Feeling inspired to knit

It is January, it is 2015 and it is time to think about the year ahead. I have started by looking at what inspires me this year. I usually get inspired by vintage fashion, the 40's and 50's always being important sources of inspiration for me, but this year I wanted to delve into the fashion archives a little deeper.

The androgyny of the 1920's has always intrigued me. The glorious rebellion of fashion against the constrictions of traditional female dress taking on the toned down silhouette of a flapper girl. The straight up and down, the loose and flowing; how can something so easy going carry such a strong message?

 I'm unsure of the original source of these images, 
if anyone can help I would be very grateful!

We are talking of an era were women started redefining their roles, taking on different tasks, playing sports, having opinions, being heard. Although this was only the beginning of a revolution, it has to start somewhere. This picture of two ladies playing tennis, wearing practical clothing brings me joy. Fashion has a purpose. I enjoy designing clothes that will mean something to the person making and wearing them. 

Through my research I have gathered some images on Pinterest, you can take a look by clicking here. These images have in turn inspired me to knit. And my samples inspire me to draw. We will have to wait a bit before we see what garments will come of it. I really have no idea at this stage! But that is all part of the fun! 

Stitch samples

I shall return with further updates soon!

Happy knitting! Kari-Helene x


"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

Well no, actually, more a storm tossed sea which, lets face it, is more in keeping with the current season. We are of course referring to our fabulous darker grey yarn which has just arrived from the mill.  Storm is as sleek and sumptuous as you'd expect from us.  It has a beautifully soft handle to it and has been described as feeling like spun unicorn fluff!

Alpaca yarn in Storm Grey

To continue the theme of Shakespeare's sonnet, (which incidentally rhymes with bonnet and the reason for our selection below,) the colour is similar to the Coco Hat.

Coco Hat
Which in turn matches the Hero Boot Cuffs (also in Storm Grey)

Hero Boot Cuffs
Whereas Ophira is more of a bonnet... alright, it's knitted in Dew, but work with us on this one

Ophira Hat
A large knitting project can feel like a daunting task, but as the final words of the Bard suggests: "When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st."  Yes, keep going and it will get done!

One of our knitting projects that is a garment, but still not too daunting, is the Bonnie Bolero. It only takes between 4 and 7 balls of yarn depending on size and at the end of it you have a knitted garment you can wear!

Bonnie Bolero

Bonnie was named after Bonnie the alpaca, a price winning female alpaca whom we encountered in our very first year in business at Scotland Farm, Dry Drayton. Isn't she gorgeous?

Happy Knitting
Love Kari-Helene and Tracy


Purl Alpaca Designs events in 2015 January - March

It's January, it's windy and cold and the first storms have hit our coasts over the last few days. Here at Purl Alpaca Designs we feel the need to look forward to something cosy, fun and interesting. What better to distract us then a round up of knitting events over the next few months? We are both hosting and attending several, and we know it can get tricky to keep up, so here you go; a nice, neat and tidy list.

1. Knitting workshop in January.

This is our first workshop of the year and will be taking place on Saturday the 31st of January. Our workshops take place at Burwash Manor, a lovely, organic farm, and includes a meeting with our alpacas, the cuddly fibre providers. You can read more about the workshops here and you can book your place by clicking here.

2. Knitting workshop in February.

And just like that, here is the second workshop of the year! This one takes place on a Wednesday and includes all the lovely stuff you'd expect from a visit to a charming farm in rural Cambridgeshire. Included in the cost of a workshop is a lovely, home cooked meal and sweet treats. Some people book just for the food! Interested in a place on the February workshop? Book your place here.

3. Unravel.

This is one of our most favourite shows of the year. Unravel is held in the charming town of Farnham in Surrey. The surroundings are pretty, we usually see the first signs of spring and we get to hang out with a whole bunch of talented and lovely knitters! This year the show is open for 3 full days, Friday to Sunday, and we think it will most likely be better than ever! Want to book your ticket? Here is the link to the website.

4. Olympia

In March we will be attending what is fast becoming one of the most important dates in the knitting diary; The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia in London. This will be the 3rd time we are attending and we have seen it get better and better every year. We are excited to see what the team behind the show comes up with this year to make it even better! Want to come see us there? Here is where you can buy tickets.

5. Knitting workshop in March.

Here is the March edition of our workshops. By this time the alpacas should have a lovely thick coat of fleece and spring should be in the air. Tracy will talk you through how we produce our yarn, right from the alpacas you meet to the yarn you will be knitting with! It is the true Field to Fashion process. Would you like to take part? Book your place on the March workshop right here.

6. Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

Last on the list in this round up is a brand new event for us. This will be the first time we are venturing into Scotland, and we are very excited about it. The Edinburgh Yarn Fest has its launch in 2013 and after a year to regroup they are coming back bigger and stronger in the 2015 edition. Edinburgh is a fantastic city and we can't wait to meet lots of fabulous knitters there! We are ready, the question is, is Edinburgh ready for us?

That takes us to the end of March and to be honest we can't quite grasp thinking about what lies beyond that just yet. One step at the time! We look forward to seeing you soon!

Kari-Helene and Tracy xx


5 of our favourite hats, headbands and snoods.

When Kari-Helene was little her mum always told her that if she wanted to stay warm in the freezing cold Norwegian winter she had to keep her head and feet warm. Apparently this might all be a myth but it doesn't stop us feeling all snuggly when we wear our favourite alpaca headgear outside in the cold.
Did you also know that in addition to keeping you warm, alpaca is also water repellent and will not get wet through for a long, long time. The rain forms droplets on the outside of the knit and can easily be brushed off. This way your head stays both warm and dry!

Here is a little run through of 5 of Purl Alpaca Designs favourite ever hats, headbands and snoods and should you want to keep the feet warm too, why not check out Louise Tilbrook's fabulous socks?

Misty Turban

Misty Turban

From our Woodlands collection comes Misty, one of our very first accessories and also one of our best designs for beginner knitters. Our two first collections, Flowerfields and Seashore, did not include any accessories and hence in 2010 came our first ever knitting kits for accessories. Misty will be very quick to finish for an experienced knitter and could be keeping your ears warm in no time!

Dusty Snood

Dusty Snood

From our Country Garden collection we have chosen the Dusty Snood. This is one of the most versatile accessories we have ever produced. Dusty is knitted like a scarf on straight needle, but joined up at the end to form a circle. This means you can wear it loose around your neck, wrapped twice for the snug feel, pulled up around the head for double purpose or pulled down around the shoulders as a wrap against the evening chill. Dusty is knitted on big needles and although taking 3 balls, knits up super fast!

Camilla Hat

Camilla Hat

Now onto a more traditional hat shape. Camilla Hat is a neat little beanie that is knitted intentionally big to give you that perfect slouch. Camilla has so many beautiful stitch details and is so much fun to knit, the hours will slip away! There are cables, bobbles, lace and textured stitches. Something for everyone! If you want to go all out, the Medley scarf, also from our Waterways collection, uses all the same stitches and matches perfectly.

Aoki Headband

Aoki Headband

From our Manor Farm collection comes the Aoki Headband. Aoki has stunning leaf details running across the whole length of the headband and creates a very pretty, yet practical accessory. The tie fastening at the back makes it adjustable and easy to fit any headsize.

Holly Hat

Holly Hat

Last but not least comes our choice from our latest collection, Wonderland. Holly Hat is a cute beanie that can be worn as a beret as well as in a more traditional way. The pretty texture of the lace stitch makes it stand out and it will truly show off your knitting skills. Be prepared for compliments!

So, these are our favourites, but which ones are yours?


Keep warm!

Kari-Helene & Tracy xxx


A White Christmas?

It's really more than a little cold when seeing to the Alpacas at the moment and a few mornings Burwash Manor has been rendered into a sparkly festive scene with thick frost. It's definitely the time of year to indulge in warm knits, hot chocolate and all things white. Or more specifically, Ivory.

Here at Purl Alpaca, we have always produced a woollen spun yarn, which in simple terms means the fibres are carded before being spun to spread out the fibres and make a yarn of even thickness along its' thread. This is part of what contributes to that delicious softness we've become associated with. By woollen spinning our carefully selected fibre we can produce a yarn that is light, fluffy and full of air so it has a wonderful ability to insulate.

However, our ivory yarn listed here is a little bit different. This was an experiment with a worsted spun process where fibres are part carded before pin drafting aligns the fibres and the whole fibre is then spun. This makes for a much denser, smoother yarn. While we loved the results, our hearts are truly with the lofty woollen produced yarn and so this yarn is now a limited edition- once it sells out, there won't be any more!

Chunky knit accessories are still dominating the shops and catwalks and we couldn't think of a quicker on trend accessory to make than a chunky hat or cowl! We have some chunky yarn in Ivory that we think would work wonderfully with these winter wonderland knits:

The Alfie hat- a popular unisex slouchy hat that's perfect for beginners knitters to get to grips with circular knitting.

The Darcy Snood- Another chunky hand knit that's perfect for snuggling down to knit in this cold weather.

The Glacier Cardigan a seriously warm winter jacket made especially for our Chunky yarn. It is much easier to make than it looks and with thick yarn and big needles – it’ll grow quickly and be ready to wear faster than you’d think. 

Our Chunky white yarn is selling fast (it must be the cold!) and is available in store. Available in 100g balls of 81 yards (74 meters). Remember, none of our yarn is dyed, just the soft natural colours of the Alpaca fleece and gorgeously soft hand knits!

~Kari-Helen and Tracy


2015 Workshop Dates!

As the deadlines for Christmas posting loom ever closer, we've noticed a flurry of activity around the workshops too. Have you discovered our Alpaca experience days yet? They would be the perfect unusual Christmas gift for crafters in your life as well as those who really strive for more ethical gifts. At Purl Alpaca we are passionate about enabling everyone to enjoy our products and offer knitting workshops with a twist. Discover how our field to fashion company works and pet some Alpacas at the same time!

All of the workshops take place at Burwash Manor where Tracy keeps ‘the girls’. Burwash Manor is a beautiful location with idyllic views and we think our location adds a really peaceful backdrop to the whole experience. 

So what can you expect from our workshops? 

1. An opportunity to try on samples and making sure you’re happy with how they look before you make your own
2. A choice of any of our kits and the first 5 balls of yarn
3. A treat of locally sourced produce for a super, scrumptious lunch (we do cater for special diets)
constant tea/coffee (plus biscuits in the morning and cake in the afternoon)
4. Plenty of opportunity for individual tuition with Kari-Helene and Tracy
5. A chance to meet the alpacas and feed them an apple (if you want to)
6. Any extra purchases that you wish to make can be made at a discounted price

We take great pride in these special days and work hard to cater for all levels of ability. Groups are small too (max. 6 places per workshop), meaning lots of time can be spent chatting and learning new skills and details about your favourite hobby. 

“I love these days, particularly sharing the alpacas with new people and seeing the delight on their faces as they meet our 'silent partners'. I could wax lyrical about seeing how well people get on together, how we become friends with them and my delight in seeing them wear the garments they started at our workshops, but I don’t want to gush!

It's true that we've made firm friends and many of those who attended workshops last year are returning again which is the best compliment to one of the highlights of our Purl Alpaca calendar!

"I love having the opportunity to get to know everyone attending the workshop, helping them to get going and then eventually seeing the finished garment. It's a fantastic journey!"

So many attendees have kept in touch, sharing their first, second and third project that they've made since and it's always a real pleasure to know that we're providing so much inspiration and helping people increase their skills in the comfortable setting of an experience day with other fibre enthusiasts!

Total price of the day is £95.00 per person and we are now taking bookings. If you are looking for a taster of what a full day might be like, we do also have a shopping experience that runs one evening in April that is priced at £10. Please visit our workshop listings in the shop for further details. 

Hopefully see you in the New Year?


New Yarn Arrives

On these dark winter nights, what better than to feel the comforting slide of our fabulous alpaca yarn slipping through your fingers?  Your mind is focused, you feel a meditative state come over you as you create another fantastic garment.  The big decision is do you keep it or give it away?

Black as night, our natural, undyed black yarn has arrived from the mill; beautifully sleek, it has a subtle glossiness that reflects the light beautifully.

Random Thoughts: Did you know that 'black as night' was coined as a phrase in John Milton's 'Paradise Lost' ?

"What has this to do with knitting?" we hear you exclaim.  

Night Yarn

Well, in his poem Comus, a Mask, Milton foretold of circular knitting whilst listening to music:

Come, knit hands, and beat the ground
In a light fantastic round.

Obviously he didn't foresee us or he could have added:

Black as Night Balboa stands
A monument to skill in a knitter's hands

and Balboa

As you can see, Balboa is a black alpaca (we promise, absolutely no photoshop involved) and this means we can create our lovely black yarn without using any dye at all! In fact all the Purl Alpaca Designs' colours are 100% natural and undyed. There will definitely be no colour running in the wash here!

You can order our exquisitely soft alpaca yarn in 'night' either by itself or in a kit in time for Christmas knitting and indulging (or even gifting). Last posting dates are rapidly approaching- 12th December for international customers and 22nd December for UK orders.

We may have misinterpreted Milton so feel free to comment!

Kari-Helene & Tracy xx