PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for PlanetJune Stories

PlanetJune Stories: Domino Joyce

Today’s PlanetJune Story comes from Dr Domino Joyce, an evolutionary biologist by day and crocheter by night, who found a novel way to use amigurumi to educate children (and adults) about evolution!

I’ll let Domino explain:

history of life interactive crocheted exhibit

I’m an evolutionary biologist at the University of Hull, UK and I’ve wanted to learn to crochet for ages. Last year, when I was on maternity leave, I taught myself with YouTube videos, and I started making toys while my baby son slept on me. I became a little addicted to it and found some amazing patterns representing the diversity of life, but the PlanetJune site quickly became my favourite place because the animals are so much more realistic than many designs, and the patterns are amazingly clear and well designed.

Every year at Hull University, we have a Science Festival, and I began to formulate a way to combine science communication with my new crochet addiction. I thought I would make a poster containing a timeline of the history of earth, and use the toys to illustrate when particular things evolved. The PlanetJune dinosaur sets proved particularly inspiring for this!

history of life interactive crocheted exhibit

I made a tabletop timeline poster, as well as backdrop posters with links to the patterns, and have made these available (here) for anyone who wants to download and print their own.

The key message I wanted to get across is that evolution has taken place over a timescale so long, it is hard to visualise. The earth is 4.5 billion years old, but most of the life we know about and see today evolved ‘only’ in the last 540 million years or so. There was a very long period of time when not much happened at all!

history of life interactive crocheted exhibit

This weekend (after a lot of crocheting) the festival took place. It was a big success – we were expecting about 1500-2000 visitors, but received almost 5000. I asked the children who visited my stand to place the crochet dinosaurs on the timeline where they thought they should go, and nearly all of them put them right at the beginning of the line, and were amazed when I told them the correct place was much closer to “NOW” than they thought.

history of life interactive crocheted exhibit

I was able to talk them through the history of (some!) life using the various organisms I had made, including a crochet Mary Anning and Charles Darwin representing Homo sapiens. My favourite part used the Emperor Penguin to convey the idea that birds are simply dinosaurs that survived and carried on evolving.

history of life interactive crocheted exhibit

The toys worked really well to draw children and adults in to the stand to find out what it was about, and I think I convinced a few of the adults they should try crocheting, as well as inspiring a few who already crochet to try some of these patterns!

But most of all, I hope I helped both children and adults to understand the history of life on earth a little more clearly.

(Back to me, June, again!)

Based on your account and photos, I’m sure you accomplished that mission, Domino! Congratulations on such a successful event, and for coming up with such a great idea for a fun, interactive learning experience.

One of the things that makes me really proud as a designer of realistic animal and plant patterns is when professional scientists who study the organisms I reproduce in crochet are fans of my work – it’s high praise indeed whenever I hear from botanists, paleontologists, marine biologists (and now evolutionary biologists!) etc who appreciate my designs. And I’m so happy that my patterns could play a part in Domino’s Science Festival exhibit – it’s lovely to think that, even though I’m no longer working in the field of science, I’m still helping in some small way to educate the scientists of the future.

Thank you so much, Domino, for sharing your story with us today 🙂
Please leave Domino a comment if you’ve enjoyed this post!

Do you have a PlanetJune Story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Please email your story to, together with one or more high quality photos showing what you’ve made from PlanetJune patterns. If I choose your story to feature here on the blog, I’ll send you your choice of pattern from my shop to say thank you!

PS – If you’re feeling inspired to crochet some PlanetJune dinosaurs and penguins too, you can find all the patterns in my shop:

Comments (10)

teaching with PlanetJune patterns

Did you know that you can teach classes using my paid or donationware/free patterns? Well, today I have a PlanetJune Story for you on just that topic, from Beth Graham, a designer and teacher who works and teaches crochet at Shall We Knit? in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. (You can connect with Beth on Ravelry or Facebook.)

Shall We Knit? is a crochet friendly shop featuring rooms of yarns, fiber, books, and inspiration for knitters, crocheters, and spinners. You can contact the store for info on their crochet classes and one-on-one instruction. Sadly, I just missed out on the chance to count them as my own local yarn store, as they relocated to my old home town of Waterloo shortly after I left for South Africa! I’m still a bit sad about that even now; just look at all that pretty yarn…

Shall We Knit?, Waterloo, Ontario
Shall We Knit? photo, borrowed from

Beth taught an Amigurumi Apples class last Saturday, and has kindly offered to share her experience with us. Over to you, Beth:

I offered a successful class at Shall We Knit? featuring June’s Amigurumi Apples pattern. The two-hour project class on beginner amigurumi introduced crocheters to the adjustable loop technique, the formula for creating flat circles using increases and decreases to create 3-D shapes, and June’s ingenious invisible decrease.

amigurumi apples class

Because of the apple’s simple, yet elegant, design, students left the course feeling quite clever, and – even better! – having finished their projects!

amigurumi apples class

Amigurumi Apples is a perfect teaching tool for introducing all these techniques and more, and I highly recommend it to other instructors considering a beginner amigurumi class. (I got permission from June to use the pattern prior to the class and purchased a copy for each student.)

amigurumi apples class

Well done, Beth – it sounds like your class was a great success! I’ve taught classes using a few of my patterns and I know how good it feels to guide new crocheters – or new amigurumists – to complete their first amigurumi. Once they’ve mastered the basic skills, they’ll have the confidence to attempt any amigurumi pattern.

As Beth said, it’s easy to teach with any PlanetJune pattern (paid or donationware) – all you need to do is purchase a copy of the pattern for yourself and one for each of your students. So, if you work in a yarn store or teach crochet classes independently, why not use a PlanetJune pattern for your next class?

Please see my Teaching FAQ for further details, and don’t forget to take a couple of photos of your class – I’d love to share them here!


PlanetJune Stories: Monica’s amigurumi dolls

Today’s PlanetJune Story comes from Monica from Magical Amigurumi – you may remember her previous appearances on my blog from her first PJ Story and when she was commissioned to crochet my Fruit Bats for the Ralph Lauren store window last year!

I love it when people use my techniques and the Boy and Girl patterns from my Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi to create custom toys, and I don’t think anyone has taken that concept to heart as much as Monica has – I’m sure you’ll be as delighted and impressed as I am with her amigurumi doll collection. Over to you, Monica…

I love collecting dolls! Porcelain dolls, baby dolls, stuffed dolls, hand sewn dolls from all over the world. Each doll is unique and special to me. At the moment, most of my dolls are in two 30 gallon totes for safe keeping; small apartment means small space.

Monica's amigurumi dolls

When I first received June’s book Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi I really liked the look of her crocheted dolls. Some of the other crocheted patterns out there make the dolls look a little creepy for my liking, and June’s were really life-like (and super simple to create!) and they are the perfect size to hug, hold and carry around! I was not brave enough to try them out for several months and then took my first try on the boy pattern, turning him into this Scarecrow. After a cute success I was not able to make another doll for a year, but I had many ideas floating around in my head.

Monica's amigurumi dolls

I made this standard Girl Doll in a pink mist color and really liked how she turned out. Cute but simple. After which, I started making a list of doll ideas, yarn colors, and other items I would need to make these dolls the best I could. Searching for the best yarn colors took the longest, but after looking at my finished dolls, I’d say the search was worth it! I even ordered special eyes from some of my dolls from Michelle at Suncatcher Craft Eyes to make them perfect (for me anyways).

I made these two special dolls for my children first before my long list of wants for myself 😉 and I love how they turned out: The Flash (from the Justice League) and Ariel the Mermaid. They love them and play with them constantly, and sleep with them, and best of all, the dolls may be a few months old, but they hold up really well.

Monica's amigurumi dolls

Monica's amigurumi dolls

Then in one afternoon I made myself my first crocheted doll! His name is Dastan from the Prince of Persia movie, and I enjoyed customizing him to make him as realistic as I could! I am a bit of a perfectionist, so making him as close to the character as I could was a big must for me, a reason I had held off on making myself the crocheted dolls because I was afraid I could not do it…but…after seeing that I could, and that he was super cute, I started (slowly) on the rest of the dolls I wanted to make!

(Top row, below) I started with my Disney-inspired Princesses for myself really but I like to share. My children helped me pick out the correct colors for their gowns, and I went back to June’s book a lot for help with the unique hairstyles. I am very pleased with how they turned out!

Monica's amigurumi dolls

With the recent CAL in August, I felt compelled to accomplish my set of dolls that were adapted from my favorite fantasy book! And I knew that if I made my two favorite characters, I would have to make their companions; a giant blue-feathered iguana (Iguana) and a giant cream colored hound (AmiDogs Great Dane), and I was not able to make the white Star Stallion as I do not have a horse pattern yet. I was (still am) very excited about this set of four! While I was making them I had to re-read my six books (not only for fun, but to make sure I got their descriptions just right).

Monica's amigurumi dolls

Monica's amigurumi dolls

My next two special ones are from characters of my own fantasy book that I started writing in high school and have finally typed it out, so I thought it fitting to make my main characters into dolls as a self gift of accomplishment! 🙂

Monica's amigurumi dolls

Captain Jack Sparrow! I have always loved that character, and thought it would be fun and challenging to crochet him into a doll. I loved how he turned out! He is my most detailed doll I have done yet, and he inspires me to make more dolls even more detailed than before!

Monica's amigurumi dolls

In between all of my special dolls, I have made some regular dolls in different colors of yarn. I really like how simple and cute they are just as dolls (my favorite of them being this girl in the green mist dress).

(Below) The Cranberry China Doll, as I’ve been calling her, was fun to customize. I was not sure how she would turn out in the standard Chinese style dress, but I am very pleased. I was not sure if I could make a Xena Warrior Princess, but my son loves how she came out, and even asked when I was going to make a Gabrielle. I told him I had not planned on it, so she may be a Christmas gift for him this year. 😉

Monica's amigurumi dolls

(Back to me, June, again!)

Aren’t they all wonderful? Thank you, Monica, for sharing your beautiful customization work! Please leave Monica a comment if you’ve enjoyed this post!

Do you have a PlanetJune Story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Please email your story to, together with one or more high quality photos showing what you’ve made from PlanetJune patterns. If I choose your story to feature here on the blog, I’ll send you your choice of pattern from my shop to say thank you!

And if you’d like to try your hand at making some custom (or standard) amigurumi people, you can find the Boy and Girl patterns in my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi 🙂

Comments (16)

PlanetJune Stories: petrOlly

Today’s PlanetJune Story comes from Aleksandra in Poland, who many of you will be familiar with as petrOlly, one of the much-appreciated moderators from the PlanetJune ravelry group! This is a really wonderful story and I hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to read it. Over to you, petrOlly…

My PlanetJune story started as a very spontaneous idea but it turned into a long-term project. In November 2012 I learnt about an art contest for 10-12 year olds at the Polish Geological Institute – National Research Institute. The semi-finals were to be held in the Marine Geology Branch in Gdansk in May 2013.

Official logo of the contest
Official logo of the contest “The predatory face of the Earth”
Some of the artworks awarded in the contest
Some of the award-winning artwork from the contest

I’ve known and seen myself as a part of the Institute since I was a kid – my mother has worked there for as long as I can remember, I helped out there on several occasions during my studies, and I’m a huge fan of their Geological Museum in Warsaw.

As the subject of the contest was “The predatory face of the Earth” (Polish: “Drapiezne oblicza Ziemi”), I instantly thought about June’s dinosaurs making a superb addition and an extra prize for the winners. All I crocheted between November 2012 and April 2013 was dinosaurs – I ended up making 30 of them, and luckily this was enough for all the kids whose stunning artwork was awarded. Phew!

30 dinosaurs were additional prizes in the contest
Thirty dinosaurs made by petrOlly as additional prizes for the contest
30 dinosaurs were additional prizes in the contest
The thirty dinosaurs
The dinosaurs had little notes with facts attached to them
Each dinosaur included a note with facts about it
The dinosaurs had little notes with facts attached to them
Each dinosaur included a note with facts about it

Although I wasn’t there in person for the ceremony, it was a very exciting day for me as well 🙂

Before the ceremony
Vice-director of the Marine Geology Branch and the dinosaurs minutes before ceremony
The auditorium was full
The auditorium was full – a total of 780 entries were received, including 658 pieces of art!

Later that day I talked on the phone with co-workers at the Institute in Gdansk and they told me all about the ceremony. My dinosaurs were a huge hit! People (mostly adults – the kids’ teachers) were asking where they could buy more of the toys as they would like a whole set for the school. And – what was most important for me – the kids loved the dinos as well.

People asked questions about the dinosaurs / More artworks awarded in the contest
Contestants from a school in Elblag and their teacher asking the director of the Marine Geology Branch questions about the dinosaurs / More artwork awarded in the contest

One story touched me especially: a boy came to collect the prize his friend won, and he was sad, as he would have to give the dinosaur away. Luckily, there was one last dino left and he got his own toy, which he received with tears in his eyes.

Listening to this story gave me the most rewarding feeling. I could never have hoped my work would be appreciated that much. For that I have two people to thank: my mother, who taught me how to crochet, and June, for the awesome patterns.

I hope that – if I ever participate in an event like this again – I will be able to make it to the award ceremony 🙂

After the ceremony - participants and the co-workers of the Institute in the foyer
Participants and the co-workers of the Institute in the foyer after the ceremony – notice the great work from previous contests hanging on the walls
After the ceremony - winners and participants in front of Institute's building
Winners and participants after the award ceremony in front of the Institute’s building in Gdansk

You can see all of the award-winning artwork and more photos from the award ceremony here.

(Back to me, June, again!) I love this story on so many levels – not only seeing my designs being enjoyed by petrOlly while she crocheted them and then by the award-winning children, but also that my work is somehow helping in some small way with education, and the children are learning and being encouraged to express that through creativity. Thank you, Aleksandra, for your generosity in giving away all your beautiful dinosaurs, and for sharing such a lovely account of the contest with us today 🙂 Please leave petrOlly a comment if you’ve enjoyed this post!

Do you have a PlanetJune Story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Please email your story to, together with one or more high quality photos showing what you’ve made from PlanetJune patterns. If I choose your story to feature here on the blog, I’ll send you your choice of pattern from my shop to say thank you!

And if petrOlly’s lovely work has inspired you to crochet some dinosaurs too, please join the Reptiles & Amphibians CAL – it runs for another month so you have plenty of time to make some lovely dinos of your own 🙂

Reptiles & Amphibians CAL at PlanetJune

You’ll find all these patterns here!

Comments (20)

Next entries » · « Previous entries
  • Quick Links: Crochet

    navigation: arrow

    buy crochet patterns and accessories from my online store

    Idiot's Guides: Crochet and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amigurumi by June Gilbank

    Crochet video tutorials and step-by-step photo tutorials

    Free PlanetJune crochet patterns

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Quick Links: Crafts

    navigation: arrow

    Punchneedle Embroidery information, ebook & patterns

    Papercraft ebook & tutorials

    Free PlanetJune craft projects & tutorials

  • Blog Post Categories

  • Blog Archives

  • 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!

    If you'd like to get in touch, you can contact me here.
    crocheted Canadian flag by PlanetJune
  • Support PlanetJune!

    Want to say thanks? You can send me money in seconds at or send me a donation through my shop.

    Or simply click one of these links before you shop at Amazon or Etsy, and I'll make a small commission on your purchase, at no cost to you: Thank you for your support!
Back to top