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!
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
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
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
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.
Step 6: Neatness counts!
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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!
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!