PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for Tutorials

amigurumi skills for Turtle Blanket makers

It’s amazing how popular my Turtle Beach blanket pattern is – I published it over four years ago, and it still gets viral boosts on social media every few months that make it consistently one of my most popular designs!

turtle beach crochet pattern by planetjune

Selling Turtle Blankets

I’ve even started a special section of my Sellers’ List page for people who are making turtle blankets to sell, because I get so many requests for finished blankets…

turtle beach crochet pattern (by planetjune) - blankets for sale by crocheters
Don’t they all look great? I love how people respond to this pattern – both makers and buyers!

(By the way, if you make turtle blankets to sell, see the bottom of that page for details of how to be added to the list.)

Turtle-Making Tips

Thanks to this unexpected and long-lasting Turtle Beach popularity, I’m seeing many experienced crocheters try to tackle amigurumi for the first time, to make the turtles for their blankets, and some are getting frustrated.

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone! Amigurumi is a special subset of crochet that requires its own skills. Even the most experienced crocheters can be startled when they pick up their first amigurumi pattern and discover it’s full of new terms and techniques, or amigurumi standards that aren’t specifically addressed within each pattern.

Although all my patterns point you to my main tutorials index (www.planetjune.com/help), the list below is a shortcut to only the tips and techniques you’ll need to tackle and master my Baby Sea Turtle Collection pattern, so you can make adorable turtles for your blankets with minimal frustration!

1. Magic Ring

The magic ring gives the perfect start to every piece of amigurumi: you can start crocheting in the round without any trace of a hole in the middle. Mastering this is a must!
Go to Magic Ring tutorial >>

2. Which loops to work into

Unless otherwise specified in the pattern, all amigurumi should be worked into both loops of the stitch below.
Go to Front, Back, Both Loops tutorial >>

3. Which is the right side

It’s very important that all your amigurumi pieces are right-side out before you stuff, close, flatten or assemble them.
Go to Which is the Right Side? tutorial >>

4. Invisible Decrease

Decreasing without leaving any bumps or gaps sounds too good to be true, but the invisible decrease (abbreviated invdec) really does live up to its name!
Go to Invisible Decrease tutorial >>

5. Changing Colour

Always change colour in the last loop of the stitch before the colour change.
Go to Changing Colour tutorial >>

6. Flattened Pieces

Vital to understand how to make your turtles’ flippers! What does it mean when a pattern says to flatten a piece of an amigurumi after crocheting it?
Go to the Flattened Pieces tutorial >>

7. Seamless Join

This technique creates a smooth, almost invisible join for stitching the flippers to the shell.
Go to Amigurumi Seamless Join tutorial >>

These seven tutorials cover every mistake I’ve ever seen anyone make with my Baby Sea Turtle pattern, so make sure you understand these seven concepts and you’ll be good to go!

Baby Sea Turtle Collection amigurumi crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Still Struggling?

Now, if you’ve decided you’re allergic to amigurumi and you never want to see an amigurumi turtle again, I understand! Although I love amigurumi, I know it isn’t for everyone, and I’m working on an alternative for you.

I’ve developed a flat applique-style baby turtle design that closely matches the look and size of my ami turtles, so you’ll be able to stitch those to your turtle blankets for a similar effect (except that the turtles will be flat instead of three dimensional). The new pattern will be much faster to make, with only two pieces, simple embroidered eyes, and almost no sewing! 🙂

Watch this space – I’ll post as soon as the new pattern is ready…

Comments

Sprouting seeds – easy, fun and tasty!

I’ve been growing my own sprouts for about a year now, and I thought now would be the perfect time to share the process with you. Even if it’s not practical to get out to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, you can still have nutrient-packed fresh and crunchy sprouts every day.

(And it’d be a great project for kids – it’s so fun to watch the sprouts grow over a few days and then be ready to eat!)

This is my almost-daily lunch:

a sandwich made with home-grown clover sprouts

Mmm, yummy! The act of germinating the seed unlocks all the nutrients contained within it, and the resulting sprout gives you a boost of fresh plant goodness.

And look how much fun it is to watch the seeds sprout – from seed to food in just 5 days!

growing clover sprouts - from seeds to sprouts

My Favourite Sprouts

There are lots of seeds you can sprout, depending on what you enjoy. I started out with broccoli sprouts, because they have loads of health benefits, but I found their flavour overpowering unless I paired it with a spicy condiment in my sandwich (mustard or horseradish are perfect choices).

After some experimentation, I decided on my favourite sprouts – these would both be a great starting point if you’d like to make your own, as they are easy to grow and have a mild flavour that you can easily add to your food without overwhelming it.

Clover
clover seeds and sprouts

Clover sprouts have a mild, fresh flavour. They are perfect in a sandwich or wrap, added to salads, or anywhere else you might use lettuce. I also like to pile them on top of burgers.

(If you can’t find clover sprouting seeds, I hear that alfalfa is similar.)

Mung Beans (Bean Sprouts)
mung bean seeds and bean sprouts

I’m sure you’re familiar with bean sprouts, most commonly used in Chinese cooking. Growing them at home in a jar means you don’t end up with the long straight sprouts you find in the supermarket, but they taste just as good and it’s incredibly easy to toss a handful into your stir fries and sauces when you’re about to serve them, and add a tasty crunch to your dish.

Supplies

To get started, you’ll need some seeds, a wide-mouthed jar and some sort of screen to cover the top of the jar with.

I started my sprouting adventures with the no-cost method: a well-cleaned pasta sauce jar with a doubled layer of cheesecloth across the top, held in place with a rubber band.

Once I knew I’d be keeping this hobby going, I invested in a set of wide-mouthed mason jars and screw-on sprouting lids (there are lots of options – if you buy some, just make sure the width of the top is the same as the mouth of your jars.)

And then, you’ll need some seeds! You can buy these from health food stores or online. Just make sure you search for sprouting seeds that are intended for consumption – regular seeds that are intended to be planted in the ground to grow into plants are usually treated with a fungicide, so the seeds are not edible.

Get Sprouting!

Here are my notes for sprouting clover. The process is the same for other sprouts; the only differences would be a) how much seed to use, b) how long to soak the seed for, and c) how many days until the sprouts are ready.

But these instructions will give you an idea of how easy it is to grow your own sprouts…

  1. Measure 2 tbsp of seed into the jar, then screw on the lid.
  2. Fill with water and soak for 8-12 hours.
  3. Tip out the soaking water.
  4. Without removing the lid, add water, swirl the seeds around and tip out the water.starting clover sprouts
  5. Repeat step 4, making sure to shake out all the water so the seeds won’t be sitting in water.
  6. Shake the seeds down away from the jar lid so air can circulate.
    starting clover sprouts
  7. Lay the jar on its side, out of direct sunlight.
  8. Every morning and evening, repeat steps 4-7.
  9. When the jar is fairly full (3-5 days) and the sprouts have leaves, leave the jar on a sunny windowsill for a day for the leaves to green up.
  10. Tip the sprouts into a large bowl and fill it with water.preparing clover sprouts
  11. Swish the sprouts around so the hulls float to the top.
    preparing clover sprouts
  12. Skim off the hulls or push them to the sides of the bowl, then grab a handful of sprouts and pull them out of the bowl.preparing clover sprouts
  13. Place into a salad spinner or onto a kitchen towel-covered plate.
  14. Repeat to get all the rest of the sprouts out (leaving a few hulls with them is fine).preparing clover sprouts
  15. Spin the sprouts to dry them, or leave them on the counter for a couple of hours to dry out.
  16. Put the sprouts in a plastic container and refrigerate for up to a week.
  17. Enjoy!

a sandwich made with home-grown clover sprouts

I hope this has inspired you to think about growing your own fresh sprouts!

And, if you’ve tried growing sprouting seeds before, which varieties are your favourites? I’d love to try some different seeds – do let me know your recommendations in the comments below…

Comments (12)

Customize a Crocheted Accessory Pattern

How to modify the size of an accessory crochet pattern, choose an alternate yarn, and find the right hook for your yarn.

Many accessory patterns – especially shawls, scarves and wraps – are easy to modify: you can use a different weight of yarn and/or make it in a different size. By choosing yarn in a colour and weight you like, you can make a unique accessory from a pattern!

In this post I’ll walk you through the easiest ways to customize a pattern, with examples of the differences you can achieve.


How to Customize a Pattern

Change the Colour

Don’t let yourself be put off from trying a pattern if the sample isn’t in a colour you like – the simplest way to make your accessory unique is to crochet it in your favourite colour (or your recipient’s favourite, if it’s a gift).

Personalizing with colour gives you an original look without modifying the pattern at all, and there are no wrong choices!

shawl comparison: Sweetheart Lace Shawl crochet pattern by PlanetJune in two different colourways

Look how different – but equally lovely – my Sweetheart Lace Shawl looks in two different colourways.

Resize the Pattern

If you want to make the piece a different size (for example a narrow scarf instead of a rectangular shawl, or a bandanna instead of a triangular shawl), you’ll need to increase or decrease the number of repeats in the pattern so you end up with a larger or smaller piece.

The exact way to do this depends on the shape of the pattern and the way it’s worked. (All PlanetJune Accessories patterns include instructions for how to modify the pattern to make the pattern larger or smaller.)

Cozy Mesh Triangular Shawl, a PlanetJune Accessories crochet pattern by June Gilbank

The full-size Cozy Mesh shawl (above) uses the same pattern as the kerchief-style mini shawl (below) – the larger shawl just has more rows!

Cozy Mesh Triangular Shawl, a PlanetJune Accessories crochet pattern by June Gilbank

Substitute a Different Yarn

The thickness, composition and texture of your yarn, together with your crocheting style and tension, will all affect the end result of your piece.

When you’re making an accessory, if you want to use a different weight of yarn, all you need to do is choose a suitable hook for the yarn you’re using, and then modify the pattern so you end up with the correct size.

  • If you choose a finer yarn with a smaller hook, you’ll need more repeats and more rows to reach the same finished size.
  • If you choose a heavier yarn with a larger hook, you’ll need fewer repeats and fewer rows to reach the same finished size.

shawl comparison: Half Hexagon Shawl crochet pattern by PlanetJune in two different yarn weights

These two shawls are both made from my Half Hexagon Shawl pattern. The shawl on the left uses a thicker yarn and larger hook than the shawl on the right, so it needs fewer pattern repeats to end up with the same size shawl.

Change Yarn Weight and Resize

You can make an accessory look even more different by changing both the yarn weight and the finished size of the piece.

shawl comparison: Diamond Lace Wrap crochet pattern by PlanetJune in two different yarn weights and different finished dimensions

Both these wraps are made from my Diamond Lace Wrap pattern. By changing the yarn weight and the finished size, they have a completely different look even though they use the same stitch pattern! The wrap on the right uses fine yarn and a small hook to give a more delicate look, even though this shawl-sized wrap is much larger overall than the scarf-sized wrap on the left with its bolder stitches.


Swatch to Find Your Hook Size

Swatching to Match Gauge

For almost any crochet pattern apart from amigurumi, the pattern will usually include gauge information: the number of stitches and rows you should have per inch, if you want your piece to end up the same size as the pattern sample.

If you use the same yarn weight as the pattern suggests, and you make a swatch (a sample square using the same stitch as the pattern), you can measure it and compare it with the gauge size given in the pattern.

  • If your gauge is smaller (more stitches per inch), then redo the swatch with a larger hook until your gauge matches that in the pattern.
  • If your gauge is larger (fewer stitches per inch), then redo the swatch with a smaller hook until your gauge matches that in the pattern.

If you don’t match the gauge given in the pattern, your finished piece won’t match the dimensions listed in the pattern.

Is Swatching Necessary?

Yes and no…

  • Are you unconcerned about meeting the designer’s gauge?
  • Are you using a completely different yarn weight?
  • Are you adapting the pattern to give you a different size anyway?

In any of those cases, making a gauge swatch to make sure you match the designer’s gauge isn’t something you need to do.

But, there’s still a very good reason to do at least a bit of swatching, even if you’re making a scarf or shawl where you don’t care if it’s a couple of inches larger or smaller than it’s ‘supposed’ to be…

Test Your Yarn/Hook Combination

With an accessory pattern, the exact size of the finished piece generally isn’t as important as the look and feel. You don’t want to end up with a stiff heavy blanket if you were hoping for a soft, airy shawl!

So, although you may not care about swatching for gauge, it’s still a good idea to swatch to make sure you’ve chosen the right hook size for your project.

Tip: The ‘right’ hook size depends on the exact yarn you’re using, how tightly you crochet, and your personal preference. There’s no right or wrong answer here – if you’re happy, you’ve made the right choice!

No matter which yarn you’re using, I do recommend you try out just a few rows of the pattern and see if it feels too stiff and firm. If so, try going up a hook size or two, and keep experimenting until you find a yarn/hook combination that gives you a nice-feeling fabric, then unravel everything and start again using the hook you liked best.

shawl comparison: Diamond Flowers Scarf Wrap crochet pattern by PlanetJune swatches using different hook sizes
Jamie from my Ravelry group worked up three quick samples of my Diamond Flowers Scarf/Wrap in the same yarn with 3 different hook sizes (I, J, K). You can see how much difference going up or down a hook size can make!

But what is a ‘nice-feeling’ fabric? Here’s how I decide…

3 Rules to Find the ‘Right’ Hook Size

How do you know if you’re happy with your yarn/hook combination?

Here are my rules of thumb that I use to help me choose the perfect hook for a project:

  1. First, I usually go by feel – I wiggle and smush (yes, those are my technical terms!) the swatch to try to see if it’s at all stiff, or soft and drapey. Generally, you’ll want your shawl or scarf to drape cosily against your body, so try to avoid a hook that produces a stiff fabric.
  2. Next, from any options that are large enough to feel nice, I look closely at the stitches to see if the looser ones look messy, and I pick the best option (no stiffness, but stitches are small enough to look neat and tidy). Note: Your stitches will all even up a bit if you choose to block your piece after crocheting, but they should still look reasonably neat at this stage!
  3. Finally, if I can’t choose, the third factor is that you can make a larger piece in less time with a larger hook, so if two hook sizes both feel good, and the stitches look good in close-up, that may be the deciding factor!

It’s not so much about the yarn as it is about the combination of yarn and hook. If your projects turn out too stiff, that means you’re using a hook that’s too small for the yarn you’re using. Everyone crochets differently, so it may be that you crochet very tightly, and always need to use a larger hook to compensate.

It’s worth putting in that bit of extra work before you start, so you don’t end up wasting hours making something you’re not happy with!


Crocheted scarves, shawls and wraps make a lovely holiday gift – and they’re even more special if you personalise them by using your giftee’s favourite colours.

I hope this post has inspired you to consider using your own creativity to customize your next crocheted accessory project with the size and colour you’d prefer!


PlanetJune Accessories crochet patterns - new covers

All the examples in this post were taken from my PlanetJune Accessories pattern collection. Take a look now and see if your next crochet project is waiting for you there – or mix-and-match your own Custom Set of any 3 PlanetJune Accessories patterns for a special price. 🙂

Comments (2)

Using a Stitch Marker in Amigurumi [video tutorial]

My next few crochet video tutorials will be in response to customer requests. If there are other crochet techniques you’d like me to cover in future videos, please leave a comment below, or email me (june@planetjune.com) with your suggestions!

If you’ve ever lost your place while crocheting in a spiral, or discovered that you must have made a mistake many rounds earlier, I highly recommend you use a stitch marker to mark the start of every round while you crochet your amigurumi! But how do you go about doing that? How does it help you avoid mistakes, and what do you do if you realise you’ve made one?

Or, if your pattern directs you to mark a specific stitch while you crochet, how exactly do you do that?

thumbnail image for the crochet video tutorial 'Using Stitch Markers in Amigurumi'

In my latest video, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about using a stitch marker with amigurumi (or any other crochet worked in a continuous spiral), including:

  • How to mark the first stitch of the round
  • How to fix a mistake
  • How to mark a specific stitch

As always, the video is available in right-handed and left-handed versions.

This video is ideal for amigurumi beginners, but I recommend you watch it even if you’ve been making amigurumi for years – you may still pick up a tip or two!

Go to the Using Stitch Markers in Amigurumi video tutorial >>

Comments (2)

Crochet Investigation: Invisible Finish

The standard way to finish an open-ended piece in amigurumi is to join with a slip stitch (sl st) to the next stitch, to reduce the height jog of the spiral between the first and last stitches of the final round. It’s a quick and easy method, and is perfectly fine if you’ll be stitching the piece down to something else so the edge won’t show in the finished amigurumi.

That’s not always the case, though – sometimes the edge will be visible in the finished piece, and in this case the sl st finish isn’t the best choice – it leaves a little bump that’s impossible to hide completely.

When I decided to make a video tutorial to show the most invisible finish for an open edge in amigurumi, I realised that, while there’s a standard method for amigurumi worked in joined rounds (and this actually forms the basis of my Perfect Stripes Invisible Join), there’s no consensus for amigurumi worked in spirals…

And you know what that means: it’s time for another crochet investigation!

Method

All my candidates are based on the standard invisible finish for joined rounds, but I considered two ways that the method can be varied that may affect the look of the finished edge:

  1. Should there be a slip stitch before the join, or not? A slip stitch would reduce the height difference before the join, but might end up more visible than without.
  2. Should there be a duplicated stitch, or an additional stitch added? The additional stitch was my original preferred method from 2009 (there’s no need to maintain the stitch count if the edge won’t be worked back into, so the duplicate stitch isn’t necessary) but is that a good reason to keep doing it? (Of course not – not if there’s a better way…)

So that gives us four candidates for the experiment:

C: no slip stitch, join in next stitch
D: no slip stitch, duplicate stitch join
E: slip stitch, join in next stitch
F: slip stitch, duplicate stitch join

The photos below show the results of each test, together with:

A: the piece after the final stitch is worked, before any join (note the difference in height between the final stitch, below the hook, and the next stitch to its right)
B: slip stitch join (the yarn tail isn’t woven in here, but you can clearly see the knot just below the tail that can’t be completely hidden)

candidates for the most invisible finish around an open edge in amigurumi, by PlanetJune

Results

I compared the 4 samples and noted my observations (don’t worry if you can’t see all these in the photos above; they are much more apparent when viewed from multiple angles):

C: height jog very visible; stitch count not maintained
D: height jog minimised; skipped stitch visible from front; stitch count is maintained
E: height jog minimised; sl st visible from front; stitch count not maintained
F: height jog minimised; sl st and skipped stitch visible from front; stitch count is maintained

C is an immediate fail: you can clearly see that it does the worst job of blending the height difference between the start and end of the final round.

F is the next to go: there’s an extra bar visible beneath the V from either a slipped stitch or a skipped stitch, and F has both while D and E only have one each, so it’s the worst in terms of invisibility, with extra bars visible beneath two stitches.

That leaves D and E. They’re both pretty good in terms of invisibility, but I’m going to award the prize to D: the fact that it maintains the stitch count around the edge makes it the most versatile; you can use it for an open-ended piece or one that will be stitched to something else with no problems, so this means you’ll have one fewer technique to remember!

Refining the Technique

While working on the test, I also noted that the downside of any of these methods is that you have to pull the duplicate stitch very carefully to the right size to make it look truly invisible, which makes it more difficult to then weave in the yarn tail without disturbing the size. So, I came up with a tiny refinement that makes it much easier to control the size of the duplicate stitch and keep it held in place once you’ve adjusted it to the right size.

Intrigued? Good! I’ll explain all in my new Invisible Finish video tutorial 😉

Invisible Finish for Open Edges in Amigurumi - a crochet tutorial by PlanetJune

Continue to the Invisible Finish for Open Edges in Amigurumi video tutorial >>

Comments (2)

« 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 paypal.me/planetjune 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!