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Join the PlanetJune community on Discord

I’ve just set up a PlanetJune Discord server, so now we have a private place for our community to chat and share pics about anything at any time.

After a soft launch with members of the PJ Ravelry group, we’ve got used to how Discord works, so now I’m ready to welcome you to the group! Keep reading to find out how to join…

Ready to Join?

If you already have a Discord account, you can join the PJ server now with this invite link:

If not, read on for more info…

What is Discord?

It’s an app that gives us a private invite-only home for the PlanetJune community – a place where we can talk, hang out, and have fun. (See the Discord Beginner’s Guide for an overview.)

PlanetJune Discord server using the desktop app
Here’s how the PlanetJune Discord looks on a computer (and you can switch to light mode if you don’t like the black background)

Why join the PJ Discord?

  • For friendship: Chat about crochet or anything else in a friendly, private community.
  • For crochet help: Get immediate crochet help from anyone in the community who’s online (or type @planetjune in your message to make sure I’ll see it and get to it asap).
  • To hang out with me: We have a monthly scheduled Chat Hour where we all try to show up at the same time and chat (I hope you’ll join us for the next one, on Wed 2nd March!)Β 
  • For PJ insider knowledge: Be a part of the PJ Think Tank by sharing your opinion on my secret plans and ideas. You’ll help contribute to the future of PlanetJune!

How do I join?

To join the PlanetJune group:

  1. If you aren’t already on Discord, sign up for a free Discord account.
  2. Click the verification link in the email you’ll receive from Discord.
  3. Visit the PlanetJune group here.
  4. Post a message in the lobby to ask to join.
  5. Recommended: download the Discord app for your phone and/or computer.
  6. Once one of our mods has approved you, you’ll be able to join in our text and voice chats!

PlanetJune Discord server using the desktop app
Here are a couple of screen grabs of the PJ Discord on my phone (with happy Maggie saying hello!)

FAQs

What is Discord?
Discord lets us create an invite-only home for our community – a place where we can talk, hang out, and have fun. See the Discord Beginner’s Guide for an overview.

How do I use Discord?
You can download the Discord app for your phone or computer, or use it through a browser. (I find the app much easier, but it’s up to you.)

Sign in and you’ll see the PlanetJune server (once you’ve joined through the invite link above), and any other servers you’ve joined. You can check in as often as you want, read past messages, reply to anything you want to, and chat in real-time with anyone else who’s online.

You can upload pictures directly into the chat (this is much easier than Ravelry, as you don’t need to add the photo to a project first). You can share pics of anything related to what you’re chatting about.

How do I get help with Discord?
Ask your questions in the #discord-help channel and we’ll help you. There are no stupid questions – unless you’re a gamer, Discord is probably brand new to you (it was to me too!) Our helpful mods probably know the answers, but, if not, we’ll figure it out together. πŸ™‚

Is Discord replacing the Ravelry group?
No! Ravelry is great, of course, and the PlanetJune Ravelry group isn’t going anywhere – the Discord server is an additional space where we can catch up, chat, and socialise. Ravelry is definitely the best place for long-term stuff like keeping a record of your projects, but our Discord is perfect for real-time chat about anything, sharing a quick pic of your work in progress, or getting instant feedback, support or giggles. (It’s like social media without all the negative parts!)

How do text and voice chat work?
We have two options for chatting: we mostly use text chat (like our rav chat room, but open all the time), and live voice chat (optional, but sometimes it’s nice to actually speak to people and hear their voices in return). You can read over the text chats you’ve missed and reply later, but voice chat isn’t recorded – it’s just live, and you can pop in or leave whenever you want.

How private are our messages?
Unlike Ravelry, where anyone with a Ravelry account can read all our chat threads, the PlanetJune Discord server is private. You need to request access to join (all are welcome!) and our moderators will make sure any trolls or disrespectful people who sneak in are banned, so it’ll always be a safe and welcoming space for everyone.

You can also DM (direct message) another PJ member and have a completely private conversation between the two of you that nobody else can access.

What are channels?
Text chats appear as channels with different topics, so choose a crafting channel (e.g. #crochet) if you want to talk about that subject, and/or post in the general #chat channel to talk about anything and everything!

Our mods will add new channels if there are other specific things we want to talk about, so please let us know and we can split that topic into a separate channel.

What can we talk about?
Crochet, of course, but the PlanetJune community has more than just crochet in common! Whatever else you’re interested in – whether it’s knitting, sci fi, baking, practicing your English, fitness, or anything else – you’ll probably find some of us are also interested and would love hear from you!

For example, in the past we’ve had threads in the Ravelry group for things like reading recommendations, weight loss, photography resources, pets and wildlife, and other non-crafty things. We can add new channels for any or all of those topics, and more…

Can we add new channels?
We can add new channels for anything you’re interested in – I bet other PJers will want to talk about them too! Just suggest a new channel topic in the main chat thread and one of our mods will add it as a new channel.


See you there?

I’d love to say hello to you in the chat room and get to know you better, so please do come and join our PlanetJune community on Discord (jump back to the instructions here). It’s a positive, friendly space, and we’d love to welcome you to the party!

Comments (2)

in memory of Maui

We had to say our final goodbye to our beautiful cat Maui this week.

Maui catnapping

Although we knew it was coming, we’re still completely devastated to have lost our boy, and I know that many of you have got to know and love him over the years too. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that Maui has been a huge part of PlanetJune – he’s been my assistant, supervising my work, since the very beginning. And, of course, there would be no AmiCats designs without Maui as my muse!

Maui - PlanetJune assistant

But let’s try not be too sad – Maui has lived a long, happy and adventurous life, and we’re so grateful to have been with him for so long and to have so many beautiful memories. I’ll share a few moments with you today.


We adopted Maui from a shelter when he was a year old. When we adopted him, he was a very sweet but independent boy – he didn’t get along with other cats, which was perfect for us. He was always reserved with new people, but he adopted us right back immediately, rubbing around our ankles and purring as soon as we got him home.

He loved watching our birdfeeders out of the window, and the local squirrels loved to tease him through the window!

Maui and a squirrel

Whenever we left the house, he’d sit in the front window and watch us go – it was so cute to see his little face in the window.

Maui looking out of the front window

Once he realised we’d be together forever, he mellowed and relaxed, and his favourite pastimes were sunbathing and snuggling with us.

Maui and a squirrel

And also eating… He really loved his food, and he was so smart that he figured out how to get his paw up into his feeder and sneak extra food. We had to change his feeder for a Maui-proof one eventually, so he didn’t get too fat!

Maui sneaking extra food

Maui was our constant companion through 6 house moves and two moves halfway around the world and back. He was so strong and brave, and adapted quickly to every change – all he needed to be happy was to be with us.

Maui and his favourite toys
checking out the snow in Ontario

Maui looking out over Cape Town
checking out the view of Cape Town

Maui always loved the toys I made for him – you may remember seeing some of them here over the years (fuzzball and mouse, crinkle ball, cardboard scratcher, fishing toy). The lovely mouse I sewed for his third birthday in 2007 was his favourite and longest-lasting toy – it lost the felt ears after a year, but apart from that it’s still in one piece todayπŸ™‚

Maui and his favourite toys

And he somehow knew the difference between his toys and my yarn and amigurumi and never, ever tried to mess with my yarn!

Maui with yarn

When we added Maggie to our family in 2020, Maui took it in stride, as always. We bought him a cat tree so he could have a safe place to relax, and he loved curling up in there to survey the world or snooze the day away.

Maui in his cat tree

Maggie loved her brother and often slept at the foot of the cat tree to be close to him. They definitely treated each other like family, and they had lots of contented times sunbathing together on the rug by the window.

Maui and Maggie

Maui has been a huge part of our lives for so long, and although the last few months of his decline have been heartbreaking, we had 16 amazing years of love together that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Maui and June

His loss leaves a huge hole in our lives, but we’ll try to follow his example: to be strong and brave, adaptable, and always make the best of any situation.

Maui cat

Rest well, dearest Maui. You’ll always be with us.

Comments (29)

Settling in

We’ve moved into our new house! After a stressful and incredibly exhausting couple of weeks getting everything done, we’re all starting to settle in, and it’s wonderful to see design decisions we made months (and years!) ago for our home finally come to life.

Our new house is truly lovely, and I’ve been working hard getting it set up in a way that’ll make sense for the way we live, so we can hopefully stay more organised and really enjoy living here πŸ™‚

There’s been the odd unexpected flaw in my endless plans, such as discovering that almost all my pots and pans didn’t work with my new induction stove (oops…)

all these saucepans and frying pans don't work with my induction stove

I’ve had to give away all the pans in this photo and buy new ones, but I’m looking on the bright side – this is an opportunity to re-buy just the pans I need for the way I cook, instead of having a cluttered cupboard full of pans that are rarely used.

It’s a challenge to play food tetris every day (trying to fit things into the mini fridges!) and figuring out which groceries I have fridge/freezer space to buy, but it’s all part of the new house fun, and at least this is only temporary.

My PlanetJune work is still on the back burner, for the time being. Although I’ve set up most of my office and studio, there’s a layer of random clutter everywhere that’s waiting to find a new home, and pretty much all my creative energy is going into sewing curtains…

sheer curtain hanging in the kitchen window

…and organising my pantry…

organised pantry

…and baking bread…

yummy raisin bread

…and walking for an hour or two every day with Maggie (usually with her best friend Echo)…

Maggie (right) with Echo

…and enjoying the springtime, like this very Canadian sight of a goose family stopping the traffic while they cross the road πŸ™‚

Canada goose family crossing the road

We have ponds and a forest close to our home, so I’m enjoying watching the birds and turtles (and this loopy garter snake I managed to catch with Dave’s phone camera, below).

coiled garter snake

I’m starting to learn a little about our native flora too, and I’ve even picked up my long-neglected camera once or twice – there’s wildlife everywhere at this time of year, so lots of opportunity for nature photos. (Hmmm, maybe I should resume my occasional nature blog posts?)

This ‘homey’ phase I’m in won’t last forever, and once all the curtains are sewn and the house is mostly organised, I should be ready to jump back into some of the pattern ideas I have for PlanetJune.

But, for now, please bear with me as I allow myself to enjoy this time. It feels amazing to have found a real home and to be putting down roots. I finally feel like I’m part of a community, and knowing I have no plans to ever leave here makes it all seem so real, unlike anywhere else I’ve ever lived before.

This is where I belong. πŸ™‚

Comments (5)

exciting news!

You may have noticed that I didn’t have a new pattern for you in January. I actually have four different crochet patterns in progress at the moment, but everything feels a bit scattered, because I have some very exciting news: we just bought a house!

We’ve been waiting for a long time to get to this point. Almost two years ago, when we first signed the contract, our little plot of land sat somewhere in here…

location of new house

This time last year, we got to make hundreds of design decisions for the interior and exterior of our house – colours, flooring, lighting, bathroom suites, kitchen cabinets – it was endless.

colour chips for new house

And then, nothing, for a very long time. I was expecting this – multiple people had warned me that new house builds always run late, and the builders had emailed me last year to let me know there would be additional delays due to the pandemic, so I was expecting at least several months of delays.

A couple of weeks ago, we discovered that we wouldn’t be able to attend our own home inspection because of the lockdown, and then suddenly the original closing date was approaching and, although we hadn’t seen it for ourselves, everything was apparently going to be finished on time! That caught me by surprise, so I had a mad scramble talking to banks and lawyers and trying to get the money in place in time to close…

And then it was done, and we held the keys to our new home!

the new house!

Yay!

But this isn’t the end of the story. There’s a lot more that goes into buying a brand new house than I’d anticipated: lots of unfinished and imperfect things that need to be identified and reported so they can be fixed, a full house-worth of appliances and window coverings to choose and buy and get delivered and installed, and all of this while we’re under a stay-at-home order in Ontario, which means a fun trip to IKEA to pick up all the other essentials we need is not an option at the moment.

So please bear with me – there definitely will be new PlanetJune patterns coming soon, but I need time and energy so I can focus on completing them, and both of those are in short supply right now. My ideas are tripping over each other to get out of my head (hence 4 patterns on the go at once…) but I need some calm and concentration to turn my notes into patterns you’ll enjoy.

Right now, things are both exciting and anticlimactic at the same time. It’ll be a long time before we can actually move into our new house, and there’s so much that I need to do for it in the meantime. So many decisions to make! It’s all quite overwhelming.

But I know it’ll all be worth it in the end – one day, all the pieces will have been slotted into place and everything will be ready for us to start enjoying it. And I can’t wait for Dave and Maui and Maggie and I to be settled in our lovely new home!

Comments (21)

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)

a new addition!

I’ve been dealing with a new batch of PTSD-related stuff for the last few weeks, since I was triggered by an incident in my neighbourhood. It’s exhausting to go from feeling pretty much okay to being thrust back into panic attacks and hypervigilance again.

As a result of that, I started to more seriously consider getting a little emotional support dog, and my therapist agreed it’d be a very good idea. After searching all the local shelters, I found the dog that sounded like my perfect match – even just reading her description made me cry with how much she sounded like exactly what I was looking for. Plus, she’s totally adorable…

Maggie dog

It was a bit of a snap decision to adopt her (although I’ve been debating for years whether or not the time was right to get a dog), but when life hands you an opportunity, you have to grab it or miss out!

Maggie dog

So, here is my new baby, Maggie. She’s 7 years old and we think she’s mostly Miniature Poodle (or even Toy Poodle – she’s a tiny little scrap!) and she’s a curly-coated lovebug. She doesn’t know any words except her name as yet, but she’s a very good girl. πŸ™‚

Maggie dog

Maggie is only two thirds of Maui’s size, but he’s very unsure of her at the moment even though she’s not even slightly interested in him. I’m hoping they’ll learn to get along, or at least to ignore each other. They’ve touched noses twice now, so I think there’s a chance they’ll become friends eventually!

Maggie dog

She’s already done wonders for my PTSD – sitting with a warm little dog sleeping on your lap is incredibly soothing, and patrolling the neighbourhood with my tiny fearless companion at my side puts things back into perspective.

But, there’s a bit of a learning curve to integrate a dog into our household! I’ve never lived with a dog before, and I’m reading and googling and trying to figure out dozens of things every day. I’ve signed us up for a training class, but that doesn’t start for another week so I’ll have to muddle through until then.

Maggie dog

My life is a bit upside down right now as a result of all this, but I’m trying to practice the ‘acceptance of my situation’ that was one of my goals for this year. It’s incredibly frustrating that I don’t have a new pattern ready to debut this month, but, on the bright side, until I was distracted by life, I’d been working on a special new design that I’m really excited about. Every time I walk past my prototype I smile – it’s one of the best things I’ve ever designed! I’ve had to put the pattern on hold until I get my brain back to working at full capacity; it’s impossible to be creative and clever and innovative when you’re completely drained. I know it’ll be worth waiting for, and a few more weeks isn’t going to make any difference in the grand scheme of things.

Maggie dog

Thanks to my starting to learn how to be a good dog parent, plus lots of dog walking and dog shopping and dog/cat mediation, I’m utterly exhausted right now – but it’s for a much healthier reason than the fear and stress of the last weeks!

Maggie dog

Once Maggie and I get settled into a routine, I think she’ll make an excellent PlanetJune assistant, helping me to stay calm and focused (and providing plenty of cuteness inspiration, of course).

Maggie dog

Please welcome my sweet little Maggie to the PlanetJune family!

Comments (46)

Reduce hand pain by releasing your trigger points

Hand and wrist pain is a common story for crocheters, knitters, and other crafters who spend a lot of time making repetitive motions with their hands.

If you visit the doctor, you may be told you have carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, arthritis, an RSI (repetitive strain injury), and that may be the case… or it may not.

Before you consider serious medical treatments like steroid injections or surgery to help with your hand pain, I’d suggest you read my story below, and see if you can fix yourself without the need for drugs or surgical interventions.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, and if your doctor has diagnosed you with a condition, their recommended treatment may be the right solution for you. But I’d recommend you try this simple self-administered pressure treatment first – it can’t make things any worse, it’s fast and free, and it may relieve you of serious pain!

My Story

In 2007, I was mis-diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.

The pain was debilitating. I could no longer perform everyday tasks without agonizing pain: turning a door handle; pushing open a door with my palm; using a computer mouse; operating a can opener…

I was referred to a specialist, given a fancy wrist brace to lock my wrist straight, and told that if that didn’t fix the problem, my only other options were steroid injections or carpal tunnel surgery.

I wore the wrist brace for months, and learned to mouse left-handed. The brace helped with the pain, but the problem didn’t go away.

Eventually, I found a cure that was ridiculously simple, I could perform on myself at no cost, and has completely fixed the problem.

None of the doctors I visited considered this as a possibility.

The cause of all my debilitating wrist pain was a knotted muscle near my elbow.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points & Referred Pain

When you overuse a muscle, it can cause sensitive areas of tight fibres to form, creating a knot in the muscle. The point where the knot forms is called a trigger point, and pressing on it causes an achy pain.

Now, here’s the crazy part: the muscle knot at the trigger point can cause serious pain in a different part of your body. This is called referred pain.

So the pain you feel may be caused by a trigger point elsewhere. No matter how much you treat your hand or wrist, you won’t be able to fix the problem if the pain, like mine, is caused by a trigger point in your upper forearm!

Treat Yourself

Once you know where the trigger point is that’s causing your pain, you can ‘unlock’ it – and stop the referred pain – by releasing the muscle knot yourself.

I learnt this ischemic pressure technique by watching a video from Dr Jonathan Kuttner, an expert in chronic muscle and joint pain. He has a couple of quick videos that explain the process – I highly recommend you watch them:

The process is the same to ‘turn off’ any trigger point. The key is to start with low enough pressure on the trigger point so it doesn’t hurt, then to gradually increase the pressure, but never to the level where it hurts.

(From experience, I can tell you that, if you’re too forceful, you’ll end up feeling like you’ve bruised yourself, and you don’t do any good. Slow and gentle is the way to go.)

My Treatment

Coincidentally, the trigger point Jonathan demonstrates ‘turning off’ in his video is the same one that caused my carpal tunnel-like symptoms and wrist/hand pain, so I could follow the instructions in his video exactly.

I’ve never been able to feel the nodule of knotted muscle he describes, but I know I’m in the right place when I feel the tender spot on my arm.

Treating hand and wrist pain with trigger point pressure therapy on the upper forearm

In 2009, when my condition was agonising, I could press the trigger point in my arm and immediately feel the referred pain in the back of my hand and wrist! That’s what convinced me that this was a) a real phenomenon and b) the cause of my problems.

Here’s me from an email I sent in 2009 when I’d just cured myself of my supposed ‘carpal tunnel syndrome’:

The myofascial thing is amazing – my wrist was so painful I couldn’t put any pressure on it while it was at all bent, so I couldn’t even open a door or a jar without it being agonisingly painful. I got one of those wrist splint things and it helped me to avoid the pain but it didn’t get better. And then I was googling and found this AMAZING thing – basically it was a referred pain caused by a muscle knot just below my elbow. And by doing gentle acupressure [sic] with my finger on this point, I healed it! I know it sounds like rubbish, but it’s totally true – when I pushed this exact spot on my arm, I could feel the pain in my wrist, even though I wasn’t doing anything to my wrist. Total magic.

Since then, I’ve rarely had the pain escalate to the terrible point it was at. I always treat it as soon as I realise what’s happening, and the knot has never had a chance to form as badly as it was back then.

I’ve developed the same problem in the other arm too, and now I can always find the trigger point on each arm – I feel a tender ache when I press on them. I try to do the ischemic pressure treatment whenever I remember, to stop the knot from forming in the first place. This works really well for me!

Finding Other Trigger Points

There are trigger points all over the body, and you can consult a trigger point diagram (like this one) that shows the position of the trigger point (marked with an X) and the possible locations of referred pain for that point (shown as a cloud of red). You can use those to help diagnose if any of your unexplained chronic pains may be caused by trigger points, and try to deactivate them if so.

I’ve had several other problems with pain that have also turned out to be trigger point related:

  • I get pain at the base of my thumbs when I crochet (or use my phone) too much, and I’ve discovered that there are two trigger points in the thumb. Treating the lower trigger point at the base of the thumb seems to help me.
  • I also occasionally get terrible upper back pain. When I have it, I can never get comfortable and I can’t sleep for the pain. The back pain turned out to be caused by trigger points, and now when my upper back and shoulders are hurting, I can usually fix it by unlocking the trigger points in my levator scapulae or trapezius muscles. (Here’s Jonathan’s article Trigger Points for Neck Pain).

Give It a Go

I have no idea how many people with hand pains from crochet or other crafts may also actually be suffering from a simple trigger point caused by a knotted muscle in their forearm, but please do try some trigger point pressure therapy and report back here if it helps!

A couple of tips on what to expect:

  • If your pain is bad, I’ve found that it may take daily sessions over a week or two to completely turn off the trigger point, but you should be able to feel an improvement immediately.
  • Your trigger points will probably reactivate in time, but knowing where they are and how to treat them means you can fix yourself in future before the stage of agonising pain, limited function and sleepless nights.

I hope this works for you as well as it has for me.

Here’s to more crafting, with less pain! πŸ™‚

Comments (9)

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