For many years now TOFT has been inundated with Chinese students and their parents visiting the farm due to the internet phenomenon of the Grass Mud Horse. It all started when in early 2009 someone wrote an article on Baidu Baike, the Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia, about 4 mythical creatures including a species of alpaca called the Cǎo Ní Mǎ (草泥马) that live in Mahler Gobi (马勒戈壁).
Chinese speakers noticed the joke quite early on – the names were made up to sound like rude phrases. The Grass Mud Horse was a silly satire of Chinese government censorship which was particularly rampant at the time. The grass mud horses fight river crabs 河蟹 héxiè which is a reference to 和谐 héxié as in “harmony” which in turn is a government euphemism for censorship. Characters with different tones are often used to get around censorship so this seems to bring great humour to TOFT’s Chinese visitors.
Every year, TOFT welcomes these visitors who giggle all the way throughout their workshop experiences and tours.
Luxury British knitting company Toft is a UK leader in the manufacturing of home grown woollen yarn and the design of DIY fashion knitting and crochet kits.
The brain-child of Kerry Lord, the daughter of Rob Bettinson, a leading alpaca stud farmer in Warwickshire, Toft specialises in superior quality natural alpaca and wool yarn. Since its launch in 2006, demand for their natural and organic wools amongst the crafting community has outgrown supply.
“When we first tested our wool at the local county fair we were thrilled by the response. Demand for what we do continues to grow and following our expansion in 2013 beyond alpaca into wool we can continue to grow fast to meet it.”
For shoppers who prefer to buy the finished item, Toft has a ‘classic’ collection of their design favourites that are all handmade to order within a stone’s throw of the Warwickshire studio. Choose your yarn when you order and a local hand-knitter will cast-on on your behalf.
At only 29 years old, founder Kerry has proved herself as a dynamic and innovative entrepreneur. Straight out of university, her parents gave her the challenge of selling the farm’s alpaca fleeces which were at the time, spilling out of their attics. Realising there was no demand for the fleeces she researched into manufacturing alpaca wool. In 2014, her first book Edward’s Menagerie will be published and Toft is forecast to sell over 6 tonnes of knitting yarn both direct to customers and into other craft shops. Toft has been at the forefront of the knitting & crafting resurgence and with the opening of a luxury coffee shop in May 2014, it will become the coveted destination for all crafters looking for a proper British experience with their yarn.