County gets its own tweed, with Duchess's approval.
Byline: Simon Meechan Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
NORTHUMBERLAND proudly has its own tartan and it now boasts a native tweed, thanks to a 28-year-old entrepreneur.
Susanne Hume's design even has the seal of approval from the Duchess of Northumberland, who approved the final look ahead of its production.
It means the county which boasts the River Tweed now has its own fabric of the same name.
Susanne is originally from Prudhoe and now lives in Cornhill-on-Tweed.
She officially launched The Northumbrian Tweed at Hexham Mart - a venue frequented by tweed-decked farmers buying and selling livestock.
The self-confessed "horsey girl" was inspired to create a Northumbrian tweed to rival offerings from just over the border in Scotland.
"I had a little hobby business making soft furnishings. I'm surrounded by Northumbrian produce, I thought how amazing it would be to have a tweed for Northumberland," said Susanne, who first dabbled in fabric design after the birth of her son three years ago.
"I had absolutely no experience or education in textile design, I actually had a higher national diploma in equine management. I'm a very horsey girl.
"I started making things to sell. It just started as a hobby to stay at home as much as possible with my little boy."
Susanne - who has another child on the way - found she was a dab hand at design.
She has chosen colours for her tweed to specifically reflect Northumberland's scenery, lifestyle and image.
The green background is peppered with touches of heather and pebble to represent Northumberland's rolling hills. The checks are brown, a homage to agriculture; with yellow and red splashed in to represent the county flag.
She took her idea to Marton Mills in Yorkshire - the closest weavers she could find - who now produce her fabric.
It was in the shadow of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland's home where Susanne said she first realised there was a market for Northumbrian tweed.
She was selling Cairngorm and Scottish Cheviot tweeds at Alnwick Gardens' Christmas market, and customers were asking whether there is a true Northumbrian version.
The former Prudhoe Community High School pupil, who has a business management degree, ran her creation past the Duchess, who approved the final design.
Susanne said: "I just wrote her a letter. She got straight back in touch and said 'what a wonderful idea, let's make it'."
The range includes headbands, draft excluders, cushions and lampshades.
Susanne added: "It has been a pleasure to create the fabric with the support of Her Grace, the Duchess of Northumberland, and to create something associated with the county, as well as putting the textiles industry on the map for Northumberland, is wonderful."
<BSuzanne Hume of Cornhill-on-Tweed, who has created the Northumbrian Tweed, with the support of the Duchess of Northumberland Tim McGuinness