Friday, March 4, 2011

Meet our Team - Interview with Jeanette Newton

Good Friday everyone! This week we have another weaver from Canada. We are proud to introduce to you Jeanette Newton, from Vancouver, BC.
Please check out her Etsy store: Raincoast Handwovens

Random Facts about You?
I am married with 2 children (adults actually), ages 25 & 27.  After my son and daughter moved out I decided to take over their bedrooms for myself. One room is my weaving studio and the other is my sewing room.  I spend most of my spare time in these two rooms lost in the creative process.  I never thought being an empty nester could be this fun! 
What got you started weaving?
About 2 years ago I started developing arthritis in my hands and was having a hard time knitting (my favorite pass-time at that point in my life).  I knew I would be lost without some sort of creative hobby but wasn't sure what it could be.  That autumn my husband and I were at a local arts event called the Eastside Culture Crawl.  There I came across a woman selling her woven blankets and scarves.  She had her loom set up with many beautiful yarns scattered about the room.  I was instantly intrigued and decided that perhaps this could be something for me.  I wasted no time in finding someone to take lessons from and by January I had bought my own loom and was completely hooked.  Since that time I have continued to learn on my own, teaching myself different techniques from the many books that I have purchased. 
Any particular technique(s) that you enjoy the most?
I don't really have one favorite technique.  I love experimenting with colour, often with disastrous results, but the more I weave the more successes I have.   I find it fascinating the way different colours interact with each other, often with very surprising results.  I am quite passionate about being as kind to this earth as possible and try to incorporate that into my weaving.    I realize I have a way to go yet with this but I nearly always use some eco-friendly fibers in my weaving, such as Bamboo and Tencel.  I also love unusual fibers and am always on the lookout for something different.  I recently found some Possum yarn!  My goal is to start dying my own yarns soon with natural dyes only.  

What part the process makes you the most passionate?
I sometimes feel like the planning process is in some way the best part.  As I am weaving a project on my loom I often find myself daydreaming about the next project and what yarns and colours I will use.  I very often lay awake at night thinking of patterns and colours instead of falling asleep.  It is impossible for me to walk past a yarn store and not pop in for a quick look, just in case I find something wonderful that I just have to have.  It’s pretty rare for me to walk out empty handed!  Having said all that, just the process of handling the yarn, or weaving those first couple of inches and seeing the whole thing come to life is also wonderful. 
What is your source of inspiration?
I find living on the west coast so inspiring.  I have lived here all my life and am still in awe at the beauty of my surroundings - the ocean, the gulf islands, the mountains, and the forests.  I am also very humbled and at the same time inspired every time I go to one of the many arts events here, or visit the many artisans living on the gulf islands.  There are so many talented people out there and they are a real source of motivation.
Where do you sell?
I have sold some of my scarves at a local Christmas craft fair and recently have set up a shop on Etsy. 
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I work part-time at our family business.  My husband is a Tool & Die Maker/Machinist and has had his own business for 25 years.  About 5 years ago I decided to make a change and join him.  I do the bookkeeping.  Aside from that, I love gardening and have starting growing my own vegetables, which has been very rewarding.  Since our children now have lives of their own, my husband and I have also started to do some travelling.  We love cycling and have taken our bikes on three trips now to England, France and Scotland.  It is a real adventure and such a fantastic way to travel.
What first made you want to become an artist?
Although, until recently, I have never thought of myself as an artist, I think I have always been one.  There has never been a time in my life when I haven't been creating something.  I have tried just about everything now - soap-making, candle-making, knitting, cross-stitch, needlepoint, sewing, watercolour painting, mosaics, pottery, basket weaving, card making, dried and fresh flower arranging, etc........
Please describe your creative process
Colour is usually the first thought I have.  As I mentioned earlier, I usually begin the planning process long before I have finished my current creation.  Once I get an idea in my head I can't stop thinking about it.  It almost becomes an obsession until I can actually begin creating it.  I love looking through all my yarns (I have quite a collection now) and placing different ones together to see what might work.  The actual pattern is very often the last thing I decide upon, although I also love the idea of creating works that are more textural than colorful.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have a beautiful crocheted tablecloth that my Grandmother made.  I remember her making it when I was a little girl and how much she loved the pattern.  It is a round tablecloth with daffodils all around the edge.  I think I probably get my creative side from her.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
As I am pretty new to Etsy myself it is hard to give advice.  I have noticed that renewing items on a regular basis is very helpful as it means that your item will show up in the first few pages of a search giving you more exposure.  Good photos are also extremely important and of course excellent customer service goes without saying.  I always wrap my scarves nicely and include a hand written note.
What do you like about Etsy? 
I love the connection it gives me with other like-minded people.  I think it is such an amazing opportunity to sell handmade items that at one time would have been impossible.  Through Etsy you can sell your handmade creations worldwide and without the huge commissions that shop-owners charge.  I used to sell my mosaics through a shop and they took 40%!!  I also love looking at all the beautiful things that other people are making.
How do you promote your work?
I haven't really done much to promote my work I'm afraid.  I'll have to work on that. I spend very little time on the computer.  As it is, there never seems to be enough time in the day to do all that I would like to.  I don't tweet or blog and, to be honest, have no idea how to.
(on a bicycle trip in UK)


  1. Your work is beautiful! ;) Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Waves Hi from the Cariboo! Great to meet you Jeanette and thanks for sharing your story.I miss the ocean and will be driving down to the coast this month.


  3. Jeanette, we'll help you to promote your work! It is beautiful!