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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Autumn's Arrival

Autumn has arrived at Toft Alpacas, the birthing season is over with the last Cria, Darth Maul(he's a dark brown Cria and all our brown Alpacas are named after Star Wars characters!) who was born on 7 September. Toft has seen around 50 Cria born this year, the most we’ve ever had. We’re excited in the boutique about the gorgeous fleeces these fluffy little ones will produce for Toft Alpaca Shop yarns in the coming years. More photos of Cria bottle feeding (that's Puck above) can be found on our facebook page.

Like most people in the UK, here at Toft we had a false start to the autumn at the end of August when it was so cold we were all wearing far too many layers, Shirley insisted the heating be put on and the sun suddenly reappeared. The heating was promptly turned off again least we all pass out or curl up with the dogs under the desks for a snooze!

Lucky for us it’s getting properly chilly now and we’re all go for head to foot alpaca-chic – how we love the autumn and winter!

Other signs that the summer is overhave come in the shape of our on-trend and much
sought after plait hat which is now available as a knitting kit particularly popular with the fashion conscious and knitting skiers and snowboarders (also available as a final product for those less crafty but decidedly stylish types). Kerry has witnessed it being worn with the plait at the front Mohawk style at one of the recent shows– a look that’s not for the faint hearted!

Toft’s fabulous army of knitters have been working their alpaca socks off recently to keep up with the demand for items in the shop and online but particularly on the road during Toft’s grand UK tour. Our facebook page has more pics of recent shows at I Knit London and the Newbury and Malvern shows, not to mention photos of a daring mannequin rescue! The girls can now be found modelling our products in the on farm boutique, they’re yet to be named but it probably won’t be long before they are.

Toft knitter Margaret has been working on some gorgeous cable and lace scarf patterns. Doris and Helen have made near weekly visits with Mini Bulb Bags and Button Hats and Emma has been working up some Giant Bulb Bags which close with the use of our Giant Toggles. They are likely to make their debut at Ally Pally so look out for them if you’re planning on attending! We’ll also be at the Stitching and Knitting shows at Dublin and Harrogate, the Country Living Magazine shows in Glasgow and London as well as Crafts for Christmas in Birmingham to mention just a few.

Encouraged by the fashion press, here in the office we’re teaming our cable alpaca legwarmers with our sho-ots (shoe-boots to you
and I!) wrist warmers and matching aran cable headbands, proving that even knitwear
accessories can be great work wear. Similar headbands...
...were to be found on the Prada catwalks this season, teamed with an up-do and the fifties trend. N.B. We’ve also found they’re great for bad-hair days and chilly autumn walks! Carrie tweeted and posted on facebook about the similarity a few weeks ago and a flurry of orders came in soon afterward. The great selection of natural colours we have suit any hair colour!

Sticking with the catwalk trends, not only is knitwear a big fashion story (isn’t it always in Autumn and Winter?) it seems cables, the bigger the better are an instant update to your wardrobe. If you are a knitter, our chunky cable tunic kit (adapted from the well loved cable tank top) is a fantastic fast and enjoyable knitti
ng kit that’s been popular at several shows already. Why not buy it in this seasons must have Camel chunky which is on special offer.

Snoods are a huge part of the Autumn/Winter trend, worn as we do at the farm over chiffon or silk blouses tucked under our baby alpaca pinafore dresses or in fact with just about any outfit. New this season is our lace knit baby alpaca snood,

a sumptuous circle of lace patterned fabric. It’s the alternative to our unisex baby alpaca snood, but just as beautiful and versatile and perhaps even more suitable for evenings out, especially in the run up to the party season! They are available in cream, Oatmeal or Charcoal, and they’re selling fast (no fear an order is on its way from Peru very soon). For the men amongst you, if you aren’t quite convinced about a unisex snood, our new striped men’s scarf is a great treat for yourself or an even

better present idea. The two stripe colour variations will suit any wardrobe and could be worn for work or at the weekend. Most of the Toft chaps (not to mention Dads and Brothers) are likely to find these under the tree this Christmas (shhh don’t tell them!). In fact so chic are they that Gianni Diliberto, photographer extraordinaire sports one that was given to him as a little thank from all at Toft for the his marvellous photography work to be found on our new snow-white

Along with this new look Toft Alpaca Shop website we also took receipt of brand spanking new Toft Cotton Tote Bags that all our knitting kits will now be sold in. Not only that but they also hold our new goody bags- worth far more than the £20 we are selling them for, these bags are a random lucky dip purchase of our finest yarn in a selection of colours, available in Lace through to Chunky weight. We'll also throw in some vintage patterns for you to enjoy (or giggle at!)- they are a perfect selection for any toy or blanket knitter or Toft Alpaca yarn enthusiast! They can be purchased individually and our large totes will be available soon too- great for minimal effort present wrapping or indeed any stylish shoppers!

Due to popular demand another Toft bag that has made it’s debut is our Mini

Bulb Bag knitting kit. Knitted with our Aran weight yarn and then lightly felted, this cute version of Toft’s famous Bulb Bag is perfect for those who like a smaller handbag and it’s great for evenings out. Toft’s Mini Bulb Bag kit is available in all our beautiful colours with a small hand turned button all wrapped up with the pattern in a Toft Cotton Tote. For the non-knitters of you it is of course available as a finished product in a selection of colours and your choice of button.

In preparation for the coming months in which knitting becomes even more popular and our winter proof products come into their own Kerry and Rob have been doing lots of fleece sorting and

grading, more photos of this process and those involved and covered in fluff can be found on facebook. Several hundred kilos (slight understatement!) have been delivered to Haggers Mill in the past three weeks and now we’re just

waiting for all the gorgeous yarn back! This will include a few new additions to the Toft Alpaca Yarn range– more details to follow.

Toft Alpaca Farm Workshops are proving very popular with our Cable Workshop being featured in Knitting Magazine’s October issue. Two of our kits, the Felted Baubles and our Cable Beanies were featured in Simply Knitting’s Top 20 Christmas Knitting Treats. Talking of which we’ve opened bookings for our two Christmas Retreat workshops which will be lovely days of crafty relaxation here at Toft Manor, away from the hustle and bustle of December. We’ll be showing attendees how to make our gorgeous Felted Baubles that can be customised with needle felted stripes, spots or even lettering, as well as giving you a tour of Toft stud farm and a homemade lunch of course. Of course there’s also a circular knitting workshop and two workshops in the New Year, dates to be confirmed but more details can be found on our website or give us a call to book your place. Carrie is also running a one-off Christmas workshop at The Vyne a National Trust property in Hampshire for Toft fans in the South. Bookings for this one can be made through National Trust’s Box office on 01553 764864, lunch and roaring fire included!

The last thing to tell you about are some new sale items that are available in the shop and on line including our thick and toasty Wellie Socks in colours to brighten any winter day!
Enjoy the beginning of autumn and we’ll be back with another installment in October. In the meantime of course you could always pop in to visit the farm in Dunchurch, particular on Saturday 9 October when there will be an open day for those interested in alpacas to come and enjoy informal farm tours and question and answer sessions.