PlanetJune Craft Blog

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Archive for Crochet

Crochet Investigation: Avoiding the Jog in a BLO Round

Spoiler alert: in doing this jog-minimising back loop only round amigurumi experiment, I have a recommendation for a simple modification to make to your amigurumi that will minimise the jog with those back loop only rounds! If you’re not interested in my experiments, jump straight to the Jogless Back Loop Only Round for Amigurumi video tutorial πŸ™‚

jogless back loop only round for amigurumi by planetjune


Crocheting a round of back loop only (BLO) stitches is a standard method for creating a sharp corner in amigurumi. The biggest problem is that, when you work in a continuous spiral, you end up with a noticeable jog between the first and last unworked loops of the round.

I’ve had several requests to develop a method for minimising that jog, so you know what that means: it’s time for another PlanetJune crochet investigation!

Method

For this experiment, I tested a few candidates that I thought may improve the look of that jog. Modifying one or other of my Perfect Stripes methods seemed like a promising idea, as well as changing the height of the end stitches to bring them closer together.

I crocheted the same small sample for each method so we can compare the effectiveness of each one. Each sample was crocheted in a spiral with a flat circular base, a round of BLO stitches to turn the corner, and then a few more rounds worked straight.

So, here are the candidates:

A. The control sample, as described above, with no attempt to minimise the jog
B. Sample using the No-Cut Join technique for the round before the BLO round and the BLO round
C. Sample using the Invisible Join technique for the round before the BLO round and the BLO round
D. Sample modifying the height of the stitch before the BLO round with a slip stitch

The photos below show each sample from two angles, and, if you’d like to play along, you can compare the appearance of the line of unworked loops around the edge of each sample and see what you think of my ‘improvements’…

jogless back loop only investigation - candidate A

jogless back loop only investigation - candidate B

jogless back loop only investigation - candidate C

jogless back loop only investigation - candidate D

Results

I compared each candidate with the control sample (A) to see how much it improved the appearance of the jog, judging on two criteria:

  1. How continuous the line of unworked loops appears between the first and last stitch of the round (left photo)
  2. How circular the entire round of unworked loops appears (right photo) – note that this effect is more noticeable because the samples are quite small; it wouldn’t be as obvious for a larger piece such as the base of an ami plant pot

Here are my observations:

B. The No-Cut Join gives the worst result of all the test pieces. Although the jog is reduced, extra mess is introduced to the surrounding stitches, and I think the overall effect is actually worse than doing nothing.

C. The Invisible Join gives a flawless result – the join is completely invisible and the round of unworked loops is almost completely circular. However, it’s slow, and leaves a lot of extra yarn ends, so it’s quite an investment in time and effort.

D. The height modifying method is very quick and simple to execute and gives a pretty good result. As the spiral is almost uninterrupted, the unworked loops don’t quite form a perfect circle, but the jog is almost invisible.

My Recommendations

If you want the best-looking back loop only round possible and don’t care how long it takes, switching to joined rounds (for both the round before the BLO round and the BLO round) and using the Invisible Join method from my Perfect Stripes tutorial will give you the most perfect result.

But, my recommendation is: for the best balance of a good result with a quick and easy method, use my height modifying method – now called my Jogless Back Loop Only Round method – for minimising the jog. (And, to give an even better result, combine it with my Better BLO technique – between the two, you’ll end up with a very neat and practically jogless back loop only round, as you can see below.)

jogless back loop only round for amigurumi by planetjune

Impressed? Now learn how to do it, with my new video tutorial:

Continue to A Jogless Back Loop Only Round for Amigurumi video tutorial >>

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Extreme Amigurumi: Extreme Whale!

After the success of my giant amigurumi baby bunny, Mega Bun, I decided to try some more extreme amigurumi experiments using regular yarn that’s currently available in stores, so I can give you some recommendations.

As before, I used my Susan Bates Xtreme crochet hook, which is size 50 (that’s 25mm, or 1 inch!) and this time I decided to use my smallest, simplest amigurumi animal pattern, Tiny Whale. Is it possible to make an extreme Tiny Whale?! Why yes, it is:

extreme amigurumi whale and standard size whales - all use the Tiny Whale crochet pattern by PlanetJune)

And now let’s look at how I got to this point…

First Attempt: Jumbo Yarn

extreme amigurumi experiments

Bernat Blanket Big is a #7 jumbo weight yarn with a recommended hook size of 25mm – exactly what I was looking for!

(Note: this is a completely different yarn from the #6 super bulky weight Bernat Blanket yarn, which is only a fraction of a size of this monster yarn! You may find ‘Bernat Blanket Big Ball Yarn’ for sale online, but that’s just a big ball of Bernat Blanket, not a ball of Bernat Blanket Big…)

This chenille-style yarn works up beautifully to make a massive and super-soft amigurumi with no large holes. Look at these huge single crochet stitches:

extreme amigurumi experiments

And then: disaster! A ball of Blanket Big weighs 300g but only contains 32 yards (29m) of yarn. It turns out my one ball made less than half of a Tiny Whale, and I had no way to get more of the same colour…

extreme amigurumi experiments

So that was the end of this attempt, but at least my experiment proved that the #7 jumbo yarn is a viable choice for extreme amigurumi.

Verdict: Thumbs up for this yarn, provided you’re prepared to buy several balls to make a single amigurumi! (But please check that your jumbo yarn recommends a 25mm hook size if you’re going to replicate this: “jumbo” covers everything larger than super bulky. Most jumbo yarns I’ve seen are designed for a 19mm hook, and are much less bulky than this.)

Second Attempt: Super Bulky Yarn

Jumbo yarn isn’t very common, so, for my next experiment, I wanted to know how many strands of super bulky yarn, held together, would make the equivalent of a single strand of my jumbo yarn.

I used Bernat Blanket yarn, which has the same chenille-style construction as Blanket Big, but is a much more usable size (the recommended hook size for this yarn is US L/8mm).

I tried to gauge how many strands I’d need by holding several strands up against the jumbo yarn to compare visually and by feel, and then crocheting with them to see what gave the most similar result to my first experiment. And the result? You need a whopping six strands of super bulky yarn to replicate the weight of one strand of the jumbo!

extreme amigurumi experiments

I came up with a variation of chain plying that let me wrangle 6 strands relatively easily, but it was still hard work on such a massive scale. The multiple strands, held tightly together, are clearly visible in the amigurumi and don’t give as soft a finish as the jumbo yarn, but I quite like the effect, and, most importantly, it worked!

Extreme Whale used 500 yards (460m) of Bernat Blanket yarn with a 25mm hook. Despite this huge stitch size, there are no large holes between the stitches and I was able to stuff him directly (unlike Mega Bun, who needed a net to contain the stuffing).

Verdict: The end result is a definite success, but wrangling 6 strands of yarn was an added challenge!

extreme amigurumi whale and standard size whales - all use the Tiny Whale crochet pattern by PlanetJune)

Extreme Whale is exactly six times the size of the original Tiny Whale, at 24″ (60cm) long vs 4″ (10cm) in the original pattern, and weighs in at over 1kg (well over 2lbs) including stuffing!

Final Thoughts

These experiments have shown that it’s definitely possible to scale up an amigurumi pattern by multiple times, provided you don’t mind the look of the huge stitches and you choose an appropriate hook and yarn for your project.

extreme amigurumi experiments

Mega Bun is very happy to finally have a friend of her own size!

extreme amigurumi experiments

If you’d like to make an extreme ami and are debating buying ridiculously thick yarn vs using multiple strands of a finer yarn, you may be interested to know that I compared the cost of each yarn, and the cost of an ami made with 6 strands of Blanket yarn is the same as making the same ami from 1 strand of Blanket Big yarn.

If I make another extreme whale, I’d try to use the jumbo yarn to save on having to hold all those strands together! But Bernat Blanket is very readily available in a wide range of shades, whereas Blanket Big is often unavailable (I think it may be released seasonally in the winter and discontinued every summer) and only comes in a handful of shades. So either option is fine, depending on what you can find.

Pattern Info

If you’d like to make your own extreme (or standard-sized!) amigurumi whale and bunny like mine, the PlanetJune patterns I used are:

What’s Next?

Will I be putting away my giant hook now? Oh no, I’m not done with extreme crochet just yet!

I’ve come up with lots of recommendations throughout this journey so far, and I’ll be compiling all my extreme amigurumi tips for you – and the pattern for my giant crocheted ami eyes – when I’ve finished my final supersized crochet experiments.

Stay tuned for the next extremely thrilling update…

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Donkey crochet pattern

Don’t miss the launch discount, at the end of this post!

Today I have a new animal design for you that’s particularly close to my heart: a Donkey!

Donkey crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I’ve loved donkeys for as long as I can remember – how can you resist those big soulful eyes and that sweet, gentle character?

Donkey Fun Facts

  • Donkeys are members of the horse family, Equidae, together with horses, zebras and wild asses.
  • Donkeys were domesticated many thousands of years ago and helped to moved the stones that formed the ancient pyramids of Egypt.
  • Today, donkeys are found all over the world and the majority still work as pack animals, helping people to transport heavy loads.
  • Donkeys can be crossbred with horses (to make a mule) or with zebras (to make a zonkey)!
  • As well as being sturdy and dependable workers, donkeys are also friendly and intelligent.

Donkey crochet pattern by PlanetJune

About the Design

I was planning to make my donkey as an expansion pack for my Horse pattern, but once I started making it and comparing real-life horses and donkeys, I found that every single piece was a different shape and size. Donkeys have such a different body type and build, plus completely different ears, mane and tail – there wasn’t anything of the horse pattern left by the time I’d finished!

Just compare the sweet, stocky donkey with the tall, elegant horse:

Donkey and Horse crochet patterns by PlanetJune

Definitely related, but definitely different. Donkeys may not have the glamour of horses, but I think they’re totally adorable. I hope I’ve captured that big-eyed, long-eared, sturdy donkey essence in my design.

Donkey crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Buy Now & Launch Discount

If you love donkeys too, you can pick up my Donkey crochet pattern from my shop right now. Or, if you’re not ready to make it just yet, add it to your Ravelry queue or favourites so you don’t forget about it:

And for one week only, you can take an extra 50c off the price: add the Donkey pattern to your shopping cart, and enter the discount code EEYORE at checkout! (Offer ends Wednesday 11 July, 2018.)

Donkey crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I hope you’ll love my pattern – don’t you agree that donkeys are just adorable?

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Summer crochet-alongs

Summertime is typically the slowest season for crochet, but perhaps I can tempt you back to your hook with a choice of two PlanetJune crochet-alongs to join in with for July and August? Both include some small, quick pattern options if you’re short on time.

If you feel like something a bit different, how about joining the new FantastiCAL, featuring all the PlanetJune crochet patterns with a fantasy/mythical theme:

PlanetJune FantastiCAL - a fantasy/mythical crochet-along
Aliens, Yeti, Unicorns and more – which will you choose?

And, with 99 participants so far and over 60 finished projects, the BotaniCAL is still going strong, so I’m extending it through to the end of August to give everyone more time to finish their projects (or start more…)

You can choose from any of the PlanetJune plant, fruit and flower crochet patterns. If you haven’t joined yet, you’re welcome to sign up, and you’ll still qualify for the CAL discount on the Succulent Collection 3 and/or 4 patterns πŸ™‚

PlanetJune cactus and succulent crochet patterns
These are just (most of) the cacti and succulent choices – you have over 30 botanical patterns to choose from!

You’ll find both CALs in the PlanetJune Ravelry group, and you’re welcome to join either, or both.

Choose your patterns now:

Then come and join us on Ravelry and tell us what you plan to crochet this summer…

Comments

free pattern: Crochet Plant Hanger

Today I have a new fast and lovely donationware pattern for you: it’s my Crochet Plant Hanger!

The free version of this pattern is sized to match the small plant pots from my Cactus and Succulent Collection patterns, and you can use this pattern to make hangers for both your small crocheted potted plants and for real (approx 2″ diameter) plant pots.

crochet plant hanger by planetjune

But I didn’t stop with just one size of plant hanger…

crochet plant hanger crochet pattern

The PDF version, available for any size donation, includes additional tips, three options for the hanging loop, and any-size modifications for this pattern, so you can make a plant hanger to fit any diameter and height of round pot, using any yarn and any hook.Β 

You don’t need to take any measurements in advance – just hold your work up to the pot as you go, and you can custom-fit it as you crochet (much easier than it sounds!)

I really appreciate those of you who choose to donate for my donationware patterns (whether it’s a $2 or $20+ donation – every dollar counts). I’d have stopped creating ‘free’ patterns many years ago if not for your generous donations that support the creation of future donationware patterns and make it worth my while to keep creating them!

So, to show my appreciation, I give added value to the PDF version wherever I can, and in this case, it means you get a versatile pattern that you can use with any size and height of round plant pot, for real and crocheted plants!

crochet plant hanger by planetjune

Just look at how pretty that star-shaped base is on the larger sizes! That’s my favourite part of my design… πŸ™‚

Links to the Pattern(s):

Go to the free small Crochet Plant Hanger pattern >>

Or jump straight to donate:

Pay what you want for the any-size Crochet Plant Hanger pattern >>

And if you need some crocheted plants to display in your hangers, I have you covered:

Check out the PlanetJune Potted Plant crochet patterns >>

(The plants pictured above are my Pansies, String of Pearls (from Succulent Collection 2) and Christmas Cactus.)

Not ready to make a plant hanger yet? Add it to your Ravelry queue:

PS – Don’t forget to share your plant hangers – for crocheted or real potted plants! – in the PlanetJune BotaniCAL on Ravelry πŸ™‚

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    June Gilbank

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