PlanetJune Craft Blog

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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. πŸ˜‰

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!

15 Comments »

  1. Jana said

    Oh, June! I think both the afghans are absolutely beautiful! Ambitious is an understatement! When I picked it back up over here, I started with a couple of hats and scarves from my “head” as I couldn’t follow a pattern to save my life! It took me a year to attempt to try and follow a pattern. So glad I did, though! And I am SO glad YOU didn’t lose your love of crochet! How sad it would be if we had no Planet June creations to make and enjoy!

    • June said

      Now I wonder what I was thinking, starting out with a huge afghan instead of a simple scarf… Definitely not the route I’d recommend for beginners πŸ˜€

  2. Christina Colon said

    I love both afgans and I really enjoyed the interview questions.
    Please keep them coming and also updates on your move and how your new life is going.

    • June said

      Thank you, Christina! I always worry I’ll bore people if I talk about myself too much…

  3. Judy Carlson said

    My first project was a grey wool scarf in single crochet. It was far from perfect! I felted it in the washing machine and cut it up into heart shaped coasters! I still use the coasters.

    • June said

      Nice rescue! What a clever idea to turn the scarf into something you can use (and that disguises the mistakes)

  4. Both those afghan looks wonder. We are also most critical of our own work. (Don’t I know it!) You have come an incredibly long way in a short time, though. Way to go.

    Also, thank you for the book recommendation. I keep saying I want to make an afghan…

    • June said

      It is really lovely, but quite an investment: in time, of course, but also in yarn! I can’t remember how many balls I bought, but my finished afghan weighs over 2kg so that’s a lot of yarn (at least 21 100g balls!)

  5. Tracey said

    I, too, decided to begin my crocheting with a blanket. Single crochet, stripes. And my initial chain was soooooo long. :/ that blanket took me forever and the edges are no where near even. But I’m incredibly proud of it.
    Your 2 blankets are simply beautiful, and I’m glad you kept with the crocheting. πŸ™‚

  6. Sara T (PixyKayte) said

    It’s so cool to hear the story of your first forays into crochet! I didn’t know you could make anything other than potholders (BLO) for the first 7 years I crocheted because that was all my grandmother taught me when I was about 8. As a teenager I decided to expand and made an Eeyore (on my projects page), and an afghan that was crocheted in strips, where I learned a bunch of new stitches right from the booklet!

  7. I love your early projects. I have the 63 Square book and always show it to my crochet students. A sampler is such a great way to learn so many skills!

  8. Kateryn said

    Thank you for agreeing to the interview game! This is great πŸ˜€ I think you are a great model for any beginner: you didn’t start when you were 2 years old! You are a great inspiration to anyone who is starting (and to the rest of us as well).
    I learn a lot about crochet, particularly shaping, while working on your patterns, June. In fact, your patterns may be the only ones I don’t modify or adapt.
    Looking forward to your next interview!

  9. Chelita said

    Hee hee…we are soul sisters when it comes to HAVING TO START BIG with the new things we learn. Hee hee…my hubby is always rolling his eyes at me for that same thing. But I don’t want to make cupcakes instead of cakes or dishcloths instead of a baby sweater! LOL

    I loved hearing all about you. πŸ™‚

  10. Anastacia said

    Well, my first “real” crochet project was an afghan, too, at age 14. I did the same thing, it was all made in blo. My gauge tightened up slowly as I made the thing (it was in one piece) so one side is HUGE compared to the other!

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Please note that I can only answer questions related to PlanetJune patterns and tutorials (see details), and I can only respond to questions or comments written in English. Thank you :) - June

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    June Gilbank

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