It was my darling partner, the chef and man-of-the-house, who suggested making tea cosies for the Encraftment market. As a confirmed coffee - all be it decaf - drinker, I had not considered this particular choice of vintage inspired domesticity. Making it has brought back memories of childhood visits to my grandparents house, polite cups of tea and the neat exactness and order of my grandparents house. My grandmother was a champion of all things crafty. Over the course of her life she has knitted and stitched literally thousands of jerseys, garments and toys. Her knitting machine always parked in the sun room; always a project on the go or a new pattern to try. In a rest home now, she has given up on knitting. Much of craft equipment has been passed to me, and when we visit I take in my projects to show her. She's always happy to see the skills passed to a new generation.
I almost always use the single needle, long tail, method of casting on. It's really easy once you get the hang of it! So I made you a tutorial:
Casting-on using the single knitting needle method:
Leave at least a metre of yarn as a tail.
This loop forms the first stitch.
Hold the 'tail' yarn in your left hand fingers making a thumbs up.
Wrap the wool around your thumb in a clock-wise direction.
Insert the needle in between the wool and your thumb. A bit like you're using your thumb as the other knitting needle.
With your right hand wrap the ball end of the yarn around the needle. The yarn should start at the back of the work and wrap anti-clockwise.
Now use your thumb to lift the loop over the needle to form the stitch.
This picture shows the needle with 3 stitches already completed.
Gently pull both pieces of wool to tighten the stitch.
This picture shows the 5th stitch being made.
Just keep adding stitches until you have the required number. If you run out of tail yarn I'm afraid you will have to start again with a longer length!
Square Patterned Tea Cosy with Crochet Flowers
Where brackets, [ and ], appear in the instructions they are given to identify the instructions that are to be repeated.
These cast on instructions are for right handed knitters. For left handers mirror the instructions to the opposite hands.
Using 5mm knitting needles and 8ply yarn, cast on 84 stitches.
Work 5 rows of knit 1, purl 1 rib.
Row 1: Purl 1, Knit 4 stitches, purl 1, then [knit 4, purl 1] 7 times. Cast off 2 stitches, purl 1 [knit 4, purl 1] 8 times.
Row 2: turn and work on the first set of 41 stitches; knit 1, purl 4, knit 1, [purl 4, knit 1] 7 times, turn.
Row 3: Purl 1, knit 4, purl 1, [knit 4, purl 1] 5 times, knit 5, turn.
Repeat the pattern for another 2 rows.
Row 6: knit all stitches to give the purl row stripe as shown.
Repeat this pattern 3 more times - four strips in total. The picture above shows the first three stripes.
Break the yarn and rejoin onto the second half of the stitches.
Work as for the first half until the two sides match.
With the right side facing: work 40 stitches as per the established pattern, knit 2 stitches together, work the remaining 40 stitches.
Work a further 6 rows as per the pattern.
Top shaping section:
Row 1: Knit row: purl 1 [knit 2 together twice, purl 1] until the end of the row.
Row 2: Knit 1 [purl 2 together, knit 1] until end of row.
Row 3: purl 1, knit 1, repeat until end of row.
Row 4: Knit 1, [purl 2 together] repeat until end of row.
Row 5: Knit 2 together, repeat until end of row.
Continue decreasing by knitting or purling the stitches together until only 5 remain. Break the yarn, leaving enough to sew up, and use a crochet hook to pull the yarn through the remaining 5 stitches to secure.
One tea cosy, ready to sew up.
Five stripes and a decrease section at the top.
Start the sewing up at the bottom of the open end. Sew the rib section only up using a mattress stitch. Secure the bottom of the opening with a couple of repeated stitches and sew in the ends of the wool.
Now sew from the top down, again using a mattress stitch. Sew down two strips, so both openings match. Reinforce with top of the opening with another couple of stitches, then work in the end.
The cosy can be decorated with any combination or number of crochet flowers.
I worked two flowers: starting with a magic loop, I worked double crochet stitches for the first row, then changed colours and worked 1 double crochet stitch into the first hole, then 3 double crochet into the next hole. I repeated this right around the centre to form the petals. Instead of sewing in the loose threads, I knotted off three and left them hanging down. I used the fourth thread to sew the flower to the cosy.
The decoration stage is time to go nuts with whatever design takes your fancy. Happy crafting xx