The Toft Alpaca Shop yarn brand was born in September 2006, a product of the successful and established Toft Alpaca Stud farm upon which Kerry Lord had grown up.
Kerry Lord says, "Sitting in a James Joyce seminar in the last term of my degree, I desperately clung onto a scrap of a sentence I had at least some chance of selling my intellect on: Councillor Nannetti's alpaca jacket. On completion of my finals I made a somewhat sheepish return back to Toft (colander and pot plant in hand) to be thrown back into the midst of shearing week and my enforced enlistment as 'broom girl'. One hundred and fifty fleeces later and the barn, garage, and what was formerly my bedroom were bursting with fluffy crimpy softness. Sleepy eyed and unthinkingly inquisitive I boldly asked; 'so what exactly are we doing with all this fibre?' Amidst the dust and spit and toenail clippings, I now take great joy in seeing the fleeces roll off the backs of the animals at shearing time. I now have a concrete idea of what every fleece will become within that season’s collection even before the alpacas had time to feel the sun warming their freshly exposed unmentionables. I never thought that I would be deferring dreams of Dublin libraries, in exchange for casting on, K2tog and sewing; trying to make (and most importantly sell) that perfect alpaca jacket."
Ten years on and three books later, The Toft Alpaca Shop has evolved into TOFTuk, offering luxury 100% wool yarn in a variety of colours and weights alongside a small amount of alpaca, still spun from the animals on the farm itself. TOFT is dedicated to getting more people knitting and offers a great range of beginner easy knitting and crochet patterns for total craft newbies, including kits for the best-selling Edward's Menagerie and Edward's Imaginarium range.
From the offset TOFT has been dedicated to British eco-conscious processing. All of our handknitted yarns for retail are spun in the UK. Eco-yarns and locally sourced knitting projects are proving extremely popular, with large brands now releasing their own 'green knitting' collections. At TOFT we do not carry one environmentally conscious yarn line, rather ALL of our yarn and products are ecologically and ethically sound.
Alongside our British luxury 100% wool range we also stock a British designed selection of imported alpaca fur products. When working with Peru we have been careful to ensure that we are working with fair trade importers. We work with companies who employ a team of in-house makers and also work with independent often family businesses or small co-operatives, carefully managing to ensure fair rates of pay and suitable working conditions. Working conditions, wages and workload expectations are continually monitored with all of our knitters to ensure we are fairly trading with Peru, and this maintains our high quality production. We are determined not to support alpacas being killed for their skins, and thus all of our fur pom poms are made from the pelts of animals which have died from natural causes. As a consequence the availability and variability in the stock across our range can be very different subject to obtainability.
All craft workshops are hosted in the TOFT Studio building, a bright and spacious barn conversion at Toft Manor, Dunchurch, Warwickshire CV22 6NR. See WORKSHOPS to view programme and book.
The TOFT Shop, which sells our full range of yarns is also located here and is open 10am-4pm seven days a week.