension sample (E hook) from Experiment 2:

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

Can this be right? They look almost identical!

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

Yes, comparing the two pieces, they look and feel almost exactly the same – the size and shape are the same, the stiffness of the fabric is the same, the gaps between stitches are the same.

The only difference? The sample on the left was crocheted comfortably with a small hook, and the sample on the right was crocheted extra-tightly, at great discomfort, with a larger hook.


As these experiments have shown, there’s absolutely no advantage to changing the way you crochet when you make amigurumi by working extra-tightly (and you may actually hurt your hands, wrists and arms by doing so!)

The goal with amigurumi is to maintain tension (down and backwards) on the yarn that’s balanced by your hook pulling up and forwards. This control allows you to form neat, consistent stitches.

You should never feel you have to force your hook into every stitch and/or pull your stitches as tightly as possible. This not only distorts your fabric but can also lead to hand and wrist fatigue and repetitive stress disorders.

The secret to making good-looking amigurumi without making your hands hurt is simple:

  • Select an appropriately small hook and crochet the same way as you usually do.
  • The perfect hook for your yarn is the smallest size you can manage without starting to have problems from splitting your yarn because the hook is too small to consistently grab all the plies.

The result: neat tight stitches, with no pain!

If you ever experience discomfort when making amigurumi, I encourage you to relax that death grip on your hook and yarn, and try crocheting with a slightly smaller hook instead. Your hands will love the difference and, I hope, you’ll enjoy the amigurumi-making process more.

Have you fallen for the amigurumi myth of ‘crocheting tightly’? Please leave a message in the comments and share your experiences…

See more helpful PlanetJune crochet tips and technique tutorials

Comments (9)

Lion Cub and Family crochet patterns

After having the privilege of watching packs of lions in the wild at Kruger Park, I thought my Lion and Lioness pattern would be adorable with a little Lion Cub pattern to complete the family. And after making the cubs, I think I was right…

Lion Family crochet patterns by PlanetJune

What do you think?

My new Lion Cub pattern complements my existing Lion & Lioness pattern perfectly, and is also a sweet standalone pattern in its own right.

Lion Cub crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Lion Cub is very fast to crochet, at only 5″ long, so you can whip up a few realistic baby lions in no time! They’re sure to charm with their big cub paws and cute little faces.

You can buy the adorable Lion Cub pattern alone, or get a great deal when you buy the whole Lion Family multipack together!

Note: If you’ve already bought the Lion and Lioness pattern, you don’t have to miss out on this deal! Just buy the Lion Cub, then email me with 1) your Lion Cub order number and 2) the order number (or date) from when you bought Lion & Lioness, and I’ll send you a coupon for $2 off your next order of $5 or more. (The coupon will remain valid for a whole year, so don’t worry if there’s nothing else you want to buy right now!)

Lion Family crochet patterns by PlanetJune

Handy Links:


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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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