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Hello everybody, 

Today we present a new kind of designer profile. We’ve asked Jeanette Sloan, whose modern lace designs are featured in MDK Field Guide No. 15: Open, to share a bit about herself through objects from her home, studio, and life. What objects would you choose to share your life? 

—Kay and Ann

Hmong embroidered blanket

I bought this blanket in Sapa, a town in Northern Vietnam, in 2006. It was only a couple of months after I finished breast cancer treatment, but I was there on a trek to raise funds for the Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh which had provided me with such incredible support throughout that really stressful time. I was part of a group trekking up Mount Fansipan. We didn’t have much time for sightseeing, but you can see what drew me to this blanket. That color! Our guides on the trek were Black Hmong and most of their clothing was deep indigo blue but with flashes of the most vibrant color and intricate cross stitch and embellishment. The trip up the mountain was actually pretty dangerous (at one point we had to drop down a sheer 30 foot rock face on nothing but a rope) but our guides really took care of us and made sure everyone got to the top. I can’t describe the feeling when I looked over into China from the summit, just weeks after finishing chemo. When I saw this blanket I wanted something that would connect me to that moment and those people. It adorns the chair in my office so I sit on it every day.

Picture of me with my Mum in Laduma hat

I’ve got very a daft sense of humor but my Mum is actually quite a serous person. She’s been a huge influence in my life, having taught me to knit, so I love this picture of her looking impish and happy. I was round at her place one day making her a cup of tea and when I walked into her room I found her wearing the Laduma hat I’d bought in New York at Vogue Knitting Live earlier this year. It was so out of character it made me belly laugh, so I had to take a selfie of us both (I’m in the mirror). She’ll kill me when she finds out it’s on your site.

Mum’s silver and gold sequin evening bags

Mum’s influence again. She was a great knitter and sewist when we were kids and always had a fantastic sense of style. In the 60s and 70s, when she’d go out dressed up for the evening, she’d use these cute little bags. I think this may be where my love of beads and sequins started. Bling, bling and more bling!

Garden seating area

This is where I’ve spent much of lockdown: working in the corner of my garden. I’m fortunate to live just three minutes from the sea in Hove (next to Brighton, England) so over the last few months this has been my outdoor office. Being able to gaze out over my garden has been so calming, especially since I hit a wall with my knitting. Previously I’ve always been able to knit my way through illness or stress but not this time; I turned to gardening and mindfulness instead. Proof as if it were needed that these truly are weird times.

Charlie Harper bird wall

I first came across the work of Charlie Harper on a visit to the Tate Modern in London. I went to see a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition with a couple of girlfriends from art college and wanted a souvenir calendar. But, as there wasn’t one, I ended up buying one by Charlie Harper instead. I love the way he places line and shape and of course as a textile designer am drawn to his playful style and use of pattern. I bought these birds at the Arnolfini in Bristol although I wasn’t sure what to do with them at the time. Months later when we renovated the house they found their rightful place on a wall in our open plan living/dining/kitchen space. They make me smile every time I look at them and attract a lot of admirers.

Touch Me swatch

Ha ha, this swatch! Back when I worked as a technician I was renowned for drumming into machine knit students the importance of tension/gauge. I taught machine knitting for many years and particularly loved helping 2nd year BA Honors students get to grips with the basics of the Dubied hand flat machines. It can be tricky balancing tension/gauge with the yarn you’re using, particularly if you want something to drape. I’d often give them advice when a sample was too loose or—more often—too tight. Some students took to it quickly. Others found it hilarious when their scratchy samples made me wince. Two in particular (yes you Bonnie and Jess) sent this to me anonymously in the post, in the style of a ransom note. I knew who it was instantly and love them for making me cry with laughter.

Knitting belts

When I worked in Edinburgh as a design consultant for Rowan Yarns, I became friends with a fellow DC called Julie Marchington. She was a great mentor to me, helping me to learn the job. After a couple of years she left to realize a lifelong dream of opening her own yarn shop. She was a complete natural, and her store HK Handknit became a destination for crafters in the Bruntsfield area of the city and beyond. Very sadly she died suddenly just a couple of years later and I inherited these knitting belts from her when her husband asked me to help clear all her knitting books and accessories from the house. Although I’ve never used them I know how dear they were to her, and they have a place on the wall behind me in my office.

Left: HK Handknit painting

After Julie’s death I eventually took over the business, which I ran with the help of friends Carol Meldrum and Rachel Henderson, who gave me this beautiful painting of the shop when I married my husband Sam. It’s by Rachel’s friend, artist Kate Green, and really sums up what a warm, friendly and creative space HK Handknit was. It was fun but also unbelievably hard work.

Right: T and Kofi

Once again, something that appeals to my daft sense of humor. I picked up these beer mats at a pub in Hove and liked them so much I framed them.

Margo’s garland of tweed hearts

This garland of tweed hearts was made for me by my dear friend Margo. I love living down here on the south coast, but really miss spending time with her as she still lives up in the town of Scone, Perthshire. When I was packing to move down to England I tried to trick her into a large cardboard box so I could bring her with me. Sadly she guessed before I could get her inside.

Beetroot pattern repeat

Struggling for things to post on Instagram, I began creating patterns using the Layout app based on everyday pictures taken with my phone. Using the hashtag #thepattinrepeatgame, I found it was an interesting way of developing ideas and actually showed how you could literally take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. Using a photo of homegrown beetroot as the source image, this particular pattern brings together my love of color, pattern, food and more recently, gardening in lockdown.

Me and Sam in Corsica

I’ve been married to Sam, a commercial photographer, for nearly 14 years and like me he’s not a fan of having his photo taken. To say that life’s been a rollercoaster would be something of an understatement, and I honestly don’t know where I’d be now without his support. Not just through my various bouts of illness but also as I take care of my elderly parents with his help. So before I get too soppy, this picture shows me and my best friend on the beach in Corsica in 2018, enjoying a rare holiday abroad.

About The Author

Jeanette Sloan is a British knitwear designer who lives in the city of Brighton and Hove, on the south coast of England.

With more than 170 designs in her Ravelry portfolio, Jeanette has been working at a peak of imagination and skill for a very long time. Along with many contributions to The Knitter and Knitting magazines, she has recently co-edited a collection with Kate Davies, Warm Hands, a delectable collection of 15 designs for gloves, mitts, and mittens.


  • Thanks for sharing Jeanette, I love the stories behind these objects 😀

    • What a treat it was this morning to read and seeJeanette’s treasurers!! They are all special.

  • All of what you shared is so wonderful but my favorite is the swatch ransom note! It reminds me of something a friend and I did to a co-worker about a million years ago but it involved the daily banana she brought to the office. My story ended up with the banana blindfolded and tied to a loaf of banana bread, with photos and ransom notes sent to its long-suffering rightful owner. We did succeed in making her laugh . . .

    • Thinking about that blindfolded banana will make me laugh for days.
      What a lovely look into Jeanette’s life. The framed beer mats are fabulous. I, too, must have a daft sense of humor.

  • Wow. This is terrific! I especially loved the picture of you and Sam. And your Mom. And your garden!! Thank you for sharing these pieces of your life.

  • Totally lost in this rabbit hole! Thanks for the trip through a visual of part of your interesting world. Blanket envy!

  • Great objects with stories to match. It has been driving me crazy because I always felt that I had met you and now I have figured out where. HK Handknits in Edinburgh. I spend part of my life there and part in Canada. I wandered into the shop and wanted some Louisa Harding yarn for a cardigan but you didn’t have enough so you called Jenners (maybe) and found more of the same dyelot. It was such great customer service I was very impressed. Unfortunately by the time I made it back you were gone.

  • What a lovely way to “meet” someone. That Hmong blanket! Wow!

  • What a privilege to have a peek into your world, Jeanette! I so appreciate your willingness to show us these beautiful things and your beautiful Mum and the lovely portrait of yours and Sam’s shadows together. It is deeply meaningful and inspiring to hear your thoughts behind these things that you have chosen to be a part of your home and office. I also loved getting to hear a little about your life and the paths that you have trod.
    Thanks so much!

  • Thanks for inviting us into your world.

  • I have new goals for my office chair. I will have to find a different way, of course…rockfaces, ropes, not gonna happen for me. Thanks for a lovely way to start a Monday.

  • And speaking of designs and objects, the cover of Field Guide 15 has a picture that looks exactly like my antique folding wire laundry basket. When this Field Guide came out I admired the photo and wondered what it was.

  • Thanks, Jeanette. My favorites are the beer mats, the tweed hearts and the Charlie Harper birds. Harper is based in Ohio, where I live, but not very close by, though I became a fan before moving to Ohio from the east coast of the US.

  • Have so enjoyed getting to know you. I loved listening to the MDK Jeanette Sloan and Melanie Falick in Conversation and “A Portrait in Objects”. You are so inspiring! Your patterns are so beautiful! Can’t wait to get Field Guide 15.

  • Thank you for sharing your special world.

    • Such a lovely peek inside an amazing designer’s private life – and how kind to invite us in. Thank you! The pictures, stories and precious objects are all so sweet!

  • The photo of your mom made me chuckle. So lovely. The birds look calming. I could see putting those on one of my walls also. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for sharing some your precious and beautiful things and people.

  • Love love love this! A big YES to creating joy in our everyday environments, and giving space to things that warm our hearts.

  • This just proves that fun and creative people surround themselves with fun and creative objects!

    • Absolutely!

  • This will sound corny but I have a new appreciation of the designs in Field Guide 15. Thank you MDK and Designer Jeanette for this creative post! (love the T or Kofi coasters!)

  • This was so much fun, so interesting, and a wonderful new way of viewing someone you don’t know, but would really enjoy knowing! Great idea!

  • Thank you. Loved it. Beautiful inspiring fun funny. What more is there?

  • What a wonderful Monday morning treat to read about the things/ objects that you love, that inspire you.
    I think the photo of your mom, and the photo of you and Sam, are my two favorites.
    Thank you

  • Thank you Jeanette for sharing some of the beautiful people and things in your life.

  • When you did the conversation on line I was listening but I love to look behind people. I sent a message the I loved your space. Thank you for sharing more of what you love and why. I look at all the odd stuff I have collected and wonder if my family knows what I keep it. Something to do in this t
    Strange Time.

  • I loved all of Jeanette’s article. Very memorable piece. And such fun!

  • What a lovely discovery for me! Thank you all, this look at life is so inspiring.

  • Thank you so much for such a delightful post!! What a warm and welcoming home you have, surrounded by love and joy. And your mom is TOO CUTE. Thanks for sharing, Jeanette!

  • I love every single picture including the stories. Thank you for sharing. Wonderful treat!!!

    • What a lovely way to get to know someone. That blanket is just stunning. The birds on the wall are inspired and how wonderful to have an original painting of a very special place.

  • Lovely. Made me wonder what I would pull together if asked.

  • This look at Ms. Sloan’s favorite objects makes me love her even more.

  • Jeanette, you seem like you a most interesting person and I so enjoyed all the stories connected with your precious objects. I don’t have a garden to knit in anymore but I do find myself gravitating to the room with the most windows. Loved the picture of your full-of-life mother.

  • I absolutely love reading this and seeing the pictures – especially after listening to the zoom interview recently! One question – what is a knitting belt (other than something very beautiful!) and when would one be used?!

  • Love, love , love. So inspiring and what a treat as I sip my morning coffee !

  • I really enjoyed reading this. Heartwarming. And such fun and creativity also!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your pictures and thoughts with us.I am connected to my knitted projects and this helps me connect with a person. Thanks for introducing me to Charlie Hopper .Thank you again and the best to you and Sam. I sure have a lot of Thank Yous in there but I mean it.

    • I mean Charlie Harper, I must have had Edward Hopper on my brain, One of my favorites.

  • What a lovely lovely portrait and yes to Charley Harper and I have to say, Kofi may be great but Mr. T has had my heart since I was tiny.

  • ooh oh I loved HK Knits I bought yarn there in the early 2000’s during a very tricky time with my health… thank you Jeanette for keeping it going. It mean’t a lot to me and others.

  • What a wonderful article! Fascinating. Jeanette is a treasure and collects treasures.

  • Enjoyed so much reading about you Jeanette and your bird wall has given me inspiration to do something similar. Also keeping things that someone has used in their craft is a beautiful and meaningful way to preserve their memory……I have my mother’s old tracing wheel which is nearly one hundred years old….when I hold its smooth worn wooden handle…I’m back holding her. I love creating tactile art and always looking for new please keep on with your original creations..

  • What a heartfelt and OPEN article, thank you

  • Thanks for sharing all your treasures with us. I feel it a privilege that you’ve opened up to us in this way. Please, can I ask about the sampler that was hanging behind you in the Melanie Fallick interview and that is in the picture with the houses? I love to stitch and admire samplers, so it caught my eye immediately. I’d love to know more about it!

  • What a lovely collection of colourful treasures. Thanks so much for sharing the items and their stories.

  • Beautiful. My husband has stayed sane during the last few months putting together Charlie Harper jigsaw puzzles.

  • I loved seeing these & got such a great glimpse into Jeanette’s soul. How beautiful! Thank you. PS That blanket is sigh envy!!

  • Thanks that was a lovely read. I’ve found knitting very difficult at the moment, and i used to live in Hove…random thoughts I know but I think it’s the time we’re living in. Keep safe and keep well.

  • Of course you’re in my Sangha. You like Charlie Harper too! I was astonished.

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