Susan Cowper, creator of website Tea Cosy Folk, has kindly designed a range of knitting patterns in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. We spoke to Susan to find out more about her designs, her support for Macmillan and her background in knitting.
Susan’s patterns will be available at the Macmillan stand at the Wonderwool event in Builth Wells on 22 and 23 April.
Please tell us a bit about the tea and mug cosies you have made for Macmillan. What goes into designing one of these?
I have a little business working from home where I design and make tea cosies and sell the knitting patterns. It’s a job that enables me to be a stay at home Mum for my children.
The tea cosy design with the clinking mugs I designed especially for Macmillan when I heard that they would be at Wonderwool. The word ‘Macmillan’ is a bit too long for a tea cosy so I knew using the name wasn’t going to be possible, so I needed a symbol that was instantly recognisable to Macmillan. The chinking mugs fitted the bill perfectly.
For charity knitting I find that people are looking for little projects that they can complete quite quickly. The chinking mugs tea cosy is a simple tea cosy that can be knitted up easily whilst watching the telly.
Please tell us about your reasons for supporting Macmillan Cancer Support?
I like to help charities where I can and I have knitted to help Against Breast Cancer, The Royal British Legion, and Swindon Mind. I think it’s important to help charities to raise money to continue their work.
I have a personal connection to Macmillan, my Grandad was very sick with cancer and died 9 years ago, and it was Macmillan nurses that nursed him when he became very ill at the end. More recently this year my Auntie Christine died from cancer. The work that Macmillan does is amazing and makes a difference to real people’s lives when they need it most.
How did you first get involved with knitting and what inspired you to set up Tea Cosy Folk?
My Mum’s Mum taught me to knit as a child. She used to live in Rotherham, and we used to go and stay with her for a week in the summer holidays, which my sister and I loved. The only problem was that Grandma didn’t have a television, so to occupy us in the evenings, Grandma would teach us crafts, sewing, crocheting as well as knitting.
As a child I dabbled, but it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my own children that knitting and crocheting really came into its own. I moved away from knitting again as the children grew up – I don’t really have the staying power to knit jumpers for children over 5 and by then it becomes less money saving anyway with supermarkets selling cheap knitwear. But as the children got older I found myself knitting just for enjoyment and I started designing tea cosies in a simple way to sell on Ebay – for fun more than commercial enterprise.
Then I fell pregnant with my third child and I knitted again as an expectant Mum. I gave up work to become a full time Mum and started taking the tea cosies more seriously, and I’m glad I did because I love it.
Do you have any advice for people who are new to knitting and want to give the Macmillan tea cosies a go?
The Macmillan chinking mugs tea cosy is probably the easiest if you are a novice knitter, so I would start with that one. If you need any help there are lots of Facebook groups that are filled with experienced knitters that are always happy to help, including the Tea Cosy Folk group, so post your problem in a group and several people will respond.
If you aren’t on Facebook, try joining a local knitting group. They tend to meet at Libraries, yarn shops, cafes and community centres; ours mets in a pub. Some are daytime meetings and others are evenings, just find one that works for you. You might want to try a couple to find a group that has an ambiance that suits you.
What would you like people to gain by using your Macmillan knitting patterns?
I would love people to use their Macmillan knitting patterns and enjoy knitting them and enjoy selling their cosies, or auctioning them, or giving them to friends and family, and giving them to be used as tombola prizes to either raise money for Macmillan or to bring joy to people who have had need of Macmillan nurses and services.
A huge thank you to Susan for designing these lovely tea cosies to support the stand at Wonderwool. If you’ll be at the event and would like to try one of these knitting patterns or find out more, please visit the Macmillan team at Stand E9 in Hall 1.