Old mate and Tea Cosy obsessive Loani Prior launched her third book of Tea Cosy creations last Thursday night. She and I have become a bit of a double act. I helped her launch her last book at Avid Reader bookshop in 2010 and she invited me to do the honours again with this years offering.
Loani has a gift for creating art from tea cosies. She has also learnt over the past 5 years that tea cosies have much more to offer than their capacity to keep tea warm. I'll admit I was confused when she first told me the title of this publication. I presumed that "How Tea Cosies Changed the World" was going to be Loani's quirky history of tea and tea cosies and their place in changing social mores.
My reference point was a book I discovered many years ago titled: "How the Irish Saved Civilisation". I was convinced that that title was ironic and that it would be a spoof, Irish style. It turned out to be the opposite, a very serious analysis of the dark ages and Ireland's role in saving many of the classic tomes which were being destroyed by barbarians.
In Loani's case I was again confounded. Her Tea Cosy book is really about how tea cosies connect us to our history and to each other. Life Changing? Is that too big a claim? Well not according to a couple of people I met at the book launch. A young woman told me that she had bought Loani's first book and set out to teach herself to crochet and knit. She was struggling and so set out to find some like minded people. Twelve months later she has 100 knitting/crocheting colleagues who meet weekly at various places across the nothern suburbs of Brisbane to 'stitch and bitch' 'knit and natter' and she is now connected to a whole new world.
Not only does Loani's book contain some great knitting creations, it also has some great and touching stories about people she's met, stories they've shared with her and she's dedicated a cosy to each of these people.
It's a strange world where knitting tea cosies can verge on becoming a cult; where a Tea cosy book written by a Brisbanite can become an international phenomenon and be translated into French, Dutch and even Estonian.
At Loani's book launch I said " I've come to understand that this phenomenon is not about tea (some of the knitters don't drink tea); it's not even about knitting; it's actually about people having their creativity liberated and how the things we love can knit us all together."
PS I misread the invitation. I thought it said 'Come as your favourite tea cosy'!