Friday, May 19, 2006

Evolution of the hexagonal pillar

Step 1: Some 62-65 million years ago, before knitting was invented, some lava flowed along in Northern Ireland and hardened, and cracked itself into the Giant's Causeway, a field of basaltic pillars, many very hexagonal in shape. (It's called that because of some giants who had a bit of a dispute. Here's their story, and an illustrated version. One of the giants lived on Staffa.) Stephen, who loves a good hexagon, went there recently to measure and photograph and GPS and get rained on.

Step 2: Ages pass. Round about 1866, a Mr J W Penfold invented the hexagonal pillar box for the British post office. They are quite attractive, and I have been thrilled and delighted every time I have run across one. Stephen took a picture of one at the hexagonal Giant's Causeway, and there is one on Iona, and there is one here in Cambridge outside King's College. Note the bobble-like things around the "lid," and the leafy bits going up to the "acorn" on top.

I was looking at the British Postal Museum and Archive, and was dismayed to read this:
"These pillar boxes, however, remain very popular and in 1989 copies of the Penfold were reintroduced at various historical and tourist sites."
Are we being duped? Are these Victorian pillar boxes not really Victorian?? Oh, no! Certainly all three we have seen are at historical and tourist sites... Must find that one in Kensington...

Step 3: At Christmas, 2005, I received a Victorian hexagonal pillar box teapot. It is like most other teapots I have known in that it would keep the tea hotter longer if it had a cosy! But to cover up the pillar-box-ness of it!? Obviously, a superior design of teacosy was in order... (Note the way the lid sticks way out over the body. Hmmm.)

Step 4: Mary buys some reddish and brownish tweed wool at the charity shop. Thinks it might just do the trick for the teacosy. Ponders the question.

What do you think? I'm very happy with it.

I have some gold silk that I could use to try to embroider the VR, but I am thinking that I would also like to felt it just a teeeeeeny tiny bit, which I would not do until I get home to my top-loading washer. So I won't embroider it just yet!

I left a big hole in the top for the gold acorn to stick out. My favourite part is the bobbles!

Tea party, anyone?


  1. That is a most awesomely wonderful tea pot! I'd not use a cozy at all myself - wouldn't ever hide the tea pot. Our mailboxes are functional blue boxes with rounded tops - not very creative.

  2. Just think - those giants carefully shaping those basalt pillars all those years ago just so they could get a mention in your blog post. That's dedication for you.

    I love the teacosy - especially the bobbles.

  3. That's great! Something to remind you of England when you're back in Canada. Look forward to seeing it slightly felted and with the embroidery.

  4. You must go directly back to the place where said teapot was purchased and start flogging this cosy! You could make your millions! It's a beauty eh...

  5. sweet, very sweet... and I like all the trivia that went along with it too

  6. Love the teapot, adore the cosy!

    The other alternative would have been to knit a "nest" for the base of the pot - I have a vintage pattern somewhere, kept because the teapot in the picture is the one I was given 25 years or so ago.


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