Sunday, 23 July 2017

Penelope Cream Ties Hand-Knitted in the UK

Penelope Cream makes hand-knitted ties that incorporate dyes that she's carefully selected from around the world, giving each a melange of colours that vary from arctic greys and blues, through the vividness of tropical flowers and birds to the sands and azures of an Indian Ocean beach. The choice of dye and yarn is crucial and Penelope can tell you about each colour, where it's from and how it's made.

  

These are ties for the connoisseur; as they are hand-knitted (each taking several hours to knit) each is unique and needs a certain amount of care (a light press from time to time), but the beauty of their design repays the owner. I've never had so many compliments about a tie as when I wear a Penelope Cream tie (link to website below).


I met Penelope recently to ask her about her business:

GF: What is your background insofar a tie design and manufacture goes?

PC: My route to design is not via a formal art or fashion school route. Instead, my formal training is in various different areas, with a strong overlap between art, modern languages and science. At school my art teacher used to sneak me into the classes as my other teachers had decided I was interested in too many varied subjects and needed to be more clearly focused on either arts or the sciences. I found it hard to drop any of the subjects and while I followed at first a traditional academic path in modern languages I continued with design and received a number of graphics and illustration commissions whilst at university. After my first degree I did some applied training in the world of illustrated print media and design and worked for some years commissioning large international publishing projects.

My interests continue to span art and science, and designing for hand knitting draws these together. I remain fascinated by the way in which colours are produced using skilled manipulation of pigments. The satisfaction comes from mathematically constructing a textured surface which combines three-dimensional form with variants of colour, either in a subtle interplay of similar tones or bright ‘pops’ of dense colour.


GF: Tell us something about the inspiration behind your designs.

PC: I grew up for much of my childhood in a large household of many nationalities, interests and skills, where multiple languages, art and sciences all co-existed quite easily. There were doctors, scientists, a stage designer and linguists who were also illustrators, ceramicists, model makers, and writers. It was a house filled with the childhood books of earlier generations, and I grew up heavily influenced by authors and illustrators of the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s such as Jean de Brunhof, Edward Ardizzone, Edward Lear, and Kathleen Hale. Whether it was Babar the Elephant or Orlando the Marmalade Cat, or the scenes of Ardizzone’s shipwrecks or heroic adventures, many of the characters wore classical suits - and ties.

My later influences remain close to the same time periods, with the textile designs of Sonia Delaunay - especially those of her collaboration for Metz & Co - and the photography of Horst P. Horst being particular favourites. Horst’s striking compositions for Vogue that use a bright splash of colour against more muted shades are one of the inspirations for my current collection. I hope that the ties can provide a similar elegant focal point to today’s wardrobe, bringing a design twist to those appreciate classical style.


GF: Are you focusing just on knitted ties for now?

PC: I see the knitted ties as the first in a number of lines that will draw on some of the same characteristics: high quality, textile-based designs that promote the work of and allow me to collaborate with independent studios and dyers. I have several ideas that I’m working up and I am keen to hear from people as to what they would like. I always find that one of the most important sources of feedback are the people inherently drawn to my original designs.


GF: What are your plans for the future of the business?

PC: I am in discussions with hand dyers about unique colourways, and how to combine the placement of colour within my future pieces. I am also talking with a weaving studio and some colour experts about my next designs. I’m keen to think laterally, and collaboratively. I very much enjoy working up a proposal and taking products forward both for myself and in conjunction with others.

To see her ties and to buy, go to Penelope Cream.

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