Having recently made quite a few alpacas myself for an upcoming Zoomigurumi book I couldn’t resist the opportunity to drop by and visit the real thing. It made a lovely mid week change to slaving away over a hot crochet hook (the friction of all those stitches, you know, I’m afraid that one day there will be a spontaneous combustion).
I escaped my studio and headed off into Warwickshire for a visit to Tofts Alpacas and what a lovely day it turned out to be. Though the weather was gloomy the alpacas brought their own brand of inner sunshine to the whole experience.
Here’s one close up, very neatly shorn with the classic alpaca hair-do!
Aren’t they just sooooo sweet?!
I couldn’t resist taking a couple of my own crocheted versions along to meet their inspirations. Well, of course they all wanted to take selfies but mine have somewhat shorter legs than their real life counterparts and so this proved a little difficult. I’m always happy to lend a hand though and so between us we got some nice shots for the album.
The alpacas were so gentle and quietly curious. They have a beautiful aura of calm about them and I came away feeling very peaceful with batteries recharged from a good walk in the countryside and a big dose of cute to boot.
I love how alpacas always seem to be smiling!
Apart from this one who seems to have taken some sort of offence to his diminutive counterpart…
Luckily for my crocheted creation this alpacas attention was soon grabbed by my spotty wellies!
Toft Farm has a grey alpaca that we were taken to see. It didn’t really want to pose for the camera, being much more interested in the green, green grass but I got managed to get this shot of him having a good nosh with all his other buddies.
Apparently grey alpacas are very rare. This is the only one on the farm at the moment and it’s very difficult to guarantee a grey offspring even if both parents are grey themselves. All 250 alpacas at Toft Farm have a unique name (hats off to the staff who can remember them all!) and this particular one is called Bradley Wiggins. I thought it would have be fitting to name my own grey alpaca Bradley, in honour of this fine specimen, except that I also have a badger design in my collection with that name. To avoid confusion, and so that my amigurumi will know exactly who I mean when I’m talking to them, I’ve shortened his new name to Brad. That being the case, it logically followed that his girlfriend should probably be called Angelina. So here we have the newly christened ‘Brangelina’ of the alpaca world.
And aren’t they just as handsome a couple as their celebrity namesakes?
All the baby alpacas who are born a little on the light side and need to fatten up a bit are kept with their mums in a special enclosure with open access to all the hay they can eat. My entire herd of alpacas thought they’d join in too. As they’re all made with less than 25g of yarn each they must surely qualify for the underweight category. Anyway, it would be bit harsh to expect them to resist such a fine meal as they were easily small enough to sneak between the bars for a nibble or two!
As for myself, a tempting opportunity that couldn’t realistically be resisted was a visit to the shop after the tour of the farm was over. I’m sure you’ll see why when you look at the next set of photos. The shop was jam packed with amigurumis all made from a book called ‘Edward’s Menagerie’ by Kerry Lord who actually founded and designed the Toft alpacas shop. There is an interesting page about the book and the shop here for those of you who would like a bit more info.
I love the use of all the natural alpaca hues and blends in these super cute designs. The whole shop was awash with greys, browns, beiges and creams and was very easy on the eye.
There was yarn of all weights available…
…and bags of fleece too.
…cuddly toys of all sizes…
…and they even had a Christmas tree up with fluffy alpaca ornaments, mini balls of yarn and crocheted snowflakes and gingerbread men on it.
As a result of my mini shopping spree I’m now the proud owner of an alpaca decoration for my own tree. Here she is back at home, making friends with a robin.
I bought a bag full of alpaca fluff, the smell of which Mojo finds fascinating!
I might stuff some into a little crocheted mouse for him as part of his Christmas present… but the main aim of buying this was to get some practice in with my spinning.
Lastly I had to buy some actual yarn, obviously, and so came away with these three super soft DK yarns. All this was spun with pure colours straight from the fleece, not from blends, and they have the deliciously mouthwatering names of Fudge, Oatmeal and Chestnut.
I wish my spinning attempts were anywhere near as neat and uniform!
I’m planning on making some mittens out of these three skeins. I’m told that alpaca yarn is very good for people who’s skin is sensitive to sheep wool due to the naturally lower levels of lanolin, which can aggravate eczema. I know just the person who would appreciate a pair of alpaca mitts. The only question is can I get them made by Christmas? Hmm, probably cutting it a bit fine, but they most definitely will get made at some point. Better late than never. There are always birthdays to consider or even future Christmases.
Work on Zoomigurumi 5 has begun in earnest and all the chosen patterns, including my own Alicia the Alpaca are now in the testing phase with various book participants and volunteers around the globe. I made a whole herd of these addictive fluffy creatures while tweaking and testing the pattern myself.
They’ve each had a snug pannier blanket made that will be included in the pattern.
Now they no longer have to huddle together in order to keep warm, but it seems they prefer to anyway, just for the pleasure of each other’s company!
As part of my wider contribution to Zoomigurumi 5 I was given this pattern to test and have been busy working my way through the details over the weekend.
Just a little teaser there, as I’ll leave it to the publisher to make the big reveal of all the designs that will be featured this time around. Not long to go now. What I can tell you though is that it’s a fabulous selection, but then you wouldn’t expect anything less from a Zoomigurumi book, I’m sure!