I never used to understand tea cozies. I started drinking tea in high school, but like most of my friends I prepared it one mug at a time in the microwave, or, later, used the hot tap on the bottled water cooler.

That cooler–and the influence of a tea-obsessed roommate–are what got me using a stovetop kettle. There’s something in the ritual of kettle made tea versus the microwave–not unlike the difference between a typewriter and a word processor.

Then there’s this:

My tetsubin has been getting a bigger workout in the past year than it has since I bought it back in high school. This one is rather small, but surprisingly holds 3-4 cups of tea, and keeps it hot until I get to that forth cup.

If you like tea, then I highly recommend getting one of these. They can be a bit pricy. I usually see this size go for between $30-45 at the local Japanese market, but I got mine from Marshalls for $20 or $25 (they don’t show up there very often, however). They’re sturdy, compact, pretty to look at, keep the water hotter for longer than a traditional teapot, and last for ages.

Since mine is lined with enamel (which technically makes it a kyusu, or teapot, rather than a kettle) it can’t be heated over direct flame. That’s fine by me, since I like my whistling kettle just as well and would probably burn myself on this one. I nearly do that anyway, since it absorbs heat so well.

Which brings me to my next knitting project: A tea cozy.

Up until about six months ago, I didn’t get tea cozies. Why would someone go through all of the trouble of knitting a fancy sweater for a teapot that, in all likelihood, is already quite decorative? It called to mind tacky toiled roll covers and those crocheted Barbie dresses, or the dolls that are essentially an empty crocheted dress with a plastic head and arms sticking out.

This Hobbit Hole tea cozy (you may need a Ravelry account to view that) started to warm me up to the idea, just because it was so different, but it still wasn’t a project I’d want to take on myself. You see, I don’t like most of the elaborate cozies I’ve seen. They’re kitschy, knitting for knit’s sake, impractical, and quite frankly bring to mind all of those awful handmade gifts that get foisted on you as a child–itchy sweaters, ponchos in colors from the 70s, and the aforementioned toilet roll covers. Tacky, in other words.

But…after nearly burning myself every time I poured a cup of tea, I started to sing a different tune.

I still don’t know what pattern or style I’m going to use. It will most likely be plain, in simple colors to match my kitchen. With one project off the needles though, I can now spare the time to start drafting up some ideas.

And perhaps pour a cup of tea while I work.