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.
My quilts are always used up — I hope!! My nephews and sister have worn out seven. My Father stayed wrapped in one I made him until he died.... it is well worn with faded bits, but I still feel him there. My son has used his and left one with a roommate who has used it to pieces.... this is what a quilt is for — to wrap those we love completely in our love through our quilts! Comfort tonight are these three things: crickets chirping, toads at the creek singing their throaty song, and the sound of pages turning as Mister sits and reads.... and a fourth... the impatient nudge of a puss ready for night night treats and a bed snuggle...
So true. Need to start the use of my tea cosy again. Always seem in too much of a rush. I use my quilts daily. Thanks for sharing this with me!
It's World Embroidery Day!
Thank you for all your inspiration and patterns and tutorials! You have made embroidery fun and enjoyable!
The Gentle Art of Domesticity is a big book ! :)
Comfort at home....there a lot of things I enjoy! my own creative taste of things around me, comfy chairs, lots of green and light. a view out to the garden, a feeling of open space, table cloths, photo's with depth on the wall. colour!
Ginger tea! good chocolate! Mexican food! old English cups and saucers ! what a miss mash of tastes!
My go to comforts:
The crochet throw a dear friend made me
A good book
My little dog Lottie snuggled beside me
I really hope all the quilts I've made and gifted are used but sadly some have been put away as they are too 'special' to be used - the recipients words not mine. Now I make fleece backed quilts for young children as they aren't seen as 'special' in the same way. As for being used in the garden - why not. Mine are all easily washable.
Hi Jenny. I do hope Mr E is soon feeling much better my friend. I adore that cable hottie cover in the photo - its beautiful! My go to comfort items are ..... candles definately. In the winter time I burn something (candle or a wax melt or incense) every single day in the house while its closed up. Not quite so often in the warmer months. Also even tho I try to keep the house warm with the fire going, I still have crochet blankets over the backs of all the chairs that can be pulled over one self. And also - even though I have a very male dominated household (with sons & grandsons) I use my good china every single day. Every day should be a special occasion I feel - my sons are used to me giving them a cuppa in a china mug. I also use my nice linen tablecloths, even though I have four legged creatures walk over them (!!!) I feel there's no point in saving them for "one day" - I may as well get some joy from them today! Oh & good books & magazines too ................... & nice soap in the bathroom ................. I think I had better stop now !!! xxx
Tea is an essential in our house - loose leaf, in a pot, brewing under a handmade tea cosy! Tea cosies also make me think of my grandparents - on both sides of the family. Gran and Grandpa's tea cosy was in the shape of a house with details embroidered and appliqued on. Nanna and Papa's was knitted - black, green, blue, red and yellow scallops. My Mum has made me a few cosies - different sizes and colours for different pots in my teapot collection - but all fabric.
Comfort - a nice cup of tea; a shelf full of books; blankets to snuggle under ...
I agree that quilts are made to be loved and USED!
I want my quilts used! I would rather not see them in a garage under a car.....but I keep one on the backseat of my car. I think that pretty placemats and runners make a home lookloved and comfortable, just like fresh flowers brightening up a room. I love to make and use my ‘comforts’
Hi Jenny, Hoping Mr. E. will be better soon. The man works so much. He needs a good rest!
I am not a tea drinker. Coffee is my thing. But I love that orange knitted cozy. In my town they have an Pumpkin Festival every year in October. That orange could double as a pumpkin. It is by far a beautiful thing!
I try to use things rather than 'save' to use. I saw my mother use her 'good' things for special occasions.Now she is gone, and all the saved stuff is surely being used. Besides, using things gives me pleasure. Making things and using them, just go together.
What a wonderful cozy section of the book. I knit, make quilts, etc. and have some lovely tea cozies but what do I use....two of my now grown son's (he's just about to turn 50!) well used, but still useful, winter wool knit hats nestled inside of each other! They were something I just grabbed because they were handy. Nothing has ever kept my tea warmer than these well loved hats. They may not be appropriate for a tea party but certainly add warmth to both my tea and my heart. They also make me smile when someone looks questioningly at them on my counter on a hot summer day! Hope your sweetheart feels better soon.
I love the tea cozy! I also love the pumpkin style. Never have been able to fid a pattern of one like it. Thank you for the paten and tutorial.
Oh Jenny, you must do a bit of research on Alan Bennett - a British National Treasure! And you must watch The Lady in a Van - my most favourite actress, Maggie Smith in a superb AB film. xx
Hi Jenny, what a lovely study. Comfort, I think books, magazines, quilts and crocheted blankets and my little dog, so precious. Love your blog and will be sorry when this study ends. xx
I made a quilt for my favourite uncle for his 80th birthday. He was an old batchelor farmer. After his passing it came back to me. I had hoped he had used it and not just put it in a cupboard "for good". Well, it was filthy, the label was starting to come off and a bit of the binding was coming undone!!! I was a little shocked and thought it must have been used for a dog blanket. I put it in the bottom of our washing hamper and left it there for ages. Eventually, I brought it out. There were no pet hairs, so I finally realised that he had used it - lots! It was such a wonderful feeling. I can picture him coming in from a cold day working on the farm and warming himself under the quilt. So what to do with it? I figured it was already pretty well wrecked so nothing to lose. I soaked it in the laundry tub in very hot Napisan. Yuck, the water came out black. I repeated the process and then put it in the washing machine on a long hot cycle. Wow!! The cream fabrics returned to their original colour from nearly black. Some of the fabrics faded, but it survived and was revived! I repaired the stitching and it now lives on the back of our lounge. During the cooler months you will find me on the lounge watching TV with Uncle Chris' quilt over me and Joey our cat sitting on top. It is so very special to me.
My English sister-in-law introduced me to tea, PG Tips, and I've been hooked ever since! Although I only use tea bags, making one at a time, I do find the tea cozies quite charming. As a quilter, I am only bothered when the quilts given as gifts are not used at all. One of my nieces was found to have been putting all her children's baby quilts safely away. She stated they were too pretty to use. I relayed to her that perhaps we will start making ugly quilts for her babies from now on! Quilts are to be used, carried, cuddled, loved, but not just put in a closet. I'm not bothered at all by a quilt that becomes worn, it is a sure sign that it was appreciated. - Diane from Minnesota
My comforts ... tea from the teapot which is teacosied and then poured into fine china ... old or new, a view to the garden, hot water bottle at my back (cosied too!), a little stitching from my favourite designer and knowing that my husband is pottering about somewhere close by. I love my quiet time reading in the morning in my "electric chair" (an op shop chair with has a back massager tied to it). When traveling by car and staying in other places I like to take my very old crochet rug (now replaced by my sweetpea blanket) or one of my quilts ... just makes it more homely. My quilts are to be used. I once took a few to my granddaughter's birthday party at a park by the lake - one of the father's of the other children asked me "Isn't that too good to put down on the grass?". Perfect for the grass as they wash up so well. My grandchildren use one of their old cot blankets as a floor rug in their new home. Comforts? The cup of tea has to be top of the list!
I do hope Mr. E. is up and around shortly, and feeling all the thing again. My mother's recipe for colds is one I've never had anyone else say her mother used ... warm, liquid Jello, usually lime or lemon. It truly soothes my throat and I'm still likely to use it when I have a sore throat. My quilts are almost all given away, though my older son has several from saving each one - and using them to death. The younger has been given several, but can't hold on to anything more than a month! The last one was stolen from him after two weeks, along with his car and tools. Most of them go to American Hero Quilts, but quite a number wind up with some other charity for children or cancer patients. I love to quilt, and I would shortly have them piled to the ceiling if I didn't share! I want my quilts used, too. I don't care if a baby spills grape juice on one or it goes through the grass and gets stained. I had the joy of making it, and the user should have the joy of using it.
Lovely post, dear heart! I love the comfort of quilts everywhere, and hope to see them tattered and torn and well loved. Not much of a tea drinker anymore as it gives me heartburn, but I do love a good cuppa. Praying for Mr. E!!!!!
I do hope that the quilts I give to friends and family are used, I have seen several baby quilts in use. I have a few at the end of my bed which I use as throws when it gets colder. My comforts are good books, cake and chocolate, and ringing a friend for a chat. x
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