When making tea cosies the knitting is the easy bit, knit and purl in the right places and you have your knitted parts. But sometimes a few little tips can make the difference between completing a satisfactory project to creating a sensational, show stopping tea cosy. This page is going to be the come-to place for TeaCosyFolk knitting pattern tips and pointers to get the best from the knitting patterns.
Every week during 2021 I will be posting tips and hints of how to accomplish magnificent tea cosies. Some of the tips might be related to knitting, some to assembly, some might relate to sewing up.
I shall also be interspacing the knitting pattern tips with videos made by me, showing you how to do certain things. Sometimes words aren’t enough and it’s just easier if someone shows you. I thought videos of me knitting tricky bits would be helpful.
Of course, some of the helpful knitting pattern tips will be transferable to other knitting projects you’re working on and not just TeaCosyFolk designs.
Young or old, experienced or amateur, it's always good to learn new skills and new ways of doing things. Some of my tips you may already know and use yourself, whilst other knitting hacks will come as a great revelation and will become part of your knitting skills arsenal.
Here's one great tip that you can have right now – if you find something in a knitting pattern difficult; reach out and ask for help. There is an online TeaCosyFolk Facebook help group which has a clatter of knitters who like to talk about knitting and like to show off their TeaCosyFolk tea cosies they have knitted. The TeaCosyFolk designer is also a member of the group and she's happy to help anyone who is struggling. It's a great place to post and get help and just enjoy tea cosy chat, so do join up!
This can be so difficult. It sounds easy, but if the stitches are tight or if it’s the first row, oh my; it can be like a wrestling match!
There are things we can do to make knitting and life a little easier. Always ready a few rows ahead, then if you see this sort of thing coming up, you can make sure that the row worked beforehand can be a little looser. Looser stitches are easier when you must knit a few together.
Likewise, if they are in the first row, cast on loosely. If I need a loose cast-on I hold both needles together when casting on.
If you haven’t had time to prepare looser stitches, there are other tips to help.
Try working nearer the point of the needles. Where the needle tapers, the stitch feels looser so you will have more moveable space.
Another thing you could try is to loosen off the stitches. Slipping them from the left needle to the right needle and back again. If this doesn’t work the first time, put your needle in the stitch as if you were going to knit or purl it, and wiggle your needles in a scissor-like action to stretch the stitches a bit.
If you’re still having no luck, you could ‘SL1, K2tog, PSSO’. The stitch will look as if you K3tog, but it will be less of a fight.
Embroider on a Mouth
I know that some knitters dread the sentence “With a length of Black DK yarn, embroider on a mouth”. I too used to find it tricky to embroider a pleasing looking mouth so I do know how it feels when you have concerns that you are about to spoil your hard work with a wonky smile.
I do hear a lot that sewing on mouths is an issue. People feel that their embroidery isn’t good and that their mouths are letting their finishing down and leaving them down in the mouth. (sorry couldn’t resist!) So I’m going to show you how I do my mouths. I’m not saying that this is the only way or correct way; it’s just the way I do them. And maybe this technique will work for you too.
I use a technique based on the Lazy Daisy embroidery stitch.
So, the yarn is already secured under the hairline or at the bottom of the head somewhere out of sight. Bring the needle out to where the first corner of the mouth should be.
Then put the needle back into the work, where the second corner of the mouth should be, but importantly, exit the work two or 3 rows down from the corners of the mouth and at the centre point.
Lightly pull the thread through until the loose stitch makes a pleasing curve. And then, with your needle going over the stitch, put the needle back down the same hole to secure the stitch. Don’t pull too hard or the mouth shape will change.
Secure the yarn somewhere un-noticeable.
Scallop Edge Cast Off
This is a lovely starting edge that gives a scallop edge.
People sometimes find it tricky because they cast off the wrong stitches and end up with the wrong number of stitches on the needle. This edging is used on a number of TeaCosyFolk knitting patterns. The stitch numbers may vary but the basics are the same.
Unsightly Increase Ladders
I find that the most common place that this happens in on heads. The increase is always in the same spot, and the ladders occur, and there always tends to be a ladder right up the front of the head, just where you want to crease a face.
The trick is when you sew the head to the main cosy. Attach the head using mattress stitch, and when you get to the bottom of a ladder, make sure that your needle goes through the stitch at the bottom of the ladder, to close it at the bottom. Once the bottom of the ladder is closed the stitches further up will re-adjust and close up, you can speed this up by stroking the ladder.
Closing the ladders will help to make your projects more pleasing and give you better results, especially in prominent places, like heads.
How to Knit The Bubble Stitch Pattern
What, Why and Where Funky Foam?
Funky Foam is a brand name for craft foam. You can find it in craft shops, or on Ebay or Amazon. It’s thin foam, about as thick as cardboard and is sold in A4 sized packs and it’s really cheap.
It’s used in knitting patterns to stiffen things to make them stand or to give more structure and shape.
It's better than card because its washable. It's better than plastic because if you bend it, it goes back to its original shape. It comes in all colours so you can get the colour which closely matches your yarn so it's not noticeable.
Wobbly Head Syndrome
A floppy head can be caused by prominent teapot lid knob.
Firstly, stuff the head so that its about 21cm around the equator and 25cm around from pole to pole and back.
I tend to move the stuffing in the head to hollow out the center a bit to make space for the lid knob.
I sew the head to the top of the cosy with the cast on end of the head 'open'. I find that the last row of the main cosy is about the same size as the bottom of my head. I sew around with mattress stitch. After the first time round, I sew around again just a bit further out and up than my previously stitches.
Vintage Tea Cosy Stitch
Some times being shown how to do something makes it so much easier.
This is a help video for the vintage tea cosy stitch. This stitch is used on the Crinoline Lady tea cosy and the Virgin Queen tea cosy.
It's an easy stitch once you get your head around how to make it billow out.
Working From The Inside
Here’s a quick cheat to sew things to your main tea cosy so that no one can see the stitching.
If I’m sewing directly on to the main cosy part, lets say I’m sewing on someone’s arms for example, I pin the arms in place whilst the tea cosy is on the teapot. When I’m happy with how it looks, I add a few more pins to secure it in place.
Then I remove the tea cosy from the teapot and sew the arm to the main cosy from inside the main cosy. It’s great because you can only see the stitches from the inside of the cosy. If you use the same colour yarn as the main cosy itself, you can’t even see the stitches from the cosy inside.
You can’t always use this technique, but sometimes it’s a great trick to use and it gives neat results. It's great for when you want to attach things and you want them to keep their shape and look prominent.
My general rule is, if in doubt, leave a long tail.
That is when you have finished knitting a project part and you have to cut the yarn from the work, leave a long enough tail to do more than just finish off. Because sometimes you will use that tail to complete a part or sew it onto another part.
For example, when you finish knitting the hair, you might have to sew a part of the hair before you pull it on the head. Then once on the head, you will need to sew the hair into place. If you have only left yourself with a short tail, you may not be able to complete all the sewing.
Another top tip… usually the part you are adding is going to be the colour of yarn you will use to sew it into place. Using the hair as an example again, you would sew the hair to the head in the hair colour and not the head colour.
Don’t Get Bogged Down in Monotony
The trick is to plan ahead. I have a little look through the pattern to see how many of a thing needs making. Three or over, then I know I will find it hard going. So, to stop my knitting becoming a chore, I have a couple of ideas to stop the monotony.
Trick 1 – Don’t knit all of the boring parts in succession. Knit a boring thing, and then knit a fun thing. Keep alternating. You’ll be super surprised that the boring things just seem to multiply as if by magic.
Trick 2 – Put something interesting to watch on the telly and settle down to doing the boring bits in one hit whilst distracting your mind.
Trick 3 – It’s similar to ‘Trick 2’ only you call a friend or have a social zoom meeting whist knitting. Hopefully by the end of the call the boring bits are done.
Trick 4 – This one isn’t always possible. But I like to save long rows of boring knitting that doesn’t require much attention for long car journeys when I’m not driving. It is important to have a driver with this tip.
Particularly if you are sewing on the right side of the work, if you snip the yarn after finishing off it can eventually start to work its way out and you have an end that you can’t sew back in because it’s too short and if you snip it again it will eventually work its way undone even more.
My top tip is; after the finishing off stitches, push the needle through the stuffed part of the work or along the seam so that it is 5cm or so away from the finishing off site. Then when you cup the yarn, pull it taught so that when you have cut it; it retracts inside the work. That way it can’t be seen, and it won’t work its way out.
Using mattress stitch gives a virtually invisible join. Not only is it great for seams, but it’s also the best way to sew on details to the main cosy such as pockets and heads. Because the sewing up thread crosses over the cast-on edge or row end edges of the piece you are sewing on, it gives a lovely finish and hides the edges.
I read somewhere that Alan Dart always sews up in Mattress stitch and you can’t argue with Alan.
Where to buy
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