Shear genius!

PUBLISHED: 12:04 17 December 2010 | UPDATED: 15:06 20 February 2013

Alpaca Shop Modelling

Alpaca Shop Modelling

Two years ago, while Kerry Bettinson was sitting in a James Joyce seminar in the last term of her degree she was taken by a passage from the novel Ulysses that referred to "Councillor Nannetti's alpaca jacket".

Two years ago, while Kerry Bettinson was sitting in a James Joyce seminar in the last term of her degree she was taken by a passage from the novel Ulysses that referred to "Councillor Nannetti's alpaca jacket".


It had a special meaning for Kerry as her parents Rob and Shirley run Toft Alpacas in Dunchurch, Warwickshire. On completion of her finals she returned home to be thrown back into the midst of alpaca shearing week and 'enlisted' as 'broom girl'.


She explains: "One hundred and fifty fleeces later and the barn, garage, and what was formerly my bedroom, were bursting with twenty-two colours of crimpy softness. Sleepy eyed and unthinkingly inquisitive I boldly asked; 'so what exactly are we doing with all this fibre?'"


Now Kerry is manager of The Toft Alpaca Shop - on-farm, on-line and on the road, and waiting for the 2008 shearing to commence.


Amidst the dust and spit and toenail clippings, Kerry will be labelling the fleeces as 'babywear', 'shawls' or 'handbags', as she grades the fibres for fineness and colour.


"Every piece of fibre from the Toft herd is now processed and sold within the UK. Knitting yarns, knitwear, woven accessories and felted pieces. I made the decision to take advantage of the natural colour spectrum and, in doing so, have earned status as a green producer as my products are 100% natural and British, the majority carrying a total carbon mileage of under fifty.


"All postage wrapping and carrier bags are now recycled paper, and every effort is being made to reduce excess packaging. Many people are now food shopping locally, using farmers markets and farm shops to track down organic fresh produce.


"The Toft Alpaca Shop gives people the option of buying local knitting yarns and knitwear produced by local craftspeople," says Kerry.


The shop, best described as a farm boutique, now stocks all kinds of knitwear including teddy bears, handbags, shawls, wraps, hats and even the odd alpaca jacket!


For further information visit www.thetoftalpacashop.co.uk or visit the farm and meet the producers.


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