Cooking for a knitting workshop

When we host a knitting workshop we try to make sure every detail is perfect. We can't always guarantee perfect weather or perfectly behaved alpacas, but one thing we have all control over is the food! Kari-Helene has worked hard at coming up with a combination of food that works well for our workshops and we feel she has gotten pretty good at it over the years. The menu will usually go something like this -

Mushroom and onion tart
Homemade bread
Quinoa salad
Green leaf salad

Chocolate chip/walnut/cranberry cookies
Some other sweet treat - this time macaroons

Everything we serve on the day is vegetarian and we do our best to work around all food allergies/dislikes. Kari-Helene even attempted vegan muffins once!

Here is the recipe Kari-Helene usually use to make her homemade bread. She has come up with a mix of flour to make the loaf a little more textured and a little healthier, but this is a good place to start. Add some seeds, add some wholemeal; make it your own! 

Would you like to try make some macaroons - here is the recipe Kari-Helene followed!

We have a workshop coming up in June - this one is SATURDAY 6th of June and is the ONLY Saturday we will have this year. Are you still thinking of attending a workshop - you can place your deposit on the website now! 


Wonderwool's 10th anniversary and another fab knitting workshop

At the end of April we had a little flurry of activity before everyone went into what can only be described as "election depression" and we are sorry it has taken us until now to post about it!

We started with a fabulous workshop at Burwash Manor. We had 3 lovely ladies attending, and we had such a great time. Everyone managed a good start on their projects, some even made a start on more than one! The alpacas were well behaved and enjoyed their apples and the ladies enjoyed their lunch. Can't get better than that!

 The next day we got in our van, Bessie, and followed our SatNav on narrow roads through English and Welsh countryside until we reached Builth Wells. Wonderwool was having their 10th anniversary show and we are proud to have been part of it.

Highlights of the show included as always the crocheted high-vis vests the volunteers wear, meeting Georgie wearing her fabulous Sherri Shrug and the fabulous tarts they sell in the food area. We still dream of those tarts.

We are also loving John Arbon's Top of the Tops sign! Isn't it fun? And we love their tops anyways, the blends are just wonderful! 

This week we are heading to London to attend iKnit Fandango and next week we are back at Burwash Manor with an evening event and another workshop.

See you soon!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx


Our 5 favourite knits for you and your child!

Did you know we have a range of mini-me knits? They are perfect, small versions of our adult designs both for girls and boys. They cover a range of our most popular designs, both garments and accessories. It is hard to choose a favourite, but here are our attempt at a top 5 list.

1. Solo Waistcoat

Who would have thought that a practical and almost utilitarian design for women would make such a cute top for the little man in your life? It's the perfect way for mum and son to match.


2. Camilla Hat

The Camilla Hat is knitted in our Medium yarn for adults and by changing this to Fine we have turned Camilla into a perfect accessory for kids. Pretty but still warm and practical, it ticks all the boxes!


3. Beauty Cardigan

How adorable are these sleeves? We have edited the puff sleeves slightly from the adult version to turn a contemporary take on the 50's into a super cute cardie for a little girl. If nothing else this makes the top 5 purely for the little girl's smile in the photo!


 4. Icon Dress

The Icon Dress is our most popular design for women and it has proven to be equally as popular for little girls. The girl's version comes with the option of sleeves. The adult Icon can also be made with sleeves by combining it with the pattern for the Esme Jumper. 


5. Maddie Dress

There is no doubt. The ultimate yummy mummy and mini me is the Maddie Dress! The pretty leaf pattern and short sleeve design works equally as good on the adult as on the child's dress. Want to look pretty - this certainly ticks the box!


We love them all! Which one is your favourite?

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx


Our alpaca boys are looking for a lovely new home

At the moment, Tracy's herd consists of 18 alpacas; 14 girls and 4 boys with 4 crias (baby alpacas) on the way. You have to keep the girls and boys in separate fields and with feeding, watering, poo cleaning and other general husbandry tasks, it is all proving a bit much alongside running our ever expanding business. It is with great reluctance that Tracy has decided to sell her boys (and some of her girls) as only having one field to look after will cut the time it takes looking after the animals in half. 

Our boys are lovely animals. There's George, Charlie and Iago, all bred by Tracy herself, and Bollinger a stud male we traded for Hero when fresh blood was needed for our herd. George and Bollinger are both stud males with excellent qualities. Charlie and Iago are also lovely animals, but they didn't quite make it as studs, and are therefore neutered. They will make excellent pets or guard animals. All the animals are pedigree registered with the British Alpaca Society and are microchipped.

Do you think you can offer our boys a good home? Do get in touch!

One of the things you look for in a good animal is of course how good their fleece is, and anyone talking to Tracy about what she looks for when buying our fleece will hear about microns. At Purl Alpaca Designs, we have a cut off point of 25 microns which means that our yarn is super soft and a joy to knit with; but what is a micron?

A micron is the measurement used as an industry standard to describe the thickness of each individual hair in a small sample taken at shearing. One micron is 1,000th of a millimetre thick and invisible to the naked eye. To give an example, a human blood cell is 7 microns wide, whereas a human hair is about 70 microns. So if an alpaca produces fleece with an average count of under 25 microns, we're talking about an incredibly fine fibre. Tracy has just had her herd's fibre stats back from the Australian Alpaca Fibre Testing Authority.

So, let's introduce our boys!


Iago is a lovely colour
Iago's fleece is dense and fine

Iago is a neutered male. He has got a lovely temperament and would make a fabulous pet. 
He has got a lovely fleece, perfect for someone hand spinning their own yarn. 
Iago is the offspring to Dusty and Blue Circus.
His fleece measures 21.3 microns which is very fine. 
Iago is 3 years old this year.
Price £600


George is a fantastic looking alpaca

George is a fabulous alpaca. He is the offspring of Tracy's Duchess and Snowmass XXX 
(an American stud male) and came 4th at the Alpaca Futurity in 2013
(that is the Crufts of the alpaca world). 
George's fleece measures only 20 microns. This is a fabulous fleece for 
a 5 year old alpaca and a brilliant genetic to pass on!
Price  £3500


Bollinger is a very calm and friendly stud male

Bollinger is fairly new to our herd but he has adapted easily to his new surroundings. 
He was swapped for Tracy's Hero with Liz Giblin at Butler's Farm farm 
to bring fresh bloodlines to both herds.
Bollinger is the offspring to EP Cambridge Courage and 
Morden Hall Champagne, both with excellent genetics. 
His fleece is very dense and fine with a micron count of 19.7
 and has a good staple length. 
He is strong and of stocky build and is 4 years old.
Price £3500


Charlie would make a fabulous pet alpaca

Charlie is one of Tracy's own alpacas, offspring to Tracy's Beauty.
As a little cria he was very naughty and you may remember him running around with a 
plastic bag in his mouth? He has grown a bit since then and is a very large alpaca. 
Charlie is a very protective alpaca and would make a great guard animal or pet.
Charlie's fleece is not as fine as the other three, but still under our cut off point 
and would provide an excellent fleece for a hand spinner or felt maker. 
Charlie is 5 years old and his fleece measures 23 microns.
Price £600

(All prices are excluding VAT)

Would you like to own your very own piece of Purl Alpaca Designs' history? Here is your chance!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx


The Love Your Blog challenge - gratitude

This is week 4 of the challenge and Kate of A Playful Day has given us the topic 'gratitude'. We would like to keep this one simple. There are so many things we could be grateful for; we are happy and healthy, we work with something we love, we don't have to stock take our patterns more than once a year, we are in charge of our own lives, Tracy's suitcase was found and turned into the police after being flung out of the van at speed last night on the way home from Wonderwool and tomorrow we will wake up to yet another day of being healthy and happy. Fingers crossed.

But, first and foremost we are grateful to YOU. You are the reason this business is what it is. You; the knitter, the reader, the social media surfer, the creative souls. To celebrate you, here are some of our favourite customer project photos through our years of running Purl Alpaca Designs.


Irene wore Duchess Cardigan on her wedding day

Judith really looks fabulous in her Esme Jumper

Elly's mum knitted her this amazing Icon Dress

Ross knitted the Iago Waistocat and looks great!

Lizzie got married wearing the Beauty Wedding Cardigan

Caroline says the Alfie Hat is her favourite!

We love how Laura is rocking out wearing her Hope Wrist Warmers

Elisa looked stunning in her wedding outfit, wearing Bonnie Bolero over a lace dress

We love ALL your photos and you can see more of them on our customer gallery on Pinterest. Please keep sending us your photos, we love to see them and share them!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx


Purl Alpaca Designs events in 2015 - April - June

Oh dear we are falling a bit behind. April is nearly over and we haven't told you where we are going this month! Lucky for us we are only heading off to Wonderwool at the end of the month - OH HANG ON A MOMENT - it's tomorrow!
Without further ado (and to give ourselves enough time to pack the van this afternoon) here is the list of shows and workshops over the next few months!

1. Wonderwool - Wales, 25th and 26th of April, 2015

This is a marvelous show and we are excited to be driving the beautiful country roads to Builth Wells and the Royal Welsh Showground tomorrow morning. This is the 10h anniversary for the show and we are sure it will be bigger and better than ever! We are bringing our newest collection, Wonderland, as well as the firm favourites and hope to see many of you there. As always, if you turn up wearing what you have knitted of our designs, we will take your picture and include you in our customer gallery! You can buy tickets on the door on the day!

2. iKnit Fandango - London, 15th and 16th of May, 2015

We have been to the iKnit Festival before but it feels like it was in another lifetime. We have changed, we're sure they have changed too and we look forward to seeing the result. It can only be bigger and better than ever before! With over 50 vendors now booked it promises to be an individual, knitting focused show with bundles of character!

You can find out more on the iKnit website. 

3. A Royal Alpaca Event - 19th of May 2015

We are hosting another of our popular evening events and this one will provide the last chance this year to see the alpacas in their full fleece. We have just booked our shearing date fr this year and it will be the following week. So should you fancy seeing some proper fluffy 'pacas, now's your chance. You can read more about the event here.  Should you wish to book this for your WI or knitting group, get in touch!

4. Knitting Workshop - 20th of May 2015

Immediately after it will be time for another workshop. This one is half full already, so don't delay should you wish to meet and feed alpacas in full fluff! Kari-Helene is already busy thinking of what to cook for this one...  You can read more about our workshops here.

5. A Royal alpaca event - 5th of June, 2015

And then we do it all again in June. The evening event will be running from 7pm until 9pm and will be a lovely chance to meet alpacas, see, feel and try on all the beautiful knitwear and do a little shopping. We will be providing some refreshments, Kari-Helene will be making her famous cookies and we will be having an all round fabulous time!

6. Knitting Workshop - 6th of June, 2015

The June edition of the workshop will include skinny alpacas as they will have had their annual haircut only a couple of weeks before. It might also include a baby alpaca or two should one of our pregnant ladies decide to give birth early. This all depends on the summer, if we have a warm and lovely spring, they might just decide it's time! This is a Saturday and as we don't get many of those, it has been popular already!

You can book your spot to this workshop here.

7. Woolfest, Cumbria - 26th and 27th of June, 2015

This annual wool and knitting show takes place in one of the most beautiful places we have visited; the Lake District. This is where Kari-Helene and Tracy thought it would be a good idea to go sightseeing in the mountains in Bessie and didn't quite end up where they wanted to. This is also where we every year meet lots of lovely knitters and generally have a great time!

So that's it for the next few months. We hope to see you at one or more of these events!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx


Ugly? - beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Time has seriously run away from us this week (and it's only Tuesday!) and with Tracy spending the weekend fleece buying and Kari-Helene galavanting off to play an Ultimate Frisbee tournament (in case you are wondering here is a cool video of an American women's team playing the sport), Monday ended up being a fairly hectic day preparing for our upcoming workshop.

So instead of writing a long and philosophical post on beauty vs ugly, we've created a pinterest board with some pictures of alpacas having an off day!

Expect an update on our alpacas later this week!

Much love,

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx

This post is a part of the blog challenge set by A Playful Day and is on the topic "UGLY".

A Playful Day