Keeping Cosy by Deborah Love
16th October 2020
While the thought of sitting down to ‘High Tea’ on a regular basis sounds delightful, in the 21st Century the tradition of high tea is one we seem to only practice on very special occasions.
Not only would it seem unrealistic to luxuriate over cups of tea and tasty treats for several hours each afternoon, but just imagine all of the calories in the profiteroles, clotted cream and other sweet and delicious delicacies!
High tea, however, wasn’t always such a luxury. In fact, historically, the term ‘high tea’ used to refer to the early evening meal eaten by the working classes and consisting of a hot dish – meat or fish, followed by cakes and jam and bread. The elegant high tea as we now know it was referred to as ‘Afternoon Tea’ and was introduced by Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford in the 1840s.
Anna Maria Russell Duchess of Bedford (source)
Anna Maria was tired of feeling that mid-afternoon slump. We all know the feeling – it’s been a while since the last meal but still a long way to go to the next and what we need is a pick-me-up.
For Anna Maria it was worse. During the 1840s, women in particular really only had two meals – breakfast and then dinner, taken quite late, around 8.00-9.00pm. The enormous gap had arisen partly because the men were engaged in business meetings generally conducted over ‘lunch’, which could drag on for hours.
All the while, the women were sitting at home getting hungrier and hungrier!
As such, Anna Maria began having tea and small cakes and sandwiches in the afternoon. She soon started inviting friends over to join her, and before long it became an event where women also could discuss whatever topics they wished which weren’t appropriate for ‘mixed company’.
Tea, at that stage, was very much a luxury item. Because it was still primarily imported from China (tea growing in India didn’t start in earnest until after the Opium Wars in 1839), it was an expensive and valuable commodity. As such, tea drinking was very much a symbol of status.
Thanks to the passage of time and our adaptation of history, we now usually refer to that delightful afternoon meal of Anna Maria Russell’s as High Tea. Not many of us practice the full ceremony, but you don’t need the full range of cakes, sandwiches and scones. You can still enjoy the spirit of high tea with a couple of your favourite biscuits or a slice of cake and a warm pot of tea, kept at just the right temperature by a beautiful, handmade tea cosy.
We can imagine that Anna Maria would have been delighted had her teapot been kept nice and warm covered by Deborah Love’s ‘Keeping Cosy’.
This elegant project has been designed with the purveyor of high tea in mind. The subtle, muted blues which characterise the Deerfield embroidery technique are accentuated by the row of whimsical pom poms which line the seam.
Keeping Cosy, our latest Handpicked project, is ideal for keeping your chosen teapot beautifully covered, with instructions available in both print and digital and as a Ready-to-Stitch kit.
Whether it sits proudly covering your teapot on your kitchen bench or used to keep your pot filled with that wonderful drink for you and a treasured guest to enjoy at just the right temperature, having a beautiful hand stitched Deerfield tea cosy will be quite the talking point.
It does seem a shame that the elegant traditions of the past have been lost so effectively beneath the realities of day to day life in the 21st Century. So many people quickly make a cup of tea in a chipped mug with a teabag tossed in, forgetting that tea is filled with subtle flavours and scents and can be so varied depending on how it is made, how long it has sat in the pot, and what particular type of tea leaves have been used.
Perhaps, once you’ve worked Deborah’s fabulous cosy, you might be encouraged to dust off the old teapot, whether for breakfast or for a special high tea, and, using it to ensure that your favourite beverage is just right, take the time to appreciate the pleasures and flavours involved in a cup of tea.
Make Your Own | Keeping Cosy
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Keeping Cosy by Deborah Love from our Handpicked Range is a charming tea cosy embellished with Deerfield embroidery and bobble trim.
Keeping Cosy – HP Digital
Keeping Cosy – HP Print
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Keeping Cosy includes everything* you need to re-create this delightful tea cosy: Fabrics (unprinted), trim, batting, embroidery threads and needles.
*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the printed/digital pattern.