New beginnings

It feels like so long since I wrote a blog post that I’m honestly not sure where to start. If you regularly follow my posts you’ll know the last few months have been extremely difficult as I adjust to a strange new life without my husband Sam. And like many of us, my body and brain are so hardwired to be constantly on the go that it feels strange not to be working on a new design, updating the BIPOC in Fiber directory or writing a column for Laine Magazine.

I’m learning to accept this strangeness as part of my journey of grief into a new phase of my life. One that still isn’t clear to me as yet and, will no doubt take a while to reveal itself. I’ve come to accept that one day will be better (I’m not quite ready to describe those days as ‘good’) and others will seem unbearable. And, I’ve learned from my daily mindfulness practice that however intense those emotions feel, they are transient. Something that’s particularly important when the days aren’t so good. On those days I snuggle up with Mum’s blankie, the cat and if I’m up to it, some knitting. If not I’ll rest and hope the next day is a better one.

Over the new few months I’ll continue to do this and whatever else I need to look after myself. It means I may be quiet but I won’t have gone away. When I treated myself this above 2022 diary from Papier.com I wanted something that would be joyful, both to look at and to use. I aim to fill it with activities that will nourish my brain, heart and body; be that self care, crafting/making, gardening, reading, walking along the seafront or journalling. And, while I’m not taking on any new work projects for the foreseeable future I’m looking forward to fulfilling work commitments arranged over the last year. The first of these is opening this Sunday’s Waltham Abbey Wool Show (WAWS).

Doris, the Waltham Abbey Wool Show mascot

Having attended the very first WAWS as a vendor I opened last year’s online event and am genuinely excited (and more than a little nervous) to be opening this weekend’s show. As their VIP guest – God bless them, me, a VIP – I’ll be judging the Handmade Toy Competition and having a wander around the show before returning to my stand where I’ll be selling copies of Warm Hands alongside some must-have BIPOC in Fiber merchandise. BIPOC in Fiber is still very much alive but as I hope you’ll understand I need to take time out in order to come back with some semblance of strength.

So if you’re coming to the show on Sunday please come up and say hi. I’m happy to sign your copy of Warm Hands, talk about BIPOC in Fiber, see what you’re making or what you’ve bought. I know it’s been a while since we were able to mingle in-person but the show’s organisers, Kate Towerzey & Diana Bensted are doing all they can to make the event as safe as possible and I plan on doing my Covid lateral flow test beforehand. The show takes place at the Waltham Abbey Marriott Hotel and opens when I cut the (pink) ribbon at 10.00am. To find out more visit the Waltham Abbey Wool Show website.

Look forward to seeing you there,

J x

Solace cushion

Solace – in two versions

As you know it’s been a very difficult couple of months, but today the sun is shining and the sky is a cheery shade of blue.

I’m learning to take it one day at a time and while I’m certainly not back at my desk full time I’m popping in to write a quick post about the exclusive design I created to accompany my Knit Stars Season 6 Beaded Colourwork Masterclass. 

I’ve partnered with UK indie dyer Leila Bux of The Urban Purl to create an exclusive design that marries Leila’s exquisite eye for colour with my love of knitted bling. And given that we’ve all spent much more time in our homes over the last year I thought it would be nice to design a cushion that will bring a touch of glamour to your home. The name felt appropriate as I hope solace is precisely what it will bring to everyone who chooses to make it while the various techniques used really embrace the beauty of Beaded Colourwork. What’s more, it was a great way to collaborate with a hugely talented friend as I’ve been a longtime fan of Leila’s unique speckled colourways.

The pattern is only available as part of the Knit Stars Beaded Colourwork class handouts. So just to clarify, it won’t be available through any other platform or my Ravelry Pattern Store. Once you’ve completed the Masterclass you’re all set to cast on and bling your way to your own version of Solace.

Solace knitted in The Urban Purl Sporty

This delicious ‘Saquarra’ colourway is exclusive to Knit Stars and as it’s now sold out I thought you’d like to see how it looks in an alternate, commercially dyed, solid coloured yarn. The effect is perhaps more subtle but certainly just as beautiful and it’s a great example of how well the design works when you tweak the colours to suit different tastes.

Solace in knitting in Cascade 2020 Sport

This new sample is knitted in 220 Superwash Sport by Cascade Yarns. 

I’d like to say a huge thank you to endlessly thoughtful friends like fellow Knit Star Felix Ford aka Knitsonik who took photos of the Solace cushion, and Kate Davies and the team at Kate Davies Designs who liaised with Felix to test knit and finalise the pattern at what is still a very emotional and exhausting time for me. I appreciate it more than you can imagine.❤️❤️❤️

There’s still time to sign up for Knit Stars Season 6 but enrolment closes at midnight 4th November.

If you visit my website and sign up to my newsletter before midnight today 3rd November (UK time) you ‘ll get a special subscriber discount code to get $30 discount on Knit Stars Season 6. But be quick, enrolment closes November 4th.

Visit the Knit Stars website to sign up now.

In the meantime, stay well and happy knitting,

J x

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

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

Knit Now ‘Knitter of the Year’ 2020

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

What now?

What now

 

I’ve been a bit quiet of late. Like many I’m feeling the exhaustion of the last couple of weeks and as I’m a grown up I’ll of course admit to my own stupidity in reposting something that caused hurt to many. For that I’m truly sorry.

I didn’t take the time to truly process the content of the post in full and for someone trying to be more mindful, the sad irony of NOT being mindful in this particular case isn’t lost on me. But rather than do a post mortem of the situation and potentially cause more harm please be assured; I have learned from my hasty reposting and will never make that mistake again. 

My IG account was started as a simple way to connect with people, talk a bit about my work, and share any other random parts of my life (hence all the food posts). What it’s turned into is a platform from which I still share those things along with what I’ve become passionate about over the last year; mainly the lack of BIPOC representation in OUR fibre community. 

I don’t claim to speak for all BIPOC. When I speak, I do so for the only BIPOC whose opinion I know better than any other – myself. But it’s important that every BIPOC working in the fibre community is recognised, valued and celebrated as much as their white peers so I’ll continue to do this both from a personal perspective with my @jeanettesloan account, and more widely as @bipocinfiber. 

I’ve done a lot of reflecting over the last week or so and realise I need to make a number of changes in my life, both on and offline. Part of what I’ve missed on IG is some of the lighter, funny content I feel we all need in order to bear the weight of the intense, painful, dreary, shitty stuff that life throws at us day to day. This may seem trivial to some but I feel there needs to be both light and shade to achieve some kind of balance in my life. 

So moving forward and inspired by my friend @ateliermajesta here’s what you can expect from me:

I’ll always treat people with respect and kindness because that’s how I was raised and would appreciate that everyone does the same when leaving comments here or on Instagram. Because if anger and confrontation are the baseline from which everyone in this community chooses to behave how are we meant to communicate, learn, interact and grow?

I’ll be much more mindful of what I repost and won’t do so unless it’s on behalf of or connected to someone with whom I have a personal or professional relationship or about a social / health issue which has affected me personally.  If in any doubt I will not repost.

I’ll continue to celebrate the work of people I admire and of course I’ll always promote the work of BIPOC in our community as it’s long overdue and very important. 

I don’t tolerate racist views or behaviour, will never condone them and will call them out when needed.

As a BIPOC designer I always think carefully about those with whom I collaborate and whose products I use for my work. I don’t work with anyone without first establishing a relationship of trust and respect.

Expect to see more posts about food I’ve cooked, exhibitions I’ve visited and generally anything that brings joy to my life. I’ve missed it and I need it.

I have caring responsibilities and health issues which mean I sometimes have to take breaks from social media. Please bear these in mind if I don’t immediately respond to your comments or DM. I will get back to you. 

 

J x

Racism in the fibre community

I’ve been a bit quiet of late and there are a number of reasons why. First and foremost 2 weeks ago one of my very elderly parents was rushed into hospital. Thankfully they’re now recovering but obviously they had to take priority over everything else including me. 

I say this not to gain sympathy although I’m truly very grateful for all the supportive DMs and comments I’ve had wishing both them and me well. It’s because I am their primary carer. That is my job.

As a result of this I’ve had a lot of catching up to do which is why I’ve only just watched THAT video on YouTube. I have no plans to link to it from here as it currently stands at over 42,000 views and I’m certainly not going to create a link that drives more traffic to it. (If you don’t know what I’m referring to you’ll need to do some work of your own by using the #notthesilentmajority #racisminknitting hashtags on Instagram, you’re sure to come to it). To be honest there’s already been so much said about it and her that I don’t think I can add to it, particularly since I’m playing catch up again. That said there are a couple of things she said that I wanted to pick up on. 

‘an intense social justice issue that started infiltrating Instagram’

Firstly this phrased was used to describe the current discussions about racism in the knitting community. They’ve certainly gained traction in the last few weeks as more and more people of colour (*POC) recount and relive painful and humiliating experiences. Many of them left me open mouthed, appalled and bloody angry though I really shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been fortunate to have had very few experiences of racism in the fibre world aside from being asked for ’n*gger brown wool for a golliwog’s hair’ (said as the customer looked up at my hair for reference) while working for Rowan as an instore Design Consultant.

Outside the fibre world I’ve had numerous experiences both subtle ‘oh your English is very good’ or ‘is it hot where you come from?’ (what, East London?) and more blatant – being called the ‘N word’ on the streets in Kent just a few years ago. Like fellow POC or anyone who has to deal with racism and discrimination let me just tell you.

Those experiences were very real for me and should I choose to talk about them no one is going to tell me that I shouldn’t. Or that talking about racism is, in itself racist. It isn’t!

Those experiences continue to be real for POC who are still being discriminated against and it will always be their/our right to talk about what they/we have experienced. They/we need to be heard and acknowledged for proper, intelligent, productive conversations to take place in order to change the fibre world into one that reflects all the people in it – minority and majority. Not just the ones who are perceived to be ‘the majority’.

As you can imagine here in the UK race isn’t a subject that’s often discussed publicly and to be honest I’ve never spoken about racism so openly and frequently before. But, as I’m no academic authority on the subject when I do, it’s as a black designer speaking purely from personal experience. So, if I’m going to do justice to my role as Keynote Speaker at this September’s Perth Festival of Yarn I’ve got a lot of reading to do. *see below

For anyone in any doubt as to whether there is racism in the knitting community. Yes, there is. Have a look at some of the experiences poc have had on @su.krita’s Instagram feed here.

Still in doubt? Well, why wouldn’t there be racism in the fibre community? It’s made up of human beings and whilst some are good, some are real shits. There are those who believe that inclusion matters. That EVERYONE is represented regardless of colour, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, physical ability or body shape while others only want to be part of a community where everyone looks and thinks like them. 

The ongoing IG discussion shows that it’s just not good enough to say that it shouldn’t be discussed in the knitting community because ‘it’s full of lovely fluffy stuff’ and we’re all just here to knit. Well we are here to knit but when people (including me) are:

  • asked for ’n*gger brown’ wool (I’ve never used someone’s skin tone as a colour reference)
  • asked if that’s how they knit ‘where you come from?’ (again, East London?)
  • constantly followed around yarn shops (well you know how ‘they’ steal)
  • instantly shown the cheaper yarns (because they’re assumed to be too inexperienced to be using better, more expensive yarns)
  • ignored in a yarn shop (until they spent a huge amount of money)

 they / we’re entitled to share their / our experiences of racism in the knitting community because that’s where they happened.

There are many voices calling for magazine and book publishers, yarn companies and festival organisers to do better and make changes. Mine is certainly amongst them and I’m very glad to see announcements by some major names admitting that they have fallen short and need to to better. I’m not sure however that every individual silence represents a racist and I’ll no doubt get some grief for saying so. I’ve had lengthy phone conversations in the last week with two friends one of whom is black, the other white. The black friend (let’s call her AB) has spoken out about her experiences of racism and received aggressive and critical messages for doing so whilst the white friend (let’s call her CD) is concerned about saying the wrong thing but in staying quiet realises she’s perceived as part of the silent (racist) majority. The ‘silent majority’ is the second reference from THAT video that I wanted t pick up on due to its sinister connotations. 

Racism isn’t a one sided issue and there needs to be room for discussion to allow people to examine both themselves and their behaviour in order to effect real change. As a fibre community we need to see more representation of POC teachers and vendors at fibre festivals and more indie dyed yarns and designs created by POC in the knitting and crochet publications we see on our shelves. Seeing yourself represented means that you are welcomed as part of that community. Some brands are doing the work now and currently implementing changes while others are just ignoring the issue in the hope that the talk will die down and those of us who have been banging on about this will simply go away. We won’t. 

I’ll be continuing to highlight and promote the work of POC Designers and Crafters in the fibre community….. so it looks like I’ll be talking about it for the foreseeable future. 

J x

*I am aware of the acronym for black & indigenous people of colour – BIPOC and as I do more reading to educate myself I may revise my use of POC but for now it represents people of colour in the broadest sense.