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Friday, 29 July 2011

Just for fun - guess how many knitting kits we have?!

It's the season for interns and work experience just now, so this week and for the next few weeks we are joined at Toft Towers by Felicity Thomas.  She's just graduated from Winchester School of Textiles specialising in handknitting and menswear, photos to follow.  One of her tasks this week was to update the pattern books and folders - you know, those cavenous files that we delve into to get your patterns whenever we're at shows?!

Well here they are all laid out (with a few newbie alpaca toys looking on) just guess how many knitting kits and patterns we have now?  Answer on Monday

And just for good measure here is Pete, looking cute, because why not, it's Friday!  Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Hats off to all of them...WINNERS in the Toft 115m Knitting Design competition 2011

A little bit later than we had promised (there were lots of entries to consider), but well and truly worth the wait...

Here are the results from the 2011 Knitting Design competition.

WINNER:Linda Irving-Bell


Congratulations to Linda Irving-Bell for creating this stunning hat design.  Knitted in our 'silver' Aran weight yarn and inspired by the clematis flower. We love this sophisticated design and can’t wait for it to be a knitting kit later this year (in fact we will be casting it on very soon!)


RUNNER UP: Jane Inkle


This gorgeous Chunky hat design by Jane Inkle has been awarded runner up. The design was inspired by giant ropes and fishing nets, seen around the East Yorkshire coast. The sandy colour of the ‘camel’ alpaca perfectly matched the local sand! 




This pretty lace headband or neckwarmer has been created by Ruth Ward using our Double Knitting yarn in 'black'.  For a first ever attempt at lace design we thought this was fantastic and certainly well deserved runner up.


We also decided to award a JUDGE'S CHOICE- one of our favourites that didn't quite make it: a crochet alpaca by Linda Ulfsparre Sewell.




We would also like to make a special mention to Helena Callum, Jenny Nicolson and Elspeth May for fantastic presentation and photography of their entries.

We will be putting up a display of our top 10 entries at our Birthday Party next Saturday 6th August.  We are hoping to see lots of you at Toft Manor, Dunchurch to celebrate a day of spinning, knitting and felting alpaca.  All are welcome 10am-4pm.  Hog roast and refreshments now available.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Another stonking weekend at the CLA Gamefair

Lucky for us the CLA Gamefair is always on our doorstep. This year it was back at Blenheim palace, and once again we spent a glorious three days trading.

It was a very busy weekend filled with many a returning customer and picking up a few new alpaca addicts. Not enough tune to grab many pics...

We have returned to Toft this morning with far less than we left with on Thursday (albeit with a lot more sunburn!). Time for a well earned nap this week before we gear up for our Birthday Party a week on Saturday.

Alternative head-wear

This is Rebekah Sanders our work experience girl who was a great help for the short but sweet time she was with us last week.  Not only did she yarn label a mountain of chunky yarn, but she also did some work on updating the media book and helped Kerry set up at the CLA in a record time for the amount of goodies we took to Blenheim!  Here she is sporting, rather dashingly I think you'll agree, her finally finished lace work hat - apparently this took quite some doing and she should be very pleased with the results it looks great! 

Rob is also appearing in the blog (anyone noticed yet that he tends to be the comedy element to this blog?) with his alternative head-wear for Friday - a pair of glasses stuck in his hair - he clearly needs a knitted hat to keep that mane under control!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

BIG Knitting with Ingrid Wagner

Ingrid Wagner of Big Knitting fame came to visit Toft Towers this week and we just had to take the opportunity to snap her alongside her van and some huge needles - the weather as you can tell was a little blustery!

Ingrid describes her work as Rugs, Art and Big Knitting and her website is a feast of beautiful pieces created with fabric and various other media.  Kerry brought several pairs of Ingrid's Big Knit Slippers early this year and we're all waiting for the cold weather (even colder than now?!) to wear these once cashmere blanket beauties.  We often see Ingrid at shows when we're all running around like headless chickens, so it was great to show her around the farm and catch up over a cup of coffee.


Monday, 18 July 2011

Knit Nation done and dusted for 2011.

We had lots of fun this weekend at Knit Nation.  It was great to see so many familiar faces and show off our freshest newest knitting kits after the parcel debacle of last week (& no the parcel still hasn't surfaced!).  Kerry set up a great looking stand but she was so busy she didn't actually get a chance to take a photo of it. 

Saturday Carrie attended a Knitting with Colour workshop with Susanna Hansson (of Bohus Stickning fame) and loved every minute of it.  The workshop included stranded knitting (with floats carried behind the work), intarsia and slip stitch knitting.  The little hat photographed is all stranded work using Toft DK yarn and yes that is a Mollie Makes felt phone in the background, we're slightly addicted. 

The yarn used in the slip stitch knitting, a technique that does a very impression of a hounds-tooth pattern, was kindly donated by Susanna via a Washington Knitting Shop called Great Yarns.  The yarn is a Merino mix called Prism and is available in lots of beautiful hand dyed colourways. 

Carrie made several new Ravelry buddies including KatyLouise who can be seen here sporting some of her handknitted wardrobe (she's seriously talented!). 

To top off the already great weekend it was also Carrie's first year at Toft so the Lord's and the Pett's had a blue curaco fuelled evening out in London starting with Chinese and a trip to several bars, the impressively decked out Blackfriar was one of them and The Giant Robot diner.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Could you be on the look out for a box of alpaca knitwear - somewhere in the UK...

It started off as a great week, lots to blog about and lots of things going on in the office.  We've a new work experience chap in the form of Joel, our Izy's brother, Kerry was at the Great Yorkshire Show meeting Prince Charles, Carrie had lots of visitors to the shop and Rob sold untold amounts of goodies to the Yelvertoft WI after their Toft farm picnic - he also wheeled one of their older members around the farm and up a few very steep hills, wish we'd have been there to get a photo!

Then we had some worrying news - hence not blogging since.  Our box of gorgeous one off samples that Gianni has just finished photographing in London didn't turn up.  Carrie made lots of calls to find out where and why is was missing and to be honest, we're still in limbo.  As a result we're attending the Knit Nation show this weekend with even newer knitting kits than the new ones we had planned!  Amongst the new things are a Fine Halter Neck Dress, a Fine Bobble-ended scarf and something we're really excited about, a crochet Solomans Net & Flower scarf.  This Toft favourite, is soooooo beautiful and finally available as a crochet kit (thanks Ruth!) - we think you'll love it!

But since these items are so very freshly baked we can't post any photos of them - you'll have to attend Knit Nation to see them. So instead here are a few of the new photos Gianni shots.  Remember to keep your eyes peeled for a brown cardboard box in the UK somewhere, about so big, held together with brown tape, full of one off pieces of knitwear, a plastic leg and a matching hand, so it shouldn't be too hard to find right?!!

Monday, 11 July 2011

2011 - the year for knitted alpaca dresses apparently...

Just a few news items today that caught our eye.  The first is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald about a couple who got married recently (in what looks like a beautiful location) and the bride wore an alpaca flapper dress embellished with hundreds of sequins and beads - it's too dye (!) for - sorry! 

Okay so it's not really a knitted alpaca dress but there's no denying that this little number isn't!  These photos are some of the final pieces by student designer Jodie Perrins.  Using Toft Chunky yarn she created this full length dress inspired by traditional English sports as reflected in her collection title of 'Bowl Me Over'.  We're not sure how practical this dress would be on the cricket pitch but it would certainly be a talking point for any spectators!  More info on Jodie can be found on her website at, her photographer for this collection was Holly Booth. 

Kerry is on route to the Great Yorkshire Show today until Friday when we're off to Knit Nation! Lots more news to follow.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Soggy alpacas & scrumptious yarn

It's a very soggy day here at Toft Alpacas, so a little cria born this morning was a great surprise to us all.  Not only is she a week early but Alpacas tend to hold off giving birth until nice dry sunny days. We've probably said before that since Alpaca mums don't lick their babies they are usually born before about 3pm and generally on dry days in order that they'll dry in time for colder nights.  Heyho, this mum was obviously keen on today for some reason!  

At first we thought this little girl belonged to Vitoria since she's such a dark colour, but she is actually from November Gold the light fawn alpaca in the photo and Jaina, one of our champion stud males who is a medium brown.  That's why Shirley is looking so happy, a Jaina girl is bound to have a beautiful fleece.  She'll soon be given a Star Wars name beginning with N because of this lineage and Helen is busy scouring a Star Wars website for possibilities.

Kerry went to the mill this morning to pick up more gorgeous yarn.  A few favourites that haven't been around for a while are now back in stock, namely Silver and Steel Chunky and we also have a new addition to the Aran colour range; a beautiful Mushroom that's very soft and has a real shimmer to it. With that news we're off to try and decide which of our new knitting kits to try out next with these fab colours.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Our favourite stitch pattern of 2011

The cable & lace knitting stitch pattern, quite frankly we love it! We've adapted this stitch for several of Toft's 2011 Knitting Kit Collection (available online now) including gloves, a hat & a scarf. Here you can see Pete, Kerry's little monkey dog sporting a little coat of cable & lace- have we gone a step too far?! Naahh!!

Monday, 4 July 2011

A busman's holiday in Estonia

Can I ever get away from knitting?

Truth told Carrie may have packed her knitting for a weekend away in Brighton, but Kerry was heading off hoping for a purl free weekend.

Error.  Tallinn had been yarn bombed…

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The travels of Team Toft

Team Toft have taken a break this weekend, both Carrie & Kerry have escaped the Midlands for sunnier climbs & some naughty treats. Essential things for the suitcases included swimwear, a cute dress, an alpaca snood for chilly evenings, heels (natch), a Toft Bulb Bag within which many other essentials can be crammed (including a well read issue of Craft Business) & some alpaca yarn for the journey. What can we say, we love our products & who wouldn't with the winning combo of luxury & practicality ;-)

Back to the farm tomorrow when we'll be taking stock of some delicious new chunky alpaca yarn.

N.B. Yes those are a couple of crocheted apple cosies in Carrie's knitting bag as featured in the 1st gorgeous issue of Mollie Makes Magazine.