Toft: from Alpaca to Zebra

 

This is a very long overdue post about the most wonderful creative gem, here in my home town of Rugby in the UK.

Toft Alpaca is not just an alpaca farm, but a wonderful centre for all yarn based craft. There is an extensive list of workshops that you can attend in their converted barns, whilst enjoying a lovely cup of something hot and a scrummy piece of home-made cake. (Also breastfeeding mamas take note: Toft are breastfeeding friendly and do the best decaf coffee.)

   

Quite simply it’s bliss.

Not just because the refreshments and setting are wonderful, but that the products are marvellous. The best and finest alpaca yarns and selected haberdashery mean that your creative juices will be flowing.

   

They have a huge resource of patterns online, ranging from hats and gloves to bags and my favourite – Ed’s animals.

Kerry Lord has written two fantastic books:

Edward’s Menagerie and Edward’s Menagerie Birds

 Available on the Toft website or Amazon (go on – order through Toft so they get extra pennies plus you get some extra exclusive patterns too). They even have an eBook version so you can get started tonight!

These books are an absolute delight and include tons of different options – over 300 in total so you won’t be bored! The pictures are gorgeous – coffee table worthy and the layout very straightforward.

I popped along to Toft to buy some yarn and to make my son an animal (I may have also bought other goodies because who can resist….)!

My mum was with me and she got to choose the animal and chose Harold the Teeswater sheep. This is what I bought:

 

 I do have a cheap set of crochet hooks from eBay but treated myself to a ‘soft grip’ one. You need a 3mm crochet hook if you are using DK yarn – then you get hooking!

I had every intention of having Harold all stitched up to show you for this post but alas, my ‘day job’ has been so busy I have failed to finish him.

So far I have found the pattern easy to understand and this is where I have got to: 

I have made his body, two ears and have started on his head! I am by no means an expert at crochet – I am as you have read – self-taught with the help of YouTube and a fantastic book – Handbook of crochet stitches by Betty Barnden ISBN: 9781844485116

  

Alongside the books, you can also buy the patterns individually via their website for the tiny amount of £1 each – perfect if you want to rustle up a beautiful handmade gift or give one of the animals a try before buying the books.

I promise to update you with my progress and hopefully a finished Harold in the next week or so.

    

Toft often has open days and events and also regularly exhibit at craft shows alongside a busy programme of in-house workshops with guest creatives – details here.

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen from a recent post that I booked tickets to the NEC hobby crafts fair in March and Toft will be there displaying their wares. You can find the full list of shows that they are at here if you are not local to the Midlands. 

 

Their next open day is Easter Saturday (26th March 2016) 10am – 6pm – details are on their website here.

It’s rare you encounter a company that get everything so right – from their products to their site and live offerings. Their customer service is second to none and it’s also a great place to take the kids to walk around and see the alpacas.

Whether your passion is crochet, knitting or any yarn based craft – please do check them out – you won’t be disappointed.

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