“DE­SIGNER JO STO­RIE HAS TAKEN OUR YARN IN A COM­PLETELY NEW AND BEAU­TI­FUL DI­REC­TION”

Knit Today Magazine - - Notebook -

“I made the de­ci­sion early on not to dye the yarn,” says Kerry. “Al­paca fleeces have such a beau­ti­ful range of nat­u­ral colours, from creamy whites to rich browns, that I wanted to cre­ate a nat­u­ral prod­uct.”

Eight years on and Kerry’s en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit has seen that first pile of fleeces grow into a cut­ting edge yarn com­pany, pro­duc­ing a unique col­lec­tion of won­der­fully soft al­paca yarns and con­tem­po­rary pat­terns to com­ple­ment them, as well as a range made-to-or­der gar­ments and cro­cheted toys.

“It’s been hard work but I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved,” says Kerry. “I was do­ing three peo­ple’s jobs un­til my son was born and I still work very long hours but I’m try­ing to find that bal­ance be­tween work and fam­ily life.”

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SENSE OF HU­MOUR ES­SEN­TIAL Kerry’s ded­i­ca­tion is ev­i­dent. With shear­ing com­pleted mid-morn­ing, she’s straight onto the next task.

“Each fleece needs to be sorted by hand to check its qual­ity and colour,” Kerry ex­plains, as she places a fleece on a wooden ta­ble in the shear­ing shed and rubs the fi­bres be­tween her fin­gers. “A good fleece should be soft and crimpy all over and the fi­bres must be at least 2 inches in length.” Any bits of fleece not up to stan­dard are sold as stuff­ing for pil­lows and du­vets so noth­ing is wasted.

Kerry checks the colours metic­u­lously. It’s vi­tal the yarns are sorted care­fully as this is how she is able to cre­ate the 10 nat­u­ral shades in the Toft range.

“It’s not an ex­act science but you learn with ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Kerry. “It’s the one thing my par­ents and I dis­agree on,” she laughs. “Dad of­ten does an ini­tial sort but I like to do it my­self. Get­ting the brown shades right is the trick­i­est.”

Af­ter two hours of grad­ing, Kerry is cov­ered in fluff and there are three more bags ready to go to the mill. In three month’s time th­ese fleeces will be part of this year’s crop of Fudge and Chest­nut DK.

“Ev­ery­one looks at me a bit funny when I go to pick up Ed­ward from nurs­ery like this,” Kerry jokes, as she brushes off as many of the fi­bres as she can.

NUR­TUR­ING NEW TAL­ENT Lunch in the café with her mum and dad is a chance to catch up on busi­ness rather than take a breather! Then, while this af­ter­noon’s cro­chet work­shop is set up in the stu­dio (the team teach more than 80 peo­ple a week to knit and cro­chet), Kerry heads to her on-site of­fice to talk to her sup­pli­ers and re­tail­ers. “I check on pro­duc­tion daily,“says Kerry. lot of num­ber crunch­ing ac­tu­ally!”

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