Pennington’s, Unit 2, Slater Street, Liverpool, L1 4BS
Tues – Sat 11am to 6pm
Sunday – 11am to 3pm
Some years ago a book plopped through my letter box, a gift from a friend when I was in full blown grief after the loss of my father. It was a delight to receive and has been so well loved and used that some of the pages have actually come loose. It was ‘Cath Kidston’s ‘Tips For Vintage Style’.
I loved that the book inspired you, the reader, to get creative about being creative. I can’t lie, I still enjoy a mooch in a Cath Kidston store, who wouldn’t? It gives ideas and inspiration for our own creative endeavours. But like many, once something becomes high fashion or big brand, I’ve a tendency to recoil slightly and withdraw.
For me, to delve into that book was to escape and embrace the ‘sky is your limit’, ‘I could do that!’ make do ‘n’ mend, thrifting spirit. Now?
Whilst obviously admiring the style and success of the mighty, high street name that Cath Kidston has become, I admire only from a distance. Any urge that rises within to make a purchase in the shop, I suppress by buying a few packets of pretty tissues. (They make for great wee gifts and really, ought not every self-respecting gal possess floral tissues in her bag? It’s surely even more important than matching underwear.)
So, ever in search of the unique, independent or locally made, it was a treat to discover Pennington’s of Slater Street, Liverpool.
The proprietor and purveyor of locally sourced artisan products, Caroline Pennington, told me that the shop was borne out of her own hobby and passion for up-cycling old furniture and creating home textiles. Caroline ended up with a room full of such creations but would, like so many with a talent, only give her treasured labours away as gifts, she was too afraid to sell her work. I’d wager that even Cath Kidston felt the same at some point. This fear of being caught out as a ‘fraud’ seems to be a plight common to so many creative or sensitive souls.
As birds of a feather flock together, Caroline realised that she had friends that were also talented and shared a love for the ‘homemade’. It was time to find a permanent space to sell her wares and those of others.
‘…I attended a few local craft fairs and asked artists whose stuff I really admired if they would be interested in selling their work in my shop – my shop that I hadn’t opened yet!’
There are currently around 20 individuals who have their arts or crafts on sale at Pennington’s but that can change week to week. Next week, there maybe as many as 30.
I was coveting some old glass, dessert dishes in the shape of an apple, still in the original box – perhaps the type my nan would have kept for ‘best’. I was standing in the vintage corner of the shop.
Having a vintage section gives Caroline a chance to still indulge in the thrill of buying up second hand, once loved treasures but with the added joy of being able to sell them on to an equally excited soul.
‘Otherwise, I’d have no room left in my home!’ Says Caroline.
The ultimate goal of Pennington’s, however, is to sell only handmade fare.
‘I’m very excited about a forthcoming collaboration with a dressmaker (Caroline’s patchwork combined with the skills of a dressmaker. Imagine a dapper patchwork waistcoat for your young nephew, for example.) and selling one of a kind, handmade clothes of high quality. I’m especially excited about our plan to have a children’s range. There are handmade shops in Liverpool but there aren’t many places where you can buy unique, handmade, well made clothes.’ Too true.
I leave Caroline sat snugly in her solid wood rocking chair, at an old school desk, under the light thrown out from a large, vintage floral lampshade. This is where her sewing machine is patiently sat, awaiting her nimble fingers to whip up some splendiferous patchwork offering. The scene looks so cosy that Caroline might well be home from home. And what a comely second home it is.
We have learned to cherish the old again. We adore all things vintage; natty tatters with a tale. So what’s next? To take homemade and put it in our hearts and mindset. I’ll always gain pleasure from a perusal in Cath Kidston but it, like every other high street brand, is generic and mass produced. Going the handmade route feels altogether more satisfying for a sensitive soul. How so? Well, apart from it arguably being more green and ethical, observing the intricate work of someone’s fingers bears witness to the love and care that has gone into each individual product. The pellucid quality and painstaking detail of ‘homemade’ means you are purchasing something for life and not simply until the ‘high of the buy’ has worn off – which, often, is all too quick.
I love making my own gifts and presents, whether it be when visiting friends from outside Liverpool or ‘just because’, or, for the special occasions of weddings, births and anniversaries. As I’ve said before, living creatively keeps me well. Sadly though, it’s true, we don’t always have the energy and if we have the energy, perhaps we don’t have the time. The next best thing? Definitely someone else’s handmade. So c’mon, let’s not allow the likes of Columbia Rd, London, E2 to have all the fun! Let’s support local handmade and get down to Pennington’s!
I think you will also love Land Baby of Bluecoat Chambers.
Books: My favourite ‘handmade’ book at the moment is Granny Chic by Dottie Angel and Ted&Agnes. It’s as ticketyboo as a ‘how to’ book gets and no matter how sleepy I’m feeling, it never fails to inspire. Never ever. Never.
Hand painted cup ‘n’ saucer
Vintage corner and drift wood art
Even the driftwood is sourced at local beaches
Pennington’s as seen from Bold Street
I’d love to see a book in the future entitled: ‘Pennington’s’ and it would contain a wee pen portrait of each of the artists or crafters selling there and each would give a simple, ‘I could do that’, lesson on making something unique and handmade.