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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.