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Friday, 16 May 2014

Shearing time again and the fleeces are better than ever before!

This week has been another crazy one as the whole team pulled together for our annual 'harvest'. Ben Wheeler the shearer arrived Sunday evening and we all got ready to roll our sleeves up, start the shears at 7am Monday and keep going until the last alpaca was naked. 

This year the whole process was over in just 48hrs thanks to having many able hands on site in the form of our three current textile interns from the University of Loughborough (and plenty of great cake from The Cornflower Cafe). Lisa, Alison and Ellie enjoyed two days of hard work moving alpacas around the farm, fleece grading and assisting the shearer. 

The fleeces coming off The Toft Alpaca Stud herd were of an outstanding quality, being sorted whilst still warm into our top yarn manufacturing grades.  The stud have done very well again this year in the show ring, and their dedication to breeding fineness and a lack of guard hair really shows in the fleeces of the young animals that fly into the top grade year after year. 

Once again lots of you came to have a look at what it was all about. I extend that invitation to anyone who is interested in where their yarn comes from and learning more about farming alpacas here in the UK. We'll be shearing around the same time again next year and there will be more workshop spaces available to come and get hands-on. 

Shearing week is always a fun but exhausting one, and when over 200 alpacas run back into their fields boasting their new haircuts it's a proud moment. It's the beginning of the yarn process, and the decisions are yet to be made about which weights, colours and designs this year's Toft fleeces will be processed into. As many of you will be aware we do buy other fleeces and have now expanded our range to include wool too, but the Toft fleeces remain at the heart of what we do and will make some pretty exclusive top-notch yarn. 

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