Time For Tea
I took three tea cosies along to a craft fair I attended last year and I sold all three. They were two sheep cosies in natural wool (Corriedale) and the third was a blue Merino cosy.
I have plans to attend more fairs this year so I thought it was time to replenish my stock.
I had an ample amount of Duck Egg Merino from World of Wool, so I thought this would be my main body colour. I then chose the rest of the ‘pallet’ to compliment it, picking out white and blue silks, blue and orange nepps, and Clementine, Turquoise and Denim blue Merino. This was just a starting point, embellishments could be added or changed along the way. It is always work in progress.
I cut a resist from my favourite product for this kind of project and that is pond liner. The resist measures 15” along the bottom and 10.5” up from the bottom to the highest point.
Firstly I needed to make the loop that will sit on top of the tea cosy, as this has to be added part way through the laying out process. This is achieved by taking a length of the wool, this was about seven inches end to end, and adding a few of the colours that will be used on the main body to the middle section. It is important to keep the ends of the wool dry, so I wrap mine in cling film, roughly two inches at each end.
The middle of this parcel now has to be wet felted to create a small strong loop. Try to keep water away from the cling film sections. You have to start felting it with light hands or it will squash flat. I normally put a little water on my bubble wrap, rub the soap through the wetted area and carefully roll the parcel backwards and forwards very carefully until it forms a ‘skin’, then you can continue with normal pressure and felt it into a hard rope.
I weighed 100g from the ball of wool. At this stage you could split it in half to ensure both sides have an even amount of wool, but because I prefer to keep turning the piece over, I do mine by eye. I put down two layers, wet it all down, flipped it and did the same on the other side. Before adding the final two layers each side, I took the cling film off the loop ends and fanned out the wool. I then placed the fanned out wool over the front and back of the cosy ridge, and finished adding the final two layers of wool each side, adding more wool over the fanned out wisps of wool. You could also position the loop back to front on the cosy instead of side to side, as shown on my blue spotted tea cosy above. If you didn’t want to make a loop, you could wet felt a small ball in corresponding colours and then sew it onto the ridge of the cosy when it was dry. Both options work well. Here is a tip for the felt ball option. As you will be sewing from the inside of the cosy to attach the ball, and you will be bringing the needle up through the ball to secure it to the ridge, because you do not want to see your sewing thread anywhere on the ball, you could bring the needle and thread right out the top, slot a small bead on and take it back down and through again to secure on the inside.
I then added a design back and front using the other wools and embellishments and continued felting.
Once it passed the pinch test I cut it open along the bottom, took the resist out and fulled it. The opening always needs more attention after you have done this, cutting it straight and then re-felting the cut raw edge. A method I have adopted is to not pay too much attention to the opening until the cosy is dry (mine take a few days, even on a radiator) I then steam iron the whole cosy, re-wet the bottom and re-felt the raw edge.
Here it is finished.
I am sure it will keep someone’s tea warm for a while!
UPDATE – I took this along to a gallery and it sold at the start of February – very happy!
29 thoughts on “Time For Tea”
Wonderful Tracey!! I love to read your tutorial. Great you sold them to tealovers, it gives you a good feeling, i think?
Thank you Jifke! Glad you enjoyed reading. Yes I am happy to see that some people do still use a tea cosy, and also happy someone liked mine enough to buy it.
Absolutely well done for creating a unique and very functional item. It just goes to show that uniqueness and well crafted items will sell. Thank you for sharing your success and your process with us.
Thank you Carol, that is so kind. You are very welcome, glad you enjoyed it.
The tea cosy is a delight! Duck Egg is gorgeous and the colours you chose to use with it are perfect, as is the pattern.
You have an interesting technique with the bottom of your cosy – do you get a better edge that way or is it just easier?
A good selling point for the tea cosies is their longevity. I made one for myself in 2008, re-vamped it in 2015 and it’s still in daily use!
Thanks very much Lyn, glad you like it. I don’t know if my raw edge solution is the better option, I just think it is a bit too much work to fight with it to get a straight edge once you have fulled the cosy and cut it open. Once it is dry it feels a ‘set’ shape to me, so a quick press with the iron then cut, dip the bottom in water and use a bit more soap to seal the edges with a bit of bubble wrap either side like you were sliding a zip lock bag open and closed. This I find can take a while, but overall, yes, this I think is my easy option of how to do it all.
Great to hear your tea cosy is still employed!
Sounds like a good technique!
Lovely tea cosies Tracey! I’m not a tea drinker but I can see these making a wonderful gift for someone who is. I’m doing a craft event next weekend so I will make a couple and just hope I’m as successful as you with sales! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks very much Karen! I am sure cosies were more popular than they are now, but luckily some people will still buy them. I have had comments from people saying they hate the thought of making tea straight in a cup and always use a tea pot and cosy, so we can but try! I have just this minute come back from a craft fair and I sold a sheepy tea cosy, so case in point! Very pleased! So yes please have a go, you never know. Make sure you tell them that wool is a good insulator and will keep their tea warmer longer !! 😉 Good luck!
I certainly will Tracey, thanks for the tip!
You are welcome!
Love the design!!
Thank you very much!
A lovely use of colour to create this design. Thank you for sharing your process and the tip about the edge.
Thank you very much Antje. I hope it has inspired you to have a go if it is something you haven’t tried before.
Great post Tracey, thanks! I will have to try your idea for finishing a straight edge. It seems like it might work better than what i have tried in the past. Glad you have been selling these, I’m not sure how they would sell in the US. More people like coffee here than tea. I have seen a cozy made for a French coffee press, not sure how they sell either.
It may look surprising Ruth but my main market for tea cosies is US! I sold at least 10 just in January-March and would sell more if they were available. It was a mystery for me until some customer explained to me that threre was kind of trend of “tea parties” English style in the garden. Tea cosies fit in it perfectly. Hope it stays this way for a while 🙂 !
Thanks Ruth you are welcome! Between yourself and Lyn you have got me intrigued as to the method you both use for finishing the straight edge! Hope you will both share here or on the forum. It would seem I have just stumbled upon (I mean – thought out carefully….) a route that works for me. 😉
Interesting, Galina. Guess that trend has not made it to Montana.
Tracey, I just rub the edge after cutting while wet. I am not always satisfied with the results.
Ok. Well when I cut the edge after the cosy is totally dry, the edge stays really quite sharp and straight, as I said it feels ‘set’ or ‘formed’ even? Then I only have to seal the raw edge. Looks like I have found a fool proof method, or just one where you don’t tear your hair out…..
Nice job on selling the tea cozies. The is a real tea trend going on here too. Not so much tea parties but I think people think it is better for them than coffee. The only time I use them is when the power goes out. I use the same method as you to seal the edge I just do it at the end of the fulling before I rinse, spin and set to dry.
Thanks Ann. Some people tell me they are buying them for decoration.
I’ve found all the comments about your ‘edge’ fascinating, and above I thanked you for the tip. In fact you have given me confidence (and I should always remember there are ‘no’ wrongs with felting) as I too happened on your method but by accident. I wasn’t happy with a completely finished vase top but the shape was good, so I cut it, then re-wet the edge and worked it to seal – any stubborn areas got a little needle felting help.
Whilst this gave me the crisp edges I wanted the only difficulty is soap needs washed out, and the pH value restored….so thanks to Shepherdessann I will now try doing it after fulling.
Thank you everyone.
Thank you Antje, glad to hear we all contribute in our own ways towards a method you are happy with. I only use a tiny bit more soap for lubrication, and water to re-seal the cut edges once the cosy is dry. I dip the opening in a bowl of water, I would say by no more than a centimetre. Then when I have sealed the raw edge, I rinse only the edge under the tap to get rid of any soap, then press the wet out with a towel and dry thoroughly again. So I am basically saying, the amount of soap that gets introduced at this stage, I feel, is negligible. The cosy will have been totally rinsed and had a vinegar bath before the first drying. Have a go with both methods to see which works for you. Happy felting!
I would just like to add after you have spent (as we know) quite a while laying out your work, felting then fulling, it is really lovely I think to put it to one side and come back to turn your attention to the cut edge another day. The first part of the process can consume hours, if I then thought I now had to fight with a straight edge, I know I would be seriously fed up!
Thanks Tracey….I will test out both methods. Certainly stepping back for a few hours not only rejuvenates one’s energy but also one’s artistic eye.
I certainly agree Antje. When I return to the cosy I appreciate the work I have done, and look forward to completing the piece more. Good luck with your method testing, and you may even come up with a better edge solution you could share!
They’re all really nice, Tracey 🙂 And congrats on the sale!
Thanks very much Zed!