Text by Britt E. Stafford • Photography by John O’Hagan
Even in this digital age, the art of knitting remains popular among men and women of all ages, regardless of their experience level. And it seems the pastime often goes hand in hand with the ritual of a daily cup (or pot) of tea. There are even tearooms designed specifically to bring together fans of both hot tea and knitting. (See our article on numerous venues in Washington State at teatimemagazine.com/warm-and-cozy/.)
So, what better craft could serve as the ideal embodiment of one’s joint appreciation for teatime and knitting than a tea cozy? This beloved accoutrement, used to maintain a teapot’s heat, is believed to have been around since the mid 1800s, not long after the practice of afternoon tea was introduced by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford. As the tradition gained popularity among households in Britain and spread to different parts of the world, cozies became a regular accessory for teapot owners. These items may be found in a variety of traditional and whimsical shapes, colors, sizes, and motifs, but there is a definite charm to handcrafting a teapot cover.
Inspired by a number of “tea cosy” competitions hosted throughout the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, the West Virginia–based Larkin Tea Company is bringing back its own nationwide contest for residents of the United States. Co-owner Judy Larkin’s hope is that the competition will bring together knitters and tea enthusiasts.
“I like the way knitting has become popular again, and it’s such a social activity,” Judy says. “[People] don’t just sit at home and knit, they get out; it’s a way of connecting with other people.”
The Larkin Tea Company has hosted the competition thrice before; it was created when Judy stumbled upon an old hand-knit cozy. “It was clearly made in the ’70s of orange-and-brown yarn,” she recalls. “A lot of work had gone into it, and it was well used. So, I thought the creation of knitted cozies should be celebrated.”
To enter the contest, participants are asked to submit a photograph of a knit, crocheted, or felted tea cozy via email to email@example.com, or by mail to The Larkin Tea Company, 545 Warm Springs Ave., Martinsburg, WV 25404. According to Judy, the tea cozy does not have to be new but must have been handcrafted by the contestant. Photos will be posted online, where people can vote for their favorite tea cozy. One winner will be selected to receive a variety of prizes, such as $400 worth of specialty teas and tea accessories, a one-year subscription to TeaTime, a copy of Tea Parties Around the World and Teatime Parties, and more. The closing date to submit an entry is May 31, 2020.
For more information on this competition, visit larkintea.com.
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