October 23, 2014

A Day Out At TOFT Alpaca Farm

It’s no secret that we’re both big fans of British DIY knitwear and wool company TOFT. We both knitted their beehive hats last year and love their luxury alpaca and wool yarns. When we met Kerry, the founder of TOFT, at the Handmade Fair she invited us to visit them at their alpaca farm for a tour and crochet workshop – alpacas and crochet, how could we refuse?!

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This Saturday we both hot-footed it onto an early morning train headed for the Midlands, TOFT is a few miles outside of Rugby. We decided that we had to try and learn some basic crochet skills on the train so the crochet workshop wouldn’t be too embarrassing – we have both never done ANY crochet. Helpfully, a lady on the train next to us was a crochet-er and she gave us some tips. We were still pretty terrible though. We think knitting might have ruined us for crochet forever.

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Before long we were out in the countryside and getting a little giddy with alpaca excitement! By 11am we were at TOFT where Kerry met us and showed us around the shop, workshop space and café. Have you seen Kerry’s amazing book Edward’s Menagerie yet? It’s actually amazing, we want to make an animal for all the babies we know and probably the adults too. All of the animals from Edward’s Menagerie from Winston the Aardvark to Emma the Bunny are hung up around the shop and we spent a while picking out our favourites. Which is yours?

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Kerry gave us time to look around before asking if we’d like to go on a farm tour. She took one look at our concrete-appropriate city shoes and quickly produced two pairs of wellies. They were definitely needed.

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We walked around the gloriously muddy farm and met all of the 200 alpacas who live there. Kerry’s parents set the alpaca stud farm up in 1997 and since then the UK’s alpaca population has grown hugely, apparently they make good pets! These are some babies, look how cute they are…

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Alpacas do this strange thing where they walk towards animals like foxes and dogs, it’s a defensive strategy and they’d probably eventually trample any fox that didn’t run off sharpish. Because of this though, Kerry brought along her dog Pete for the walk – whenever the alpacas see Pete they walk towards him which makes for pretty funny photos.

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This was right before Pete sneezed in the alpaca’s face…

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When we got back to the café there was just enough time for lunch before our workshop started. The food we had was so good and the cakes all looked incredible. There was even a vegan one for H.

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With very full bellies and lungs full of fresh air we sat down to start our workshop, making Hank the sheep from Edward’s Menagerie.

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He’s a very cute fluffy sheep and a good beginner project. Caroline and Emily from TOFT gave us loads of crochet help and we actually did get the hang of it!

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H’s tension is very loose and mine is very tight so we ended up with VERY different looking sheep heads but we’re told that’s perfectly fine. If you’ve never given crochet a go definitely try it, it’s so much easier to transport around than knitting – we think we’re both going to have a project on the go for our commutes.

We were both reluctant to leave TOFT at the end of the day but we left excited about all the crochet we’re going to do and happy in the way that only a day out of the city can make you. Kerry and the whole TOFT team were so lovely to us and we can’t wait to visit them again – we’ve been told we might be able to return when they shear the alpacas and do some fleece sorting!

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TOFT is open to the public Wednesday-Sunday – a farm visit and workshop makes the perfect day out and you can even pick up all your Christmas shopping whilst you’re there.

Thank you again Kerry and everyone at TOFT for giving us such a brilliant day, we’ll be back!

H + R

One Comment

Annie

Ah, the alpacas are ace! I love TOFT, picked up one of their hat patterns at the knitting and stitching show earlier this month. Looks like such an awesome day out, now I just need to find someone to drag along! X

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