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).

IMG_3629

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. 

IMG_3630

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!

 

Knit Now ‘Knitter of the Year’ 2020

52A377BC-5348-4065-9C63-FED201CE63CC

Last week the winners of Knit Now magazine’s Knitter of the year Awards were announced, and guess what? Thanks to the votes of their lovely readers I’m one of three winners in the Online Innovator category. To be honest when I wrote about the lack of diversity in crafting and created the POC Designers & Crafters List I hadn’t expected, over a year on, that my life would have taken it’s current path. But with the BIPOC in Fiber website now so close to launch I’m both excited for you all to see it and humbled that people appreciate the work I do.

Thank you so much for taking the time to vote for me. You’ve made an old, bald lady very happy.

82D53315-B094-4186-88D6-C8D1DC6E5C95

In addition to ‘Online Innovator’ Knit Now readers also voted for their ‘Local Superstar’, ‘Charity Hero’ and ‘Designer of the Year’ and I’m very honoured to be amongst such incredible company. Three winners were chosen in each category with us all invited to the King Cole headquarters in Skipton to attend a very special prizewinner’s day out on Thursday 26th March. Now sadly I won’t be able to attend but by way of thanks to all of you who voted I’m offering someone the chance to take my place.

If you’d like the opportunity to visit King Cole HQ on Thursday 26th March all you need do is pop over to the Knit Now blog where the winners were announced and comment on their post. They will then pick a name at random and get in touch with the lucky winner to give them the details of what happens next.

You’ll find the King Cole post here

Please do not comment here to enter. For clarification this is not a sponsored post. The winner will be selected at random by Knit Now magazine and neither myself nor King Cole are involved in that selection process.

Thanks again for your votes and good luck!

J x

 

 

 

 

Unravel 2020

Yes I know what you’re thinking. That you normally have to wait for what seems like YEARS to see any of my pictures after I’ve been to a festival. But oh no, not this time.

I’ve attended the Unravel festival several times both as speaker and vendor but this year was slightly different as it was my first year teaching and also exhibiting as part of BIPOC in Fiber. It was lovely to be able to catch up with lots of old friends, make new ones, share my love of Beaded Colourwork and of course my passion for the BIPOC in Fiber project alongside the rest of the team. I won’t go into too much detail about BiF here as there’ll be a blog on the website when it launches (which is so very, very soon) but as you can see we had a great time.

Thanks to everyone who came along to my class on Sunday and to everyone who stopped by the BiF stand.

Keeping this post short as I’m off to see the Old Folk

 

J x

E97366DF-0CA7-48B5-AFA1-27470F629B99_1_201_a
Packing up BIPOC in Fiber merch
3C2F7D32-C665-4F19-89A0-1962CF99AA80_1_201_a
Our amazing tech wizard Alyson Chu on the BiF stand
12DF0930-5426-4A04-B018-7FED2E2FA05C
Myself and Alyson look fresh faced on Friday (well she is)
3EFD65C8-5450-4F8C-A520-4C0E9D4E78D0
Me with our graphic designer Jimenez Joseph

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Welcome to Warm Hands

warm hands cover.indd

A bit later than I’d hoped  (ok 3 weeks actually) I’ve finally found the time to blog about a project that consumed much of my 2019.

Warm Hands is a collection of 15 fresh glove, mitten and fingerless mitt designs which I co-edited with Kate Davies. The patterns have been created by a global collective of 15 designers and each use either Milarrochy Tweed or Ard Thir from Kate’s own range of yarns.

Although I’ve written four books before this it was the first time I’d collaborated with anyone on a publishing project and of course because everything produced by KDD.com is done to such exacting standards, I knew the results would be good. I just didn’t know how good. Or how much I’d enjoy working on it with Kate and the KDD team.

In this, my first-time role as co-editor, I had creative input right from the beginning. This book is special because it brings together a mix of newbie designers (who were invited to submit designs in an open call on Instagram and Ravelry) as well as more well known designers. With the work of BIPOC in Fiber always in mind it was important to me that new BIPOC designers (black, indigenous and people of colour) felt encouraged to submit and, having creative input into the look of the book, I felt it was essential that they be represented in our choice of models too.

Trying to curate a collection of designs that Kate and I felt was balanced in terms of technique, style and skill level meant going through a pretty rigorous selection process. From over 100 submissions it meant  looking and re-looking at each design and evaluating them in isolation, then how each would or wouldn’t fit in with the other design submissions. At this early stage I only knew of a couple of the designers and kept losing track of which design belonged to whom so as we gradually whittled them down to the final 15 I found that drawing the designs helped my shockingly poor memory. What I didn’t foresee was that when it came to the final layout these sketches would actually find a home in the introduction pages of the book.

KDD WH Final design drawings 6
Initial sketches of the selected designs
KDD WH Final design pt 2 drawings 8
More of the initial sketches

Toasty Cosy is my own design contribution to Warm Hands. Like the majority of the patterns in the book it’s knitted in the Fingering weight Milarrochy Tweed but of course, being me I chose to use it held double rather than single. The back of the design is worked in columns of two colour calliper cables which, in the doubled yarn produces a really dense, warm fabric with a slightly ribbed texture. This is contrasted by a subtle slip stitch texture in stripes that echo the colour changes of the cables but this time on both the palm and thumb.

As I’d never previously worked with any of Kate’s yarns there was of course swatching to be done. I know many of you roll your eyes when I talk about swatching and tension but I find it a really enjoyable and necessary part of my design process. In this case I knew I wanted to make a mitten and fingerless mitten option and whilst the combination of Cranachan and Buckthorn immediately worked for the mittens the first combination I chose for the mitts – Cowslip and Garth – really didn’t work at all. It looked sludgy and sad so I ended up replacing Garth with Hirst and the results are much fresher.

Oh and why the name? Well Toasty Cosy is the term my best friend Margo uses to describe when she’s just perfectly warm. Seems appropriate don’t you think?

Warm Hands Photoshoot 2 Studio-599

AF1D7194-9062-4724-8821-E1E3E0C8FBB4

I hope you’ll enjoy Warm Hands. Aside from being the brightest book KDD has ever produced (yes, my work is done) a lot of thought has gone into how the finished collection looks. Kate and I pooled ideas – and clothing – to style the designs with a contemporary feel in order that you could see yourself (or your loved ones) wearing each of them. Those ideas were captured and brought to life by the fantastic photography of Tom Barr (Kate’s husband) and it was his invaluable local knowledge that kicked off the ‘in your face’ vibe for the location shots . As well as regular KDD models Fenella and Jane it was a pleasure to work with new models Samira and Mimi for whom this was their first job but who behaved like absolute professionals – even when I was trying to get them to relax on command while art directing the photoshoot. And lastly what brings all of that together so beautifully is Tom’s skilful graphic design that ties all the designs together but at the same time gives each one space and allows it to shine.

The details:

Warm Hands 15 fresh designs edited by Jeanette Sloan & Kate Davies

Format: Print copy

Price: £20.00

Each print copy comes with a download code for the ebook on Ravelry.

To order your print copy visit the website by clicking here

With Storm Denis on its way to the UK tomorrow I’m wishing you a weekend of Warm Hands and even warmer hearts

J x

VKL New York 2020 – pt 1

JSVKL202012

Since arriving home from New York week over a week ago  I’ve been battling a combination of jet lag and the dreaded lurgey. It’s meant the excited re-telling of all the amazing things I did at Vogue Knitting Live, all the wonderful people I met, the inspiring work I saw and the delicious yarns I drooled over won’t now happen. Why? Because sadly my head is full of snot and my body so achey it makes long periods of concentration nigh on impossible. Somehow – and I know how ridiculous this sounds – despite all the life threatening illnesses I’ve been through, the common cold is the thing that floors me most.

So before January gives way to February (yes as you can see since it is now February I even failed there) and these pictures languish unloved in a forgotten corner of my MacBook here are some of my Vogue Knitting Live 2020 highlights. More to come.

I’m off to blow my nose. Again

J x

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I travelled over to the States with (most of) my dream team of Felicity Ford @knitsonik, Lorna Hamilton Brown @lhamiltonbrown and Alyson Chu @alysonhere. Sadly the last member of BIPOC in Fiber Juliet Bernard @julietbernard couldn’t join us as she was in India with Knit For Peace.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

JSVKL202014
Vogue Knitting’s DAC

I’m really proud to a member of Vogue Knitting’s Diversity Advisory Council and over the last 9 months we’ve worked really hard to make the Knitting Live! events and publications much more inclusive and welcoming. As we’re spread across the globe much of this involves long conference calls so it was great to finally meet as a full council to help celebrate 10 years of VKL. Just in case you’re wondering the full council shown above are;

Angela Tong @atongdesigns

Louis Boria @brooklynboyknits

Cecilia Nelson Hurt @creativececi

Ana Campos @circlestitches

Lorna Hamilton Brown

Felicity Ford

Me of course

Diane Ivey @ladydyeyarns

You can find out more about the work that we’ve been doing over on the Vogue Knitting website here 

The Crafties – I’ve been nominated!

The Crafties 2019 - Vote for me

 

Yes I’m still here, I bet you thought I’d forgotten about this wee blog. To be honest there’s been so happening since I started talking and writing about the lack of BIPOC representation in the fibre community that the last 12 months have literally flown past.

Now having successfully Crowfunded for BIPOC in Fiber (thank you to everyone who gave their support) work on the website can begin and along with the rest of the team we can continue promoting the work of black, indigenous and people of colour whatever their craft discipline. Way back in 2018 (it seems much further back than just last year) this really wasn’t what I’d envisaged when I created the POC Designers & Crafter List. I just wanted to do something that would have a positive effect on an industry and community that needed to be more truly representative of all and, as it as just a list, it seemed simple enough to do. Fast forward a year and it turns out what I originally saw as a small gesture has had a positive effect along with the work of many other BIPOC voices. At last we’re now seeing a greater BIPOC presence designing, vending, writing and teaching in magazines, online publications and at fibre festivals. Along with my other writing and designs (I think people sometimes forget I’m also a designer)  the work I’ve been doing has got me nominated for a blog award.

The Crafties are LoveCrafts’ Blogger Awards and I’ve been nominated in the  Noteworthy Knitter Blog Award, 2019. If you regularly read this blog or follow me on Instagram you’ll know I’m not someone who tends to pat themselves on the back. You’ll also know I don’t post as often as I’d like but I am passionate about what I’m currently doing as it helps to focus more attention on the work of BIPOC in the fibre industry. And for that I’m happy to be nominated…. but of course I’d be even happier to win.

If you’d like to, you can vote for me by popping over to the LoveCrafts blog where you’ll find more details of how to cast your vote. You’ll find the page here.

Voting opens 1st November 2019 at 17:00 GMT / 10:00 PST / 13:00 EST

Voting closes 18th November 2019 at 17:00 GMT / 10:00 PST /13:00 EST

The winners will be announced 2nd December at 17:00 GMT / 10:00 PST / 13:00 EST

Wish me luck

J x

A bit late but remember Perth Festival of Yarn?

To my utter shame it’s almost 2 weeks since I travelled up to Scotland for this year’s much anticipated Perth Festival of Yarn. So much has happened over the 11 months since I was first contacted by festival organiser Eva Christie who invited me to be this year’s Keynote Speaker. And, to be honest, I had no idea how nervous I would be undertaking that role but – notes in hand – I travelled up the motorway to the Dewars Centre in Perth for a weekend that flew by far too quickly. Here’s a little taster, sorry for not providing a more detailed record. But, having spent so much time on social media recently,  it was really liberating to NOT constantly post updates about the festival on Instagram.

So here’s a little taster of everyone setting up. The venue had a lovely feeling of space which meant you could browse and shop quite happily without feeling restricted in any way. There was also plenty of accessible space between the stands.

fullsizeoutput_14a9

It was great to meet Hutch and Barry of Dye Candy @dyecandy who came over from Belfast for the show. Of course being from Northern Ireland they had lots to chat over with Sam and were sweet enough to gift me a hanks of yarn – I’ll post a pic of that later.

fullsizeoutput_14ab

IMG_0801

Here’s a shot of some questionable interior decoration at The Lovat Hotel although this particular De La Soul single caught my eye.

fullsizeoutput_14af

Loved meeting @gailmadebyme and @mrsgooner5776 although to be honest they were very quiet when they said hello and despite following them both on IG I didn’t recognise them. Ladies I loved seeing you, thank you so much for coming to hear me speak. Be bolder next time!

IMG_0758

This lady was kicking it in this amazing shade of red but I’m so sorry I’ve forgotten your name on IG!

fullsizeoutput_14b4

Sara from @yarningham pitched up with a batch of her freshly baked chocolate and sesame cupcakes. Yes I know I ‘poo pooed’ them too but they were so delicious I ate most of what you see in this picture. And loved every mouthful.

fullsizeoutput_14b8

Got to spend Saturday at the Gala Dinner talking all things BIPOC in Fiber whilst sitting next to these two incredible women – Felicity Ford @knitsonik and Alyson Chu @alysonhere the brains behind the BIPOC in Fiber website and who I only met the day before.

fullsizeoutput_14bb

And having worked for the The Knitter for more years than I care to mention I finally got to meet Kirsty McLeod @kirstie.mcleod and Ali Johnson @iamalijohnson

fullsizeoutput_14bf

On Sunday I taught my Dipped Stitches class (which I”ll be teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in Columbus & Austin next month) and here are some of my happy students

IMG_0804

IMG_0805IMG_0806

The rest of the week was spent catching up with friends from when we lived in Edinburgh and trying to get some rest because the pre Perth build up and the preparing the BIPOC in Fiber Crowdfunder has genuinely been so exhausting.

Now I’ve been back at home for a week I’m not exactly rested (in fact I’m actually coming down with a cold) but I’m even more excited about the upcoming projects and collaborations for the next year or so. There’s lots more teaching, the new website, more designing and so much more to come.

So expect another blog post before the week is out.

J x