Well, I have done it – completed my order for a set of tea cosies for the beautiful cafe Le Bon Melange. In the process I think I have perfected my pattern for making the tea cosies, so decided it was time to share it here. This is the first time that I have published a crochet pattern, so please be gentle with me – and let me know if you find any errors!! If you do make a cosy from this pattern I would love to see the end result!
The two sizes of tea cosy plus a coffee press cosy too!
This pattern is for a flat topped one cup tea pot, but I have fitted it to a more rounded one cup pot and it worked just as well. To adjust it to a larger two cup pot the instructions for the top remain the same, it is just the number of rows for the body that change. Once you have the basic body you can then decorate it with whatever you like! Flowers, hearts, frogs – the sky is the limit!
The red pot is the one cup pot and the aqua is the two cup pot. How well do those colours match the wool?!
I used a 4mm crochet hook and 8 ply wool to make this pattern.If you use thicker wool the pattern will still work – it will just end up slightly bigger.
dc double crochet
To start chain 4 and joined with ss
Row 1 Ch 3 then 11 dc into the ring, ss to join to top of the first chain 3 (creating 12 stiches in round)
Row 2 Ch 3, 2 dc in each stitch of round 1, with last single dc in base of initial chain 3 stitch, ss to join
Row 3 Ch 3, *1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeat 11 more times, with last dc in base of first ch 3, ss to join
Row 4 Ch 1, ss in next stitch, ss in next stitch, 3 ch and skip stitch, then 1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch, *1 dc in next stitch, 1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeated 10 times and finish with single dc in last two stitches of round. (This is the top of the cosy)
Row 5 Ch 3, turn and 1 dc in each of next 21 stitches (22 in total)
Row 6 – 8 repeat round 5 then finish.
Return to round 5 and attach wool three stitches from the first half of round five and then repeat round 5 – 8 in order to create the second half of the cosy. Do not finish off at the end of row 8 but continue on.
Row 9 ch 3 dc in each stitch until reaching the end of the row then ch 3 and dc in each stitch of other half of cosy. This creates the join under the spout.
Row 10 – 11, ch 3 dc in each stitch of row, including the joining 3 ch from row 9.
Row 12 3 ch, ss to other side of cosy, then 3 ch, turn and dc in second chain from ss, dc in each stitch until reach the beginning of the row. This joins the cosy under the handle.
Row 13 – optional – ch 1, skip first stitch then ss in each stitch of row 12 and finish with ss into fist ch.
To make this pattern fit a larger 2 cup pot the pattern is the same until row 8 when you should stitch another row before creating the join under the spout in row 10 rather than row 9. Then add in rows so that the final row with the join under the handle is row 15. You can adapt the basic pattern to fit larger pots by adjusting the size of the top and then the length of the body.
I did add a crown to one of the small cosies – I just couldn’t help myself! Here the pattern is shown on a different shaped one cup pot – it is fairly versatile.
Since I last wrote all sorts of things have happened here in the nest, both with my business but also on the farm. Let’s get the colourful exciting pictures out of the way first! I have been busy playing with both fabric and wool, and trying out new things. I made my first large batch of tea bags and listed them on my Etsy shop (the link is at the top of the page).
I also played with bright colours and bobble stitches to make a tea cosy for a custom order and then, because I like it so much, made another for the Etsy shop!
On Monday I received a commission to make a series of tea cosies for a cafe! I will reveal all when they are complete, but I have had fun developing a repeatable pattern which I will publish once I have ironed out all the bugs! This is a picture during an early stage of development!
I have spent quite a bit of time at appointments and in waiting rooms this week so having my portable crochet habit with me has been useful. At the hairdressers on Wednesday I finished this water lily that I had been making using a pattern from Make my day creative.
On Thursday and again today I made lots of little hearts,
and kept perfecting that pattern!
On the home front much more has been happening. Last Saturday we met and decided to trial (before formally adopting) a new dog. It is exactly one year since our beautiful boy Milo contracted pancreatitis, and then died three months later. My boy has been patiently waiting for another dog of his own but I was keen to make sure it was the right dog, and that we were ready. Shadow seems to fit the bill. He is a Belgian Shepherd who was rescued after living rough in the bush on the outskirts of Canberra. Searches have not been able to locate his owners, so a rescue group set out to find him a new home. He has the most beautiful nature and is completely dedicated to my son. The downside is that he is not fully toilet trained at the moment, but that is possibly due to stress, as he is improving daily. With a week to go in the trial I think it will be hard to say goodbye to him and expect that he will become a permanent part of the family!
Saturday brought us other excitement with the discovery by the artist in residence of an injured kangaroo down near our chook run. We cared for him during the day until the Wildcare rescuers could come and take him for treatment. A photo sent through last night shows him doing well, so we are all very happy that Roger (as the kids named him) is doing well! His friends seem a bit suspicious of us though and seem to be keeping an eye on us all!
The other thing I can show you in photos is my new haircut. It has been a while since I had it done – a combination of finances, time and more time seemed to keep delaying me, which meant that by the time I got to the hairdresser she had a lot of hair to work with! I love the end result! I had to take a selfie to share the new look with you!
So there you have it – a week in review! Now to get the fire going because it is cold today, and then to keep working on that pattern! A cup of tea might be in order first though!
I hope that you have had a great week wherever you are!
With my renewed enthusiasm for creating it is probably time to start sharing some of the useful things I find on the internet with you all too. This week it is free patterns for crocheted baskets. I love working with thick repurposed t-shirt yarn – it works up so quickly so you get almost instant satisfaction for your efforts. I have to admit that so far my attempts at making my own yarn haven’t been great, but I will keep persevering, and in the meantime have found some great commercially produced yarn to practise with. I made these two baskets (without a pattern) to hold all the wool that was accumulating around my lounge room! I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning! These baskets are really versatile!
I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning! These baskets are really versatile!
Here are links to a great range of patterns I found in my searching on the internet for inspiration:
In addition to the big news that my creativity has returned, you might well ask what else has been happening here in the nest! This year is, once again, flying past and we are more than half way through it!
Autumn was colourful and not too cold and then winter hit with a cold snap that hasn’t really lifted yet.
For me the year has, as usual, had its challenges. Learning to accept that I can’t do all that I once could, because being a parent has to come first, seems to be a long lesson to learn. I still forget and agree to do something that sounds great, only to get to the date and realise that it just won’t work for the family for me to be absent for an afternoon, an evening, etc. I seem to constantly be cancelling plans and letting friends down, but, in one new step forward, have learnt not to carry that guilt with me. Phew! On the up side, following a series of linked events that saw my parents absent from the farm for the majority of a couple of months, my independence has grown significantly and I no longer have to rely on them to help me get things done – although it is still nice when I get home to find that Mum has folded my washing or tidied my bench! I have managed to finish two crochet blankets – one started two years ago – and am enjoying their warmth during this cold winter. Keeping life simple seems to be my motto in order to survive!
This year has seen new schools for two of my chicks. After many unsuccessful attempts to have my boy placed into a learning support unit within the school system he was enrolled in, I made a phone call to the Department of Education for New South Wales. What a different response! As a result he now attends a school in Queanbeyan where he is supported beautifully and where he feels safe. He is still only attending school for 2 hours a day, but he is engaged in active learning when he is at school, which is a big step forward. Throughout this process I have, again, had to learn some new lessons about changing my expectations for his future, and accepting that the role of a special needs parent is a different one from parenting non-special needs kids. You would think that after 5 years of advocating and supporting him I would be on top of this gig but it turns out that there is always more to learn!
My artist-in-residence started high school this year. I am still not sure how I missed that this was going to be a big deal for her and why I was so surprised when she struggled with the transition! All the signs were there, so I am not sure where my head was at that point! 6 months in we are making progress at supporting her to attend school, and to cope with the change of class every hour, plus the different people she has to see, but we are well and truly at the beginning of this journey with a lot of work to do to keep her supported and safe. In the meantime she has made great progress with training her kelpie Buddy, and is continuing to produce amazing works of art on a daily basis (along with a whole lot of teenage attitude).
The eldest chick has really hit her stride this year. She is (more or less) on top of her school work and has chosen electives that she is really enjoying, especially Engineering. She has recently joined Army Cadets and is constantly amazing me with her drive, determination and organisation. She has been working on her fitness and can be seen many mornings running around the paddocks in the freezing cold, weaving in between the sheep and kangaroos with her headphones on!
The farm is producing food for us! We have a freezer full of lamb, and with a new ram (named Gordon Ramsey) we hope to have more lambs in the spring. Our free-loading chickens went to new homes (no really – they did) and our new ones are producing eggs a plenty, which means baking is happening, along with egg and bacon breakfasts. (Now to think about getting some pigs…..)
It has been a dry, cold winter and the dam is at a very low point, which means that it freezes around the edges overnight quite often! We have also had some impressive fogs.
How’s that – summarised 6 months in less than 800 words! I hope that you have been well and that life hasn’t been too complex for you.
A few weeks ago I found myself lying in bed thinking about this website and wondering whether I should just delete it and accept that I wasn’t going to be in business anymore. It was a hard conversation to have with myself, but I couldn’t see anyway to move forward. Fast forward to this week and I have just reopened my Etsy shop (you can get there by clicking the link at the top of the page) for the first time in over two and a half years. Wow!
What happened to change things? I had a couple of lightbulb moments. I just couldn’t get excited about making any of the things I used to make, wasn’t inspired to design anything from those lines, and had pretty much abandoned my studio as the household dumping room for anything that didn’t have a home. Then we had a two week school holiday break for the children where we made no plans – no trips, no big outings, and no commitments. After a few days of mooching around while the kids did their own thing in their own parts of the house I decided that it was time to tackle the sewing room. Which took about 6 hours less than I thought it would, and was not stressful. The light was beginning to shine through the gloom that had been sitting over my creative self.
Then I decided that I needed a tea cosy for my glass teapot to keep it warm when friends dropped in and we drank multiple cups of tea in one sitting. I did a bit of looking around on line and ended up making my own pattern and whipping this up one evening.
That was the first light bulb moment! I found myself wanting to create! I kept making tea cosies, even though I didn’t have a person in mind to give them to. Then I found myself looking at all things tea related online and had my second light bulb moment. By starting to make again, but not sticking to just one method of making (sewing) and not just one type of product (accessories) I could delve into making but instead focus on a common theme. Tea! From there I started down the road of making resusable tea bags. I drink a lot of tea and always put any tea bags in the compost or the worm farm. Recently we emptied the worm farm and dug over the compost and all the tea bags appeared amongst the lovely dirt – not at all broken down. I have since discovered that tea bags are manufactured using plastic! While I often use an infuser I have found that the hinged ones break, and the cup ones aren’t always the right shape for the cup I want to use. The sewing machine came out, the fabric scrap bin was opened and the experimenting began.
After a lot of research I decided that using GOTS certified organic cotton was the safest option, and that using a tighter weave rather than the traditional loose weave muslin would ensure that the bags lasted longer. Then I drank lots of tea (oh the hardship) using various shapes and sizes of the tea bags, decided on the best combination and sat down and began making them. Making them involves cutting, sewing, threading, sewing, turning, ironing each little bag, so they aren’t particularly cheap to make, but I believe that they are a good investment in reducing the amount of plastic we are pouring into the earth.
This morning I got up bright and early and photographed, staged, took more photos, wrote descriptions, edited, wrote different words and finally, after a very long time, pushed the ‘publish’ button to list items for sale in my shop again. It felt good! I have a lot of ideas but have learnt a lot over the years about what works for me, what success looks like for me, and what causes me to become overwhelmed and freeze. This means that I am not putting pressure on myself, and will make and list items when I can. I am a bit proud of these first listings though! Check out my tea cosy collection!
Yes that is eggs and bacon
And even better, yes that is avocado on toast!
I have also used this new found creative surge as an excuse to hit the charity shops in search of teapots to use for sizing the cosies and tea cups to use in making ‘things’, like a pincushion.
And then because I like having a new pincushion for my pins I made another one for my needles, using a pattern from the Lion Brand website.
So there you have it. My creative urge is back and I am back in business, but with a new twist. Let’s see how it goes! There has been a lot happening apart from the creative explosion, but I will save that for another time as there is a pile of crochet calling my name, and some Netflix series to binge watch.
Hey – we survived Christmas, New Year and most of the school holidays! Cause for celebration! Of course there is one more week of the holidays before the children return to school, so anything can happen (and probably will). How was your Christmas celebration? Ours had an interesting and slightly traumatic start when the new dog (Buddy) discovered and ate most of the contents of the Christmas stockings. Luckily there was only white chocolate in them, but he also found a wrapped gift with chocolate and tried to eat that, along with adding teeth marks to a few other boxes. Between that and Dottie (the small and crazy dog) depositing a poo on the floor just inside the back door that my parents stepped in as they came in to say Merry Christmas it was not an auspicious start! Buddy was then put outside to reflect on his misdeeds, and took himself for a wander, was found by a passing car and deposited at the local vet clinic, 15 minutes away. We located him through the powers of Facebook and eventually had our Christmas meal at about 3pm. In between all the dog drama we shared some lovely family time, and enjoyed watching as each one of us opened our presents. My efforts in making presents was worth it – the children all loved their new pyjamas, my eldest chick is extremely excited by her new quilt, and my mother liked the table runner that I embroidered for her. I was also sent a photo of my very excited niece wearing the pjs that I had made her, so they were also a success!
I stitched this traditional sashiko pattern onto a table runner as a gift for my mother. I will share my tips on how to do this soon.
The big focus for us throughout the holiday period was actually an event after New Year. On 10 January my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We couldn’t let such an occasion pass unmarked, so we held a party and invited family and friends. The best thing about having family who live so far away from us (or is it that we live so far away from them?) is that when they come to visit they don’t just come for a couple of hours – they come for a few days so we get to spend time with them doing ‘normal’ things! This was definitely the case on this occasion. My father has 9 siblings and 6 of them were able to attend. My mother’s siblings all sent their best wishes as did those of my father’s siblings who couldn’t join us. Two sets of aunt and uncles stayed with us for a few days, along with my sister and niece and my brother. My brother’s attendance was a surprise for my parents – and it was a true surprise with lots of joy! Time spent talking to family over breakfast or while working in the kitchen was a real treat and made the whole week very special.
Photos of their wedding day, a delicious croquembouche cake and a blessing tree. (And just quietly – how good does the dresser that I renovated last year look?)
For the party itself my aunts helped with cooking, my brother and uncle tackled the grass cutting, everyone chipped in to tidy the garden, and one of my uncles braved Costco with me for shopping! My sister helped with all the decorations, which were lovely, and my sister and brother stepped in to keep the kitchen running and food appearing throughout the evening. It really was a lovely party – kids running around in the garden, adults catching up with old friends and new, and some great family traditions played out, including the family tradition of singing a song written about the couple (in this case to the tune of ‘A bicycle built for two’), signs being held up during the speeches to encourage the audience to clap, cheer or hiss, and lovely memories shared of a wonderful life together.
I am so very fortunate to have parents who have been married for this long. They are the first to admit that it hasn’t always been easy, and that they have had to work to maintain their relationship, but their commitment to each other is tangible and their love for each other continues to keep them strong, and it really does serve to show that great relationships exist.
6 Tips for celebrating a Golden Wedding Anniversary
After it was all over I realised that we had learnt some great tips to share with our friends who might also be hosting a party for their parents in a similar way, so I put together a few of them to share with you all. They are a bit Australian centric, but the ideas can be used in other countries even if the names change!
My parents renewed their marriage vows, 50 years after the original vows, in a mass said at home. It was emotional, happy and a true celebration.
1. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has a protocol section that will arrange for the Prime Minister to send a letter to the couple to commemorate the occasion. (I found this out after the fact!)
2. If you are Catholic you can arrange to have a papal blessing certificate sent to them to commemorate the occasion by speaking to the admin staff at your local church office. (The certificate is, as you can imagine, quite ornate!)
3. To create poster sized reprints of the original wedding photos I scanned them onto a USB stick then went to Officeworks and had them print the black and white photos on plain paper at A2 size. Cost per print? $4. A colour photo on thicker paper but still at A2 size was $10. I used Ikea frames that I already owned to hang them and they looked great!
4. We had a croquembouche cake as the ‘wedding cake’. These delightful piles of choux pasty filled with custard and drizzled with caramel toffee and spun sugar with gold leaf were made by a fantastic pastry chef here in Canberra. Natalie van den Bosch of the soon-to-open patisserie Le Bon Melange created this beautiful dessert that had everyone lining up for seconds! (The fact that she had been part of a youth group that my parents ran many years ago in another part of the country was a nice personal twist!)
5. My sister created a blessing tree. This was a ‘tree’ of gold twigs with tiny lights that she arranged in a vase, with tags for the guests to write their blessings for the couple. It was lovely to read the messages after the party.
6. I designed the invitations to the party, and to the house mass that was held on the day of their anniversary, using www.canva.com. This awesome site allows you to design for free, or a for a small charge, using elements that graphic designers use. The invitations looked professional (if I do say so myself!)
I hope that the holiday season has been kind to you. I have been using the time to do some painting – walls, furniture etc, so stand by for some further updates. (Although the photo from the anniversary party does show a newly painted wall, so that can count as a sneak preview!)
I was listening to the iconic John Lennon song ‘Happy Xmas – War is Over’ while celebrating Christmas Eve with my chicks and my parents here in our rural nest, and realised that, in answer to the question ‘And what have you done?’ I have a long list on some topics and a very short and bare one on others. Maintaining this blog would fall on the latter list and yet I am still loathe to let it go. (In fact I just paid all the invoices to renew my web-hosting for another year just this evening!)
So what have I done? This year has been a year of consolidation with life in the country. Our little flock of 5 sheep grew to 17, and we have enjoyed some lovely lamb meals as a result. Our flock of chickens shrank from 14 to 6 and our egg production increased as a result! Go figure! We started the year with two dogs and ended with two dogs, but sadly not the same two. Dottie the crazy terrier has survived to deafen us with her barks but after a couple of unusual and serious illnesses we lost Milo the Labrador in November. In December we welcomed Buddy the kelpie and he is settling in well, but has not replaced Milo in my boy’s affections.
We adopted a resuce dog, Buddy the Kelpie, in December 2016.
On a business level the year started well with me doing lots of sewing for the Shop Handmade, and lots of consulting for a new business venture. By the end of the year the sewing was non-existent and I had to pull back from all the consulting as I was facing burn out again and didn’t want to head back down that path. I live in hope that I will return to consulting and sewing in 2017, but we will see.
Our flock of sheep includes two sets of twin lambs born in late October.
The family front is where the hardest work has been focused. My boy has continued to struggle with mainstream schooling, and with his frustrations turning into aggression and violence. As we end the year I still don’t have answers on the school question but am comfortable that, after 4 separate hospital admissions I am on top of managing his behaviour, and that he is on the right combination of medications. He is 10 now (I know – where did that baby boy go?) and is incredibly articulate, intelligent and compassionate, but also demanding and exhausting. My girls have also had a rough year with the constant stress of living with this stress taking it’s toll on them. I have found an excellent team of professionals to help support them and am sure we will get through this but the combination of all their needs saw me stepping away from the small amount of work I was doing and trying to be as present as possible for all three of them. My artist-in-residence finished primary school with her art chosen for the cover of the yearbook, and my eldest chick has found her groove and her tribe at school and brought home some great feedback on her school report.
2016 has been tough. In our home and in many other homes across the world. I don’t think that there is any particular magic in a new year changing social attitudes, or the way an autistic child’s brain works, but I am hopeful that the 6 week school holiday break will give us all a chance to recharge, refocus and rebuild some of our battered resilience. In the meantime I have gone back to the basics. I have been sewing for the love of creating, not for work. There are handmade pyjamas appearing under several family Christmas trees this year, there is a queen sized patchwork quilt that is almost, but not quite, finished for my eldest chick to receive in the morning under the tree, and there is hand embroidery on another gift after my discovery of the joys of sashiko (Japanese embroidery) earlier in the year. My plan is to work on small personal projects for a while, then to get back to designing and making on a business level when I am ready.
My gorgeous mother helping me to pin the quilt sandwich together before tackled machine quilting it – perhaps choosing a queen size quilt for my first self-quilted quilt was a tad ambitious!
I hope that your Christmas and New Year is spent with people you love, who cherish you for who you are, and that you have a chance to recharge and rebuild before the next year sweeps us away into everyday life again. From my nest to yours, Merry Christmas. xx