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Saturday, 25 July 2015

Chardonnay's mythical cousin: Chablis the Unicorn!

After a period of harassment from children of friends, family and fans, I would like to introduce Chablis the Unicorn. 

This is a simple mod to Chardonnay the Pony- so any of you who have the book can add her to your TO DO lists. 

I have used: 

Cream for the body and head (approx 35g)
Silver hooves swapping to cream for remainder of legs (15g)
Silver mane and tail which can be made a bit longer if desired (approx 10g)

Next. Look up Douglas the Highland Bull and crochet one of his horns but working your dc sts into the back loops only.  This will give you a ridged textured fabric surface which I think befits a magical unicorn horn. I worked the horn in a tiny scrap of oatmeal. 


Saturday, 4 July 2015

Jurassic fever has swept the Studio!

It was only really a letter of time before all the current dinosaur mania seeped through. While in my recent holiday I crocheted a triceratops, brontosaurus, pterodactyl, stegosaurus and t-rex. 

Meet the new #edsdinos crew: 

Victoria the Triceratops 

Stanley the Stegosaurus 

Gregory the T-Rex

Mary the Brontosaurus 

Catherine the Pterodactyl 

Kits (£18) are now available to buy and there's also a special dinosaur bundle to get your hands on an exclusive bonus Anthony the Ankylosaurs pattern.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A bright holiday wardrobe pattern modification for your #edsanimals

Our NEW super cute 25g mini-balls of coloured yarn have been sitting on the corner of my desk for a few weeks now, and have proved pretty inspiring.  

For the first time TOFT will be introducing bright coloured yarn into its range to accommodate the bright orange, yellow, blue and greens needed in my latest bird collection (book now on pre-order).  At the moment we have yellow, orange and pink available to purchase and the blue and two greens will arrive on a couple of weeks. 

It was only ever going to be a matter of time before I had some fun with these brights and the classic Edward's Menagerie standard form. So here we have it: simple pattern modifications to give your #edsanimals a T-shirt or shorts. 


I selected Austin the Rhino and used my favourite colour to give him a fetching pair of swim shorts. 

Starting in your shorts colour work the standard body up to the start of Rnd 14 where you colour change to your animal's colour. 

Work your bottom legs as normal in your animal's colour and change to your shorts colour at the start of Rnd 14. 

T- shirt 

Here's Piotr the Polarbear and our NEW orange. Start your standard body as normal in your selected animal's colour and colour change to your t-shirt colour at the start of Rnd 16. 

Work your two top legs as normal until colour changing to your t-shirt colour at Rnd 14. 

You'd just need one 25g ball of our NEW yarn to add your shorts or t-shirt to your animal (and still have plenty left for a beak or two!). 

Looking forward to seeing your pictures- I have already had an elephant with a pink T-shirt request from Edward so I had better get back to my crochet! 


Monday, 15 June 2015

A holiday with far more hooking than expected.

Life here at TOFT can be a bit hectic. Running the business, writing new patterns and all while looking after a cheeky toddler can be a challenge. That's why I was thoroughly looking forward to a break away for a while to soak in some sun and think about nothing.

As ever once I step back from the day-to-day parcel packing, workshop teaching and cake serving there's not a chance of any downtime as my brain runs into overdrive as I'm flooded with new ideas. It's hard not to get inspired when you can crochet with a view like this (Lake Kourna, Crete): 

And wander the Old Town in search of yarn: 

This holiday with my family has been no exception and I am returning with a fully formed mini-collection of dinosaurs to be released in the next couple of weeks. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Shearing time again and the fleece is already in the mill.

It's that time of year again where the herd get a short back and sides and the whole team get a chance to be hands-on with these gorgeous animals and their fleece. 

The process is very labour intensive as we skirt, grade and sort every fleece as it comes off the animal. An initial separation of the coarser leg and tummy hairs from the premium 'blanket' fibre is done on the shearing table as the fibre is coming off. The fleece is then carried across to a wire mesh table upon which the really important job begins. Handful by handful we separate and marginally coarser fibres out to ensure that only the finest fleeces go into our yarn bactches. All fleeces are also checked for strength and condition (but I am proud to say every fleece from our herd passed this one with flying colours, so the animals are obviously in tip-top condition). Any foliage contamination is also removed by hand at this stage and lots of care is taken to ensure that all fibre is over 5cm in length as shorter fibres can cause inconsistency in the yarn. Following all of this fibre is weighed into one of four grades which will determine the yarn weight that he becomes. Until now most of this process has been relatively scientific, but the colour blending now required can only be described as artistic. 

As TOFT do not use dyes on their alpaca yarns the ten shades we offer need to be achieved through colour blending. Greys are made of black and white fleeces combined (there are not enough grey alpacas to go round), an our most complex colours are mushroom and stone as these involve every colour combined together. 

Thrilled to say that the first three batches of yarn are already in production down at The Natural Fibre Company. Back on the shelves soon. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Introducing Simone and Quin (Seamus' extended family)

Seamus the Edward's Menagerie 'alpaca' was one of the first ten things I ever crocheted. At the time the design made perfect sense, a long-necked standard form with a heavy top-knot and short spear shaped ears, I didn't really give it a second thought. But I perhaps (given my expertise in the area) I should have been more specific: Seamus is a mid-brown huacaya alpaca, and a sheared one at that! 

So in the two years since I hooked up my first alpaca, I have had having a go at a few more on the bottom of my TO DO list. Finally in the last couple of weeks that list got short enough that I could grab enough time to create two slight modifications to my original pattern. 

Meet Quin. 

Quin is a light-fawn 'elite' huacaya alpaca, and is in full fleece. He is a reflection of the quality of the cria that are being born here at TOFT this year. Our new-generation alpacas are stunning and have very full and dense fleeces that extend over their faces. 

To create this I have simply extended the ch8 loops all over his face and body. WARNING! This is not for the impatient crocheter- it does take a lot of time. This took a whole 100g ball of oatmeal DK and I worked on the standard 3mm hook tension using our pure wool oatmeal. He does have eyes in their somewhere and I would recommend sewing this on before starting to work the fleece loops over the head. 

Meet Simone. 

Simone is a light-grey suri alpaca in full fleece (possibly two years' worth of growth!). There are two different breeds of alpacas, huacaya and suri. Huacayas form 96% of the population and are the classic teddy-bear shaped crispy-fleeced variety. Suri alpacas have a straight and silky fleece and as a result have a wet-look dreadlocked appearance. Sometimes suri alpacas are only sheared every other year to allow their lustrous fleeces to grow into long curtains- this often gives them a bad-hair-day look! 

To create this I have used the standard Seamus pattern to create all the parts. Stuff and sew these together as normal. To create the suri-style fleece I have chained 10sts and then slip stitched back down that chain to create a 'spine'. I have then slip stitch traversed three sts away and repeated another spine. I simply traversed round and around the head and then down the body. EVEN BIGGER WARNING! This takes even longer than the chain loops! 

So there we have it. The trouble with making these guys is that they are highly addictive, and the idea of building your own alpaca herd in all our different natural colours really appeals. For now I've certainly not got enough time to start a fudge huacaya or a cream suri, but I'll put them back on the wish list. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Here come the birds...

I'm thrilled to share the front cover of my new book Edward's Menagerie: Birds.

Although a tad more advanced than my original Edward's Menagerie book, these patterns draw on exactly the same techniques and introduce a few new ones. 

Edward's Menagerie: Birds is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER. Official publication date 17th September 2015, but we will get the book out to you as soon as it arrives with us here in the Studio.

Of course I couldn't stop with just 40 projects, so if you Purchase Edward's Menagerie: Birds direct from TOFT you will receive ten exclusive extra .pdf patterns (to be dispatched to you by email 1st June 2015 along with our technique videos and the launch of our new coloured yarn range).

"Be prepared for forty fine-feathered friends to fly off your hook and put their feet up on your coffee table. Kerry Lord’s Edward’s Menagerie was a runaway success and now she’s back with Birds.

You’ll be happy as a lark as your crochet your way through this colourful collection of birds, including a bashful Flamingo, romance-writing Owl and a politically incorrect Pheasant. Read all about these kooky characters, their adorations and aversions, daydreams and delusions, then crochet them for everyone you know.

Each bird can be crocheted in four different sizes making over 160 different pattern possibilities – so pick your first project and get started! The patterns use basic stitches, are grouped by difficulty and include step-by-step technical guides for beginners, so there’s no excuse to chicken out.

These loveable birds are quick to make using a supersoft yarn in a sophisticated colour palette, and will become your best friends as their larger-than-life personalities and easy-to-use techniques get their claws into you. "

This book includes patterns for:
Celine the Dove
Dora the Wood Pigeon
Ernest the Canary
Henry the Raven
Vince the Blue-footed Booby
Alan the Magpie
Ina the Stork
Duke the Mallard
Ethel the Kiwi
Dave the Seagull
Sophia the Flamingo
Huck the Pelican
Hazel the Hen
Barney the Owl
Elizabeth the Dodo
Mateo the Cock of the Rock
Emily the Vulture
Florian the Ostrich
Ross the Turkey
Kevin the Cassowary
Tricia the Silkie Chicken
Abraham the Bald Eagle
Kit the Rooster
Margot the Swan
Elvis the Cockatoo
Scott the Woodpecker
Gianni the Lovebird
Meghan the Toucan
Robin the Robin
Gareth the Puffin
Rohit the Peacock
Caesar the Emperor Penguin
Enid the Long-eared Owl
Jack the Macaw
Petra the Pockhopper Penguin
Ben the Kingfisher
Anik the Snowy Owl
Gilbert the Pheasant
Oscar the Penguin

The ten .pdf bonus patterns (exclusive to buying this book from TOFT are):

Camille the Canadian Goose
Julian the Doctor Bird
Bastian the Hummingbird
Agnes the Heron
Nor the Rhinoceros Hornbill
Jacob the Hoopoe
Cooper the Kookabura
Lee the Secretary Bird
Putu the Bali Bird of Paradise
Zara the Lorikeet

It's birthing season again and we're already two down (forty eight to go!)

It's a very good sign that out first cria of the season is a gorgeous dark brown little girl. 

Her mum is a first-timer and so was a little shocked by her new baby, but within a few hours mum and baby were doing well and feeding perfectly. 

Then the following day this similarly coloured handsome boy arrived on the scene. What a gorgeous pair! 

You can come and view or maternity paddocks here at Toft anytime were open 10am-5pm Wednesday and 10am-4pm Sunday. There's plenty more cria to come. 

Thursday, 30 April 2015

The sunshine, alpacas and the countdown to shearing.

It used to be that my job here at TOFT was very seasonal. Generally we did the majority of our sales September-February and the summer months were quieter times for designing and planning the next season. 

With the growth and popularity of our workshops, the coffee shop and the Studio in general, this has all now changed. With the sunshine of the last few weeks people have visited the farm in droves to come and enjoy seeing the alpacas at their best. 

Photo by Ella Harlow. 

We shear for three days from the 20th May, and we'll see the herd transform from the cuddly teddy-bears currently standing in the fields to skinny creatures bounding round the paddocks with renewed energy. It is an exciting time of year for me as we grade our fleeces and send them off to the mill. Nine years ago the fibre from the TOFT herd sustained the sales of the whole business throughout that busy winter sales period. Over time the level of business has massively expanded and we now not only buy fleeces in from other alpaca farms, but process several tonnes of wool too. This year our TOFT fleeces are going to be spun into our FINE yarn range, and we hope to have these in stock by September. 

So if you've got the chance over the next few weeks then come over to see the alpacas in their full glorious fleeces. You can even join us at shearing for a farm tour and cream tea if you would really like to experience this process yourself.  It's where it all starts, and a great reminder to all knitters about where the yarn on their needles comes from. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Another lovely weekend at Wonderwool Wales

Given that I have exhibited at over twenty shows a year for the last nine years, you'd think that it would all have become a little dull by now. Most certainly not the case, and this weekend in Wales was no exception. 

In the early days of TOFT I travelled the country towing a pop-up trailer shop filled with cardigans and scarves and attending every country show and game fair in the land. It was only with the movement towards a craft revival that guided TOFT away from ready-to-wear and towards yarns and knitting kits. Shows are the best way to rapidly design, test and market your ideas to customers. The success of TOFT has been built on taking my ideas and hauling myself around the UK with a big smile for everyone who walks towards my stand to take a closer look. 

Following the hard work in the early part of this year for the whole team it seems it's holiday season here in the office. As a result it was with a snigger that I took my Dad (Rob) to the first 'yarny' event of his life this weekend. Now don't be mistaken, over the last few years he has helped drive vans into knitting and stitching show venues, and even tried his hand (unsuccessfully I might add) at pom-pom display earlier this year, but never has he stood on a TOFT trade stand to see just how busy it gets. We called ourselves the 'B' team as I had very little voice left after the first few hours of Saturday morning. 

We took two lovely alpacas (Oscar and Kleef) with us, and as ever they melted the hearts of thousands. Dad did a stirling job on the stand and sold plenty of alpacas even if he didn't quite manage to get any yarn into a tote bag! 

Wonderwool Wales is a fabulous show: great food, nice setting and hundreds of truly independent exhibitors. I would recommend to all. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Blogging's not my thing... but

It turns out that blogging perpetually  sinks to the bottom of my TO DO list (which since September has been sizeable).

Thankfully I can now see some light at the end of the tunnel having done all the groundwork for later this year. We've already done 7 shows this year, which unfortunately were back to back through Feb/March, but they were all great fun.

With all the shows, writing Edward's Menagerie: Birds, developing out all-NEW range of coloured yarn for the first time and of course overseeing everything else here at Toft it's been a busy one. 

TOFT is going through another period of change and growth, and I'm growing the team again to deliver that.  We currently have two very different 21 hr contracts available.  More info HERE.