The Tea Partyand Their Cozy
The 2014 issue of Jane Austen Knits featured Cassandra’s Tea Cozy, a pattern for a lush floral teapot warmer. Though the pattern only notes Anne Berk as the author, this piece was actually designed and created by five wonderful ladies: Anne Berk, Elaine Blatt, Stephanie Fleming, Valerie Allen, and Jill Betts. We recently spoke with the dynamic quintet about the pattern, their experiences working as a team, and other fun questions about the world of Jane Austen.
Why a tea cozy?
When asked why the team chose to make a tea cozy, they noted that tea was not only a beverage but an important event during Austen’s time. Four of the five contributors are involved in the Jane Austen Society of America, where they have plenty of opportunities to experience tea as Jane did. In company with Regency-era themes, Valerie noted that the tea cozy evokes the image of a basket of flowers from an English garden. The team also researched Regency-period textiles for the body of the tea cozy, experimenting with their knitting to create the different flowers. They wanted the cozy to be interactive, where flowers could be added over time.
How did it come together?
With so many pieces to this project—the sample includes 27 floral elements in addition to the cabled base—it made sense for the group to collaborate on almost everything. Stephanie researched appropriate flowers, and the knitters worked together to decide on an appropriate pattern for the basket base. Everyone worked on designing the flowers. The group wanted to make flowers of varying levels of difficulty so knitters of any experience level could try this pattern. After the designs were finalized, Anne turned them into a written pattern, which the group tested. They ended up creating so many flowers that some wouldn’t even fit on the cozy!
What were the challenges?
Each of the knitters found the most difficult part to be knitting without an initial pattern. Valerie found knitting the body to be the most difficult part. She received plenty of help from her local yarn store, Northwest Wools, to help with her first leap into the world of cables. On the other hand, everyone loved making the flowers. They were quick, fun, and really added life and character to the piece. Plus, everyone got to participate, regardless of their knitting experience. It was definitely a divide-and-conquer project for the team.
“If you could be in one Jane Austen story, which one would it be?”
Stephanie: I recently read Jane’s unfinished works, and I’m intrigued by “Sanditon.” I would like to be a character in that story—it’s set up beautifully—lots of gossip, misunderstandings, and community tension regarding modernization of a town to make it into a “health” destination.
Jill: Pride and Prejudice
Anne: Sense and Sensibility
Valerie: Mansfield Park? Kidding! Emma
If you want to knit this beautiful tea cozy, fit for afternoon tea, find it in Jane Austen Knits 2014.