I always say Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) is my favourite sheep & subsequently, fibre to work with, both in spinning and knitting. If you google ‘blue faced leicester’, much information is available on these quiet tempered sheep. According to the BFL Sheep Breeders Association (2015), these sheep are the single most prolific commercial yarn producers in the UK (producing roughly 50% of the commercial fleeces), which if you think about that for a moment is a very significant amount! Have you noticed that some of the new breed-specific yarns out there are BFL? I actually intentionally bought some BFL-specific yarn at Knit City this past year, which was a first for me.
Commercial BFL yarns from various Canadian yarn-dying companies. Notice the lustre of the two on top from the natural light coming from the window?
Over the next few weeks or months, I’m going to spend some time trying to figure out if this is in fact true. And if so, why? At this time, I can only answer that question with the following:
- I like the lustre of BFL, and
- I am most comfortable spinning a slightly longer fibre.
My favourite spinning technique is true worsted: Short forwards or backwards draft, smoothing the fibres as I go. Does BFL lend itself to a worsted spinning technique? Is BFL in fact lustrous? What about crimp? Should the crimp of the original fibre, even if I’m purchasing and spinning the processed (and often dyed) fibre, matter? Does knowing some of the more technical aspects about BFL change the way I spin it?
These are the questions I’m going to explore over the next while. I may or may not finish a spinning project during this time but I decided to work on two projects at the same time. Both are BFL. One is roving, the other is combed top.
I have specific projects in mind for these two spins. From the roving, I am hoping for enough yardage from a three-ply yarn appropriate for a Shaelyn Shawl, which will be warm and semi-woolen.
The combed top is for a Frida Shawl, was worsted spun as a singles yarn. I have enough to knit a larger shawl. I have been rethinking this original choice, however, and have been wondering about plying to create a 2-ply. I think I might like the look of the 2-ply a bit better than the simple singles yarn.
Two different preparations, spinning styles, yarn and projects will hopefully give me some insight into what makes my heart sing when I work with this fibre!
Unfortunately the colours for both of these projects are muted and neutral – those are the colours I wear most – but this is a fibre study, not a colour study. Still, I apologise the colours are not brighter. I have to also keep in mind wearability at the end of this venture!
I’m hoping to explore a couple of other breed-specific fibres this year but … This might take all of 2015! Ha! Let’s hope not ;)
Bluefaced Leicesters Sheep Breeders Association (2015). from http://www.blueleicester.co.uk/breed/breed.html
I look forward to following your bfl journey!