How to Make a Tea Cozy with Hedgehog-in-a-Teacup Fabric

Teapot, tea cozy and teacup

A fun project for the tea-lovers among us. Also a great gift. This pattern fits a 4-6 cup teapot but you can scale it up or down as desired.

Teapot, tea cozy and teacup

What you’ll need:

  • Fabric (Note: ordering this particular fabric takes up to two weeks, so plan ahead!)
  • Downloadable pattern
  • Light yellow thread (or light blue if you’re using the fabric with the blue background)
  • 1 package of light yellow or blue Double-Fold binding. Make sure it’s Double-Fold as opposed to Single-Fold; otherwise it won’t cover the bottom edge correctly. You can use a contrasting color instead if you like.
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine — it’s much easier if you have one, but you can do it by hand too.

Don’t be scared by all the steps! There are really just four:

  1. Buy the material
  2. Cut out the pieces
  3. Sew the main part together
  4. Sew on the seam binding (the edging piece that goes around the bottom)

1

  • Buy your hedgehog fabric:
  • Buy your quilted insulating fabric:

2

  • Download the three parts of the pattern:  Left   Middle   Right
    Print them out on 8-1/2 x 11 paper and tape them together.
    Left, middle and right patterns for 4-6 cup teapot
  • Fold the hedgehog fabric in half lengthwise, making sure that the hedgehogs are matched up. (This may mean that you’re not folding down the exact middle of the fabric.)
  • Pin the pattern on the fabric so that the hedgehogs line up as in the pattern. Make sure your hedgehogs are lined up straight at the bottom. Straight as in not-crooked; no-one cares if your hedgehogs are gay.
  • Cut out two pieces carefully.
  • Cut out two pieces of the quilted fabric, making sure that the quilting lines are vertical and matched up.

3

  • Assemble the cozy: put one piece of quilted fabric silver side down, then one piece of hedgehog fabric facing up, then the other hedgehog fabric facing down, then the other quilted fabric silver side up. Pin through all layers. Sew only around the more-curved top edge (not across the less-curved bottom) through all layers with about a 3/8″ margin.
    Curved seam of tea cozy from inside
      Curved seam showing inside
  • Turn right side out. It already looks like a tea cozy!

4

  • Measure all the way around the open end of the tea cozy and add 1/2″. Cut the binding to this length.
  • Open out one side of the binding and line up the OUTSIDE of the edge of the fold with the OUTSIDE of the unfinished edge of the open end of the tea cozy, matching up the raw edges. Pin in place, leaving the extra 1/2″ free.
  • Sew with about a 3/8″ margin from the edge, all the way around except for the extra 1/2″.
    Sew banding to edge

  • Fold the binding to the inside with the edge folded in. Pin in place. Don’t sew yet!
  • Fold in the end of the binding 1/4″ and overlap it over the other end. Pin in place, THEN sew.
    Fold over the end of the binding

  • Here’s the last step! From the OUTSIDE, sew carefully RIGHT IN THE “DITCH” OF THE SEAM so the stitching catches the folded-over binding on the INSIDE.
    Sew right in the seam

That’s it! Because of the insulating properties of the lining, this tea cozy will keep your teapot warm for several hours, for realz.

Note: If you use the quilted fabric, hand-wash the tea cozy only; if you machine-wash it, the reflective coating will come off and it will be less effective. I think the Thinsulate would be OK, but the hedgehog fabric might shrink or get twisted. So just hand-wash and let air-dry!

‘A Nice Cup of Tea’ by George Orwell

Cup of tea

From the Evening Standard, 12 January 1946:

Cup of tea

If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.

This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

  • First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.
  • Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
  • Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
  • Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
  • Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
  • Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
  • Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
  • Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
  • Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
  • Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
  • Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

(taken from The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Volume 3, 1943-45, Penguin ISBN, 0-14-00-3153-7)

Skull and Crossbones Sugar Cubes

Sugar skull on spoon

From Crnchy.com:

sugar skull bones

Does your morning coffee sometimes taste like death warmed over? Is that last cup of coffee in the pot at the office ominous? You can make that coffee 100% sinister by adding these amazing skull and cross bones sugar cubes to your cup. The cool sugar cubes are not available in stores, but instead were created by the brilliantly creative mind and fingers of designer Snow Violent.

Can you imagine looking down into your coffee cup and having that evil looking skull staring back at you. You watch as the bones float and bob in your cup slowly dissolving in the murky darkness of your cup’s evil potion. Now that is the way to start the day.

sugar skull bones

sugar skull bones

sugar skull bones

sugar skull bones

[Full article]

Did drinking insane amounts of coffee make these artists great?

Collage of autor pictures and coffee stains on paper

Collage of autor pictures and coffee stains on paperBy at Slate.com:

Coffee! It is the great uniting force of my Daily Rituals book. It’s what brings together Beethoven and Proust, Glenn Gould and Francis Bacon, Jean-Paul Sartre and Gustav Mahler. This should hardly be surprising. Caffeine is the rare drug that has a powerful salutary effect—it aids focus and attention, wards off sleepiness, and speeds the refresh rate on new ideas—with only minimal drawbacks. And the ritual of preparing coffee serves for many as a gateway to the creative mood. Balzac wrote:

Coffee glides into one’s stomach and sets all of one’s mental processes in motion. One’s ideas advance in column of route like battalions of the Grande Armée. Memories come up at the double, bearing the standards which will lead the troops into battle. The light cavalry deploys at the gallop. The artillery of logic thunders along with its supply wagons and shells. Brilliant notions join in the combat as sharpshooters. The characters don their costumes, the paper is covered with ink, the battle has started, and ends with an outpouring of black fluid like a real battlefield enveloped in swaths of black smoke from the expended gunpowder. Were it not for coffee one could not write, which is to say one could not live.

Balzac certainly couldn’t have maintained his extreme lifestyle without the stuff. He worked in bursts of frenzied writing—or, as one biographer put it, in “orgies of work punctuated by orgies of relaxation and pleasure.” During the work periods, his writing schedule was brutal: He ate a light dinner at 6 p.m., then went to bed. At 1 a.m. he rose and sat down at his writing table for a seven-hour stretch of work. At 8 a.m. he allowed himself a 90-minute nap; then, from 9:30 to 4, he resumed work, drinking cup after cup of black coffee. According to one estimate, he drank as many as 50 cups a day.

[Full article]