Edward's Menagerie

This summer I'll be very busy taking on new challenges. I recently arrived in England to take part in a few internships at various knitting companies that I have been admiring from afar. I hope it's an adventure full of fibre, textiles and new learning experiences. My first stop is at Toft Alpaca Shop, located in the picturesque village of Dunchurch. 

My first introduction to Toft was a year ago when I received a package full of delicious alpaca yarn and a fur pompom - I was immediately hooked.  This experience is sentimental, as it was sent by Pom Pom Quarterly to use for my first published pattern in their Issue 7: Winter 2013. Toft and Pom Pom helped bring my vision of Take Heart to life.

 Photo Credit: Juju Vail

Photo Credit: Juju Vail

Since arriving this week it has been a whirlwind of preparation for the book launch of Edward's Menagerie written by Toft Alpaca Shop's owner, Kerry Lord. Kerry's put together a beautiful book of over forty patterns for crochet animals. The animals are in the style of amigurumi and each one is crocheted in the natural shades of British sheep and alpacas. 

When I arrived at Toft, I was a bit embarrassed to say that I do not crochet. In the past I have only used it for finishing details on knitting projects such as, joining squares together and some occasional surface embroidery. I had never been attracted to the way crochet garments appeared; the patterns did not seem to make sense and it felt incredibly awkward in my hands. However, before my first day was over, the girls had me comfortably crocheting and reading patterns. Toft's goal is to make knitting and crocheting accessible to the inexperienced, while still designing patterns for experienced crafters. 

Here's my first attempt, chunky elephant tusks! 

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I can't take credit for the heads and ears but Liz, another intern, and I assembled these on the morning of the book launch.

Edward's Menagerie may have won over my feelings about crochet. Each animal is thoughtfully constructed and range in size from tiny to enormous. Plus they're extremely sweet and each has an individual personality! 

It is very tempting to start on an animal while I'm here. I'm smittened with Esme the Fox for obvious reasons. However, she's a more advanced pattern so perhaps I'll start someone else.