Sunday, February 26, 2012

From the Rock: Shawn at Island Sweet

Newfoundland is a wonderful and inspiring place, and in keeping with my goal of staying connected I am going to try to do a post once a month that is directly related to the Island. Some will be interviews, some descriptions of places I have visited, and others will be bits and pieces of fun Island information.

Today we have a very special interview! From Shawn who has been a part of the crafting community for longer than I have been alive. She is a pretty amazing person, and her yarns are simply beautiful.

How long have you lived in Newfoundland?
What is your favourite thing about living where you do?
I moved to Newfoundland from Toronto in 1975. My then husband got a job teaching English at the new Grenfell Campus of MUN University in Corner Brook. Our plan was to stay for 2 years...
My love affair with Newfoundland was not immediate. Newfoundland is a hard place. It is hard to penetrate. But bit by bit it seeps into your blood. And now, almost 40 years later, it is the only home I have. What I love most about living here is the freedom to be and do what you want. I have re-invented myself many times – as a painter, a teacher, a children’s book illustrator, a barrista, an animal rights activist,   a craftsperson.  And with each change,   I’ve been accepted.  What is looked for ,  and honoured in this place, is honesty.

When did you become part of the crafting community, and how did it begin?
I have been involved in craft (professionally) for about 12 years. My background is in fine art (I hold a master’s degree in painting). In 2000 I decided I didn’t want to paint anymore. I accepted an artist residency at Terra Nova National Park and took only fabric and needles and thread. I began making small textile pieces. That lead to larger “comforters”,  children’s clothes made out of vintage chenille bedspreads, rug hooking and most recently dyeing and spinning yarn. I have always knit and wanted to be able to knit with my own yarn.

What do you create on a regular basis?
My hand spun yarn is how I support myself now.  It is how I fill my days. Dyeing, carding, spinning. Each skein is one-of-kind (and titled to show what the inspiration was). I also make knitting kits –( for hats, fingerless gloves, scarflettes and shawl scarves) that include a skein of hand spun yarn, a pattern card and handmade wooden needles that I paint to  match the colours in the yarn. My company is Island Sweet Fibre Arts. I sell retail on etsy ( and wholesale to about 25 shops – mostly in the Maritimes but also across Canada and in the USA.

What is your favourite thing to create? Or are there many?
Last year I switched from retail to wholesale. This makes it easier to plan my days. And gives me more freedom to pursue other  things.  My evenings used to be spent  knitting  product to sell . Now in the evenings I’m back to making small textile pieces. I usually start with some vintage textile and work into and onto it embroidery, stitching, appliqué, beading etc.  This work is what I’m most excited about right now.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from my life. I’m over 60 now so there is a lot to draw on! I’m inspired by the beauty of where I live. I’m inspired by my own personal history. By my travels.  By other art – both historical and contemporary.

What does your workspace look like?
I have a studio in my home but it’s mostly for storage of materials. I dye in the kitchen (or out of doors when the weather is warm enough). I spin in the living room.  In the evening I'm on the couch watching movies or TV as I work on my textile pieces.
Where can we find you on the internet?
I have a blog that I write on a few times a week – mostly about my creative inspiration and adventures. I have a web site where I show my process and my product, and then my etsy shop. I live in a very small community. The internet has made it possible for me to reach out. 

Thanks so much Shawn! I hope everyone takes a minute to wander over to one of Shawn's internet locations - you might just get totally sucked in by the beauty of her handspun yarn - I know I have!


  1. your yarn is so nice! i love all the colours :)
    fun photos!

  2. I must get my hands on some of that yarn. What a talented lady!!


Thanks so much for spending some time with me, if you're feeling up to it please leave me a note. I really enjoy them, and take the time to read every single one! :)