Vintage 1920s Tea Cosy

Vintage 1920s Tea CosyHave you noticed that the 1920s are all the rage at the moment? I can’t count the number of Roaring ’20s/flapper/Great Gatsby themed events I’ve been invited to lately! Actually I can, because I’m not very social, but it’s a few! So in the spirit of the moment, this week I present you with my latest project: this super cute 1920s vintage tea cosy.  Sure, it’s more “Great Heat Retention” than “Great Gatsby”, but what can you do?

So first, the back-story. Since I left the life of a free-wheeling student and started working full time, I have gotten in to tea in a BIG way. This may or may not be because it’s the only thing that keeps me awake. However, after my third cup of the day, I get a little sick of walking back and forth to the tea room to refill my GIANT mug. When I spotted the perfect 4 cup teapot at Camberwell Market a few weeks ago, it was love at first sight. It was a vintage Sadler (apparently that’s good?), pink, and the best part – only $15. Woohoo!


If you’ve never tried tea from a pot, let me tell you that it tastes SO MUCH BETTER than just putting the teabag in the cup. I didn’t believe it before I tried it, but I have been missing out all these months.


However: Problem. My tea kept getting cold before I could drink it all. Solution: tea cosy time. I did a lot of research, and fell in love with this pattern. It suited the teapot, and even better, it was vintage 1920s! That’s got to be good, right, because it’s been around for so long? Right? The lady who wrote the pattern did it by examining her granny’s tea cosy and writing her own instructions – that kind of reverse engineering always amazes me. The pattern was absolutely flawless, and it fit my teapot like a glove. Nice and “cosy”… get it?? Ha.

I won’t repeat the pattern here, as I didn’t change a thing. I even used her instructions for the pretty flower on top, despite the fact that I have a whole book of flower patterns at home. My wool was some left over balls from my Mum’s wool stash – I’ll hazard a guess at 8 ply for three of the balls and 12 ply for the other one – it didn’t really seem to make much difference. They were also different types of wool, I think one might have been merino (extra warmth!). I used 4 mm needles as suggested.



I often knit at work on my lunch breaks

One of the downsides to knitting this pattern was the tension – because you have to pull the yarn across the back to achieve the effect of the pattern, it was so tight on the needle (although I am prone to having tension problems anyway). I actually developed a callous on my index finger from pushing the wool down the needle. I’m pretty proud of that!


The front and back of the pieces – see how the wool has been pulled across the back to form the ridges on the front?


My absolute favorite part about this pattern is not just that it looks great, but that it’s actually super functional. Because the ridges in the design are hollow, there are “pockets” of air inside the walls of the tea cosy. Air is an excellent insulator, which helps to keep the teapot extra warm (in addition to the two thick layers of wool). As I have been saying to people all week, the design is a FEAT OF ENGINEERING.


Drama struck in the middle of this project when I lost the second ball of my main colour wool. I thought I could just buy another ball, but no – it had been discontinued. I looked absolutely everywhere for it with no success, until I re-checked the car that I had already searched twice. There it was, in plain view. I was not impressed.

Here is the finished tea cosy, looking very warm and fuzzy.





And, just to prove that I wasn’t lying about this being a vintage style pattern, here’s a copy of a similar pattern from the 1920’s that I found online. I like mine better! ;)


Image copyright The Vintage Knitting Lady

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