PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Designer Toolkit: Yarn Colour Swatch Box

Over the holidays, I decided to give myself a fun organisation project: creating a box of yarn swatches for all my amigurumi yarns, so it’ll be easy to see all my options and make choices.

Being able to see at a glance all the yarns I have available for my designs is so handy – this could be a really useful project for you too, if you make a lot of amigurumi and have a large yarn stash!

Here is the glorious result:

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

Isn’t it wonderful?! It’s like looking at a selection box of chocolates, but calorie-free and without the one that nobody likes.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

There’s so much pretty colour here, and so much potential for what those colours could become… I feel like I’m an artist and this is my paint box.

Why Make a Swatch Box?

As a professional amigurumi designer, I have a lot of yarn in my stash. More specifically, a lot of worsted weight acrylic from several brands. Some are close enough in weight and appearance to be mixed within a project, and others aren’t (just look at my worsted weight yarn comparison to see how broad a category ‘worsted weight acrylic yarn’ really is!)

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

All my ami yarns are filed in plastic drawers, and every time I need to pull yarn options for a new project, I have to open several drawers, grab multiple balls of yarn, and then select the best combination of shades that could work for what I have in mind and also match in weight, sheen and texture.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

This often leaves me with 10 or more balls of yarn scattered around and the hassle of cramming all the rejected yarns back into their appropriate (and usually overstuffed) drawers. Not ideal.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

Making the Swatch Box

I bought lots of the plastic bobbins that are usually used for storing embroidery floss, and wrapped each one with a single layer of yarn, leaving a small space at the top to write the colour name. I used the slits at the bottom of the bobbin to hold the yarn ends in place. To finish each bobbin, I used a yarn needle to pass the yarn ends beneath the wrapped yarn on the back of each bobbin, then trimmed the excess.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

I labelled each bobbin with a simple code (due to lack of space):

  • top left corner : brand (e.g. B = Bernat)
  • top right corner: yarn line (e.g. S = Satin)

And then wrote out the full colour name below that.

I found a plastic divided box that had sections large enough to hold several bobbins, and organised the swatches first by brand and yarn line, then by colour family.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

Do you think I have enough yarn options? (Trick question: of course I don’t! That’s what the extra space and spare bobbins are for…)

After the Swatch Box

This box has changed everything for me. Today I pulled shades for a potential upcoming design, and I just opened the box and could see all my options at once. Within a couple of minutes, I had a selection ready to go, and now I can just go to the appropriate yarn drawer (as indicated from the bobbin) and grab only the shades I need to use.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

I can use the holes at the top of each bobbin to clip the collection together while I use them so none go astray.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

And, when I’m finished, I can easily refile the swatch bobbins in the box.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

Yes, I ‘wasted’ about 2ft of each yarn in making these bobbins, but it was definitely worth it to me – just opening the box and looking at my yarn palette is so inspiring!

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

Now I can’t wait to grab my hook and get ‘painting’ (well, ‘sculpting’ would be more accurate) with some of these pretties…

Comments (8)

2020: year in review

Every year, I write a wrap-up to see how far I’ve come over the past year and set a direction for the year ahead.

I don’t think anyone in the world can say that 2020 turned out the way they’d planned, and I’m no exception!

I’ve been very fortunate to not have been directly impacted by COVID-19, other than isolating, social distancing, mask wearing, etc since March. But despite that, I haven’t had the best year, healthwise: I’m still struggling with fatigue problems, and the bad fall I suffered in July left me with a couple of months of post-concussion symptoms (and brain injuries aren’t exactly conducive to productive work…)

2020 Achievements

Thanks to the pandemic and my head injury, this year has been a bust for me, in terms of quantity of new work. I’ve only published 6 new patterns, and I’ve made little or no headway on my bigger plans and ambitions. But it’s not all bad news!

2019 PlanetJune crochet patterns

I think that any progress in 2020 counts as a win, and I’ve definitely made progress. 2020 marks a huge milestone for me: I now have over 300 self-published PDF patterns, ebooks and craft tutorials – isn’t that amazing?!

And I succeeded in completing my most complex design to date. Designing that tortoise shell was an achievement in itself, but figuring out how to explain it clearly in pattern form was a huge undertaking, and, with hindsight, 2020 wasn’t the best year to push myself into such innovation…

Tortoise crochet pattern by PlanetJune

I could have been much more productive in terms of quantity if I’d stuck to tried-and-true ‘safe’ ideas. But where’s the fun in that?! I’ve been designing amigurumi for 14 years now, and I have to follow my curiosity and keep trying new things, otherwise I’d be completely bored by now. (And, btw, I’m not bored at all – I still have so many ideas that I haven’t explored yet!)

I also followed up on my plan to post more crafts (not just crochet) on my blog this year with a few tutorials:

2020 PlanetJune tutorials

And some other craft projects:

2020 PlanetJune craft projects

(Plus there’ll be a few more projects – knitting, crochet, weaving – that I haven’t finished writing up yet.)

Spending time writing all these craft posts was a bit of a gamble in this age of digital distraction, but I was so happy with the response the non-pattern posts received! I love posting about what I’m making and hopefully inspiring people to try more crafty ideas along the way, and it’s really rewarding to know I still have interested blog readers who find value in my longer-form content in this fast-scrolling social media-filled world. (By the way, huge thanks to everyone who took the time to leave a comment this year and let me know you’re enjoying my posts – I really appreciate it!)

Business Report

My bestselling patterns this year were the Turtle Blanket and Baby Sea Turtles, Bearded Dragon, and Love Hearts (thanks to their repurposing by healthcare professionals and caring crocheters as COVID-19 comfort hearts). Pine Cones, Farmyard Goats and Mushrooms pushed the usual cats, dinosaurs, succulents etc further down in the PlanetJune charts – a bit of a surprise there, but I’m very happy to see different patterns gaining in popularity and joining the bestseller ranks.

2020 bestselling PlanetJune crochet patterns

And, once my brain was back to firing on all cylinders, I managed to complete a massive behind-the-scenes project last month that had been on hold since March: a much-needed upgrade of my shop. Although the difference won’t be visible to you, I started over and rebuilt the entire shop from scratch with the latest code updates to keep it safe and secure. It was a lot of work, but if the shop code is clean and simple, it’ll be easier to keep things updated and make improvements in the future.

Personal Report

I decided at the start of 2020 to officially ‘retire’ from being an amateur wildlife photographer. That seems like a shame on the face of it, but the pressure of having to take my camera everywhere and try to get ‘good’ photos had started to spoil the relaxation of appreciating the environment and enjoying the wildlife I see. Now I can just enjoy time outside in nature with Dave and Maggie without being stuck behind a lens or worried that my photos won’t be good enough – just appreciating it in the moment is enough.

My biggest personal breakthrough in 2020 was to finally seek therapy for my PTSD and anxiety disorder. After many months of counselling and learning CBT techniques, I not only feel much calmer, but also better equipped to deal with new stressful situations whenever they come up.

And my biggest joy of 2020 (and one with the most serendipitous timing, just before the lockdowns etc began) was adopting my rescue dog Maggie at the end of January. As a first time dog mama, I’d been so nervous to take this step, but it only took one look at her to know that she and I were meant to be together.

contented Maggie dog

I’ve already written about how much she’s helping me, and I’ve devoted a lot of time this year to helping her blossom: from a timid, neglected, skin-and-bone scrap who didn’t know any commands and cried whenever I left her side, to a happy, healthy pup who recognizes dozens of words and knows she’s part of a loving forever family. That’s my most important and rewarding accomplishment of the year.

Looking Forward

I have so many things I want to make: videos! ebooks! new designs! new techniques! new products! but even in writing this list I realise that sounds exhausting.

I know I’m not capable of doing things by halves, so there’s no such thing as a “quick” video or blog post for me – it just doesn’t fit with my detail-oriented personality, for better or worse. And I know my energy reserves are limited; pushing myself today just means I’ll be too tired to do anything tomorrow, so I have to try to respect my limits.

So I’m looking to be strategic with where I spend my energy. I’m trying to make it easier for people to find PlanetJune and discover my huge back catalogue of treasures. If that could completely support me financially on an ongoing basis, like a successful author living on the royalties on their past books, it’d give me the time to follow my inspiration without any pressure.

Last year, my wishes were for acceptance of the things I can’t control (like my fatigue problem, and the bigger problems in the world), appreciation for all the good stuff in my life (I’m so fortunate in many ways), and inspiration (a new decade is a perfect time to try new things, and I have a feeling I have some great ideas coming!)

And, although I couldn’t have guessed the global challenges the year would present, those goals turned out to be an excellent 2020 coping strategy, and, in re-reading them, I realize that they still ring completely true for me today.

So, my wishes for 2021 are for:

  • acceptance of the things I can’t control
  • appreciation of all the good things in my life, no matter how small
  • inspiration to keep moving forwards and trying new things

For me, these are calm, centred guiding principles to live by. They stood me in good stead last year, and I want to keep going on this path and keep making slow, steady progress this year.

If my wishes sound good to you too, I hope you’ll also be able to find a way to apply them to your life this year. I wish you a very Happy New Year, and a safe and happy 2021!

Comments (7)

more knitted dog sweaters

The first sweater I knitted for Maggie on my knitting machine has been a huge success – the only real problem is that, with 3 snowy walks each day, I need at least 3 sweaters in rotation so I always have one dry and ready for her next walk!

machine knitted dog sweater
I vaguely remember these days before snow season began!

Next, I’d planned to knit a striped sweater for her, but I decided to refine the basic pattern (and get some more machine knitting practice) before getting too fancy.

Dog Sweater #2 (Lavender)

Did you know that the tummy cut-out on dog sweaters is only necessary for male dogs?! I didn’t, and poor Maggie’s tummy was always getting covered in mud or snow in her first sweater, so no more tummy cut-outs in future.

I also decided to make the back slightly longer, to see if it would help keep the sweater from being pushed up by her tail.

machine knitted dog sweater
It’s so comfy she fell asleep during the test fit!

Other than that, I followed my original pattern exactly (apart from the yarn colour):

machine knitted dog sweater

The new sweater (right) is 3″ longer on the tummy and 1″ longer on the back than the original sweater (left).

machine knitted dog sweater

And now for the moment of truth:

machine knitted dog sweater

So cute! The back length is better, and the tummy coverage is just right.

You may notice that she looks a little stockier now – that’s because she wears a harness under her sweaters these days (ever since the scary moment that she slipped her collar and ran straight into the road…).

The leash attachment point on the harness is further down her back than with the collar. Between that and the extra bulk from the harness, the neck opening is now a little low-cut.

To combat that I decided I should add an extra 1.5″ at the neck (and one more inch at the tail end) for the next version…

Sweater #3 (Greys)

The yarn I’d used for the first two sweaters (Bernat Satin) is very soft and I thought a firmer acrylic might be a) more hard-wearing and b) less likely to ride up Maggie’s back when she’s walking. So I raided my stash and found a couple of skeins of Hobby Lobby ‘I Love this Yarn!’ acrylic.

I made the length modifications I’d decided on above, and, as Maggie is a stylish pup, I thought I’d try knitting all the ribbing in a lighter shade of the main mid-grey colour:

machine knitted dog sweater

I crocheted very carefully around the leash slit, to make sure it looked neat even in the contrast colour. I think the result is super stylish:

machine knitted dog sweater

Sorry the colour balance is so far off between the pics above and below – it is the same sweater, I promise!

machine knitted dog sweater

I think we have a winner with this design! The fit is great now, with more coverage at the front and full coverage at the back.

machine knitted dog sweater

The fabric feels resilient, and I’m sure it’s going to wear better than the Satin yarn sweaters (which are already a little fluffy around the cuffs).

machine knitted dog sweater

And look how smart that ribbing and leash slit are! I’m really happy with how this turned out.


Is this it for tweaking the design? Well, no, I think I might also try adding an extra inch to the legs next time to give her more protection in deep snow.

But that striped sweater is still on the cards too! It might just need to wait until the lockdown ends so I can go yarn shopping…

It’s so rewarding to knit functional clothes for Maggie that are much better fitting than anything I could buy from a pet store. And she gets so many compliments when we’re out walking these days 🙂

Comments (6)

How to Design and Arrange a Crocheted Wreath

With Christmas rapidly approaching, I thought I’d share my tips on how to arrange a (crocheted) wreath so it looks balanced and beautiful, using my Christmas Decor wreath as an example.

Christmas Decor Collection crochet patterns by June Gilbank (made into a seasonal wreath)

Wreath Inspiration Gallery

Of course, wreaths aren’t only for Christmas, and there’s no one right way to design or arrange a wreath! Depending on your aesthetic, you may like your wreath packed full or sparse, colourful or minimal, with one big focal piece or a sea of little ones.

Here are some beautiful wreaths made from PlanetJune patterns, and designed and crocheted by members of the PlanetJune Ravelry group, so you can see how versatile and fun crocheted wreaths can be:

crocheted wreath by MagicalAmigurumi, patterns by planetjunecrocheted wreath by sujavo, patterns by planetjune
crocheted wreath by petrOlly, patterns by planetjunecrocheted wreath by aaBrink, patterns by planetjune
crocheted wreath by Marli2311, patterns by planetjunecrocheted wreath by sujavo, patterns by planetjune
crocheted wreath by sujavo, patterns by planetjunecrocheted wreath by petrOlly, patterns by planetjune
crocheted wreath by petrOlly, patterns by planetjunecrocheted wreath by sujavo, patterns by planetjune

Image credits (L-R, row by row): 1 MagicalAmigurumi; 2, 6, 7, 10 sujavo; 3, 8, 9 petrOlly; 4 aaBrink; 5 Marli2311

Pattern credits: You can find all the crochet patterns in my shop! (Ask me in the comments below if you don’t recognise something specific, and I’ll let you know which pattern it is!)

Different styles, different seasons, different themes, different results, and yet don’t they all look gorgeous? (Well done, PJers!) As you can see, with a little imagination and a few crochet patterns you can create a crocheted wreath for any occasion…


Ready to Crochet Your Own Wreath?

If you’re short on time, space or funds for your holiday decorating this year, how about whipping up my (free) Mini Wreath Ornament crochet pattern instead? It’s only 3″ across, works up in no time, and comes together like magic with almost no sewing required!

mini wreath ornament crochet pattern by planetjune

But if you’d like to decorate a larger wreath and don’t feel confident to create a design that looks balanced, I’ll give you some tips below. You can copy my method completely for your next wreath, or you can take any of my ideas that you like and make your wreath in your own style.


Design Your Wreath

Start with a wreath base

If you’d like to make your wreath completely from scratch, check out my free Crocheted Wreath Base pattern. Otherwise, you can buy a wreath form from a craft store as a starting point – there are lots of options (see the gallery above for some ideas).

Crocheted Wreath Base crochet pattern by PlanetJune

Choose your patterns

In this tutorial I’m using all eight of the patterns from my Christmas Decor Collection, but you can use any patterns that fit your theme.

Christmas Decor Sets 1-4 crochet patterns by June Gilbank

Decide on your overall colour scheme

Your wreath will look more harmonious if you crochet all the embellishments from a limited colour palette – see the gallery above for some great examples of the effect of different palettes.

designing a wreath - detail

To make the different elements stand out and give the wreath more interest, try using tones of your main colours – lighter or darker versions of the same colour.

e.g. I used three shades of green (and two different reds) to crochet my pieces. This helps you to tell the mistletoe, holly and ivy apart, even when they overlap each other.

Add highlights
designing a wreath - detail

To draw the eye and stop everything from blending together too much, you’ll need some highlights in a contrasting colour.

e.g. The small pops of yellow and white in my wreath bring it to life.

Less (colour) is more
designing a wreath - detail

Don’t go overboard with the colours – if your wreath gets too busy, your eyes won’t know where to look! Repeating colours around the wreath help to give it a cohesive look.

e.g. I used the same shade of red for the poinsettias, baubles, and bow.


Arrange Your Wreath

Arrange the elements

If you have a main focal piece, place that first, then arrange the other elements around it.

Space each type of component out around the wreath so there aren’t any clusters where the same item or the same colour are touching. Go for balance but try to avoid too much symmetry or repetition – the aim is to make your wreath look natural and not too ‘perfect’.

arranging a wreath - main components

Start by placing the larger pieces, spacing them out around the wreath, and then start to fill in the gaps with smaller pieces.

e.g. This diagram shows the positions of my larger pieces – the bow, holly and poinsettias. First I placed the bow at the bottom centre of my wreath. Using three of each of my larger components (instead of two or four) made it easier to spread them out around the wreath without arranging all the components in a repeating pattern or perfect mirror-image.

Fill all the spaces (or don’t)

Your design may be intentionally sparse, so parts of the wreath form are visible. This can look lovely if you buy a pretty wreath base, or crochet the form in a cheerful colour – maybe with stripes or other colourplay – and make the form a feature of the design. (There are some beautiful examples of all these in the gallery above!)

If you don’t want to make the wreath form part of the design, try to fill all the large spaces with more embellishments. You can either choose part of one of your patterns, e.g. a single holly or ivy leaf or tiny bauble would work well in my case, or add other tiny pieces from simple patterns – e.g. a small flower, leaf, or heart – in a colour to match your design!

small embellishment ideas: Posy Blossoms and Love Hearts crochet patterns by PlanetJune

When adding the smaller pieces, you can choose which pieces go where semi-randomly, but do your best to choose different colours wherever pieces are going to touch or overlap.

It’s always okay to leave small spaces where the wreath form shows – if your form is a dark colour like mine, it’ll recede into the shadows, or if you make it match your components, it’ll blend in nicely.

Christmas Decor Collection crochet patterns by June Gilbank (made into a seasonal wreath)

Rules are made to be broken!

arranging a wreath - main components

e.g. Breaking my colour palette ‘rule’, my silver bells don’t fit my colour scheme, but I think it makes them stand out more than if I’d made them in yellow, white or red, don’t you?

In the end, the best design for you is one you like the look of, so
don’t be afraid to play around, try moving pieces about and pinning them in different places to see how they’d look. Stand back and look at the whole wreath from a distance to see if any elements look out of place.

It’ll probably take a little tweaking before you come up with a layout you’re happy with, but I think it’s worth it!

And please ignore any of my tips that don’t feel right in your wreath – they’re only suggestions, and you can see from the gallery above that there are countless different ways to make a very attractive-looking wreath.


A wreath can be a lovely way to display small crocheted amigurumi, appliques and other embellishments, to celebrate an occasion or just to look pretty.

I hope this post has given you some inspiration, and, if you decide to crochet a wreath, I’d love to see it! Please tag me (I’m @PlanetJune on all the socials) or email me a photo 🙂

And enter it into the PlanetJune End-of-Year CAL too! You’ll get a contest entry for each PlanetJune pattern you use (and there are prizes for everyone, so don’t miss out…)

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    June Gilbank

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