1) You have published 3 books so far – have you got plans for a fourth collection?Loani: Who’d a thunk! THREE books on tea cosies! And yes a fourth in the works, about to go to print, release date June this year. Pretty Funny Tea Cosies. But then it turns out everyone loves a tea cosy. It makes a perfect gift. No one has to wear it and it reminds us of our grandmothers. The tea cosy is very Australian. Oh orright, it is very English too.
2) Why tea cosies?
Loani: It’s The Bloke’s fault. He took me to meet his family en masse one Christmas and, well, what was one to do but make a big impression with a great display of talent and generosity. I presented 15 stupendous tea-cosies on their pots accompanied by matching eggcosies on their cups all packed the same way all delivered at the same time. How could they not love me after that? And so, the tea-cosy nonsense began.
3) What inspires your tea cosy designs?
Loani: Ideas come from everywhere, always with form and function right at the front of my brain. Yes, others’ knitting inspires, but mostly it is a whole bunch of other things: Lady Gaga, Art Deco lamps, tribal masks, a coral reef, Melbourne Cup Day….
4) I love the interesting structure of pieces like Betty the Burlesque Dancer and Beatrice (above). How difficult is it to convert your ideas into these knits that so perfectly fit the teapots?Loani: In the beginning, design ideas were few and far between. When it occurred to me that I might leave the shape of the teapot, a light bulb came on and there was a great leap forward in ideas. My knitting skills were pretty limited and each new sculptural shape that appeared in my imagination required a lesson – or three – and a great deal of trial and error.
I reckon a designer needs two qualities above all else and that is the gall to think you can do anything and a strong inner critic to recognise when you aren’t quite there yet. I have a lot of duds hiding in a deep dark box in my house. No you can’t see them.
5) Do you favour a particular yarn for your designs?Loani: Hmmm . . . I lust after colour mostly and for tea cosies, choose yarns that will hold up well. Yarns that work beautifully on a garment aren’t necessarily the yarns that work best on a tea cosy, well not one of mine anyhow, though hang on, I did go all soft and fluffy with Beatrice and that gorgeous kid silk mohair. But it has to be WOOL! BEAUTIFUL wool.
Betty the Burlesque Dancer would look great in MillaMia merino in fuchsia and pitch black. The pattern calls for a 4ply to fit a 3 cup teapot, but if you knit it on 3.25mm needles as the pattern instructs it would knit up perfectly for a slightly larger teapot (full dimensions are given).
6) Your workshops look like lots of fun! Tell us a bit about what we could expect from spending the weekend with the Queen of the Tea Cosies.
What can you expect? You can expect to be jolted out of your knitting comfort zone. At the “At Home” workshops you can expect to be fed very well three times each day. You can expect the cat to prance around your feet at least once and the butcher birds to steal your lunch off the verandah if you don’t stand guard. And you can expect to take a fabulous tea cosy home with you to wow your friends and family.
7) If you had to pick a favourite of your designs, which would it be?Loani: They are the ones I wouldn’t change one bit – and that I still love to make – but like favourite children, I couldn’t possibly name them out loud.
8) What is happening for Loani Prior in 2014?Loani: When that first book was published in 2008, I couldn’t have imagined the Knit Change in store for me. What a lucky life I say, what a lucky life. This year …
April: Ballarat VIC - teaching at Fibre Arts (full)May: LordHowe Island NSW - 2 day workshop (places available)
May: Noosa, QLD - 2 x 2 day “At Home” workshops (1 place only available)
June: Australian release - Pretty Funny Tea Cosies, published by Murdoch Books.
June: Melbourne Craft and Quilt Fair – showing off and signing books
July: Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair – ditto
July: Ballina, Northern Rivers Community Gallery – Portraits of a Tea CosyExhibition opening and book launch and 2 day workshop – its all happening in Ballina.
August: UK release - Pretty Funny Tea Cosies, published by Murdoch Books.
August: Noosa, QLD - 2 x 2 day “At Home” workshops (dates TBC)
And then there is the Portraits of a Tea Cosy exhibition, a joint project with photographer Mark Crocker. It opened at the Warwick Arts Gallery mid 2013 and travels to regional galleries for two years. Be sure to go to www.portraitsofateacosy.com for the Who What When Where and Why of it all.
9) What's on your needles just now?
Loani: A stylish jacket, found in last month’s Vogue Knitting magazine, is on the needles. One sleeve to go. I know. I know. Knitting a JACKET in summer. It's smart really. It’ll be ready to wear on the FIRST day of winter, not the last.
Before we go . . .
We'd like to thank her Royal TeaCosiness for granting us such an insightful, interesting and super funny interview!
And as if that were not enough, Loani has very kindly provided the link to one of her FREE patterns. These sweet and cheerful Trumpet Flowers are quick and easy to make (Loani's instructions are clear and precise) and are the perfect way to use up those odds and ends of beautiful yarn.
I made mine in MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino seaside, plum and berry.
(posted by Max and Kirsten)