Totally cliché, but some days a bowl of fruit is just irresistible to paint.
Here are a few from the past few years.
The painting practise was dubbed West of Lunch. Explore on Pinterest or follow on Instagram. Some are offered for sale in the shop.
The painting practise was dubbed West of Lunch. Explore on Pinterest or follow on Instagram. Some are offered for sale in the shop at a modest price. If you don’t see it in the shop and are interested in purchasing feel free to contact me via the Contact Form (at the bottom of the page).
Who doesn’t have a love affair with trees. Cooling shade, aromatic flowers, delicious greens of every hue, dancing branches and every one with a uniquely shaped trunk.
West of Lunch watercolour paintings, some available in the shop. WoL Shop
June is surely the sweetest month in the garden in our part of the world, and a vase or pot keep fresh flowers in our lives all year round. Constant subject matter for you know what.
West of Lunch watercolour paintings, some available in the shop. WoL Shop
A wee shoutout to thewirecutter.com for their unexpected mention of FlockofTeaCosy’s wares as a good gift for mom on Monther’s Day. Chest puffed out, head swelling, generally feeling chuffed.
Here’s their item from April 30th, written by the clearly lovely Alex Arpaia and titled “A not too twee tea cozy”:
Does your mother’s taste run more to Heath Ceramics than Blue Willow china? Danish modern rather than Louis Quatorze? Assam loose-leaf instead of Hawaiian Kona dark roast? Then she might just be in need of a tea cozy that doesn’t look like it came from Queen Victoria’s drawing room. One of these simple yet colorful wool-felt cozies—handmade in Toronto by Michaelle McLean, a certified tea sommelier—will keep the tea in her teapot warm all morning. (McLean makes cozies for French press coffee makers and mugs too.)
Thanks et merci!
It’s a different world than when we closed the Flock of Tea Cosy shop for our winter break — but we keep washing our hands and carry on!
Mother’s Day 2020 – order by April 27th
Enjoying pots of tea is one of the daily comforts that keep us going, yes? And fortunately — with thanks to our posties who continue to work during this pandemic — mail-order remains viable so Flock of Tea Cosy’s sleek modern wool felt tea and coffee cosies can still be yours. Or your mother’s, perhaps more to the point. Here in North America Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10, 2020. Order by Monday, April 27th to be sure, although if you’re in a major urban centre the following Friday May 1st will likely be fine.
Physical distancing has certainly given us a lot of time to clear out those closets and get to spring cleaning. I’ve also joined hundreds of other sewers making fabric masks for one of our local hospitals — as well as some extras for friends and neighbors. And tried to find some time almost every day to keep up a watercolour painting practise, not all of them keepers, mind you. (WestofLunch shop or Instagram) I know many with the gift of cooking well are busy trying new recipes and I really look forward to sampling when we can all finally start eating together again. In the meantime, stay healthy and, in the words of my local MPP, “be nice, we’re all in this together.”
About five years ago I took a watercolour class. Its lightness was very appealing and painters I’ve loved, like Raoul Dufy, make it look so fine, so breezy, so easy.
By Raoul Dufy, 1953 — one of my inspirations
It turns out learning watercolour is not nearly as simple as it looks and small variations in paper, liquidity, humidity, brush size, etc etc affect how things turn out. But it has completely seduced and intrigued me and so I continue it as a practise, particularly when travelling. Along the way I leave a trail of little paintings, and some work out okay.
Now offered in the shop. Helps pay for more paper and paint. All originals. Payment is processed through PayPal’s secure site.
The painting practise, for some reason, was dubbed West of Lunch. Explore on Pinterest or follow on Instagram.
Puzzle-piece wool felt tableware
A few years ago the “Puzzle Pieces” were introduced after the pile of tea cosy offcuts next to the sewing machine became too high to ignore. This fine quality, well-made 100% wool felt from Europe was just too dear to throw out — and the colourful scraps far too pretty to ignore.
The excellent manufactured wool felt that Flock of Tea Cosy uses (both the locally made Industrial felt and the colourful European felt) is wonderfully consistent — exactly 1/8″ thick, evenly dense, smooth, crisp and clean looking, and the rich jewel-tone colours are pretty and colour-fast, remaining bright for years. The natural baaa-baaa colour of the industrial felt also holds its natural colour.
Wool felt coasters, trivets, hotpads, table-toppers
I was particularly drawn to this wool felt’s density which makes it an excellent insulator — perfect for tea, coffee and mug cozies. When noodling for ideas of what to make with the many small off-cuts it was primarily the insulating quality that inspired me. The result is a bevy of coasters, trivets, hotpads and table toppers that protect surfaces from hot teapots, warm serving plates, and damp vases.
Their making is akin to the quilts or rag-rugs our grand- and great grandmothers used to make using up otherwise useless scraps and small fabric pieces, although I take a much more free-form approach. Their rugs and quilts embodied an ethos that is enduringly forward- thinking and contemporary which we now call “green thinking” or “eco-friendly.”
Carefully fitting the trivets, coasters, etc together is a wonderful piece of puzzling so they’ve been dubbed “the puzzle pieces.”
They take a silly amount of time to cut and sew together but I’m very pleased to not be wasting the fabric, and love the final pieces. The felt has a wonderful hand-feel and weight, and the zig-zag stitching holding the pieces together both ensures durability and adds a graphic visual element that I like. I find creating them it somewhat akin to drawing especially as each one is different, like a small piece of art.
‘Cruz Collection’ trivet & coaster sets
Some of the larger offcuts are cut and stitched with a simple cross pattern — dubbed the Cruz Collection and bundled into trivet and coaster sets. They make a perfect complement to one of the tea cosies, or alone as a gift set — a hostess gift perhaps?
Shop trivets and coasters
Have you ever been to the Remodelista site? Everytime I visit I see something I like and the women who run it have “favorite things” listed that I either have or lust after so naturally I think they have exquisite taste. All to say that when they published something on this flock of tea cosies, well, (blush) I just thought that was the cat’s pajamas, as my grandmother used to say.
Here’s the link … “Tabletop: Felt Teapot Warmers from a Flock of Tea Cosy”
French press coffee cozy design
You may have seen this coming but, here’s the french press coffee cozy version of our “Baseball” design. Steeper shoulder curves, same buzzy zig-zag stitching on the dart, simple clean curved profile which looks completely at home on morning breakfast counters and evening dinner tables.
Designed with modern simple lines to fit Bodum’s “Chambord” french press coffee makers in the 8cup and 12cup sizes.
Seen here in fresh Moss Green which brings a breath of spring to any table. Made from thick (3mm) European 100% wool felt to their highest standards. This is some of the best, dense, wool felt made in the world. And beautiful to boot.
And it’s a natural fabric — baa-baa sheep wool — which is a renewable resource and thus a wonderfully “green” choice for your tableware. An eco-friendly choice as well as a beautiful choice.
A perfect fit for the home of any modern coffee lover.
New tea cosy colour! Still lots of summer humidity around here but the Fall colours will soon be upon us. In the meantime we’re thrilled to welcome the perennially fresh Moss Green to Flock of Tea Cosy’s “Baseball” design line of modern tea cosies.
Coming soon to the shop….
Later: Oh look, here they are now.
It was love at first sight for me, because of its density and thickness and its vibrant colours, but a number of the reasons to love this beautiful, non-woven wool fabric are invisible.
- It’s a renewable resource. Sheep continually grow their wonderful woolly coats which are sheared each spring.
- It’s naturally fire resistant and is self extinguishing. If you hold a match to genuine, 100% wool felt it will start to burn — but if you take the lit match away the fire on the felt will smoulder and go out on its own.
- It has high thermal insulating properties and this is what makes wool felt brilliant for a tea cosy. (It is also extremely sound absorbing but that probably doesn’t matter for tea cosies.)
- It’s naturally water repellent — spilt tea, for instance, will first bead on the surface of wool felt giving one the opportunity to quickly blot it up.
- However it can absorb liquid four times its weight which make me think it would make a good door mat — if it wasn’t so pricey ;) It also means wool felt makes great shoe inserts — insulating and absorbing the sweat or dampness. Unlike anything polyester (plastic).
- The European 100% wool felt that FoTC uses is the best in the world. Unlike made-in-you-know-where felt which, in my experience, can be easily shredded, this European felt is manufactured to the very highest quality and they’ve been making it for over a century.
- It’s manufactured in an eco friendly manner. The thick, colourful European felt is made to Oeko-Tex 100 standards which mean its manufacturing creates no toxic waste. Children could chew on it and live to tell — although not recommended!
- Frankly it just feels great. It has a wonderful soft yet sturdy hand-feel which is an important quality for items we touch on a daily basis.
Some interesting things that are (or were before being replaced by a plastic fabric) made of 100% wool felt are:
- shoe inserts
- piano hammers, bass drum strikers and timpani mallets
- chalk board erasers
- music cassette tapes — a tiny cube held the tape to the sound head
- roofing felt
- shoulder pads
- Valenki — a type of traditional Russian footwear which are warm and dry and with good traction for walking on dry snow when the weather is frosty.
- In the automotive industry it has been used to dampen the vibrations between interior panels and also to stop dirt entering into some ball/cup joints
- for framing paintings — laid between the slip mount and picture as a protective measure to avoid damage from rubbing to the edge of the painting.
- in millinary — many hats including fedoras
- horse saddle felt
- house and sound insulation batting — still being done
When I was in England a few years ago I came across a fascinating book on the felt industry there. The industry, like so many, is now pretty much gone. While some of the reasons the industry disappeared may be considered short-sighted it is certainly true that most industry has a finite life-span before something new — sometimes something wonderful — comes along and replaces it, changing the labour demographics and economies of towns and even nations. Plus ça change…n’est-ce que pas?
But wool felt has experienced a recent resurgence in the design and DIY fields. Beautiful furniture and household wares — including tea cosies, french press coffee cosies, mug warmers (!) — as well as fashion items are available and can be found through quick, easy internet searches. (Try duckduckgo.com for non-tracked searches.) For a great collection of contemporary wool felt pieces by designers and artists (ahem, including flockofteacosy.com) you might be interested in this Sydney Morning Herald piece from a few years ago.
Flock of Tea Cosy’s shop.
Almost every tea culture does it — warms the teapot (or teacup) with the boiling water before making the tea in it. Why? Because the room-temperature vessel will steal almost ten degrees Celsius from the hot water. This means if you don’t pre-warm your teapot, your lovely tea loses that heat immediately. One of this flock of tea cosies will do an excellent job of keeping your pot of tea hot, but it can only maintain the heat that’s there.
As you can see, within about 20 seconds this room-temperature ceramic creamer stole over 10 degrees celcius heat from the boiling water just like a teapot does.
So warm that teapot first, then slip your tea cozy over it (say, isn’t that a smart modern tea cozy right there) — and you’ll have piping hot tea for ages.
We’re giving this lovely Mulberry red a trial run. A deep, rich red and a thick and lovely hand-feel.
Available in the “Neu” or “Baseball” style coffee coies designed to fit the Bodum Chambord french press coffee maker (8-cup or 12-cup) , and in a small or standard-size teapot cozy.
Tea Cosy Coffee Cosy
Puzzle Piece trivets
Tea cozy hack and trivet test.
Customers are such an inventive lot. And helpful.
Fits a tall teapot too
Recently a customer ordered one of the flock’s cosies designed for a french press coffee maker, the 8-cup “Neu” design in Moss Green. Shortly after receiving it she wrote to tell me it fit her tall, narrow-proportioned teapot perfectly. A great customer cosy hack!
- “I love my green cozy. I have a tall teapot (I know it’s meant for a cafetierre) that I use every day and it fits perfectly!”
Trivets survive stove-hot espresso pot
I also recently received a query about whether the trivets could handle a hot-from-the-stove espresso pot. The colourful wool felt is wonderfully resilient, and perfect for protecting tabletops from hot teapots but I wasn’t confident enough to absolutely guarantee they’d hold up to stove-hot. It turns out they hold up just fine. On the flock’s behalf the customer put the trivet through its paces with her espresso pot and it came through with flying colours. No burn marks and no table-top harmed in the testing.
- “Ta dah! And worked out perfectly. No burn marks.”
Small tea cosy works as egg cosy
I mentioned this awhile ago but it’s worth mentioning again. A clever customer reported that the small tea cosies work wonderfully at keeping a bowl of soft boiled eggs hot on a Sunday morning. Another great tea cozy hack.
- “My wife and I are excited about the two new members of our tea family. They double as egg cozies as we soft boil several eggs and put them in a bowl.”
Welcome spring! We are so glad you’re here.
And welcome to Flock of Tea Cosy’s newly secure website. We’ve (finally) implemented SSL — you can tell because there’s now https and a green padlock icon before all our URLs. This means your internet connection and communication with our website is encrypted and secure. In addition, and as it’s always been, if you shop on the site all money transactions are done offsite at PayPal’s own secure site, Flock of Tea Cosy never has your credit card details. Rest easy.
Rejuvenating your wool felt tea cosy
Just back from a few days north of the city — still some spectacular colour clinging to the trees!
I was visiting SK, the friend to whom I’d given the very first tea cosy cut to what’s become the flock’s signature pattern — that rounded, Roman-helmet shape with a chatter of zig zag pinking along its edges.
The cosy then and now. Not bad but life’s added a few creases and folds.
In the five years since it was made the cosy has experienced normal wear and tear and stuffing-in-drawers between tea-drinking visitors so, having a lazy afternoon at hand, I thought I’d see what kind of ‘spa’ rejuvenation I could render on it.
MacGyvoring a rolled thick bath towel to substitute for a small sleeve-ironing board, I placed a clean wet tea-towel between the felt tea cosy and the medium-hot (on medium steam setting) iron and gently and quickly ironed over the creases on both sides. Then rolled the tea towel to insert in the wonky top tab so it wouldn’t create a crease while I, again putting a clean wet tea towel between it and the iron, gave it a quick pass or two.
Et voila — pleased to report that a little steam ironing with a wet tea-towel between the felt and the medium-hot iron worked wonders. Just like it’d spent a day at the spa.
The marshes and streams were bursting with beautiful bright red berries. I don’t know what they are but I brought home an armload for the dining table.
I’m very proud of the craftsmanship and quality of the products I make to sell under the Flock of Tea Cosy banner, and it makes my day when a sale or a query comes over the transom, especially from some place faraway.
CLEAN, MODERN DESIGN
Some place like Finland, or Australia, or Italy, or the far west coast of the USA or even South Africa. It’s been the magic of the internet that enables the flock’s wares to be found by the relatively small, but, might I cheekily say, discerning, global group that appreciates these simple, cleanly designed, enduringly modern tea- and coffee-cosies.
WOOL FELT IS AN EXCELLENT INSULATOR
While most clients have mentioned it is the clean, minimalist design that brought them here, many have reported back their appreciation for this tableware being really good at its job. This is firstly due to the choice of fabric, dense wool felt, which is an excellent insulator. And secondly, because the Flock of Tea Cosy’s tea, coffee and mug cosy designs prevent heat from escaping which ensures the tea or coffee or hot chocolate stays hot.
A NATURAL FABRIC
Some clients have mentioned they were drawn to the natural fabric — wool felt is a natural fibre fabric (baa-baa sheep) which means it will a) decompose when its life is over, and b) is a renewable resource (ie: the sheep survive and are sheared every spring). It will leave a minimal footprint and is therefore eco-friendly.
On that note, the Puzzle Pieces (trivets, coasters, mousepads, etc made from the off-cuts) use green-thinking to reduce the waste from the cosy production. More eco-friendly products using wool felt’s natural insulating quality.
WELL MADE FROM QUALITY MATERIAL
Feedback also indicates notice of (thank you!) and appreciation for the excellent quality of the material used. The coloured 100% merino wool felt that Flock of Tea cosy uses is the best in the world. It’s made in western Europe to exacting and eco-concious standards. It is sturdy and consistent in its production, which can’t be said for some other sources, and the colours are rich and colour-fast. The Industrial wool felt, made here in North America, is a technical grade also made to top industry standards.
The high quality of the materials is paired with high standards of workmanship which ensure that each piece at Flock of Tea Cosy is well-made and made to last. Everything is individually handmade, all end seams are double-sewn, and the hang-tabs are securely hand-sewn on. For the puzzle-piece trivets, coasters and table-toppers all seams are button-hole stitched at their end.
With thanks to Flock of Tea Cosy’s clients, some first hand reports can be found here:
The flock’s “Ribbed” style tea cosies have a wonderful puffer-fish expandability — but it wasn’t until quite a while after I designed them that I finally fully stuffed one of the Standard size and measured its circumference.
Woof — a 37″ circumference! Allowing an inch of pinch this would accommodate a teapot (including spout and handle) up to about 35″ around. If you’ve a large teapot, feel free to contact me and we can measure the height of its spout and handle, etc and ensure it will fit.
Use the contact form at the bottom of this page.
It works equally well on most standard 4-cup teapots though, which is what I use mine for. That’s the magic of this design — it’s very accommodating.
Ribbed tea cosies
Finally had some time at the work table the other day — more of the colourful “Ribbed” cosy design in the small size.
These ones are sized for a small 2-cup teapot but because the design cleverly expands like a puffer fish it can accommodate one a little larger or one with a wide spout to handle dimension.
Go to the shop
If your teapot is large — or you just like the look — pull gently on opposite sides and the stiff felt will pop out like a puffer fish to wrap around the teapot.
If your order here at Flock of Tea Cosy is a gift — (housewarming? Christmas, birthday? Mother’s Day? Hanukka?) — and you’d like it shipped directly to your giftee, we’d be happy to wrap it in special tissue and include a personal note from you for you. Either include a mention at check-out in the “Notes” field, or mention it when I contact you to confirm your order.
No extra cost. Easy peasy.