Meet 'Cro-Chey' the Maker Behind our New Dog Toys
We first met Cheyenne at our stall on Broadway Market many years ago. A loyal customer to both our brands we would see her name pop up on orders but only recently did we learn about her many talents. Crocheted toys started to pop up on our instagram feed and only when we reached out about a collaboration did we put two and two together and realised that Cro-chey was Cheyenne! We sent over our textile designs for the new Wizard of Dogz collection and asked Chey to see what she could come up with. In a matter of days she was sending pictures of wonderful new toy designs inspired by Dorothy, Toto and friends.
We are so excited to launch our first collection of dog toys, crocheted in Cornwall by the lovely Cheyenne at home under the watchful eyes of her dog, Luna and cat, Omally. We wanted to learn more about Cheyenne's background and how she got started with crochet so sent across some interview questions which she has thoughtfully answered below.
Can you give us a little bit of a background on you and your life / work?
I grew up in Cornwall, surrounded by nature and have always had a passion for both animals and creative processes. I studied photography, fine art and textile design A-levels. Luna was of course my main subject across all 3 disciplines. I studied my art foundation before moving to London to study for a fine art degree at Chelsea College of Arts UAL. Luna and Omally my cat followed. I rented a tiny studio apartment and continued making with my animals. After 5 years myself and my partner moved back to Cornwall, he is originally from Kent so I have him on a sort of loan. We live in a little cottage near the sea where I continue to make every day with both animals very close by.
You’ve been a customer of Hiro + Wolf for a while, how did you first come across us?
Luna is an unusual cross breed (border terrier x bedlington terrier) and I found it very difficult for a very long time to get stylish collars that she wasn’t able to slip during walks. I felt frustrated and disappointed in the choice of dog collars and leads that were actually available to me on the market.
Until I stumbled across Hiro and Wolf at broadway market. I felt so happy, I was able to finally buy the type of collars and leads I had been so wanting, stylish designs, bold and bright and they actually fit Luna (with lots of advice and help from both Amy and Bee along the way). I also admired the brand ethics, design process and quality of products, so every year without fail I buy my pets a matching birthday collar.
Have you always had pets? Can you tell us about your current two?
My mums house was practically a menagerie growing up (mainly my fault I must confess). I have two pets; Luna, my lovely little terrier mix who is 7 in April and Omally my cat who is 5. I decided at 18 I was ready for my first dog, and not long after I was on my way with my mum to collect Luna. Her nickname is Looney, but she is the laziest dog in the Southwest. She absolutely loves a windy beach and foraging blackberry’s from the bush at the end of summer, we even hold the branches so she can reach the juicer berry’s. Omally my cat, was a rescue kitten. She spent her first few months very poorly, this gave us such lovely bonding time whilst nursing her back to strength. She has an obsession over a pink foam ball that she carry’s around whilst making the strangest noises, we call it her ball baby. She is much more playful than Luna but always spends every night snuggled upon my pillow.
What inspired you to take up crochet?
I was taught at a young age how to crochet lace doilies for my dolls house, however hadn’t picked up a hook in years until university. I found moving away from my Mother and Nana that it was a good tool to connect me back to them, as I was able to complete patterns with their knowledge, it allowed me to learn what they themselves had learnt from their own mothers, I felt I was gaining my heritage. I found it difficult to get back into, I was all fingers and thumbs to start, until the passing of my nana. I began to use crochet not only as a tool to make but also as a mindfulness tool. From here I became addicted to different styles, stitches, and techniques. I was fascinated by the yarn and wanted to learn and keep pushing my process.
Can you tell us a bit about your design process?
I start with an idea. This is then roughly scrawled in a sketch book. I begin pairing yarn pallets and deciding on structure, stitch and tensions. Then I usually free style my initial pattern, pulling out and redoing until I get the shape of the item I envisioned. I use photographs to document structural changes as the items aren’t stuffed by this stage they can morph as I hold and bend the work in unexpected ways. Once happy I map out and copy a pattern. I am usually not happy until I have completed this pattern successfully again. I then assemble the finished design by embroidering my pieces together and adding any required details. Quite often I will go through this process multiple times until I am happy but I enjoy this process. It’s a real labour of love. Especially when working towards dog toys, I knew I needed to have particular requirements to ensure they worked well for their purpose.
How are you finding balancing your day job working within the NHS as Meaningful Activities Coordinator?
I am thankful especially in these more challenging times to have the comfort of coming home to my crochet dog toys. It motivates me and gives me something to look forward too. I hurry home each night and get myself set up in my little ‘home studio’ with my pets and it is just such a lovely wind down. I have been given so much flexibility to create this collection of dog toys that it has been a real pleasure at every stage of the process but also such a good relaxation and support to me.
We love that you make everything at home with your cat and dog, have they been interested in what you’ve been making?
Luna and Omally have been battling over who can sit the closest. Omally often runs off with my yarn ball and Luna has grown used to the idea of me making other dogs toys as long as she’s allowed to keep an eye on the squeaker inserts.
Which design did you enjoy making the most?
I have loved making all designs but I feel the Ruby Slipper claims my top spot, closely followed by the catnip pocket watch cat toy. The ruby slipper is probably the most complex design, I strived to ensure they were dog friendly and with as little to no seams or break points as possible. I am really thrilled with the outcome. Luna's favourite is definitely the ruby slipper or the cowardly lion ball and Omally’s favourite is the catnip rainbow cat toy.
Why do you think that it is important to support handmade crafts in the UK?
The environmental impact is important. Most uk makers work with a very small production, usually in small studios or in their own homes. It is a sustainable way of making and directly improves our economy here in the U.K. Instead of your money going to large international company’s where the maker or designer receives a tiny fraction of the product price it goes directly to the person who has made your product.
When you support a craft it gives the maker the confidence in their product, a chance to develop skills and opportunity to reinvest their money back into their craft. By supporting a local artisan you are also supporting the craft they practise, helping them to pass on skills and to ultimately keep their craft alive.
Do you have any future crochet goals?
I have been so thrilled to have completed this toy range for Hiro + Wolf. I definitely plan to continue my process with dog toys and other accessories. I am eyeing Luna up for a jazzy crocheted dog jumper next.
What tip would you give to other people wanting to start something creative from home?
Find your own space, tailor it to your needs, if you work best with your pets around you, make your space inviting for them. I have found that to work well from home you need to be able to switch off, to allow your creative thought process to take over the overriding thoughts of ‘omg I haven’t done the dishes yet’. You can get into a rut of feeling like you’re never achieving if you do this. I’d say my advice is to be kind to yourself, allow yourself to be inspired by your surroundings, you don’t need to have a fancy studio. Creativity will find a way. Take a walk, sit in your creative chair and see what happens. Having good relationships with people who can give you constructive criticism is another big important factor for me.
Thank you so much Cheyenne! We are thrilled with our new range of dog toys and it's been wonderful finding out about the inspiration behind them. To see the collection click here.