EM_FINALCOVER2.indd When I saw these adorable crochet animals from TOFT I knew instinctively that they would make a terrific addition to the shop – and a fun way to introduce people to crochet! Even better, TOFT is a well-known UK company – regularly seen at yarn and fibre shows around the country while they build their brand, but also remaining true to their roots as a family-run business. And best of all, all of the yarns produced by TOFT are done so in the UK and all are ecologically and ethically sound. Kerry Lord, the founder of the TOFT Alpaca Shop yarn brand (and who grew up on the TOFT Alpaca Stud Farm) took the time to answer some questions about going crochet crazy with her collection of critters from Edward’s Menagerie. blog3Let's start with Edward's Menagerie. They are such a cute collection! For people who aren't aware or haven't got your book, tell us how this project came about. In August 2012 I left TOFT on my pregnancy due date to go on maternity leave. Instantly driven insane by not being at work I decided I would learn to crochet. Following mastering the double crochet stitch from a you-tube video an elephant flew off my hook, and then dozens of other animals joined it with a couple of weeks. The rest is history.blog4 Being self-taught, what was the process like for you learning to crochet and learning to crochet animals? How is amigurumi different from crocheting garments? I have not, and maybe never will crochet a garment. In fact other than one crochet blanket and a couple of hats, it's only ever been animals! What has been your experience introducing people to crochet (and to lovely TOFT yarns!) by teaching them how to make an animal? It is a perfect way to start. The fact that the whole collection only uses the double crochet stitch makes it very approachable to knitters and total craft newbies. Every animal is just a series of increasing and decreasing using a single stitch. The animals were born of TOFT yarn, rather than being selected having already made an animal. I think the Edward's Menagerie are the patterns I've been waiting to write since I first spun a batch of TOFT yarn back in 2006. The collection plays perfectly to the natural colour palate and the resulting soft and supple fabric or down to the quality of the yarn.blog1 We're not supposed to have favourite babies, but do you have a favourite of the animals you've made? Does Ed have a favourite? My favourite changes every week and alters every time I see a new animal on the #edsanimals hashtag in a colourway I have not seen before. The lovely thing about the natural colour range and this collection is that they are all interchangeable and make perfect substitutes. Some day Ed will own Piotr the bear in all ten colours! We have a Siegfried the monkey that has travelled the world with us over the last two and a half years.blog6 Tell us more about TOFT and the yarns. TOFT yarns are manufactured from only the finest fleeces. We hunt for the softest fibres and are dedicated to top quality spinning here in the UK. When you make one of our animals in TOFT yarn it is the kind of quality product that will only ever get better with love. When made in the lush TOFT wool or alpaca yarns, these are truly heirloom pieces. Your role at TOFT sounds incredibly exciting! How do come up with new ideas for the yarns and the company itself to keep things fresh for makers? With a lot of hard work and a very flexible attitude. I have thoroughly loved the last nine years building TOFT into what it is today and I think the key to our success is keeping an open mind and surrounding myself with equally creative people. blog7Anything else you'd like to share about TOFT or the Edward's Menagerie collection? Share with us what you make by tagging photos of them on social media with the hashtag #edsanimals and tweet to us at @ToftAlpacaShop so we can share them with our fans too! Thanks so much to Kerry for taking the time to chat with us. If you’d like to try your hand at crocheting one of the TOFT animals, we now have the book and bunny kits in stock! Or if knitting is more your thing, we also have kits for the TOFT Slouchy Rib Beret or the TOFT Beginner Snood. We will also be running a class on May 16th with Sanna King, our resident crochet master, to learn how to make the animals in this book! Check out our class list for more information.blog5