The Canny Squirrel and her crafty tweed cushions

I haven’t featured any British made homewares on this site yet, but when I discovered Katherine Pentney’s Canny Squirrel range of quirky vintage tweed cushions, I thought I should share them.
Here is an interview that I did with Katherine about her range:

Animal Tweed cushions by the Canny Squirrel
Animal Tweed cushions by the Canny Squirrel

Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and why you set up your company?

I was born and bred in Newcastle and moved to Glasgow seven years ago. I have always loved fabrics so I taught myself how to use a sewing machine and experimented with little projects. I then enrolled on a textile design course at Cardonald College in Glasgow. My eureka moment came when I was shown a free machine embroidery technique, which I took to straight away. I love the variety of lines and textures you can create with it.

How would you describe the products that you make?

All the cushions are made with tweed – for example Harris, Welsh, Selkirk – and the animals with felt. The first cushion I made was for my partner’s sister and featured an embroidered Highland cow. This inspired me to design more cushions featuring animals, adding textured hair with the free machine embroidery. I have taken a fair amount of commissions from people who want their pets and favourite animals on a tweed cushion. All I need is a photo for reference and I take it from there.

Why the name ‘Canny Squirrel’?

I decided to incorporate an animal into the brand name as they are featured on the cushions. Squirrels spend all their time foraging and collecting food, and as I spend a lot of time doing the same with fabric I thought this would be a good metaphor. If something is canny in my hometown of Newcastle it means something good, but also clever and wise. So The Canny Squirrel sums up the way I collect fabric and transform it into something new.

Who makes your products?

Weavers make the tweed but otherwise it’s all me at the moment.

Where do you source your raw materials from?

I buy mainly Scottish tweed. Much of the fabric that I’ve used has been vintage, often from mills like the one in Otterburn, Northumberland which no longer produce tweed.

What has been the hardest part of getting your cushions made in Britain?

Starting a business for the first time without any experience and finding time to make cushions as well as publicise them.

And what has been the best part?

The satisfaction of working with beautiful British fabric and building something I can be proud of.

You can buy the Canny Squirrels cushions via her website.

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