Annual photo shoot for Purl Alpaca Designs

We have just returned from a fabulous day spent at the Kent and East Sussex Railways. We chose this location for it's vintage trains and atmosphere, and it did not disappoint. The staff were very friendly and helpful, the trains were brilliant and we got some fantastic photographs!  

We can't show you the actual photos just yet, but here is a little taster of what goes on behind the scenes on a photo shoot day. 

Our lovely duo of Carolyn doing hair and makeup and Tiffany doing the photographs had a couple of fabulous models to work with in Stephen from PRM and Abigail from Wilhelmina. Such an easy going and friendly team!

Carolyn working on Abigail's hair.

Fabulous location at Kent and East Sussex Railways

Fabulous setting inside the train carriages.

The passengers were loving the added glamour to their journey!

We're feeling really excited about the new collection and can't wait to share it all with you!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx


Knitting the first big garment - one giant step or easy peasy?

You've knitted the wrist warmers and the hats and everyone and their uncle got a hand knitted scarf for Christmas. Now what? Are you ready for the big step into garment making? Fear not. It does not have to be that scary! Kari-Helene loves squares and rectangles, easy shapes that when combined creates simple, yet stunning and useful garments.

Can you knit? Can you purl? Cast on and cast off? Yes? Than you can knit Iago Waistcoat!


Still not convinced? We've asked a couple of our customers to share their experience of knitting Iago with us!

Aitzie was convinced to come to one of our workshops when she accidentally bought the waistcoat as a kit instead of a finished garment. Tracy talked her into giving it a go knitting it for herself and here she is modelling that finished first garment!

She arrived at the workshop having made a start herself and with some guidance from Kari-Helene made fantastic progress during the day. She completed the project at home and sent us these fabulous photos of her wearing it. Aitzie says that upon completing Iago she felt empowered and had the confidence to start other big projects.

Aitzie returned to our July workshop where she continued her knitting career making the Allegro Shawl. We are most impressed with how fast Aitzie is learning and the stunning garments she is making!

Iago Waistcoat by Purl Alpaca Designs - knitted by Aitzie Olaechea
Aitzie looking fabulous in her first EVER knitted garment!

Iago Waistcoat by Purl Alpaca Designs - knitted by Aitzie Olaechea
Aitzie feeding the alpacas whilst wearing their and her proud product!

Caroline Saunders met us at the Festival of Quilts and knitted Iago in no time at all! Iago wasn't Caroline's first ever garment, but after a break from knitting she found it a fabulous way of getting back into the swing of it. Here is what Caroline had to say about making Iago:

"I absolutely loved knitting Iago. It's been a long time since I knitted anything for myself with three small kids in the house, and it's such a quick and easy project to complete (brilliantly designed - two rectangles?!! How is that possible!!) it has really given me back my knitting mojo. I've had some great comments about it already, the best being from my husband who said it looks like something Katie Morag's cool auntie would wear! I'll take that as a compliment (Katie Morag is a Scottish children's storybook character who is always kitted out in the finest handknits!)."

Iago Waistcoat by Purl Alpaca Designs - knitted by Caroline Saunders
Caroline has made a wonderful version of the Iago Waistcoat

Iago Waistcoat by Purl Alpaca Designs - knitted by Caroline Saunders
Caroline's Iago Waistcoat from the back

Want to make your own Iago? You can get the kit from our website here. There is free delivery to mainland UK and you can choose between 10 gorgeous natural colours.
Already have some yarn you would like to knit this waistcoat with? No worries, you can download the pattern from our website or from Ravelry.

Let us know how you get on knitting Iago. We love hearing from you and seeing your photos!

Love, Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx


And last but not least - Beauty gives birth to a stunning cria!

On Friday Beauty decided she didn't want to be the last one standing and gave birth to a lovely little girl! We've now had 7 babies this year; 6 girls and 1 boy. They are all healthy, all births but one have gone remarkably well, and even the problematic one had a happy ending!

We've had 5 stunning white cria, one cream and one brown, all with exquisite fleeces. We can not wait until shearing next year when we get to make yarn out of this lot!

The latest arrival is yet to be named, we have to decide on another name beginning with L - any thoughts?

Beautiful baby alpaca in sunset - Purl Alpaca Designs
This little lady was born to Beauty last week

A stunning baby alpaca in the evening sun!
Loving her first ever sunset!


Finally we have a boy! Happy gives birth to a beautiful white alpaca boy.

We are so happy to announce that Happy is a mum! Yesterday Tracy got the call from Burwash Manor and headed straight for the farm. When she got there the little boy was already born and looking good, so no need for any help from Tracy. Happy was mated to our new stud male last year, Bollinger, and it looks like he is producing some gorgeous cria! With Happy being a large female, we might be in for a spectacular alpaca boy here!

Happy and Lima have bonded well as you can see in the pictures below!

Yup, this one smells like mine! I'll keep him.

Oh mum, it's so embarrassing when you kiss me in public!

Lima is walking around with his mum only hours after being born

A lovely baby alpaca boy, Lima.

We'll keep you up to date on further developments, it seems we have a surprise baby on the way as well!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx


What's in a name? A baby alpaca born with blue eyes!

Our latest edition has just arrived and she is a lovely little alpaca - Mother is Diana and Father is George.

Linatra, the newest addition to the Purl Alpaca Deisngs' herd.
Linatra with mum, Diana

She was born two weeks early and immediately caused a flurry of activity.  A visitor to Burwash Manor told Claire in The Larder that "One of the 'llamas' has legs sticking out her bottom!"; Claire told Richard, who told Ella, who phoned her mum, Fiona (often helps with the alpacas and owns Inside Out), and then Fiona rang Tracy who was in Birmingham at the Festival of Quilts.

Leaving the lovely Jane and her daughter, Sarah, to staff the stand (it was their second day...ever!) and arranging for Sally from the Guild of Quilters to look after our cash tin and card reader over night, Tracy came back to Cambridge, picked up her birthing kit, changed into more suitable clothing and drove to Burwash Manor as quickly as she could.

Baby alpaca with unusual blue circle in eye
Ole' blue eyes, Linatra

The little one was running round the field, playing with Lily and as Tracy got close, Diana stood between them; realising this was 'apple time' Tracy picked up a couple from The Larder and walked back to the herd.  Feeding Diana, she quickly managed to spray the umbilical cord (so there isn't a risk of fly-strike) and on putting the cria back down, saw she had blue eyes.  Well their not completely blue, more brown with blue oblong detail - very different to anything we've seen before.  Tracy thought 'oh, blue eyes' which reminded her of 'Ole Blue Eyes is Back' the Frank Sinatra Tour, so as this year is the letter L, we'd like to introduce you to Linatra.  We think it's a lovely name!

Louisianna comes over to greet the newcomer to the herd!


Substituition time - how to use our yarn for other projects!

We are frequently asked how our yarn compares to others and how they will knit up using other patterns. There isn't really a straight forward answer to this one, but we will try give you some guidelines to make it easier to decide what yarn to go for!

Our yarn come in Fine and Medium in ten colours and, in ivory, we also have a Chunky version.
The Fine yarn compares roughly to an American Sports weight which is in between a 4 ply and a DK. Our Medium is more like a Worsted weight and is between a DK and Aran.

Let's go into a little more detail!

How to get the right tension

It is always important to knit a tension square, but it is absolutely crucial to do your tension square when knitting a pattern with a different yarn than what it was designed for. So when you are using our yarn for a different pattern (or a different yarn for one of our patterns) do make sure you knit a tension square. If you end up with too many stitches or too many rows, it means your tension is too tight and you need to increase your needle size accordingly, and should you end up with too few, you will have to reduce your needle size!

On our yarn labels we have a standard tension for our Medium and our Fine yarn. Medium knits up to 17 sts and 24 rows on 5 mm needles and Fine knits up to 20 sts and 29 rows on 4 mm needles.

How long is a piece of yarn?

When comparing yarn it is important to consider weight vs length. On a yarn label you will often see the length per 50 or 100g ball. Our yarn is 116m per 50 g for the Fine yarn and 77 m per 50 g for our Medium yarn. You can have very different lengths on a 50 g ball depending on how thin the yarn is but also how heavy the fibre is!  If the thickness looks the same and the tension knits up the same but the length of the ball of yarn is much shorter it will be because the yarn is heavier. This means the end result will have a different drape. This might not be a bad thing, but something to keep in mind. You would also have to buy more yarn as one ball would not go as far as one ball of our yarn!

What fibre does your yarn contain?

Purl Alpaca Designs' yarn comes from British alpacas, some from Tracy's own animals. We also visit some of the other farms ourselves, meet the animals and select the fleeces that will make our yarn. All our yarn is made from only British alpaca fleeces and are spun into our yarn at the Natural Fibre Company's mill in Devon. We are very proud of the fact that our yarn is made right here in Great Britain and we will strive to keep it that way. Our yarn will be a little pricier than some of our imported competitors, but like us, we know you value knowing the source of your product and the ethical standards the alpaca owners have.  We're sure you appreciate that this comes at a premium!

When substituting alpaca yarn for any other fibre it is important to know that alpaca has a fabulous drape and stunning lustre. We spin our yarn using the woollen method, which creates a lofty and lightweight end result whilst still maintaining the drape.

This is by no means a final word on this topic, there are so many things to think about and so many individual things to take into consideration we could probably write a Phd on the subject! But we hope this will give you a good starting point and hopefully a bit more confidence when substituting yarn in the future!

Happy knitting!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx


Getting ready for the snuggly season - alpaca yarn in autumn shades!

We're thinking woolly blankets, hot chocolate, a roaring fireplace, autumn leaves, shiny, wet tarmac, rain storms and of course; knitting! All the things you need for a cosy and relaxed evening in. Those evenings aren't quite here yet, thank goodness for that, but we have started preparing for them! 

A new batch of scrumptious yarn is back from the mill and we are delighted with the colours! Well, Kari-Helene is delighted and Tracy is coming round to them. The colours weren't quite what Tracy had in mind when she mixed the fibres, so she was a bit surprised when she first saw them. 

If you would like to order any of these new batches make sure to enter code AUTUMN15 in the comments box when placing your order so we know to select just the right yarn for you!

The two new deliveries are of Alpaca Copper and Alpaca Storm (Grey) and both have come out a bit darker than our usual colours. They are perfect for that cosy jumper, like Geronimo or Niobe.  For a chilly walk in the woods, set against the backdrop of yellow and red leaves, we'd recommend snuggling into a long and warm scarf like Medley

Stunning dark grey alpaca yarn in Medium thickness

Fabulous British alpaca yarn in Fine thickness

The Alpaca Storm (Grey) yarn is available in both Medium and Fine and is one of the darkest greys we have ever produced. A fantastically soft yarn, it lends itself beautifully to scarves and hats you wear next to the skin. The colour is almost a bit blue, nearly like the colour of the Dusty Snood!

Lovely and soft British alpaca yarn in the Fine thickness

This new batch of Alpaca Copper (a rich medium-brown) is a darker than previous batches and is only available in FINE! However, it has a wonderfully rich, almost rust red tone unlike any yarn we have ever made and it is truly stunning! It is also so soft to touch, it's just begging to become a much loved garment for a keen knitter!

If you would like to order the new batches of yarn make sure you type AUTUMN15 in the comments box when placing your order and we will carefully select the right shades for you!

You can order the Alpaca Storm yarn here and the Alpaca Copper yarn here.

Are you tempted yet? We certainly are. Just have to decide which project to make now!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx