I have been a huge fan of Alpacas for many years, they’re just sooooooooooooooo cute. It is my dream to have a small-holding with a few alpaca, some chickens, a pig, vegetable patch and greenhouse!! Perhaps with a few holiday lets to make some sort of income (pie in the sky dream which I don’t expect will ever materialise – although I live in hope of meeting a farmer or winning the Euromillions).
Toft Alpaca pom poms
Last year, at Knit Nation, London, Martine (from iMake), Chloe (from Sparkly Shoes are Faster) and I discovered the wonder that is Toft Alpaca. We got very over excited and really rather silly over alpaca pom poms. They are so soft and fluffy. You can hear our amusing chat in Episode 24 of the iMake podcast. It was chatting with Kerry at this show which really did get me dreaming about owning alpacas one day. Originally Toft were just alpaca breeders but thanks to Kerry, who saw the fleeces going to waste, they now produce lots of high quality alpaca yarns in beautifully natural colourways. They do not dye any of their yarns, but blend the various naturally occurring fibres together to get their colourways. They now sell their yarns, pom poms, stunning hand turned wooden buttons and toggles in various woods and sizes as well as hold various craft classes, including knitting, crochet and felting.
The fabulous Martine came to stay with me for the weekend and suggested that we make a trip to see the Toft Alpaca shop and farm. Martine has also blogged about it here and we both “appear” in her regular craft podcast, iMake, chatting and giggling about it here. Now, when Martine suggested it, we didn’t really know if it would be possible to visit from London. I had thought that the farm was in Oxfordshire, but it is actually in Warwickshire. I looked on their website and saw that is was very near to Rugby and trains to Rugby are 2 an hour from Euston station and take only 50 mins or 1 hour 40 mins (depending on whether you get the fast [and quite expensive] or the slow [much cheaper] train). Martine emailed Carrie at Toft to let them know we were thinking of coming and she very helpfully told us that we could get a taxi from the station for around £10. This was good news, because from the map I really had no idea of knowing just how far away Dunchurch was from Rugby.
Martine and I were so glad that we decided to make the trip. It was really well worth it. We pulled up in the taxi at around 12.30 pm and were met by a lovely lady, whom I think was called Claire. Claire came out of the door to meet us saying “you must be Martine and Kate, welcome”. It was so very lovely to be welcomed by name. We were taken into the office (if we’d gone to the car park we would have gone in through the shop door) and offered a drink of tea or coffee or a soft drink. We’d just had a coffee and a sandwich at the station, so declined, but ordinarily I love to get a drink!
The beautiful setting of Toft Alpaca by Draycote Water
We had a wander around the shop, feeling all the beautiful alpaca knitted things, yarns, fleece and, of course, the pom poms! We were in alpaca heaven and hadn’t even seen an animal yet! Shortly afterwards Carrie came to chat with us and invited us to join a guided tour of the farm which was starting at 1pm. It was a beautiful sunny day and a little warm, but great for a slow ramble through fields of alpaca with a camera! Carrie was a brilliant guide too. She gave us fascinating little facts about alpaca, their fleeces and the spinning process, all the way round. She was unbelievably knowledgable and a really lovely person. You can see so clearly how much she loves her job.
The alpaca were so very lovely and really inquisitive little creatures. Here’s a few more pictures of the gorgeous blighters!
After our wonderful walk we were asked to join the group in a short craft taster session, where people could try knitting, crochet and wet felting. Finally, we had time for a bit of shopping (ahem – well! Ahem… it would’ve been rude not to! )
We both bought bag making kits (we’d coveted them for a little while). Martine bought a medium sized bulb bag for knitting and then felting and I bought a chunky crochet bucket bag to make. If you follow the links you can take a look at what we bought. Martine chose a toggle rather than a button. I did choose a large button though and we both (rather handily) chose the same colour as in the pictures on Toft’s site.
I started my bag on the way home on the train and made good headway. Before I could complete it, my cat staged a one animal sit in and occupied it. I thought she’d lose interest eventually, but in the end I had to give in, fasten off and “turn” it into a cat basket!
Kerry and Carrie – I’ll be seeing you at Ally Pally to buy some more yarn to complete my bag!!
Finally, I whole heartedly recommend that anyone who gets the opportunity to visit Toft should do so. We had a great time and are seriously considering booking the holiday accommodation at the farm some time!