My Vintage Style Knitted Tea Cosy (Cozy)

After hearing about a charity tea cosy knit for Macmillan’s, I have found my knitting needles back in my hands.

I just love the retro vibe of a knitted tea cozy and the nostalgic and dainty manner of ‘pouring your tea’. A vintage style tea cosy knit was a must!

As it is my first tea cosy I thought it would be a good idea to follow a pattern and was lucky enough to come across these 1950s pleated designs published by Patons and Bellmans.

For those of you who like to ‘follow-along’ and have a go yourself, I have managed to source a pattern that is still in print. It’s called ” Pompom Fancy” by Jean Hubbard and can be found in this Tea Cozies book published by the Guild of Master Craftsman Publications.

Although the pattern looks complicated, it’s really easy. The tea cosy consists of garter stitch (where you knit every row) and the pleats are simple formed by pulling the yarn firmly across the back of your work when you change your colour.

You only need 2 balls (approx 100g of each) of double knitting yarn (1 x colour A  – that’s my purple and 1 x colour B – that my pink) for this beauty so it’s pretty cheap to make as well.

As I don’t want to infringe any copyright laws, I’m afraid I won’t be giving you a set of instructions for this make, you will need to see Jean Hubbards pattern for this. My photos are being taken as a record of my tea cosy making journey, so this is really a “try and test” post!

Once you have cast on your stitches and knitted your first set of rows (for the bottom of your tea cosy) your work should look something like this.

The fun bit starts when you add in your second colour. The pattern is made by taking your yarn across the back, wrong side (1st photo below) of your work so that the front or right side (2nd photo below) is all neat and tidy!

When you are knitting with the right side facing you, the row is pretty straight forward as the yarn is already at the back of your work (which is just where you want it for a knit stitch). However, when it comes to knitting with the wrong side facing, you will need to take your yarn to the back to make your stitches and then bring it back to the front before you pick up your next colour to use. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a loop of wool showing on the right side. I managed to do this a few times and had to unpick a few stitches!

As you will see from this photo, I have just finished knitting with the pink, so I have brought it through my needles to the front and taken the purple through my needles to the back of my work as I want to use it next.

You continue to knit your rows until your work is a tall as the pattern says – it took me around 2 hours to get mine to measure around 14cm which is the height of my teapot. If your tea (or coffee!) pot is taller, work some extra rows. If it’s shorter work less.

The first photo below shows the wrong side and the second the right side of my work at this point. When I take the yarn across the back of my work, I pull it firmly enough to cause the pleats. If you are after deeper pleats, pull it in even tighter!

The next part of the pattern shapes the tea cosy to fit your pot snuggly – to do this you will need to know how to decrease stitches.

To decrease (or knit two together), insert the tip of your right hand needle through two stitches on your left needle – you need to slide your needle through the 2nd stitch first and then through the one nearest the needle tip. Next wrap your yarn around the tip of your right needle (like you would with a normal knit stitch) then draw the yarn through both loops before you slip your old stitches off.

(I have just noticed I was knitting with an odd pair of 4mm needles – must have been dark when I grabbed them!)

As you decrease over your next 7 rows your tea cosy develops its shaped top. Once you are down to your last 14 stitches, do not cast off. Just break off your yarn,  thread it through your remaining stitches and draw them together to give your tea cosy side a curve to fit around your pot.

Front / Right side

Back / Wrong Side

You now need to do this all over again for your second side and make a fluffy pompom for the top.

To make it up, lie your tea cosy sides on top of each other, right sides together and use a running stitch to join them across the top and lower sides – remember to leave an opening for your handle on one side and the spout on the other.

To help make sure you get the openings in the right place it helps to try it on your pot!

Add your fluffy pompom and Voila – you will have a very cosy teapot! Let’s hope Macmillan’s like it!

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23 thoughts on “My Vintage Style Knitted Tea Cosy (Cozy)

  1. Hi,
    and hello from Norway! I just love this tea cosy, and plan to make one myself! Thanks for the instructions! I have just written a post on my own blog http://cathskreativehjorne.blogspot.no/2014/09/en-klassisk-tevarmer-fa-oppskriften.html about this classic styled tea cosy, and have among other things refered to your post! I do hope you do not mind that I have used two of Your photos in order to link to your blog? My blog can be transelated – take a look at the left side colum. Greetings from Cathrine :-)

      • Thank you so much for that! I expect to get a Burleigh Asiatic Pheasants teapot any time now, and will knit a tea cosy as soon I get it! Thanks so much for the inspiration on Your blog! I will visit you again soon also! X

    • I think I started with 98 stitches for an average size tea pot. If your pot is smaller, use less, if bigger cast on a few more, the important thing was using a number that divides by 7.

  2. Thank you so much for this detailed breakdown of the classic tea cozy. I’m actually attempting to make my own and having trouble finding a visual aid to get me started. Your photos have been extremely helpful. Ever thought of making a video on Youtube? Or if you know of one, could you direct me? Cheers.

  3. In the picture of the magazine, it shows a cozy for the bottom of the pot, for the pot to sit in. Did the magazine include the directions for the bottom of the pot? I really like the two together. And of all the cozies I see, most of them don’t have a bottom to the cozy. I wonder what keeps the heat from cooling from the bottom, and the one in the picture would deal with that.

    • I see from the picture the bottom is called a nest. I really would like that pattern to go with the cozy, if possible.

      • Hi Katie, you’re right, the teapot in the Patons pattern is resting on its matching nest. It’s really cute. The nest seems to be made in 2 pieces. The base is an oval knitted in garter stitch and the sides made out of a rectangle shaped band (224 stitches wide) in a similar method to the pleats on the main tea cozy. ie, the colour you have just used is drawn firmly across the back to form the pleats. Once finished, the band is folded in half (over some wadding for insulation and a 2.5 inch wide piece of cardboard for strength) and the ends are sewn together into an oval ring shape which is then stitched to the knitted oval base. The bottom is again insulated and strengthen in a similar way to the sides and a piece of fabric is sewn over the bottom to hide the cardboard. Hope this helps as a rough guide. X

  4. Hiya,
    These are amazing! I know my friend would adore one of these so I wondered if you would be willing to make one for me? I would of course pay you! :o)

    • Hi Rachael, I’m thrilled that you like the tea cosy and flattered you would like one for your friend. However, at the moment I’m a little nervous of going down the road of selling anything because of all the legal and finanical stuff – I hope you understand. Although it’s my dream to make special stitchy treasures to sell I think I need to find out a little more about it first. Your lovely message has encouraged me to start to look into this possibility – thank you. As soon as I’m ready to take my first commission I’ll let you know. x

  5. I really like your tea cosy – such a lovely pattern. Being Australia, I drink my tea by the pot and have quite few cosies myself . I love making tea cosies. I have books 1 and 2 and want to knit every one of them. I knit up a vintage tea cosy a little while back which is my absolutel fav, so I must put the pic up on my page. Thanks for sharing, I love your posts.

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