Last year I was one of the few lucky people who managed to get their hands on the first ever TOFT Advent Calendar! And well, before we completely get into the swing of 2018, I wanted to fill you all in on how that went. So can we embrace the Christmas spirit (and just pretend like it’s still January) for just a teensy little bit longer whilst I bring you this review? 😇
What is a TOFT Advent Calendar?<<<
he TOFT advent calendar was every crocheters dream. ❤️ Behind each door was an adorable skein of TOFT's signature wool which, when used every day with the accompanying pattern, would create a mystery animal toy. The pattern was broken down into twenty four manageable chunks, which were emailed to me daily from TOFT themselves. This meant that you couldn't skip ahead and spoil the fun and kept the project a surprise for as long as possible. In short, you were given all the materials you needed to crochet everyday on the run up to Christmas, but you didn't have a clue what you were making until Christmas Day. 😂 A festive themed crochet-a-long, pitched at crocheters of all abilities.
Who are TOFT? TOFT are a British wool brand who specialise in luxury yarn. They are based on an alpaca farm on the border of Warwickshire. TOFT are well known for their cute animal patterns, which are designed by founder Kerry Lord, and are known within the brand as “Ed’s Animals”. You can find out more by visiting their website. I’ve been a fan of TOFT for a few years now and I always keep up to date with their new releases. So it was no surprise when I announced to my family I would be taking part in their advent calendar. You may have heard me talk about TOFT in some of my previous posts. Purchasing their kits or visiting their HQ is always a treat for me and this advent calendar was no exception.
First Thoughts: All I remember feeling when I found out about the TOFT advent calendar was excitement. I’d been looking for an advent calendar with a difference that year and TOFT completely fit the bill. In all honesty, I didn’t really think too much about the difficulty of the project, which in hindsight may have been a little silly. But TOFT always give such confidence to novice and beginner crocheters when facing a TOFT project that the thought never crossed my mind. I had a few amigurumis under my belt by this point too, so I felt like I was good to go. I also hazarded a guess that the mystery creature may be something of a festive theme. Like a reindeer or a turkey. The only thing giving me second thoughts was that TOFT told us early on that Gloria, whatever she may be, was an exclusive, never been done before, pattern especially for the advent calendar. And well TOFT had already done a reindeer and turkey pattern. But I thought maybe there was a specific breed…
My Experience: I remember going to bed on November 30th and being so super excited about this project! I’d already packed my project bag with all the essentials and couldn’t wait to get started! The next day I woke up to the pattern already in my inbox and a cute skein of cocoa wool.
Over the first couple of days we made Gloria’s legs. This was all crochet territory I was used to and so I happily got to work on these. I think this was the perfect start to this project as it would have eased beginners in gently and was a nice and easy start for more experienced crocheters.
Next came the body and this is where my crochet learning curve began. The body was made out of three different colours of yarn; cocoa, chestnut and fudge. I’d changed colour during crochet before, but only when making a granny square, so this time was rather different. I figured out how to colour change whilst crocheting in the amigurumi style and how to carry the yarn across as you work you way up the rounds, still colour changing throughout.
However, it was good I took to this new skill so quickly, because straight after the body came Gloria’s tail. The tail in question was stripey and loopy. Never had I attempted a loop stitch before in crochet! However, after watching the video tutorial on TOFT’s website I was soon popping those loops into stitches like nobody’s business.
By the time it got to Gloria’s head, I was prepared. More loops, more colour changes and decreasing! I loved how the head took shape. At this point I was still none the wiser about what animal Gloria was. I know on social media a few people had made a few guesses. If asked, I still would have said she was a Scandinavian Reindeer, like Sven from Frozen. Only the tail was making me doubt myself.
Now, can we just take a second to really, truly appreciate these ears. These ears were probably the biggest crochet hurdle I’ve had to jump since getting my head around how to hold a hook! Colour changes, loops and decreasing something that wasn’t even that big to begin with… but I love them. They are a visual representation of how far I’ve come on my crochet journey and they make me so super proud to look at them. I’m not gonna lie here, the ears started on day nineteen and this was the place I fell behind on my advent calendar. Trying to do all that twiddley crochet and coupe with Christmas in retail, something had to give. So the photographs of this parts progress don’t exist. But I got there in the end and they may not be perfect, but I’m so proud of them.
I think after the stress of those ears, Kerry let us wind down gently with Gloria’s arms. The arms were exactly the same as the legs so these got whipped up in no time at all. (I almost managed to catch up at this point.)
The final couple of days were reserved for putting Gloria together. I always get super nervous at this part and of any project. I always think of it as the “make or break” moment. You’ve worked so hard on something, yet this can still be the moment where it all goes wrong. But to be honest, there wasn’t that much sewing up to be done with Gloria and the same goes for many of Ed’s Animals. The simplicity of their designs in this sense is one of my favourite things about TOFT projects and this is what I ended doing Christmas Day afternoon.
My Gloria’s nose may not be perfect and cutting those loops to make her tufty ears and brows was terrifying but I absolutely love her and I’m so proud of my finished project.
For those of you who haven’t guessed it yet, Gloria turned out to be a Red Panda. I remember googling these early on in the CAL after someone posted this as a guess on the Ed’s Advent Instagram,!but for some unknown reason I didn’t completely believe it until I finished those ears!
Conclusion: Overall, I really enjoyed making Gloria. It tested my skills as a crocheter and it was great to face some new and exciting stitches along the way! I feel it was probably a challenge but also very clever of TOFT to devise a pattern that had both basic but also intricate levels of crochet in order to incorporate something for everyone. So although at times I found Gloria to be a bit of a challenge, she is also a project that I came away feeling immensely proud of.
The only trick I feel TOFT missed was that a Red Panda isn’t very Christmassy considering she came out of an advent calendar. But then Gloria is still sat on my desk as I type this and I suppose a festive themed animal would have been retired with the rest of my Christmas decorations well over a month ago now. So at least this way I get to appreciate Gloria every day of the week!
I really hope after the success of last year’s calendar, TOFT will do another this year. And if they do, I highly recommend you try and get yourself one. But you’ll have to be quick, I know last year very sold out almost instantly!
I hope you enjoyed this review, something a little different for the blog. Be sure to give this post a like if you did and I hope to see you joining in with Ed’s Advent this year, if it goes ahead.
– B xo