Saturday, 29 October 2011

Tree Trunk Tea Cosy (for stainless steel pots)

I struggled to find a single pattern for a steel tea pot (those 'catering' rather than pretty style types).  Rather than getting Gran to change her habit of a lifetime, I created a pattern to fit the cylindrical rather than typical sphere shape for her.  Thus the tree trunk tea cosy!  This is for a 5" diameter, 4 1/2" high pot (3-4 cups).

This cosy is made up of two flat pieces, a left and right side of the cosy, which get joined at the top in the round for 1/4" before the rounds reducing to create the flat top.  I recommend using circular needles all the way through and then you can keep flat 'left' on the wire whilst you knit flat 'right' and then easily join together into the round without dropping stitches etc.  There will be a short 1" matress stitch join needed at the bottom where the handle is, and a 3" mattress stitch join needed at the bottom on the spout side.

This pattern is mainly suited to a semi-experienced knitter who enjoys improvising.  However, it can be simplified for a less expeirenced knitter - but it will look more angluar and less knarled.  If the below talk of knots and thicker/thinner lines terrifies you, I have written the base version here, you will only need to know PSSO, ribbing, matress stitch, knitting in the round, K2TOG, and changing colour.  You can adorn it with self knitted embelishments or craft shop items to disguise as necessary!  I haven't put any photos up of how different it looks compared to the improvised version as I haven't had time yet to make it twice!

All versions of this follow the base pattern as its starter.  The basic concept for the bark look of this tree trunk cosy is that the bark is formed by 3x3 rib to give it its lines.  Now in terms of making it look tree-bark-y (technical term huh!) you have two options depending how confident you feel:

  • Keep it simple, just 3x3 straight ribs.  For the basic knitter.
  • Play around yourself within the rough rules of 3x3 rib and add in thicker/thinner lines or knots as below.

Ok, so to aid understanding of my instructions; for each set of 3x knits I call this a 'rib', 3s or the dominant stripe, and for each set of 3x knit and 3x purl I call this a 'rib set' or 6s (dominant stripe and its partner recessive stripe).  As 95% of the bark is knitted flat, when mentioning knits and purls I refer to right side or wrong side - if for that last quarter inch in the round you are keen to continue thicker/thinner lines or knots then adapt the wrong side row instructions for knitting in the round (swap knits for purls and vice versa).

Thicker/thinner lines 
Work in pairs of changes - for every increase you do in one 'rib', you are best to do a decrease in the next 'rib'.  For the first row (right side) KFB into the middle K of the 'rib', P3 and then K1 K2TOG for the next 'rib' and P3 again.  Then for 3 (or an odd number of rows) work with this rib set as a 4x3x2x3 rather than 3x3x3x3.  Return to the normal 3x3 (on right side) by K2TOG in the middle two K of the 'rib' and KFB into the first K of the next knit 'rib'.  You can always make this a more dominant change of thickness by adding more KFBs and/or K2TOG and ammending the ?x3x?x3 rib set as appropriate.

For a knot you will insert a recessive 'stripe' into the middle of a dominant stripe and then reduce it.  The size of the 'stripe' can vary and will always start with two stitches in row 2 and increase, before decreasing back to row 2 size and then removing the 'stripe' all together - this will make it a circle or knot (hence rcessive 'stripe' in inverted commas).

So, for basic small knot, in the 3 'rib' subsitute the following rows for the simple 3, starting on a wrong side row:
row i - P1, PFB, P1
row ii - K1, KFPB PFKB, K1
row iii - P2, KFB KFB, P2
row iv - K2, P4, K2
row v - P2, K4, P2
row vi - K2, P2TOG P2TOG, K2
row vii - P2, K2TOG, P2
row viii - K1, s1 K2TOG PSSO, K1
row ix - return to the simple 3

Or you can do a simple blemish by doing a YO K2TOG in the middles of a bunch of knits.

Remember: bark is nobly bobbly and bulges in places - therefore the tea cosy does not need to fit like cling film maintaining the shape of the pot perfectly all round the circumference.  Additional stitches in rows can bulge as you like and bump away from the pot irregularly.  If anything, any mistakes you make not maintaining your regimented 3x3 rib will look better!

Once the tree trunk is knitted, you can start to decorate and adorn as you feel best suited to - knit, crochet, felt, button/bead or shop bought.  I used my ivy leaf cord pattern, instead of weaving in the ends I used those yarns to sew a little stitch to loosely hold onto the cosy, and some grass.  I also placed a curved oak leaf onto the top to disguise the bump of the lid handle.

Why not try for example:
If you follow the improvise pattern then these cosies are like gem stones - each is a unique product, and natural flaws become more special.  Would love to see the different scenes you come up with!

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