Christine Preisig gets some purls of wisdom from a Hackney designer
Penny Burdett marks her successful career as a knitwear designer and maker with the launch of her book 30 Years In The Making.
It’s a beautifully crafted documentation of her work and influences over the years and also a celebration of the running of her small craft business.
Penny designs women’s knitwear and together with a small team of knitters, produces the clothing in her shop at Camden Lock which also serves as a workshop. Visitors get an insight into the heart of the business as they can witness all the different stages of production.
The soft silky dresses, woolly hats, scarves and cardigans are all one-of-a-kind or made in small batches.
“I just love colours”, Penny says, explaining that her yarns are dyed and blended to her specific instructions. This gives all her pieces a colouring as unique as her surface patterns and shapes. An outstanding feature is the way knit patterns are combined with each other and mixed up with photographic images.
“My pieces are very graphic,” says Penny, whose love for fashion and knitwear goes back a long way. Throughout her childhood Penny’s mother knitted for her and her three siblings. Penny was fascinated how her mother transformed a flat piece of fabric into a three-dimensional garment.
A Hackney resident for nearly 50 years, Penny moved here in 1970, attracted by the artistic community. She had been teaching craft workshops, and knitting clothes for herself and her children, but it was when she invested in her first knitting machine that a wealth of new crafting options became available to her.
In 1986 she presented some pieces at Camden Lock Market. She says: “I sold three jumpers and made £100. I was over the moon.”
Now with six knitting machines rattling away, a shop in Camden and a permanent stall in the Apple Market at Covent Garden, Penny has built a loyal and international customer base.
Penny’s shop is at 48 Upper Walkway, The West Yard, Camden Lock, NW1 8AF.