I've been waiting for this section of our book study to come around and today as we complete the chapter on Comfort we'll begin with the humble tea cosy.
You may not be a tea drinker and may have never owned a tea cosy, but Blossom and I have always been partial to pot brewed tea. A familiar cosy wrapped around our favourite pot to keep the deep tan liquid inside hot and ready for a second cup, and real vintage tea cups with a plate of home baked cake or sweet biscuits on the side to tantalise the taste buds and soothe a heart's need for comfort food.
Jane Brocket is also a tea drinker, switching from the label of confirmed coffee drinker to embracing the delights of tea when motherhood arrived the first time, and she was quick to fall in love with the humble tea cosy as well.
"I tend to think of tea-cosy occasions as being the epitome of comfort...(and) For such a humble symbol of comfort and cosiness, the tea cosy gives rise to the most dazzling array of interpretations." (page 168)
For my own part I have made numerous tea cosies over the years and shared a few tutorials on my blog along the way. Of course mine have all been made with fabric and included applique, lace or stitcheries...whilst Jane's cosies are knitted and simply delightful in their bright colours and adorned with lavish indulgences such as beading, pom poms and leaves. And this is what Jane means when she refers to 'the most dazzling array of interpretations'...you can literally make a tea cosy out of almost anything textile - wool, linen, felt, silk, patchwork - and decorate it with even more diversity depending on the stitches used, adornments added, applique or embroidery themes, and even the overall look such as Jane's knitted cosy below, which she made to resemble an orange.
"There is something unhurried about tea cosies; they demand a little less rush and a little more comfort. Something we could all do with." (page 168)
You know, if tea's not your thing why not fill a pot with coffee or hot chocolate after you make a cosy? Serve with something delicious and a friend or two...
"...I loved the fact that quilting could be a homely form of creative self-expression to be picked up and put down according to the rhythms of domesticity." (page 170)
On Instagram the other day one of the quilting friends I follow asked how we (those who quilt) felt about these comforting and beautiful blankets we give to others or use at home being thrown on the ground as a picnic blanket or generally used in an outside setting. She personally shudders at the thought, yet at the same time loves to see them wrapped around her children within the home. My response is that I have no problems with that...over the years and with so many children and grandchildren who've been the recipient of my quilts I have seen them dragged all over the place and honestly, truly, loved to within a inch of their lives. And my heart swells with happiness.
Jane has been asked (a lot) what she does with all the quilts she's made.
"...the answer is: use them. They are on beds, chairs and settees. We throw them over sick children, cold feet and empty spaces. The children lie on them, Simon uses them as extra pillows, and the hamster is cuddled in his very own hamster quilt. And there is no sight lovelier and more gratifying than a child reading a book under a home-made quilt, cosy and oblivious to the world." (page 170)
And I think her next words will resonate in your heart as they did in mine...
"When I see an old quilt with missing stitches, a few replacement patches and evidence of wear and tear, I think of all the comfort it has offered to those who have enjoyed its warmth and I hope that mine will not stay in a perfect, pristine condition." (page 170)
BOOKS AND COVERS
"I rarely knit for anyone else other than the occupants of our house and the house itself." (page 172)
But then Jane fell in love with Persephone Books which publish many of the old classics in a 'comforting' dove grey and cream cover so she knitted a beautiful dove grey cabled hot water bottle cover with cream crochet edging for the lady who runs Persephone Books - and found pleasure in knitting this gift for somebody else.
"The hottie cover goes with the book covers perfectly. But there is also a lovely match on a metaphorical level. For I think the Persephone (book) list contains some of the best hot-water-bottle literature to be found anywhere." (page 172)
In closing the Comfort chapter, Jane offers seven things which personally offer her comfort in life.
"Tea is the literal undercurrent of my domesticity and, with its immutable timetable, the stuff of comforting routine." (page 174)
"Oh the sheer pleasure of sewing quilts while listening to the classics being read in beautiful modulated tones, or knitting while laughing at The News Quiz or Just A Minute...and all in your pyjamas, should you wish." (page 174)
"...they are my footwear of choice all year round. I have house Birkies, garden Birkies and 'going-out' Birkies, and my feet are sublimely comfortable in their lime green, candy pink and gold topped cork barges." (page 175)
(Have to admit here that I too love Birkies and for years they were all I wore until they wore right out...about time to invest again.)
"...there is nothing more comforting than making a favourite cake when the day is cold or miserable or wet or windy, or all four. Cake is comfort on a plate." (page 175)
Not knowing who this fellow is, I'll take Jane's word that his writings and readings delight her sense of comfort.
"I turn to Friends (the television series)when I'm feeling low or under the weather. Friends is my comfort blanket, something reliably warm and fuzzy, but with the bonus of laughter." (page 175)
"The ultimate in domestic comfort. What more can I say?" (page 175)
Our next study will be on August
13th 20th (life got in the way) and we will begin the next chapter, Luxury, by reading through pages 176-187.
* What do you do with all your quilts and does it bother you to see them used to the point of obvious wear and tear?
* How do you create a comfortable environment in your home?
* Share three things that add a sense of comfort to your life. (comfort being related to 'comfortable' and not the comfort offered to the sorrowful)
I'm looking forward to reading your answers so please don't be shy. Share with us gentle domestic homemakers because in doing so you also offer encouragement, reality and that wonderful sense of gathering around the kitchen table with friends.
If you'd like to make a tea cosy of your own here's one of my older tutorials from 2015 for a Vintage Style Tea Cosy.
Go HERE to follow the tutorial and download the cosy template.
My dear husband is quite unwell with a chest cold at the moment so the doctor has him home from school and resting up in hope that he'll be up and about again very soon, so I'd best be away and start a new pot of chicken soup which can simmer away all afternoon. And I think a good brew of lemon and honey tea will be prepared as well. Nana's advice has stood the test of time with winter chills in our family - honey and lemon tea, chicken soup, and a good dose of love and care.
Do you have traditions you follow like these?
I pray you are well and enjoying whatever season has wrapped itself around your part of the world, but if you're under the weather like my beloved man then I ask our dear Lord to breathe His comfort, healing and rest upon you in generous abundance.