PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for Knitting

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. 🙂


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)

silver thermal pullover

After ‘graduating’ from my long term project to teach myself to knit through designing and making 12 sweaters, I wasn’t at all bored with sweater knitting, so my next project was bound to be… yep, another sweater to add to the pile!

As soon as I arrived back in Canada I loaded up on Michael’s Loops & Threads brand Woolike yarn – it’s a super-soft super-fine non-wool yarn with amazing yardage for the price, and I wondered what it’d be like to make a whole sweater from such fine yarn.

The answer? An incredible amount of work, but the result is my favourite sweater to date!

silver thermal pullover by June Gilbank

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for this sweater, so I started by knitting plain stockinette sleeves while I pondered. It was slow going with such fine yarn and small needles, but I was encouraged to continue because the knitted fabric felt so soft, and looked so smooth and fine when I draped it over my arm.

I was worried that the fine knit wouldn’t keep my torso warm enough, so I decided on a thermal stitch pattern for the body. This was the slowest thing ever to knit, but the pattern is neat and stretchy and snuggly, so it was a pleasure to watch it grow, however slowly.

silver thermal pullover by June Gilbank

The fine yarn and stretchy stitch pattern gives it a wonderful flattering drape, even with no shaping built in. Doesn’t it look good?

silver thermal pullover by June Gilbank

It was very fiddly to stitch the sleeves to the body neatly – with hindsight, I should have worked the last 2 stitches at the armhole edges in stockinette so I’d have a plain unpatterned edge for joining. My first seaming attempt ruined the whole look of the sweater, so I unpicked the join and tried again very slowly and carefully. I think it took the best part of an hour to seam each sleeve, but it was worth it.

After seaming, I finished my sweater with simple 1×1 rib cuffs and bands, which, again, took forever – switching between knit and purl for every single tiny stitch slows things down considerably – but now I could see that it was going to be a gorgeous sweater, I didn’t mind at all.

silver thermal pullover by June Gilbank

I love this sweater! The patterned body and smooth arms; the v-neck that isn’t too deep (for warmth); the fit that I intentionally made loose enough to wear with a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath to keep me warm, but still nicely fitted… I’d have cried at spending so much time on it if it hadn’t turned out well, but it’s exactly what I hoped it would be.

I’d have liked to switch to smaller needles for the ribbing for the cuffs and bands, but I was already using my smallest (3mm) needles, so the ribbing isn’t quite as neat as I’d like, although I don’t think you’d notice if I hadn’t pointed it out, right?

If I were making this sweater again I’d buy smaller needles for the ribbing, and maybe add a tiny bit of extra height to the shoulders, but overall I’m very pleased with how this one turned out, and it’s now my favourite sweater in my wardrobe!

What’s next in my knitting adventure? I’m trying something other than a sweater for once – I’m in need of a really warm hat…

Comments (8)

12 Knit Sweaters Project wrap-up

When I decided to learn to knit by making a dozen self-designed sweaters, I didn’t really think I’d ever reach this point – surely I’d lose interest in knitting such time-consuming pieces before I’d completed 12 sweaters?

12 knit sweaters project

Apparently not! Shall we take a look at them all properly?

12 knit sweaters project: sweaters 1-3

12 knit sweaters project: sweaters 4-6

12 knit sweaters project: sweaters 7-9

12 knit sweaters project: sweaters 10-12

(Find details of each sweater project in its own post, here.)

Project Stats

I started my first sweater in June 2012, and knitted the final stitch on my 12th sweater in June 2017. So that’s 12 sweaters in 60 months, or an average completion time of 5 months per sweater.

I was very surprised to discover I’ve been working on this project for 5 whole years, but then, I’m busy with work a lot of the time, and summers in Africa aren’t very conducive to knitting sweaters, so maybe it’s not so surprising!

Techniques I’ve Learnt

This project has helped me learn a huge number of knitting techniques. And, while there’s still much, much more I can learn, I’m almost comfortable calling myself a knitter now without feeling like a fraud.

  • I’ve made sweaters from the top down and bottom up, seamed and seamless, flat and in the round, with raglan and set-in sleeves, and sleeveless.
  • I’ve made cardigans and pullovers and a vest.
  • I’ve tried lace and cabling, ribbing and all-over texture.
  • I’ve used provisional and cable cast-ons, directional increases and decreases, mattress stitch, kitchener stitch and 3-needle bind-offs.
  • I’ve used short rows and turned hems, attached i-cord and picked-up stitches.
  • I’ve made buttonholes and inserted a zip.
  • I’ve learnt how to reliably make a sweater that will fit me, in a range of yarn weights and fibres.

Final Thoughts

12 knit sweaters project

I feel quite proud, seeing the whole dozen together like this. Although they almost all have features I’d change, with hindsight, were I to knit them again, I enjoy wearing all of them. (And I have my notes, so I can always reknit them with a few tweaks once the originals wear out!)

All in all, I’d say I’ve met my original goal:

I’m teaching myself to knit by making myself a dozen self-designed sweaters, and learning new techniques with each one I make. I’m hoping that, by the end of this journey, I’ll be a real knitter and not have to survive on guesswork!

It’s time to own it: I am a real knitter.

What’s Next?

Now I’ve completed my mission, I don’t have any plans to stop knitting sweaters for myself – it’s become a long-term hobby, and I can’t imagine buying a sweater at this point! I’ve already bought the yarn to make another half dozen – I think we can safely say I’m addicted… 😉

(You might also be wondering if I’m considering selling patterns for my knitwear designs… and I’ll save that topic for another post!)

Comments (4)

knit camel vest

This is sweater #12 of my ‘learn to knit by making a dozen self-designed sweaters’ project. (Here are links to #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 #8, #9, #10, and #11, if you’d like to see my progress.)

What could I do for my 12th sweater project that I haven’t already done?! I started thinking this would have to be a spectacular finale to the project, and that put so much pressure on me, I couldn’t get started! So I decided to step back and just make something I wanted to make, as I did for all the others.

camel vest

Now, you could argue that a vest is not really a sweater, but all it’s missing is the sleeves (and I definitely know how to knit sleeves by now) so I don’t think this is cheating – I could have added sleeves if I had more yarn, and I had plenty to learn from designing and knitting this vest, which was really the point of my whole project.

I had about 500m of deliciously soft baby camel yarn left over from my amigurumi Camel (I’d bought 5 hanks to take advantage of a wholesale discount price – it was far too expensive to justify buying 100% baby camel yarn for a toy at retail price). I’d hoped to think of some way to use this extremely warm yarn to make something useful, but the low yardage was going to be a challenge, so I decided it’d have to be a fairly close-fitting vest, and I’d do some calculations on the fly to make sure I could use as much of the yarn as possible without running out.

To keep it interesting and build my skills, I chose an all-over textured stitch pattern instead of plain stockinette.

camel vest

Instead of joining a new ball of yarn at the end of a row, I used the Russian join to minimise wasted yarn (and had to consult my own book for the instructions – it’s been a long time since I’ve used this join and I couldn’t quite remember how to do it!)

And my plan worked, eventually! It took some re-knitting: I started my textured stitch pattern in a way that caused the whole bottom border to flip up (a fact that didn’t reveal itself in my swatch or until I was way past the point of wanting to unravel it all and restart). I kept going and then unravelled from the bottom cast-on edge up until the point where I could fix the problem (and also to recover some yarn to use for a more substantial neckband than I’d budgeted for – I didn’t like the look of the narrow one I tried first), then I reknitted the bottom border and added the neckband.

camel vest

I added a new tool to my knitting toolkit: an interchangeable crochet hook (size E/3.5mm) for picking up stitches. Being a left-hander, but a right-handed knitter, I’ve found that picking up stitches along an edge (as a way to start e.g. a button band or armhole edging) with a needle is too challenging for me. Until now, I’d been picking up a few stitches at a time with a normal crochet hook, then dropping them off the hook and picking them up on the needle, but this was slow and fiddly.

Now, I can just unscrew the needle tip from the cable, screw on the hook, pick up all the stitches with ease and slide them onto the cable as I go, and then switch back to the needle tip to begin knitting! The interchangeable hook has been a brilliant addition to my interchangeable needle collection.

In the end, I used 99% of my yarn (woohoo!) to complete the vest, and I’m happy with the result – it’s extremely soft and very warm without being bulky. It isn’t the sort of thing I’d usually wear – either in style or colour – but this extra-warm layer is turning out to be very useful, and it’s the natural colour of the baby camels who donated their yarn so that I could knit this vest, so that’s pretty cool!

camel vest

Skills I learnt in this project:

  • Working an all-over texture throughout a piece (I really like the result of the stitch pattern I used – I think it looks like a yummy waffle).
  • Garter stitch… I know, it’s the most basic stitch, and yet I’ve actually never knitted anything in garter stitch until I decided to use garter edgings on this vest. I haven’t been a big fan of the look of garter, although I’m willing to change my mind on that point, because I love how flat my edgings are compared with stockinette! There are definite benefits to not being an anti-garter stitch snob.
  • Decreasing in pattern for the V-neck (note to self: if I was doing it again, I’d have left two stitches of stockinette at the edge instead of one: one for the selvedge and one to make a neat border at the base of the edging).
  • Weighing the work so far and adapting the design on the fly to account for the lack of yarn.
  • Picking up stitches around an armhole.
  • Making an armhole edging.
  • Making a buttonhole in garter stitch.

camel vest

I was hoping to find some colourful buttons (maybe turquoise or dark purple) to contrast with the yarn colour, but there wasn’t anything in the right size and colour in the button shop, so I went with this dusty pink. I think it looks okay, although I may make some polymer clay buttons and swap them at some point. But, for now, it’s finished.

camel vest

And, with that, my 12 sweater project is complete. Isn’t that amazing?!

I have a lot to say about the experience of the project and where I’ll go from here, but I’ll save those thoughts for a wrap-up post…

Comments (3)

pink cabled cardigan

This is sweater #11 of my ‘learn to knit by making a dozen self-designed sweaters’ project. (Here are links to #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 #8, #9, and #10, if you’d like to see my progress.)

pink cabled cardigan

With only 2 sweaters left to go, I didn’t think I could really claim to have conquered knitting if I’d never tried to cable, and I couldn’t put that off any longer!

I used Ysolda’s instructions for cabling without a cable needle – I’ve done all my knitting so far with just my interchangeable circular needles, and I like the idea of not needing any extra equipment where possible. Cabling is kind of fun – I don’t know why I waited so long to try it!

pink cabled cardigan

Aside from the cables, I tested out a few more new (to me) techniques with this design:

  • I read that, when making a turned hem after a provisional cast-on, using one size larger needles for the joining row gives a less visible result, so I tried that. Verdict: I’m not sure it made much difference….
  • I didn’t know how to tackle joining the part of the facing that sits behind the cable, so I left those stitches on some waste yarn and then sewed them to the back of the cable later.
    pink cabled cardigan
    pink cabled cardigan
    Verdict: I’m really happy with how neat it looks!
  • I worked the cardigan as one piece up to the armholes, but I tried using a ‘basting’ stitch at each side – one extra column of purl stitches, to be ‘seamed’ later to add stability where the side seams would normally be. pink cabled cardigan
    ‘basting’ column (L: right side, before seaming it invisibly away, R: wrong side)

    Verdict: It worked, but I think I prefer working in pieces and seaming. Call me weird, but I love mattress stitch!

Apart from that, I used techniques I’ve used before: waist shaping, and an attached icord edging all the way around (including the bottom edge and sleeve cuffs), leaving the icord detached to form buttonholes – a throwback to my very first sweater! In this case though, I think the icord echoes the width of the cables and gives a nice finish.

pink cabled cardigan

I really like the finished sweater, but keeping track of the 20 rows of the cable proved a bit frustrating at times – I’m not fully able to read the cable stitches yet to see where I am, as the shaping of the cable only really becomes apparent in later rows. I tried dropping down to fix mistakes, but because cabling takes a different amount of yarn than regular stitches, I wasn’t happy with the results and ended up having to frog 4 rows a couple of times when I’d made the open circle in the cable pattern too long or too short, and only realised much later.

I also found the cabling took too much time away from the meditative action of knitting, so I don’t think I’ll be designing many heavily-cabled pieces in the future (although, a simpler cable with an easier repeat may be an option).

pink cabled cardigan

But I’m happy with the end result, and the yarn (a cotton/acrylic blend) will make this a nice lightweight piece for warmer weather (although completely inappropriate for the current Canadian winter – I’ll look forward to wearing it next spring!)


So that was 11 of my 12 sweaters for this ‘learn-to-knit’ project completed, and at this point I was in a quandary as to what to design for the final piece in the collection. Was I still missing any essential knitting skills? (Colourwork is the obvious one, but I want these to all be wardrobe staples I’ll wear all the time, and I really don’t wear multi-coloured sweaters.)

I’ll reveal what I chose to make for the last piece in my next knitting update…

Comments (4)

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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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