Introduction: How to Knit a 'proper' English Tea Cosy!

Picture of How to Knit a 'proper' English Tea Cosy!

Americans don't know what a tea cosy is! However, once they see one and decide it is not a hat for a large dog or small donkey, they want one - that is of course if they own a proper tea pot. (Look inside the tea pot and a "proper" tea pot has several holes where the spout enters the pot - not just one big one!)

By the way, I have always been wary of Americans making tea! Don't forget - they once tried to make it with Boston Harbour water!

The knitting of tea cosies is a very traditional idea and if you go to England check out the church bazaars, etc. and I am sure you will always find one to suit your taste. If you already live in England, you will know what I mean. The one in the second picture was knitted for my mother in law, who I vowed to keep in tea cosies for ever.......

Step 1: Let the Knitting Begin!

Picture of Let the Knitting Begin!

The size of the cosy will depend on the size of the tea pot. This cosy is knitted for a 6-cup pot, but you can easily adapt the pattern to make it smaller or much larger.

Once you have decided on your two colours, take a pair of knitting needles - size 5mm. Cast on 72 stitches (multiple of 6). For a medium cosy cast on 60 stitches (multiple of 5).

Cast on using the two needle method as follows;

Hold one needle in your left hand and one needle in your right hand. The right hand is the hand doing most of the work.

Make a loop and place on the left-hand needle.
Pass the tip of the right hand needle through the loop, wind yarn round the right hand needle to make a second loop. Place this new loop on the left hand needle to the right of the original loop. You now have two stitches on the left-hand needle.

To make the third stitch, pass the tip of the right hand needle BEHIND the second loop (and in front of the first loop -not through any loop) Wind yarn round the right hand needle to form the third loop and place this on the left hand needle to the right of the second loop. Continue with this last instruction to make loops until you have the desired number of stitches - in this case 72. This method of casting on makes a much neater and firmer set of stitches with which to work.

Step 2: Side One

Picture of Side One

When you have 72 stitches on the left hand needle, you can now begin to knit the first side of the cosy (you will need to knit two identical sides).

Knit 5 rows in Colour A of your choice (Garter stitch). To make a neater finish, always slip the first stitch from the left hand needle to the right hand needle without knitting it. When you get to the last stitch on the left hand needle, knit into the back of the loop instead of in the front of the loop. Slipping the first stitch and knitting into the back of the loop of the last stitch makes a much neater edge on your knitted piece.

Step 3: Introducing the Second Colour

Picture of Introducing the Second Colour

When you have knitted your five rows of garter stitch, now is the time to introduce your second colour (Colour B). Choose a matching or contrasting colour - whatever the mood takes you.

First row working with two colours as follows:
First row is the right side

With Colour A (i.e. the one you have knitted 5 rows with), knit 3 stitches.
With Colour B, knit 6 stitches
Working across the front of the cosy, continue to knit 6 stitches in alternate colours until 3 stitches remain. Knit these three stitches in Colour A.
Make sure you carry the yarn at the back as you change colours and do not pull the yarn tight.

Step 4: Second Row Working With Two Colours

Picture of Second Row Working With Two Colours

When you knit the second row working with your two colours, you will keep the same sequence of colours as your first row, i.e. knit 3 stitches colour A, six stitches, colour B, etc.

HOWEVER, in this row you will be carrying the yarns across the FRONT of your work (eventually this will be your wrong or inside of the cosy).

It is very important that you keep all the carry on yarns on the same side otherwise it will not work. You will have a "mess"!

Step 5: Make Sure You Twist the Yarns After the First 3 Stitches at Each End.

Picture of Make Sure You Twist the Yarns After the First 3 Stitches at Each End.

When changing colour from A to B at the start of each row, you must twist the yarns round each other. If you don't do this you will have a "hole" (which can always be sewn neatly if you miss one). However, it is very easy to twist the yarns round in the first place and avoid the holes.

Step 6: Neatness Counts!

Picture of Neatness Counts!

This is what your knitted piece should look like on the "wrong" side after you have completed a few more rows.

As you knit the yarn will try to tangle itself up - do not let it do this, you may have to stop from time to time to unravel the yarns

Step 7: Begin Shaping

Picture of Begin Shaping

When your knitted piece measures about 6 inches you will need to do some shaping to curve it in at the top. This is very easy.

With right side facing, Knit 3 with colour A. Keeping the yarns across the back as before and twisting the yarns as before between colour A and B after stitch number 3, knit 4 and knit 2 together with colour B. Continue across, knitting 4 and knitting 2 together in alternate colours until you reach the last three stitches. Knit 3 in colour A.

With the wrong side facing knit 3 A, knit 5 B, to the end of the row keeping the colours correct to last 3 stitches when you will knit 3 A.

Knit 4 rows as above, continuing with correct colour striping. Note if your tea cosy is taller or shorter than mine, you can adjust the number of knitted rows and knit the piece a bit longer or a bit shorter.

Next row, right side
Knit 2 together, knit 1 colour A, Knit 2 together B, Knit 3 B, Knit 2 together A, Knit 3 A, etc.

Knit across until last three stitches and Knit 2 together A, knit 1 colour A.

Next row (wrong side)
Knit 2 A, knit 4 B, etc. until last two stitches, knit 2 A

Step 8: Shape On

Picture of Shape On

Knit 2 colour A;

Knit 2 together B, knit 2 B, Knit 2 together A, Knit 2 A, continue keeping stripes correct until the last 3 stitches. Knit 2 colour A.

Knit 2 A, Knit 3 B, Knit 3 A to last two stitches, Knit 2 A (wrong side)

Next row
knit 2 together A, Knit 3 together B, knit 3 together A, to last two stitches, knit 2 together A.

You are now left with 13 stitches on the needle and your shaping is finished.

Step 9: Finishing Off

Picture of Finishing Off

Cut off both yarns, leaving about 12 inches in length on each one.

With a large holed needle take both the ends of yarn and thread through all 13 stitches on the left hand needle and pull up tight and bind off tightly, sew in the ends neatly.

Step 10: Sewing Up

Picture of Sewing Up

You have now finished one side of the tea cosy. Now you must knit the other side in exactly the same manner.

AFter knitting the second side take the two (hopefully) identical sides of your knitted cosy and place them right side to right side. Using the lengths of yarn that you left at the bottom when you cast on, sew up the five rows of stiches at each end on both sides.

When you have done that sew up the top of the cosy. Turn right side out and place on your tea pot. As handles and spouts are not always in the same place on every tea pot, you will need to customize where your spout and handle are. When you have decided how much more of each side you will need to sew, mark with coloured threads, turn inside out and sew up neatly to where you placed the coloured threads. Turn right side out and you have a lovely warm cosy for your pot.

Step 11: The Finishing Touch

Picture of The Finishing Touch

You can either make a yarn pom pom for the top of your cosy and sew on neatly, or do what I do - make a crochet chain and sew it on in loops.

I like the crochet chain much better as it tends not to fall apart when you wash the cosy - and you can hang it up on one of the loops if you wish.

Therefore, take a medium sized crochet hook - it doesn't really matter on the size - just use one that you are comfortable with. Crochet a long, long chain in either Colour A or colour B (24 inches long at least). Take a large holed needle and sew the chain onto the top of the cosy in a series of loops, make sure they are sewn on well. You will probably have to crochet more chains until you get a nice fat crown of crochet loops. You can even use Colour B for another chain - or a completely different colour altogether if that grabs you.

Step 12: There Is No Limit to the Pattern!

Picture of There Is No Limit to the Pattern!

When you become more adventurous and friends start admiring (and wanting) your tea cosy, you can vary the pattern by knitting stripes, and squares (and even intarsia designs) following the basic pattern. You can even knit an American flag, although working with more than two colours really gets you in a tangle.

The pleats on the wrong side retain the heat from the tea and keep the whole pot warm for much longer. My mission - no more cold tea pots!

Now all you need to know is how to make a 'proper' cup of tea!


ToveH (author)2017-12-11

Thank you for instructions. I finished making one. Will add pictures another day as i still have to sew it together.

meowzebub (author)2017-12-01

howdy - kinda wondering: instructions say "don't pull the strands tight", but if so, how does the cosy end up with that scalloped look? the pattern has the same number of stitches, so if knitted up "normally", it should be even/smooth, not wavy. sorry to be a bother, but I don't have a proper English knitting mentor.

thanks for your help.

CaroleC9 (author)2015-12-10

This leaves the spout open, allowing the tea to cool off faster? Do you have one that covers the pot entirely? thank you

meowzebub (author)CaroleC92017-12-01

may I suggest: make larger pieces & sew them together completely (don't leave gaps for spout & handle)???

klarson1 made it! (author)2016-06-06

Thank you for this excellent tutorial!

knitandclick (author)2016-05-31

for some reason I can noit download pattern. What am I doing wrong

Lexistarlight (author)2016-02-09

Amen to that! US is as barbaric and backwards as Nepal or China!!

Lexistarlight (author)2016-02-09

Love it! Feer ls like I am home again....wish i were :(( thank you for sharing. Haven't knitted in ages, hope i don't muck it up! CHEERS!

LavenderPrincess (author)2011-05-25

Seriously, why the problem with Americans? It's kind of offensive.


BornToSki999 made it! (author)2015-09-23

I discovered how to attach my images ?

Thank you for sharing your lovely pattern xx

teresasue (author)2015-02-01

What yarn and how much needed please

teresasue (author)2015-02-01

What yarn and how much needed please

lindsaystark822 (author)2013-07-29

I love this and I want to do this! But I do not understand how to do the following step:

"Make sure you carry the yarn at the back as you change colours and do not pull the yarn tight."

Can anyone help me with this? I can only manage to pull the yarn across the front, and can't get it to the back? How???

babyowl53 (author)2013-03-19

Love the tea cozy.. I was raised learning how to make and drink tea the British way and my mother and I are American.

sclaughton (author)2012-10-25

What yarn did you use for this? I am in Canada, also what was your gauge?

bouder (author)2012-05-10

I was raised by tea loving (Canadian) parents and we always had a tea cosy or two! After I was married, I saw and fell in love the tea cosy that my husband's (Scottish) Grandmother had. It is identical to yours, but she does not have the pattern! So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw this post! If only it came in crochet instructions. as I cannot knit! :-(

KittyF (author)2012-03-05

do you use wool or artificial fibers for your cosy?

Kiteman (author)2008-09-07

She hasn't logged on, but Kitewife just browsed this and liked it. My granny had a tea cosy like this, but it had a hole at the top for the knob on the lid of the pot. It had a tiny hole in the knob to let the steam out, so the hole was important to stop the cosy getting damp. (Rated on Kitewife's behalf.)

stinkymum (author)Kiteman2008-09-07

By the way, both the purple/pink and green/green cosies are coming to England at the end of the month as gifts for deserving relatives in Woodbridge!

Kiteman (author)stinkymum2008-09-07

I hope they're not members, or you've just spoiled the surprise!

stinkymum (author)Kiteman2008-12-16

never did take those cosies to England (forgot to pack them!)- I had to knit a new set of three over there for my sister-in-law's teapots. Here they are in their new home on a Woodbridge sideboard!

paulineh (author)stinkymum2012-02-08

could you tell me how many stitches you used for the small pot i have just bought a one pot new to knitting but picking up quick would like to knit a few as my dad would love these

Kiteman (author)paulineh2012-02-09

An easy way would be to work out how many stitches you normally form per inch (knit a few rows, measure and count), measure around the pot, then work it out from there [number = (stitches per inch) x (inches around)].

stinkymum (author)Kiteman2008-09-07

I hadn't thought of that, but the steam can get out of the spout too.

Kiteman (author)stinkymum2008-09-07

Oh, covering the top of the lid doesn't harm the tea or the pot, she just didn't like damp patches on her cosy.

She was seriously old-school regarding crafts, make-do-and-mend right to the end. She knitted lots, didn't have carpets, and made her own rugs from strips of old clothing ("proddy mats"). She drank tea so weak that a single bag would last a full pot, and then she added hot water to the cups!

I don't remember how she was, but my dad was born in 1942, a very late addition to the family, so she quite probably remembered both World Wars.

carolynq (author)2011-10-21

I am very proud of my first attempt - a rasta tea cosy, which works a treat!
Thanks for the pattern

girlcousin (author)carolynq2012-01-27


deenakalb (author)2011-12-04

How much yarn is needed? I didn't see any quantity posted.....

peely124 (author)2011-10-07

just became a member why carnt i download PDF keeps saying become a member!! help

The White Rose (author)2011-09-20

Bravo! I woke up this morning, turned to the net as with winter coming I have to find a way to keep my tea hot now I'm back in old Blighty. I found this fantastic site so I'm going to get my wool today and keep my big tea pot covered. Thanks a million

Jeffwho (author)2011-08-18

Just knit my first tea cosy from this pattern and it turned out wonderfully, it gets used almost every day and I probably make one for my little sister that also loves tea. It was my second project after learning how to knit and now I'm trying to learn how to knit socks. Thank you for the wonderful pattern and inspiration to try knitting one of these cosies. Though there should be a disclaimer some where in the instructions that warns that knitting can be addicting, but I suppose knitters already know that. :)

Peebie3 (author)2010-11-13

I grew up with one of these that my Mom had. It was cream colored and green, but stained. My Mom always wanted to figure out how it was made but never did. Thank you for bringing back a fond memory for me.

johnnay (author)2010-06-10

Why is she ribbing Americans??

Staarrkatt (author)2010-05-04

I'm seeing references to 'fancier' tea cozies. I've got an English friend for whom I'd *love* to make a tea cozy - where do I find the fancier patterns, please? 

chotii (author)Staarrkatt2010-05-31

I can't knit, but I've made very workable tea cozies from ordinary winter hats (one from a berber fleece hat for a larger teapot, and one from a darling baby's hat for a single-cup teapot). Just cut a hole for the handle, and another for the spout. Works very well.

wendyknit (author)2010-04-23

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on. - Billy Connolly

jaysbob (author)2008-09-08

what difference do the extra holes in the pot make? I've noticed some teapots with that design and always wondered about that.

stinkymum (author)jaysbob2008-09-08

In the "olden" days when tea was loose (no tea bags) and there were no tea strainers, the extra holes prevented the large tea leaves from coming out of the spout into the cup!

maeve (author)stinkymum2009-01-10

THe Olden Days??? I still use loose tea here in Ireland!!! In our tea pot theres a bit of mesh inside the spout aswell as the smaill holes just to be extra sure of no manky tea leaves... they tase awfull!!!

bettbee (author)maeve2009-12-22

I'm here in the good old US of A using loose tea as well! :-)

Also the proud owner of at least 3 tea cosies! But none of my cosies has openings for spout and handle so I shall have to re-learn knitting and make one like this!

Was watching some crafts show the other day, and some woman had made a HUGE tea cosy and then felted it in hot water so it shrunk to normal size. It was very cool.

Warlrosity (author)stinkymum2009-04-24

Can you make a hat one pleses?

angladrion (author)2009-08-28

What is the ply of this wool please? Double knitting?

liz53 (author)2009-07-04

thank you...thank you....I have always wanted to learn how to make these, I have had terrible results in the past!! Can't wait to make one....

sandrac (author)2009-07-04

Thanks for having this pattern on your site. I had lost mine (which had always been in demand for gifts to friends), during a move, and was delighted to find it again. This is indeed one of the best cozies I've ever made. Really does keep the tea pot hot longer! Loved your creative ideas for the pattern.

twingosmum (author)2009-05-07

They look great! Will pull out some bright yarns and give one a go!!

maeve (author)2009-01-12

My nana has a pattern for a tea cosy like that, except the ridges are further apart ( wider stripes of colour). I would post it here but its kind of incomplete... as are most of her patterns, but she always manages to guess them perfectly!

stinkymum (author)maeve2009-01-13

This is such a traditional English design, and I know that there are lots of variations - with wider stripes and narrower stripes. I once found one in a charity shop in California with a pom pom on top and the people in the shop thought it was a hat for a large dog!

maeve (author)stinkymum2009-01-15

Ha ha, big dog, if the cosy wud b big enough to fit my nana's (granny's) teapot, t'wud fill the army with tea and there'd still be sum spare!!! ( what my granda always ses!)

stinkymum (author)maeve2009-01-16

I suppose in California they don't need a cosy to keep the tea pot warm! Here's a link to the biggest cosy I ever made. My sister in law has placed it on a globe of the world to create global warming! My dad loved his tea and used to sit the tea pot (and the cosy) on the gas ring - he set fire to many a tea cosy that way!

About This Instructable




Bio: Born in England many years ago, moved to California in 1980, moved to New York in 1993, became a US citizen. Favourite place to visit ... More »
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