Tea and Sympathy

The Jane Austen cup adds to the pleasures of afternoon tea.  

I was going to open this blog post by discussing how, at this time, the myth of Sisyphus truly resonates with me, but then had second thoughts.  Such a downer!   In Greek mythology Sisyphus was a king of Ephyra punished for continuing deceitfulness by being forced to roll a massive boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever. As I've continued to work on my Midsummer Aran—or should I now call it my Wintertime Warmer or, perhaps, Eastertide Top—I have repeatedly ripped and redone and ripped and redone.  But in equal proportion to my frustration working this garment (which, oddly enough, I'm still excited about wearing, when and if it reaches completion) is my aversion to writing any more about the painstaking learning process I have gone through to get where I am now, roughly two-thirds of the way toward casting off.

My knitting notes for my tricky sweater are beginning to look like some
complex mathematical equation.  

In knitting, as in life, sometimes we need to ease off a bit, to give ourselves time to regroup to fortify ourselves for upcoming challenges.  This idea works in reading, too.  After recently slogging through The Vicar of Wakefield, Bleak House, Oliver Twist, and half of the 600 pages of The Lady in White (I actually do love this book and am slowly working through it), along with a current attempt, sparked by renewed regrets at past laziness, to hone up on my French by attempting to read The Hobbit in that language, I was ready for a break.  So a couple of days ago I devoured an easy-to-read Christian chicklit novel (yes, this genre really does exist), a volume which offered a warm-and-fuzzy escape this week from the realities of my monster sweater and of the beginning of my school year.  (Only 175 days left!) 

The book I finished, bought recently for 99 cents at Goodwill, is entitled Sisterchicks Go Brit  and is about two middle-aged women who travel to England, spending some time in a country village, in London, and in Oxford.  (If you've read my previous blog post about my recent trip to England, this itinerary is familiar.)  The text on the back cover states, "Nothing on the excursion goes the way these two friends had envisioned."  (Hmm. Also eerily familiar.)  I have to say, though, that I too can relate to the fact that the narrator's experiences with the people she met on her journey strengthened her faith in God and in humanity . . . and heightened her appreciation for an afternoon cup of tea, accompanied by something sweet to eat, of course. 

While I've been ashamed to admit that I enjoy this type of very easy-to-digest literature or other guilty escapist pleasures such as my addiction a few years back--when I was enduring a particularly stressful work situation--to watching Gossip Girl (after first reading the entire horribly trashy series), I figured that it was time to come clean.  My confession of my forays into mindless escape might inspire some others, maybe even some knitters (an overachieving group as a whole) to take themselves less seriously.

Simple knitting, like escapist literature, is essentially formulaic and provides the same type of welcome respite, especially when this activity accompanied by a soothing afternoon cup of tea.  Several days ago, after ripping out the nearly finished second sleeve of my Midsummer Aran, I cast on and quickly knit up a tea cozy for a friend of my mother.  While I had a difficult time quelling the displeasure of my inner yarn snob (who has a preference for natural fibers), I even used an acrylic-wool blend, a mixture which seems practical for kitchen use, and am very happy with the results.  I also cast on an adorable--but not complicated--sweater for the baby girl my niece is expecting in December. 

I love this baby wool--it's inexpensive and super soft.


Amazingly enough, working the tea cozy and next several inches of the baby sweater, I was ready to attack my nemesis.  I'm also going to open that novel in French--but maybe after I have some tea and start Sweet Revenge, "A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery," a literary gem with cover copy that states, "includes chocolate recipes and trivia!"  Cozy mysteries, like tea and cozy knitting, might shore me up for the coming weeks of school and their accompanying stress. 

The pattern for this cozy can be found in the book Tea Cozies 3. 


  1. How lovely to see your Jane Austen tea cup in use! So glad it made it safely back with you to hold appropriate soothing tea to aid battery recharging! I do think you are amazing - that complicated sweater pattern makes me feel stressed just looking at it and I'm not even the one knitting it! I am a great believer in the restorative power of easy-going stuff to regenerate determination to tackle more challenging material whether that's reading or craft-based so I back your approach 100%. And that tea cosy is absolutely beautiful. - love the finishing rose beads on the ties especially! I also like the sound of your recent read from the Christian chick-lit shelf! I am reading books in a similar easy-going category at the moment - need them as therapeutic antidote to fairly stressful schedule! Thank you so much for your lovely comment on my blog - will reply properly in a separate email! E xxx
    Ps Froggy sends his love - he has been everywhere with me including Provence and is perfect for holding my WIP! I love him so much! He is currently sitting right next to me and wondering whether the iPad is good to eat!

  2. Beautiful tea-cozy - I've been contemplating knitting/crocheting one recently but worried that it would take quite a long time and as I am in the midst of far too many projects at the moment I did not want to start anything new - may I ask whether that pattern is available on Ravelry? I have every sympathy with the stress of unravelling jumpers - I've just completed the chunky jumper I was making for my second son (it's on my Ravelry projects page) but when he put it on I realised that the sleeves were too long and bulky - so I am contemplating undoing the hours of stitching up to pull the whole thing apart , rip down to the armpits plus redoing the sleeves - not a jolly exercise to contemplate particularly with school looming. Thank goodness for tea and easy reads! Judy.


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