Wednesday, 28 March 2012

There was "knitting

in the bookshop" yesterday afternoon. Once a month I take an afternoon off and put on my "knitting teacher" hat. It is always interesting.
Yesterday one of the staff had a spare poster for me, a poster for a book called "How Tea Cosies Changed the World".  It will be used as part of another exhibition for another group.
I showed it to the bookshop group and somebody said, "Who uses tea cosies these days?" It was a serious question. She really did want to know.We then started to talk about tea cosies we had known. 
My maternal grandmother had three tea pots. There was the little one for when she made tea just for herself. That had a pink and white cosy she had crocheted herself. The pattern was like a crinoline skirt and there was a doll at the top. It was the sort of thing she loved to make.  The middle sized tea pot was used when she made tea for herself and my grandfather. That had a tea cosy shaped like a house. She had knitted that. I still have the pattern for that cosy somewhere. My mother kept it but, unlike her mother, would never have made it. I would not make it either. The biggest tea cosy was both knitted and crocheted. It was a quilted affair in green and yellow with flowers at the top. It fitted the teapot used when the extended family or visitors were present.
My paternal grandmother had a big teapot for family and visitors too. That had a tea cosy made from a remnant of blue silk woven with a pattern of Chinese temples and flowers. The remnant had been given to my tailor grandfather years before and it had not been wasted. The inside was padded with anothr remnant of calico and an old towel.  The middle sized teapot had a plain basket weave cosy my grandmother had made from yarn leftover from the many pullovers she had made. Nothing was wasted in her house.
And then there was the smallest teapot. It was the teapot my grandfather later used to give my grandmother her morning tea and toast in bed. It was a battered affair they had probably used all their married life. It had a cosy too. I remember it well.
It was blue. It was knitted in garter stitch, the plain knit stitch a child first learns. It was uneven. There was evidence of many many dropped stitches. I wonder that it was not stiff with salt from the tears shed making it. It was nothing more than two squares of incredibly bad knitting. My grandmother used it every day, several times a day. When it needed mending she darned it.  When I was sixteen I offered to make another one. She shook her head.
        "No dear. I want this one. It was the first thing you made."
Yes, it was. It was evidence of her confidence in me. Nobody else believed I could learn to knit, that my hand control would ever be good enough to manipulate yarn and needles. My grandmother did. She believed that tea cosies can change the world - and they did.


Talei said...

Oh, knitting is something I've never been able to master! I'm not sure why?

Anonymous said...

As you know, I do not have the patience to knit! I am still making that scarf my daughter wanted three years ago! Ros

jeanfromcornwall said...

So that lady was a Proper Granny.

Miriam Drori said...

I wonder how many people have failed to live up to their potential because no one had confidence in them. Good for your grandmother!

the fly in the web said...

What a super lady.
Giving a child confidence is one of the greatest gifts possible.

catdownunder said...

She was a very proper sort of Granny Jean - everything I know about housework is down to her too.
Miriam that's an interesting thought - I hate to suggest, probably rather a lot of people.
She was definitely a rare individual.
Talei - when we eventually meet I will bring needles and yarn...if you want to learn to knit, you can.
Ros - I am ashamed of you! :-)

tea cozy said...

What a great lady!