Yarningham needs your support

Sara Fowles and Helen Winnicott from Yarningham

A few months back I had the pleasure of interviewing two of the organisers of Yarningham festival for Laine magazine. For those who don’t know, Yarningham is the UK’s only Black-led fibre festival and it takes place annually in the heart of The Midlands, in Birmingham, England’s second biggest city.

The team behind this fabulous event is made up of Sara Fowles, Venetia Headlam and mother and daughter, Helen and Lilith Winnicott. Now as you’ll have noticed I said, it takes place annually. And it does – in normal circumstances. But of course the last year has been anything BUT normal and last year’s event was cancelled due to Covid.

So this year, like many other events, Yarningham will be making the switch from an in-person to an online show but that’s where the similarities end. They’ve always followed their own path, which is what makes the show unique. That, and the fact that as I mentioned, they’re the only fibre fixture organised by a team that includes two black women. So what can you expect from a virtual Yarningham? The unexpected of course!

There’s a Marketplace packed with droolworthy yarns, must-knit patterns and notions galore; some vendors you may know, others you definitely won’t have heard of. But that’s another thing that makes this show special. Each year they pride themselves on finding vendors who are brand new to the scene, so there’s always a new offering instead of the same old faces in exactly the same places. There are also lots of Yarningham Online Exclusive products, created especially for this event. So don’t worry, you won’t find them available anywhere else and exhibitors will be around during Q & A Sessions, if you have any questions about exactly whats on offer. Last but definitely NOT least there’s Yarningham Bingo. And as if Bingo itself wasn’t a good enough reason to go this year, their very Special Guest Caller is none other than Stephen West. See, I told you they had their own way of doing things! CLICK HERE to buy your Yarningham Bingo ticket.

The logo for Yarn + Stitch magazine

Now before I go there’s one other very important thing you need to know. Yarningham are looking to raise money for a one-off print publication to celebrate this year’s show. 

Called Yarn + Stitch the magazine will feature lots of specially commissioned content including contemporary knitting & crochet patterns, exclusive articles, Midlands-maker spotlights plus festival mascots, the alpacas Boris & Donald (not Johnson and Trump, these are much cuter) in their debut comic strip adventure.

Confirmed Contributors to Yarn + Stitch Include:

Apoorva Designs, Carissa Dickerson, Scott – Crystal Yarn, Deborette Clarke, Rachel – Flyydyed, Gaye Glasspie, Gurinder Hatchard, Imogen Morris, Jackie Cassidy, James Chandler, Noriko Ho, Ruth Green, Sandra GutierrezSylvia Watts-Cherry… oh and yours truly (me).

The team have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed to produce the magazine. This ensures everyone involved in the publication is paid fairly for their work. This is going to be very special magazine but they need YOUR help to make it happen so, if we really want a fibre industry that reflects and includes everyone, we need to help Yarningham reach its target.

The campaign runs until 12th July, 2021.

Let’s make Yarn + Stitch happen! CLICK HERE TO DONATE


#Yarningham #Yarningham2021 #YarninghamKickstarter #YarnStitch #YarninghamMagazine

I’m teaching at Knit Stars 6!

How has April been for you? I hope you’re keeping safe well and adapting to the ‘new normal’ we’re all having to navigate. Thankfully the sun has been shining brightly here in Hove, although the chilly wind is a constant reminder that we’re not yet ready to swap woollen sweaters and leggings for a lighter weight summer wardrobe. April has been a super busy month for me, and May is set to be even busier because the big BIG news I have to share with you is that I’m teaching at Knit Stars.

For those who haven’t yet heard of it, Knit Stars is a virtual learning conference for the fibre arts. But it’s also much more than that.

Created by Shelley Brander, owner of US-based local yarn store Loops it’s a lavish, thoughtfully curated program of workshops taught by some of the best instructors in the fibre community. There are 12 online workshops to choose from covering a wide range of topics. Each lasts 1 – 2 hours and is the equivalent of what you’d get in a 3 – hour, in-person class. Plus, you get access to them forever, which means you can learn at your own pace.  

You also get to peek behind the scenes into the Stars’ own homes wherever they’re based worldwide, and this year we cover Australia, the UK and the USA. Plus, there’s the chance to purchase kits and patterns created by the designers collaborating with specially chosen yarn partners, exclusively for Knit Stars!

this year sees the 6th season and the theme is ‘Live Colorfully’, so expect lots of courses inviting you to explore colour through both traditional and innovative techniques. 

I’m not going to spoil the fun and tell you everything, but as a subscriber to my Newsletter, you definitely get to find out first. So as a little teaser, I can tell you that I’ll be teaching Beaded Colorwork and am partnering with Leila Bux of The Urban Purl I’ve been an admirer of Leila’s work for some time now, and we’re creating an exclusive kit that can be purchased as an optional extra, once you’re a Knit Stars owner. (We’ll be collaborating on some sneak peeks in the next few days so make sure you’re following both @jeanettesloan and @theurbanpurl on Instagram).

The production quality of Knit Stars is jaw-dropping thanks to Shelley’s many years working in TV production; in fact, you’ll feel like you’re travelling the world without having to leave the comfort of your home. So no baggage allowance nightmares, early morning taxi transfers or airport queues to deal with.

To buy Knit Stars Season 6 CLICK HERE  or simply click either of the Knit Stars images above. 

Please note; this is an affiliate link, which means if you sign up, I’ll get a commission. It’s a great way to support me as an indie designer, so thank you in advance!

J x

The Lovecrafts Podcast: Series 2, Ep 2

Spring is finally here! Ok we’re still in lockdown here in the UK but the cherry blossom is starting to bloom and I’m quietly hopeful that lighter, longer days and the prospect of being able to meet friends – albeit at a suitably social distance – will help to cheer us all up a bit. God knows we need it.

I’ve spent this morning pottering in my garden; tidying (our olive tree sheds its leaves pretty much everywhere), planning where I’ll put the plants I bought at the weekend and planting bulbs that will eventually be transplanted to a more permanent home on Mum’s grave. In fact I spent so much time in the garden I’m feeling a bit achey so this afternoon after a long relaxing bath – well it is self care Wednesday after all – I’ll be settling down with a coffee to listen to the latest episode of the Lovecrafts Podcast.

Recorded a couple of weeks ago over Zoom I spent the morning chatting with Merion and Jamie aka Mr X Stitch talking about, well pretty much everything. From how I got into crafting, to my career as a designer, how crafting helped me recover from illness, BIPOC in Fiber, even Duran Duran lyrics. Yes you heard right, and if you want to know more you’ll just have to listen through to the end of the episode. Let’s just say Jamie puts me under some intense pressure to identify some Duran Duran song lyrics. I’ll let you find out how I got on but let’s just say he’ll have to try harder next time.

Thank you Merion and Jamie for having me, it was so much fun and went by so fast, we could have talked all day. Perhaps we’ll have to do it again sometime.

You’ll find the link to Series 2 Episode 2 of the Lovecrafts Podcast here.

I’m off to soak my bones

J x

Moorit Magazine Kickstarter Blog Tour

Hi and welcome to the next stop on the Moorit Kickstarter Blog Tour. (Cue crocheters cheering wildly and holding hooks aloft).

Yes I think I know what you’re thinking. Why is Jeanette Sloan talking about a crochet magazine? Isn’t she a knitwear designer? Well you’re right, knitting may now be my primary practise but crochet is just one of several crafts learned ‘back in the day’ when I was a freelance designer. Growing up I watched my multi skilled Mum crochet and yes there were the seemingly inevitable doilies and table decorations but there also must wear garments too – after all Mum was a woman of considerable style. 

As a craft crochet is all too often;

  • misrepresented – ‘only black people crochet’ 
  • under appreciated – ‘crochet is easy’  and / or
  • misunderstood – ‘crochet is all granny squares’ 

But, far from being the ‘lesser’ craft for the poorer skilled it’s as beautiful, versatile, creative, sexy and desirable as any other fibre craft. You don’t need to take my word for it, just look at the work of @taliacrochetcreations @crochetluna @heldap123 @blackgirlcrochet @jaimecrochet @woowoollens @by.stephanie.erin @mammadiypatterns and many, many others. 

So when I heard talk of a new crochet magazine, one that was dedicated to crochet, based in and taking inspiration from my old home city of Edinburgh and run by my friend Alyson Chu, I got really REALLY excited. For anyone who doesn’t know, Alyson is a crochet designer, web developer at BIPOC in Fiber and along with her Mum produces the KCACY podcast.

Moorit is a crochet magazine. Not a knit magazine with the odd crochet pattern, not a general craft and fibre magazine, no, this a FULL ON CROCHET publication. Based in Alyson’s home city it will take influences from its Edinburgh location; the environment, architecture, colours and also the fibres embraced in each issue. Well, let’s be honest the Scottish climate speaks to the warmth of wool. 

Moorit logo featuring Bonnie the sheep!

In terms of content there’s a focus on both accessories and garments with inclusive sizing from 30” to 62” using indie yarns, in natural fibres like wool and cotton as well as linen and other vegan alternatives.

For those who love a high quality print publication – and who doesn’t? – the hard copy magazine will be printed on 120 gsm (that’s heavy) uncoated paper, making this a publication you’ll really want to keep. And although primarily a print title, for lovers of digital it will explore how online supplements can add extra value to readers, with digital supplements adding extra, helpful goodies like row count tables, tutorials, and supplementary photos.

Last  but certainly not least, accessibility is being built into the magazine from the start with a plan to create a fully accessible, screen readable version with guidance from accessibility consultant, Renee Van Hoy.

Having worked with Alyson over at BIPOC in Fiber I know how talented, thorough, organised and passionate she is both as a web developer and crochet designer – plus of course she also happens to be a genuinely lovely person. The prospect of Moorit is exciting and its already creating quite a buzz. So much so that the Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for issue 1 reached its goal in just 2 days. It then went onto meet a £16,000 stretch goal in less than a week, and £20,000 within two weeks! The good news is the original print run for issue 1 has now doubled meaning Alyson can already lay the groundwork for issue 2. 

The Kickstarter continues to run until February 23rd, 2021 which means there’s still time to add your support while this blog tour continues with Helda Panagary tomorrows before finishing with Cecilia Losado on Friday. These links are to their blogs but also check out their IG feeds too where Helda is @heldap123 and Cecilia is @mammadiypatterns).

You can read more about the magazine and pledge your support by visiting the Moorit Kickstarter here

Well done Alyson, I can’t wait to see the first issue!!

J x

Jan’s January Sale

A belated Happy New Year everyone! I know what you’re thinking – it’s January 17th where’s SHE been for 16 days? But as the great Ken Bruce commented last week on Radio 2, in Scotland people pretty much say happy new year throughout January so if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me. Plus it can’t be a bad thing to wish people happiness for the coming year can it? We all need it. Really. Need it.

If you follow me over on Instagram you’ll know why last year was particularly hard for me with the death of my precious Mum. It still chokes me to write those words as it’s just 2 months since her passing and as everyone who’s lost a loved one knows, learning to live with that loss is a long, painful process. But being the funny, creative, loving, feisty, caring, formidable woman she was Mum continues to live within me and I’m determined to honour her memory in everything I do from now on. That includes offering more free content on my website and social media platforms, continuing the work of BIPOC in Fiber and more exciting design collaborations with people and companies whose work and ethos I admire and respect.

Before all that though I’m having a January sale! (Cue fanfare)

Why? Well as I said it’s the middle of January, I’ve got two new patterns to release – and let’s face it we could all do with cheering up. The patterns were created for collaborations I did last year with Diane Ivey of Lady Dye Yarns so while they’re not exactly ‘fresh off the pins’ this is the first time they’ve been available to buy in PDF format. Say hello to the Eudine Cowl and the Up To No Good Mitts.

Both are great for using up small amounts of fingering weight yarn which I’m sure you’ve got stashed away in a corner somewhere. You can find out more about each pattern over on Ravelry – sorry if you’re unable to use the site since its redesign, I am looking into Payhip as an alternative so please bear with me.

Anyway, back to the sale. How long does it last? 53 hours from 9.00 am today Sunday 17th January during which time there’s 20% off in my Pattern Store over on Ravelry. Looking to buy a book instead? Well purchase a print copy of Warm HandsField Guide no 15 or the new Warm Hands Field / Guide Bundle and you’ll get a free PDF copy of either the Eudine Cowl or the Up To No Good Mitts with your order. ( Books subject to availability, T&Cs apply).  If you’d like your books personalised with a message or signature I’m happy to do that and of course there’s no charge, just let me know when placing your order*.

Sale ends at 2.00 pm Wednesday 19th January 2021. Why 53 hours long you ask? Well it may have something to do with a recent birthday I celebrated. Coughs.

J x

*Please be aware that due to the UK departure from the EU non-UK orders may be subject to additional customs charges and taxes in your home country. Free patterns are in PDF format only and limited to one per customer. Your PDF pattern will be emailed to you seperately after completing Checkout.

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