Mood Cardigan Knit A Long or should that be Knitalong?

KALs are something that are often dropped – like seasoning – into the chat of enthusiastic crafters. ‘Have you joined the so-and-so Knit A Long? Did you see the yarn what’s-her-face is giving away at the end of her Crochet A Long? Well for the uninitiated a KAL, MAL or CAL – Knit / Make / Crochet Along, depending on your preferred discipline – is basically an online crafting party where a group of like minded, nimble fingered makers work on the same pattern or selection of patterns, at the same time for a specified period. Sounds pretty straightforward doesn’t it? And it is. So why would you want to do one? Well it’s a good opportunity to support each other: you can inspire each other with yarn choices, swap tips when you get to any sticky bits of the pattern, post progress updates (or not, it’s your choice) and perhaps even ask the designer themselves how the pattern came to be. It’s a lovely way of keeping in touch with each other while making, something we’ll no doubt need more with Summer now officially over here in the UK, nights drawing in, the temperature dropping and the threat of another lockdown on the cards.

So I’m really REALLY excited to be hosting my first Knit Along – that’s right, MY FIRST – and oh my goodness am I starting my KAL-ing in some style. (Strictly speaking I’m not sure KAL-ing is actually a word but bear with me, I’m excited).

Together with Aimée Gille of La Bien Aimée and the gorgeous knitter and blogger extraordinaire (Bintou) Nappy Knitter I’ll be hosting a KAL for the Mood Cardigan from the Modern Daily Knitting Field Guide no 15: Open. This design has captured a lot of hearts on IG and also over on Ravelry, probably because its simple construction and generous shape make it flattering to pretty much any body shape. Oh and then there’s the fact that you can choose which way to wear it. Rib up, or rib down.

AND you can choose whether to work it as I designed it, in a light fingering weight yarn held double – in this case Aimée’s Helix in shade Yellow Brick Road – or in your favourite fingering weight yarn, used single. So very many choices to be made. Now you know how we came up with the concept of ‘open for the collection’. As if the prospect of knitting this design amongst friends isn’t enough there are giveaways too. Ah yes, thought that might catch your eye. *winks* More details of those to follow.

For now, just remember that the KAL begins September 30th and runs until December 30th 2020 so if you haven’t yet got your copy of Field Guide no 15: Open there’s still plenty of time to buy a copy from my online shop here. (Don’t forget you can also get your copy signed and gift wrapped at no extra cost)

Take care and see you soon,

J x.

Martha Stewart online

Thought I’d share this very quick post with you as it cheered up my Wednesday. I’m very happy to have been included in this feature ‘Knitting Artists You Should Be Following on Instagram’ – and I’m in very esteemed company.

Written by Caroline Biggs you can read the whole article ‘Knitting Artists You Should Be Following on Instagram’here

I was up till the wee hours editing a talk for this weekend’s virtual Perth Festival of Yarn so I’m having the tomanight off. See you soon.

J x

A tale of two scarves

Lace knitting gives some people the heebeegeebees. There I’ve said it. Cue the collective sigh of relief. But you know what? That really needn’t be the case.

I was recently in conversation with Katy Bevan of the Heritage Crafts Association and while we talked about knitting, illness and identity she asked if knitting had any positive effects on my health after brain surgery. Well you know me, ever up for a challenge, I decided after having my craniotomy in 2016 that if I could literally muster up enough post-surgery brain power to knit a simple lace stitch, then I was still intrinsically ‘me’. Jeanette: a maker. And that meant there was still potential for me to function as a designer. Fast forward four years and my collection of 5 lace designs created for MDK Field Guide no 15 is tempting others to the technique of lace knitting.

The theme of the collection is ‘Open’ which in itself is open to interpretation: open to embrace a new technique. To choose a lace weight or Aran weight yarn. To knit a scarf lengthways or widthways. To add stripes to a stole or knit it in a single colour. To wear a cardigan rib up or rib down. All of these are decisions you can choose to make while working through the designs but of course the final decision is yours, it’s always yours. It’s what makes this collection so exciting and of course what will transform your ‘makes’ from #mdkfieldguideno15 into something truly unique.

For those you still trembling at the thought of all those ‘yos’ (yarn overs) and ‘k2togs’ (knit 2 togethers) in terms of skill level, FG15 begins with those two scarves. Rib Lace (pic below) and the Tumbling Block Scarf (in bottom two pictures).

Each is worked in a choice of two yarns weights but one worked lengthways (knitting lots of rows on relatively few stitches) while the other is worked widthways (knitting just 26 rows on a LOT of stitches). Both lace patterns then combine to become the next project in the collection. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet, we’re just beginning our lace journey, right?

Now I’m certainly NOT suggesting you go to the extreme of having brain surgery but with the theme of Field Guide no 15 being ‘Open’ it could be the perfect time to just dip your toe into the lace knitting waters and give it a try. You’ll find Field Guide no 15 in my Online Shop and if you need a few tips or pointers for lace knitting check out Jen Arnall Culliford’s Little Lessons: Limbering Up For Lace here.

Watch out for a post about the next FG15 design, and next week I’ll also be doing a detailed post about the specific yarns used throughout the guide with are all from La Bien Aimée in Paris as you’re no doubt wondering. Yes, I love my job!

In the meantime if you missed my conversation with the Heritage Crafts Association you can catch it in full on the Heritage Crafts Association Facebook page here.

Have a great weekend

J x

‘A Portrait In Objects’ over at Modern Daily Knitting.com

Here’s a very quick post to share a little something I’ve written for Modern Daily Knitting. Entitled ‘A Portrait In Objects’ it’s a new series of profiles where designers and makers reveal the stories that lay behind a collection of personal or meaningful objects.

Well knowing how I love to ramble you can imagine how much I enjoyed writing this piece for Ann & Kay and, I’m even more flattered to be the first person featured.

Ladies, once again, thank you for inviting me to be a part of the beautiful creative world of MDK. To find out which items I chose head on over to the website to read the profile in full here

J x

‘MDK Field Guide no 15: Open’ : The designs

It’s a very strange feeling to work for so many months on a project and with such intensity, that when it comes to a close, the deadline met and the projects sent off, there’s a slightly empty pause. I wouldn’t call it an anti climax exactly but it’s almost as though finally, there’s a chance to catch one’s breath before the next project comes along.

Well for me, working with Modern Daily Knitting on ‘Field Guide no 15: Open’ came just after the release of Warm Hands which I co-edited with Kate Davies. And, at the start of what was to have been a very busy year: visiting fibre events, teaching classes, promoting BIPOC in Fiber and travelling around the world. And then of course, along came Covid 19.

So it felt a little strange to finally get my hands on #FG15 when it finally launched last Friday and to be honest my feet haven’t touched the ground since. I knew it would be beautiful, after all this is MDK we’re talking about and together with Melanie Falick they are a formidable combination. The book is small in size but packs a bright, beautiful punch. Because despite following in the Field Guide series after the likes of stars such as Norah Gaughan. Kaffe Fassett, Julia Farwell Clay and Carol Feller they encourage each designer to leave their own design signature and that works magically within the guide’s house style. It means the guide is completely me, but it’s also MDK too.

When Ann and Kay first invited me to design for them we quickly established the technique would be lace but from there I was left to follow my own creative path as to the exact projects and whose yarn I”d like to use. And that’s a really exciting prospect. What you’ll find in the guide are four accessories – no surprise there, it’s me after all – and one garment. But it’s not quite as simple as that. There are little twists and turns that, as the theme suggests, invite you to be open. To be open in terms of creating airy fabrics with open textures, to playing with needle size, yarn weight, and open yourself up to learning a new technique. After all, lace really needn’t be scary. I firmly believe that if I can do it, you can too.

The 5 projects gradually grow in size and skill level from a skinny rib scarf with a two row repeat to a cardigan that can be worn either of two ways. There are little tweaks and details that made this collection such fun to design and should make them fun to make. So here’s a little taste of what’s inside.

I’m so tempted to tell you lots more but I’ll be writing much more about the inspiration and design process behind the guide over on the Modern Daily Knitting blog in a couple of weeks’ time. You can buy your copy of ‘Field Guide no 15: Open’ from the Jeanette Sloan Online Shop here

For now, enjoy the weekend

J x

Making a Life: The Conversation with Melanie Falick, August 8, 2020

Join me this Saturday August 8, 2020, 18.00 – 19.00 BST (13.00 – 14.00 EDT) when I’ll be over on Zoom talking to Melanie Falick, author of Making A Life.

More of an intimate conversation than a formal interview we’ll be talking about making by hand as a pathway to wellness and fulfilment, diversity in the fibre arts community, and of course working together on MDK Field Guide 15: OPEN which launches tomorrow! (Cue Chaka Khan again)

This is a free event but does requires pre-registration which you can do by clicking here.

The nature of social media means it’s often easy to reveal too much about a project pre-launch so I’ve been very careful NOT to post any spoilers on Instagram. But, I do happen to know you can see all 5 of the projects I designed for #fieldguideno15 if you sneak on over to the Ravelry page here. But where would the surprise be if you did that?

You could just order a copy from the Jeanette Sloan website and wait for the surprise to hit the doormat when it comes through the post. Just sayin’.

To pre-order your copy of ‘Field Guide no 15: Open’ for Launch Day despatch (tomorrow Friday August 7th) click here

J x

MDK Field Guide no 15

Well this is something of a change in mood from my previous post. I didn’t realise it was so long since my last blog post or that I’d been in such a dark place when I wrote anything here on this precious space. Sorry that I’ve been away for so long but I needed to take that time away but I’m back and very happy to say that I’ve got some really exciting news.

Back in the days before Covid – remember those? When we could travel without face coverings, gather in large numbers and god forbid, actually hug the people we love! Anyway, it was way back in 2018 when I first met Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne, the brilliant and very funny ladies behind Modern Daily Knitting. We were supposed to be having a fancy breakfast meeting before going to the 2018 Edinburgh Yarn Festival and I was already in fan girl overdrive when, after talking their arses off for 2 hours, they asked if I’d be interested in designing one of their Field Guides. Well after picking my jaw off the table for a second time I said “hell YES!”

Scroll forward 24+ months. To say that it’s been eventful would be something of an understatement. On a personal level I’ve had to come to terms with a serious decline in Mum’s cognition which has meant she and Dad now need more support than ever which has made keeping up with work very difficult. But on a positive note the fibre industry is finally tackling racism, not just within but globally, the BIPOC in Fiber website is live and the positive response to it has been amazing. So following in that spirit of positivity and excitement I can finally reveal that Field Guide no 15 – you know, the one the Queens of MDK asked me to design? – is due to launch on August 7th! (Cue the screams, popping corks and sounds of Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m Every Woman’ playing LOUD).

I’ll be writing a longer post about FG15 once it’s launched but just wanted to give you a little teaser to tide you over for now. Oh also to let you know that I’ll be stocking print copies of Field Guide no 15: Open over on the Jeanette Sloan Design website along with Warm Hands.

But for now I’ll just leave you with this ……

And yes, that is pink and orange packaging

J x

Overwhelm

I’ve been off my game recently because – like many others – I’m finding that life has become more than a little overwhelming.

The recent dementia diagnosis of one parent and the failing mobility of the other has added to an already overactive mind. It also hasn’t been helped by too much exposure to rolling coverage of the Covid 19 pandemic. So I took the decision to step back for a while. Why? Because when the previously pleasing process of creating a post for #thepattinrepeatgame feels like an added pressure rather than a thing of simple joy, you have to accept that something is wrong. And that’s how it felt. Like another heavyweight task on a seemingly endless to do list. Pressure on pressure.

So I’ve been keeping quiet and trying to look after myself. Having sought help I’m reading, practising mindfulness and pottering in the garden: a beautiful vibrant outside space for which I’m particularly grateful at the moment.

As a newbie gardener I’m finding my way, growing veg from seed and trying to outwit my arch enemy. A seemingly cute squirrel who lives in our olive tree who insists on digging into every one of my bloody pots to bury whatever treasure it’s found it’s travels.

As someone with a shockingly bad memory, limited horticultural savvy and no garden design skills I try to label what I’ve planted because I usually forget what I’ve planted and where I’ve put it. I buy a few cheap plants (just incase my over attentiveness becomes the kiss of death) and have been gifted others (thanks for the Geum @wendyswalksandboard)

so up to now that’s meant the garden is predominantly purple, pink. This morning however, I discovered something I didn’t know was there and certainly don’t recall planting. Like a burst of sunshine it’s appeared in a sea of purple, reminding me that even on the darkest days there can be glimpses of beauty, positivity or kindness that can lift your heart, encouraging you to keep going. This single yellow bloom did that for me this morning and I wanted to share it’s beauty with you, just in case you’ve also been finding life difficult. Please know you’re not alone, and it’s ok to ask for help.

J x

Pre lockdown larks and Kristy Glass Knits

I’ve been feeling a little low lately. I miss the days of close contact with friends. It seems like years since January when I was in New York at Vogue Knitting Live, making real life connections with friends old and new. Real life connections, remember those?

That was back in the days before social distancing, Zoom meetings to check in on family members, that weird dance we now do to avoid anyone walking toward us and the often hopeless quest to find flour because now we’re supposed to be staying at home everyone is baking.

I’m being a bit flippant but of course Covid 19 isn’t a laughing matter. Hearing the daily toll of those who have died with Corona virus is heartbreaking. And, the constant barrage of rolling  news coverage, although meant to be informative makes me feel slightly anxious on a day when I’m feeling pretty resilient and utterly depressed on days when I feel less able to cope.

Like many others I’m trying to navigate my way through these very strange times and I’m very grateful for the little rays of sunshine when they occur. So I was really happy (although very nervous) to see my interview with Kristy Glass Knits has recently gone up on her YouTube channel.

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The lovely Felix Ford and Lorna Hamilton Brown in The Big Apple

To give some context I visited Kristy along with Felix Ford and Lorna Hamilton Brown just a couple of days after VKL New York and I have really fond memories of that day. It was very cold, crisp and wintry. As we made our way to Kristy’s apartment New York looked absolutely stunning in the early morning sunshine and when we got there she was incredibly warm, welcoming and genuinely interested in each of us. Oh yes, she also lays on a mean breakfast.

It’s tough being interviewed with two of your closest and smartest friends in the room. Felix and Lorna are phenomenal women who I’m blessed to have as friends and you can also watch their interviews on Kristy’s channel. In fact go now, make yourself a cuppa or grab your favourite tipple and head over to YouTube now to watch them all.

Kristy, it was lovely meeting you, thanks for having me.

Stay safe and well my lovelies

J x

 

You’ll find Kristy’s YouTube channel here

Hunkering down and baking: Granary bread

IMG_3637At the moment I’m feeling an even stronger desire to make, I mean more so than usual. Not just to knit which is normal in my line of work but to sew and as you’ll have seen on my Instagram feed, to bake.  If you follow my posts @jeanettesloan you’ll know that the only thing I like more than cooking is filling my ever greedy face and, whether it’s batch cooking meals for my parents or using back-of-the-fridge leftovers to create masterpieces like the brussel sprout omelette and if I’m please with the results I’ll post about it. I do however have ‘off days’ when I’m really too tired to bother or there’s been some sort of culinary disaster and though they are few, you really don’t need to see those. After all this is the perfect world of social media. 

But this weekend the knitting stars aligned and like many others currently feeling that knead to bake ( thanks coronavirus ) I was inspired to make some bread. I won’t be entering Bake Off any time soon but I got so fed up with eating crappy, pappy, poor quality shop bought loaves that I really craved something gnarly, nutty and tasty. So I attempted my first granary loaf and the results were pretty good even if I say so myself. I’ve made white bread before but was a little apprehensive about granary – I was nervous that what I thought of as ‘heavier flour’ would produce a boulder like loaf that would be impossible to slice. But no, the bread was blooming when it came out of the oven and as I was asked to share the recipe, I’ve included it below along with my own tweaks and observations. 

I know we’re currently living in scary times and as I’m no virologist I don’t have any expert advice to offer but I’m limiting how much of that coverage I expose myself to. Why? Because being bombarded with information and misinformation about coronavirus has a variety of effects ranging from unsettling to nightmare inducing so I guess my need to make is one response to it. 

Thankfully I work from home but I’m limiting how much I socialise with other people not just for myself (and them) but also because with parents who are 90 and 96 with a number of underlying health conditions I can’t put them at risk. If we look after ourselves and each other we can get through this. Please don’t stockpile supplies – e.g. toilet paper, pasta, baked beans, paracetamol – think about the impact of your actions on others. 

Enjoy the recipe and if you give it a try let me know how you get on

J x

 

This is based on Paul Hollywood’s Malted Loaf recipe from How To Bake

 

I used

500 g / 1 pound granary bread flour ( I used Hovis granary bread flour )

5 g / 1 teaspoon salt

10 g / 2 teaspoons fast action dried yeast 

30 g / 1 ounce butter, softened ( the original recipe called for unsalted butter but I didn’t have any)

300 ml / 10 fluid ounces cool water ( I actually used tepid water )

Olive oil for kneading

 

How to make

Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and tip the salt onto one side and the yeast onto the other side. Now the original recipe says ‘add the butter’ but gives no details as to how. So i softened my butter for 30 seconds in the microwave then cut it into small lumps and dotted it around the flour before mixing it in with my fingers and gradually adding the water. The flour should gradually come away from the sides of the bowl and into the mix, if you need more water add more – I had to, probably about another two thirds but be guided by your mix. It should be soft but not soggy, when it is kind of rough in texture use it to clean the inside of the bowl.

F11C6B5F-6499-4E0D-8BBC-081B6BC171FBCoat a clean work surface with a bit of olive oil and tip the dough onto it then knead. This bit was hard. I mean really hard ( perhaps my mix didn’t have enough water at this point – I’ll adjust this next time) so I kneaded it for 20 minutes. Yes 20 minutes, I’ve got the arms to prove it (no baking pun intended). The other thing I found as I was kneading was that the seeds in the mix shot outwards covering the kitchen in a bizarre shower of edible shrapnel – I put it back in, kneaded a bit more and back out it came. In the end I gathered it in a small bowl for adding back in later. If you can’t bear to knead for 20 minutes do it for at least 10 or until it feels smooth and ‘silky’. You should get a feel for the change in texture.

Next lightly oil the inside of a large bowl and put the dough into it, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for at least an hour. It needs to double in size. I left mine for 3 hours in front of a still warm woodburner stove (full of smokeless fuel FYI).

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Line a baking sheet with enough baking parchment to cover then lightly flour a clean working surface.

Now scrape the dough onto the work surface and knock all the air out of it by folding it in on itself – here’s where I re-introduced the seeds that were previously rejected at the kneading stage. When the dough is smooth, form it into a ball and place in on the baking tray. t prove for the second time place the tray inside a large clean plastic bag. I have a clean bin liner that I keep for this and I place a small drinking glass upside down in each corner of the tray to keep the plastic off the bread as it rises. Leave to prove for a further hour, the dough should double in size and spring back quickly after you’ve given it a loving but light prod with your finger. 

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Now it’s time to bake so heat the oven to 220ºC / 428ºF. Dust the loaf with flour or in my case I brushed it with milk and offered the top some more of the rejected seeds before putting in the oven for 30 minutes. Check that it’s done by tapping the bottom of the loaf – if it’s ready it will sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!