time for tea (towels, that is)

thornback & peel

If you’ve seen my kitchen, you know there are only two things I collect with anything approaching regularity: silver teaspoons (mostly stolen from hotels) and tea towels (the kitschier the better). Nothing beats a commemorative tea towel with the faces of Wills and Kate smiling up at you or a view of the Horse Guards on parade outside Whitehall. The English really know how to do a proper tea towel. (The French on the other hand – though their linens tend to be superior – are infinitely more subdued, favoring botanical images and oenophilia over the pageantry of empire.) Tea towels are an entirely maligned yet practical item of kitchenalia, too: more than just a dishrag, they can be used for wrapping sandwiches and bottles of wine for a picnic, for coddling a pot of tea, and if you’re of the mind that an apron should be worn while cooking, a clever, colorful tea towel makes a smart and handy addition to your ensemble. Suffice it to say that when I recently discovered the fabrics at London’s Thornback & Peel, I went as mad for them as a hatter late for a tea party. Victorian-inspired images, hand-screened on linen, they are an eccentric celebration of quirky British humor and design. Who could resist a noble stag gazing heavenwards, a stalk of objectively humble Brussels sprouts, or a wood engraved rabbit having a jolly traipse through the cabbages? Not me.

thornback & peel detail

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