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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 🙂

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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!

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PlanetJune at Ralph Lauren!

Today I have an amazing PlanetJune story for you: how my Fruit Bat design ended up in the window display of the Ralph Lauren Children’s Store on Madison Avenue, New York!

Here’s the Ralph Lauren window. It’s a beautiful display, combining seasonal elements (autumn leaves, pumpkins) with a handmade crafty theme (stitched details on the trees and moon, yarn-wrapped pumpkins) and their fall childrenswear range. And the perfect finishing touch is the 8 PlanetJune amigurumi fruit bats hanging from the trees:

Ralph Lauren Children's Store window with PlanetJune Fruit Bats
Can you see the bats yet?

I was approached by Ralph Lauren to make some of my fruit bats for their window. As you probably know, I don’t accept commissions for finished items any more, instead pointing enquirers in the direction of my Sellers’ List, which lists the shops of my customers who sell items made from my patterns. (I love being able to help out my customers in this way.)

In this case, with multiple bats needed and a fairly tight timeframe, I decided to go one step further and recommended a specific seller for this commission. Most of my sellers are active members of my Ravelry group, and post about how they are doing in the selling PlanetJune-designed items thread. As I read all the messages in my group, I get a good feel for how busy each of them is, and who might currently have the time and inclination to take on a large commission like this.

Note: I never make any money from these commissions – connecting buyers and sellers is just a service I offer my customers and people looking for handmade amigurumi.

So, I put Monica from Magical Amigurumi in touch with the Ralph Lauren people, they sorted out all the details of their transaction, and, a few weeks later, these cute-but-unassuming little bats…

Ralph Lauren Children's Store window with PlanetJune Fruit Bats

…were high-fashion superstars on Madison Avenue!

Ralph Lauren Children's Store window with PlanetJune Fruit Bats

I do love how the window dresser arranged all the bats in different positions, some with wings open and some folded.

The funny thing is that this was the third time my amigurumi designs have been requested by fashion designers! Maybe I need a new tagline for my website: PlanetJune: Amigurumi with Style 😉

If you’ll be in Manhattan in the near future, do stop at the window of the Ralph Lauren Children’s Store (878 Madison Avenue) and take a look at Monica’s PlanetJune Fruit Bats:

Ralph Lauren Children's Store window with PlanetJune Fruit Bats

Handy links:

If you’d like to sell PlanetJune-designed items, even if you don’t sell online, please come and hang out in the PlanetJune Ravelry group! I occasionally announce special commission opportunities in the group itself, and, if I know from the photos you post in my group that you do good work, I’m happy to match you up with a potential buyer. Who knows when the next big commission opportunity will arise?!

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PlanetJune Stories: Cherie Fishlock

Today’s PlanetJune Story is from Cherie Fishlock and comes to us from Australia. (Isn’t it amazing how crafting connects us all into one big global community?)

Cherie writes:

I’ve been crocheting for a year and am self taught. June’s book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi, was my go-to guide when crocheting amigurumi especially after I discovered the brilliance of the invisible decrease.

Thanks to June’s amazing emperor penguin pattern I won first prize at the Royal Show in Canberra, Australia in the beginner’s crochet class. I also won champion. It was great seeing the penguin amongst all the crocheted blankets.

I just want to thank June for the well written pattern. I must confess that I crocheted it at the last minute and her clear instructions made the process so much easier especially since I had never done colour changes before.

Unfortunately I couldn’t give June the credit she deserves; I wrote on the entry that it was designed by however that was not displayed.

Considering it was the first show I had ever entered I must say I’m now hooked. 😉

I am impressed: my Emperor Penguin, with its white belly and black back, is my most ambitious pattern for colour changes and Cherie obviously handled them like a pro to scoop the prizes with her lovely penguin.

Congratulations, Cherie – I’m really glad that my pattern could help you showcase your crochet skills and capture the attention of the judges 🙂

PlanetJune stories
Cherie’s Emperor Penguin.

PlanetJune stories
Cherie showing off her prize-winning penguin at the show!

PlanetJune stories
Excellent achievements: certificate, ribbon and rosette.

All very well-deserved, I think, don’t you? Please leave Cherie 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!

Comments (7)

interview with June, part 2

As I’m a 99% self-published designer, I don’t often get profiled in crochet magazines etc, so my Ravelry group decided to interview me to find out a little more about who I am and what I do – my own PlanetJune Story, if you like! I’ll be posting the answers to some of their questions every now and again, and grouping them by theme if they fit together nicely. Here are the questions I’ll be answering today:

Why Amigurumi? (from Monica, theMarkofSMB)
How did you find out about Amigurumi? (from Monica, theMarkofSMB)
Do you crochet from other designers’ patterns? (from Aleksandra, petrOlly)
How did you get into designing patterns? (from Chrisie, CrochetChrisie)
What is your favorite animal? (from Monica, theMarkofSMB)

In 2005, the online craft scene was very different. Imagine a world with no Ravelry, no Etsy, only a handful of craft blogs (and no way to subscribe to them), no social media… It’s strange to think how much things have changed in only a few years!

Back then, amigurumi was pretty much unknown outside Japan, but when I got bored with afghans and scarves, I managed to find something different in crochet that piqued my interest: thread bears – tiny bears crocheted with thread and steel hooks. Free patterns weren’t common back then, and thread bear design seemed to be a closely guarded secret – there was no free way to find out how to make them. As the idea of working in rounds was completely new to me, I had no idea where to even start on making a crocheted toy, so I bought one pattern from a designer on eBay so I could see how these crocheted bears worked.

Now, I really don’t like to follow patterns – crochet or otherwise. I can’t help myself – I have to tweak and ‘improve’. Even my first thread bear didn’t quite follow the pattern I’d bought, and then I started changing them to make them simpler and cuter (unknowingly, I was creating something closer to amigurumi style!)…

thread bears by planetjune
L: loosely based on a pattern I bought; R: my first attempt at a design

thread bear and bunny by planetjune
Further refinements (all are between 4 and 6cm tall as seated)

I got curious and tried making a regular-sized bear of my own design with eyelash yarn and a larger hook:

blue crocheted bear by planetjune
Blue Bear – a very early amigurumi prototype, ahead of its time!

…and that was the end of the story for well over a year. With no blog or online community, nobody saw what I was making, and there was nobody to tell me I was onto something and I should keep going in this direction, so I didn’t.

But then things started to change – we had forums like Crochetville and Craftster to share what we were making, and more people (including me) started their own craft blogs. I began to hear about amigurumi, and crocheted toys were starting to get more popular.

I didn’t really like the style of any other amigurumi I’d seen, so I wasn’t too interested in them. Then I remembered my fuzzy Blue Bear – nobody was making anything like that, despite the proliferation of eyelash yarns around that time – and decided to try remaking it from scratch with more structure and better proportions. And look what happened:

fuzzy crocheted bears by planetjune
Hey, it’s Fuzzy Bear!

I submitted an early version of Fuzzy Bear to the Crochet Pattern-a-Day Calendar, but didn’t hear anything back from them. People on Crochetville and my fledgling blog seemed interested in a pattern anyway, so I thought I’d self-publish it as a PDF and see what happened…

(As it turns out, Fuzzy Bear not only made it into the calendar that year, but also made the back cover! Luckily, by the time I found out, I was already well down this road as a self-published crochet designer.)

It turned out I had a perfect combination of skills for doing this: my science/mathematical background worked well for figuring out all the numbers for patterns, and my technical writing background let me write clear, concise, accurate instructions. And, not only that, but all my other crafty pursuits lent themselves to my designs too:

My love of all animals (and, to answer the question, cats are my favourite ‘pet’ animal and orang utans my favourite ‘non-pet’) and observation skills I used to make my painstaking animal pencil sketches came in handy when I decided to make more realistic animals instead of traditional ‘toy’ shapes.

pencil sketches by June Gilbank
Some of my pencil sketches: cat with flowers, donkeys

And I’d also done lots of 3D modelling before, both in recreating toys from much-loved childhood TV shows:

pencil sketches by June Gilbank
Hand-sewn Charlie Mouse from Bagpuss – my own design (inset pic shows the real Charlie Mouse from the show)

…and making polymer clay sculptures:

polymer clay sculptures by June Gilbank
My versions of the flying pig from an old Telus commercial and Gingy from Shrek

So even though I started down this road by accident, it does make sense, looking back, that I could combine all my skills and interests in this way and find something that was a perfect fit for me – making models of my favourite things is something I’ve always done, many years before I even learned to crochet, let alone knew it could be used to create 3D models. Crochet lends itself to pattern-making more easily than clay sculpture, but, apart from that, the design process is pretty similar for me.

planetjune toy shelves
Some (nowhere near all!) of my amigurumi designs

Although I’m still amazed and grateful that I’ve been able to create a career from this, I’d still be making amigurumi even if nobody bought my patterns, because I just love to do it. Finding out about, and spending time with, animals and nature; crochet; sculpting; design challenges; and a good excuse to fill my house with the cutest toys I can imagine – what could be better?

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing a bit about my introduction to amigurumi. If you have any questions you’d like to add to the interview pool, please submit them on Ravelry or in the comments of this post – I’ll do another interview post in a little while!

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PlanetJune Stories: Monica Ballinger

Today’s PlanetJune Story is from Monica Ballinger of Greencastle, IN, whose work you’ll probably recognise if you follow my crochetalong roundups (and maybe more so if I mention her ravelry username, theMarkofSMB). Here’s a little sampling of some of Monica’s PlanetJune-designed creations:

PlanetJune stories
How many PlanetJune designs can you spot? (The scarecrow is based on the ‘Boy’ pattern from my book!)

Monica writes:

I first learned about PlanetJune when I received The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi as a gift. After reading it a couple times, I started my first amigurumi, the Hamster. The first one was a bit off, due to my own fault in miscounting (he’s much fatter than the others but still cute); however, the second one was much better! I made several for my children to play with and they loved them; they even ask me to make more whenever I get a new shade of brown yarn. Having June’s book has broadened my knowledge in amigurumi and crochet techniques that I use for any project I start. I am always going back thru her book to refresh my memory and find new ideas for specific items; it’s a great book to have for any crochet toy or project!

A few months later I started searching for dinosaur patterns because my children thought they didn’t have enough dinosaur toys. As I only crochet and don’t knit, I was starting to feel sad at not being able to find a crochet dinosaur pattern, but I finally found the perfect one, PlanetJune’s Stegosaurus. I bought all 6 patterns (at that time) and started working right away, and I fell in love with June’s patterns instantly! June’s clearly written, easy to follow instructions with detailed tips and pictures make her patterns worth every cent. June even offers assistance for any part of the pattern that may be confusing, by email or with her Ravelry group. The finished products turned out amazing; the dinosaurs were all so very realistic that I was HOOKED on PlanetJune. I plan to have all of June’s patterns one day, but at the moment my sons get to pick their favorites, which become my favorites as well! My three favorite patterns are Yeti/Bigfoot, Sea Turtle and Stegosaurus, but I love them all.

I’m an artist: drawings, photography, crafts, crochet accessories (hats, scarves, blankets) and amigurumi. I have participated in a few craft fairs over the years, and my husband suggested that I sell some of my amigurumi toys as well. After reading June’s policy on selling finished objects from her patterns, I fell in love with her work all over again: extremely wonderful patterns, beautiful finished items and I could sell them! I even made some business cards to attach to the toys giving June credit as the designer. While making a few extra amigurumi of June’s designs I opened up an Etsy shop, Magical Amigurumi, in the hopes of sharing the joy of the toys and making a little extra pattern funding 🙂

I enjoy crocheting because it’s relaxing and I love the joy it brings to children (including my own) when they get their new toy! I have even seen adults thrilled to have their very own toy (or collectible): I made a Realistic Pig for one of my uncles, as he and his daughters raise pigs for 4H, and he loved it so much; my other uncle received a Fruit Bat because he goes caving a lot and has been helping researchers with the white-nose syndrome that the bats have contracted; and I made a Bigfoot and added a bag for a wookie for my Father-in-law and it stands on his computer! I’ve made Apples and Tiny Whales for my son’s preschool class, and the teacher enjoyed receiving them as much as the children enjoyed playing with them.

Thank you June for designing such wonderful realistic amigurumi. They have brought a ton of joy to my house!

And thank you for sharing your story, Monica! I often wonder what happens to amigurumi that have been crocheted from my patterns, so it’s lovely to hear this story of patterns thoughtfully selected to be meaningful to each recipient, and to know the finished amigurumi are appreciated and treasured by their new owners. Monica has kindly shared photos of all the amigurumi she mentioned:

PlanetJune stories
The first amigurumi Hamsters (from my book)

PlanetJune stories PlanetJune stories
Monica’s favourites: Stegosaurus and Sea Turtle

PlanetJune stories PlanetJune stories
Gifts for uncles: Farmyard Pig and Fruit Bat

PlanetJune stories PlanetJune stories
Apples and a set of Tiny Whales for preschoolers

PlanetJune stories PlanetJune stories
Yeti and Bigfoot (aka Wookie!)

Aren’t they all wonderful? Please leave Monica a comment if you’ve enjoyed this post, or visit Magical Amigurumi if you’re tempted to pick up an amigurumi for a special gift, or as a treat for yourself!

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!

Comments (8)

interview with June, part 1

As I’m a 99% self-published designer, I don’t often get profiled in crochet magazines etc, so my Ravelry group decided to interview me to find out a little more about who I am and what I do – my own PlanetJune Story, if you like! I’ll be posting the answers to some of their questions every now and again, and grouping them by theme if they fit together nicely. Here are the first three:

How did you learn to crochet? (from Sandy G, via the blog)
Who taught you to crochet? (from Monica, theMarkofSMB)
What was the first thing you ever crocheted? (from Linda, Fatals-attraction)

In 2003, my husband and I moved from the UK to Canada, and I had time on my hands while I looked for a job. I’d always liked making things and I’d dabbled in various crafts in the past: polymer clay, cross stitch, candlemaking, sewing, and others. At the time, there was a big craft shop in the middle of Toronto (Lewiscraft – the chain closed years ago, sadly) and I spent a lot of time in there, looking for things to try out that wouldn’t cost much money. I tried teaching myself to knit, but didn’t really enjoy it. Then I picked up a crochet hook and a ‘learn to crochet’ book, and fell in love.

Did you notice I avoided the obvious “I was hooked!” pun there? I hope you’re proud of me!

(I’ve just remembered, this wasn’t actually my very first experience with crochet: my aunt apparently taught me the basics when I was tiny, but I don’t remember that at all, although I do still have my old hook – I always wondered why I had a crochet hook in my childhood sewing box!)

I’ve never been much of a pattern follower – I like to make up my own things (a precursor of things to come…). I also don’t like to start with really basic projects. So I decided I’d learn as I go by making an afghan to use against the cold Canadian winter, using squares of single crochet, and that’s what I did.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t really know how to crochet at the time, and this was an ambitiously large project for a total beginner! I made that basic rookie mistake of thinking you should insert your hook into the back loop (instead of both) to begin each single crochet stitch. I’d never heard of gauge, or blocking. I slip stitched my pile of squares together, but sadly didn’t know about leaving a long tail to weave in securely when you finish off, so my poor yarn tails are only about an inch long. I’d also never heard of edging, which would have given my afghan a nicer finish…

My first afghan (made in 2003-2004, photo from 2006). One of these squares is the first thing I ever crocheted!

It’s not perfect, but that’s okay. I still use it all the time; I keep it draped over a folding chair in my office so I can sit comfortably when I’m making videos and tutorials. The BLO single crochet doesn’t look like a mistake, unless you know it’s not what I intended! And I love being able to see the first thing I ever crocheted and know how far I’ve come.

After that, I decided to learn all the crochet stitches by making a sampler afghan – and yes, I did need a pattern for that! I used the 63 Easy-to-Crochet Pattern Stitches booklet (highly recommended if you’d like to crochet a stunning heirloom afghan, or to practice a large variety of crochet techniques and stitches).

Puzzling through the instructions for the trickier squares was what made me finally realise my mistake with the back loops, and ending up with squares of vastly different sizes is how I learnt about the importance of gauge. It took almost 3 years, but I finished it (with a sneaky extra round of sc around the edges of the tinier squares to even the sizes up a bit!) and it looks pretty impressive, even if it’s not quite perfect:

My second afghan (started Feb 2004, finished Nov 2006, photo from 2006)

The moral of the story is that, clearly, nobody starts out as an expert! These two afghans show my crochet learning experience in every stitch, and I love them both for that. It was a self-taught struggle – especially with no Ravelry or YouTube videos to consult as you can now – but, by the time I’d finished the sampler afghan, I really understood crochet. I could have made a 2nd, perfect, sampler afghan, but it was time for me to try something different…

I think this post is long enough now – I’ll save the story of how I got into amigurumi, and the rest of the interview questions, for another day. 😉

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing a bit about my crochet background. If you have any questions you’d like to add to the interview pool, please submit them on Ravelry or in the comments of this post – I’ll do another interview post in a little while!

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PlanetJune Stories: Rita Elenius

Today’s PlanetJune Story is from Rita Elenius from Finland. I’ve heard from several people who’ve used my Basic Rose pattern to crochet the flowers for their wedding bouquets and boutonnieres, but Rita chose something a little less traditional for her own wedding…

Rita writes:

I just wanted to send a small thank you for the mop top mascot pattern you have made and shared with us all. In Finland we don’t yet have that much of amigurumi-culture, so your patterns are a great source of ideas! I first found your lemmings pattern a year ago through a friend, and was ever so delighted, having played the Lemmings-game for hours and hours when I was little.

PlanetJune stories

My wedding was on its way, and we had been trying to think of something to give as wedding favors. When I made a set of Lemmings (pictured above) as a birthday present for my stepfather, the idea of a bunch of little people with all the colors of the rainbow started to grow, and soon I announced to my groom that I would make 80 little mascots for our wedding. At first he was a bit doubtful because of all the work and time it would take, but also excited because he loved the little guys as well.

PlanetJune stories

In the end, the last little person was finished at 6:00 in the morning on the eve of our wedding, after a night of laboring not only by me, but also by my two sisters and my groom. 😀

But it paid off, since the guys were a HUGE hit! Everybody loved them, children played with them, not one was left behind when the night was over. Many of the men put theirs in the breast pocket of their suits, which lifted the spirit even higher!

So, thank you again for your wonderful work and help to us, who want to do, but don’t know what or how. 😀

I’m so happy that my design could play a small part in Rita’s special day! Imagine the dedication she needed to get 80+ mop-tops finished in time for the big day, at the same time as managing all the other wedding preparations! Rita kindly shared a few of her stunning wedding photos (below) and you can clearly see that it was worth all the effort:

PlanetJune stories

PlanetJune stories

PlanetJune stories

PlanetJune stories

PlanetJune stories

Isn’t that just wonderful?! Thank you, Rita, for sharing your story and beautiful photos with us.

(By the way, if you haven’t seen my Mop Top Mascots pattern, you might want to take a look – it’s a perennial favourite among my donationware designs.)

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!

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