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 March Bluefaced Leicester Woolalong
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Clara
queen bee

USA
4401 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2010 :  10:49:30 AM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hello everybody!

While the very last rows are being knit and ends darned in our February woolalong Cormostravaganza, I wanted to let you know where we’re headed next. Pack your bags for the British Isles and prepare to fondle the luscious longwool breed of Bluefaced Leicester.

It’s a fitting next step in our wool journey because the fibers behave quite differently than our Cormo, being longer and more lustrous, producing a smoother yarn with much more drape. And yet they’re still soft enough to help ween you from February’s Cormo. My goal is to get you a little more accustomed to these non-Merino waters before we dive head-first into the really different stuff.

I’m going easy on you this month, because Bluefaced Leicester (or BFL, as we’ll be calling it) is one of the easiest breed-specific wool yarns to source. A quick Ravelry search on BFL yarns brought a host of possibilities. But its ease of sourcing brings some interesting issues because we rarely have a direct connection with the farm where the fibers came from. Plus, there’s a new superwash BFL sock yarn base making its way around the hand-dyer circuit, and by virtue of its superwash nature, the fiber has most likely been processed in China.

In my mind, any purchase of a breed-specific wool sends a positive message to farmers and helps feed a breed-aware ecosystem. However, different wools will have different ecological footprints. Where you draw the line will be very much a personal thing.

In terms of specific BFL yarns, I have a few pointers – but the world is truly your oyster here.

I fell head over heels in love with the BFL from The Natural Dye Studio in the UK - such tender, delicate fibers, surprisingly springy, and in gorgeous colors. Cat Bordhi used them for her Reversing Leaves Socks in KBOW.

If you like something a little more plump and pure, consider the lovely undyed BFL from Iriss of Penzance (also in the UK), which comes in Aran and DK weights. This is plush and lively stuff.

You can also experience a very voluptuous bulky BFL from the Rowan Purelife British Breeds Collection. We’re 99.9% sure it’s all BFL or pretty close.

I also know that Spirit Trail Fiberworks and Briar Rose both have some gorgeous dyed BFL fibers, for our intrepid handspinners. And String Theory Yarn (my beloved LYS) has a lovely new BFL/nylon sock yarn you may want to try – their colors are quite enticing. I know that Three Irish Girls also has a BFL yarn, and many other hand-dyers offer their own colors on a similar BFL sock canvas. Fleece Artist also offers a heavier BFL that can be quite rich and buttery, with a bit more personality to it.

Those are just some suggestions to get you started on your journey.

In terms of what to knit, this will be dictated greatly by the weight of your yarn. Finer weights can work well for socks (BFL has less spring and elasticity than Merino, but the longer staple helps it resist abrasion) and beautifully for lace (love that drape!). In fact, I may knit myself a BFL version of Evelyn Clark’s Prairie Rose Shawl.

Heavier weights can make splendid sweaters, hats, mittens, or anything. You can always knit the Hill Country Hat using the Rowan Purelife British Breeds BFL if you want a quick one-skein swatch experience.

Please do chime in when you think you’ve sourced your yarn and/or fiber. We're meeting here and also in the KBOW discussion area on Ravelry. (While their technology/formatting makes this particular kind of discussion a little easier, I also want folks within KR to feel welcome and comfortable keeping it here if they'd like.)

Clara
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Lanea
Permanent Resident

USA
5189 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2010 :  11:12:36 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lanea's Homepage Send Lanea a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Clara, great pick! I have gorgeous BFL to spin and knit, but I might accidentally buy more of each for the wool-along.

See proof of insanity: http://crazylanea.com/
Read my audiobook reviews: http://booksforears.com/
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Clara
queen bee

USA
4401 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2010 :  12:09:36 PM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So you accidentally buy yarn and fiber too, eh? I'm starting to think I do it in my sleep. Either that or my evil twin Carla is at it again...

Clara
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Martheme
Sustaining Member

USA
1565 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2010 :  1:15:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit Martheme's Homepage  Send Martheme a Yahoo! Message Send Martheme a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Clara, can I get your opinion on BFL for a 3 ply yarn, 9 wpi for cable knitting? I'm trying to decide on a fiber to dye & spin up to do an Aran Sweater (Starmore's St. Brigid to be exact) and I just can't seem to decide on a fiber . . . BFL is something I'm pretty sure I have in the stash (along with Romney, Wensleydale & corriedale) but not having spun for something this specific before I'm not sure what to use . . .

any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Margaret

Blog: http://www.afewsheepshyofafarm.com/
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Clara
queen bee

USA
4401 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2010 :  1:28:32 PM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That's a good question. I'm sure other spinners are going to weigh in here too, but because of the potential bulk of cables I'd probably go for something springier, like the Romney or Corriedale.

Clara
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Martheme
Sustaining Member

USA
1565 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2010 :  6:45:53 PM  Show Profile  Visit Martheme's Homepage  Send Martheme a Yahoo! Message Send Martheme a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks Clara! That helps narrow it down . . . which means I might even get to pick something this week and get started on the prep!

Off to reread those sections of your book , . . .

Margaret

Blog: http://www.afewsheepshyofafarm.com/
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KnittingKittens
Chatty Knitter

USA
170 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  03:39:10 AM  Show Profile Send KnittingKittens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am going to "lurk" on the March BFL but cannot wait to see the pretties y'all spin and knit up. I wed my unfinished Regia Nation socks this weekend and must must must finish these (and a few other projects) before World Cup play starts.
Happy spinning and knitting!
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Lanea
Permanent Resident

USA
5189 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  05:06:33 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lanea's Homepage Send Lanea a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Clara

So you accidentally buy yarn and fiber too, eh? I'm starting to think I do it in my sleep. Either that or my evil twin Carla is at it again...

Clara



Yep. I'm not always sure how it happens, but apparently the cool kids blame it on wool fumes.

See proof of insanity: http://crazylanea.com/
Read my audiobook reviews: http://booksforears.com/
Buy handmade sock knitting bags: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5031570
Join the KR Webring: http://www.crazylanea.com/fiberarts/2006/07/the_knitters_re.html
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Shelia
Permanent Resident

USA
2357 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  08:25:37 AM  Show Profile  Visit Shelia's Homepage Send Shelia a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'll chime in - I think that BFL makes wonderful cabled designs, because of the luster and length of the fibers. Janet Szabo has recommended it for years, ever since the long-lamented Berrocco BFL yarn was available (anyone still have a stash of this discontinued yarn? I do!), especially when knitted in a good firm guage. The usual gauge used for cables in worsted weight for the best "POP" is to use size 5 or 6 US needles and knit to 20-22 stitches per inch.



Shelia
www.letstalkstash.blogspot.com
ravelry name - sheliaknits
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Clara
queen bee

USA
4401 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  08:34:13 AM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Cool - thanks for the chime! You don't find it too dense? I guess it depends on the gauge and the kinds of cables we're talking about, too.

Clara
Your friendly Knitter's Review publisher
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Martheme
Sustaining Member

USA
1565 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  1:37:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit Martheme's Homepage  Send Martheme a Yahoo! Message Send Martheme a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for chiming in Sheila! Looks like I have some sampling and swatching to do!

off to find the bag of fiber . . .

Margaret

Blog: http://www.afewsheepshyofafarm.com/
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Martheme
Sustaining Member

USA
1565 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  2:46:04 PM  Show Profile  Visit Martheme's Homepage  Send Martheme a Yahoo! Message Send Martheme a Private Message  Reply with Quote
bummer, just found out I only have about half a lb of BFL . . .no where near enough for the sweater . . . oh well. maybe I'll play next month . . . thanks eveyone for the help!

Blog: http://www.afewsheepshyofafarm.com/
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minh
Permanent Resident and Destasher Extraordinnaire

USA
3458 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  7:08:43 PM  Show Profile  Visit minh's Homepage Send minh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I had a great spinning class with Barb Parry last weekend. Tonight, I spun some of the BFL top she gave us -- I'll ply it later this week and knit a small project.

I still have 4 different bags of dyed BFL fiber (no clue how they got here! Unless I got intoxicated by those wool fumes Lanea was mentioning) so I could combine the white BFL with some colored BFL.
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Clara
queen bee

USA
4401 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  7:59:48 PM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Unless perhaps my evil twin Carla was ordering fiber with your evil twin Nimh? It's possible...

Clara
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jreiz
New Pal

Canada
15 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2010 :  12:09:14 AM  Show Profile Send jreiz a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It seems that I have been "collecting" Fleece Artist BFL for a number of years; finally put it all in close proximity, and - Oh dear! I have enough for a sweater/coat/something, if I could only find a pattern for a 5ft roundish person ... but!!! I also have a test-knit to do for a friend, that must be finished by month end! I will take notes through the month of the Woolalong ... and hope to make a decision
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Jane
SustaYning Member

USA
4377 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2010 :  04:13:47 AM  Show Profile  Visit Jane's Homepage Send Jane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Clara

Unless perhaps my evil twin Carla was ordering fiber with your evil twin Nimh? It's possible...

Clara
Your friendly Knitter's Review publisher


That's it, Clara -- I saw those two whooping it up in the tavern at the Retreat!

Jane

Betty needs a warm hat: Support KR
Blog: Not Plain Jane
Photos: My Flickr Album
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Clara
queen bee

USA
4401 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2010 :  06:45:42 AM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jane
That's it, Clara -- I saw those two whooping it up in the tavern at the Retreat!

Jane

Betty needs a warm hat: Support KR
Blog: Not Plain Jane
Photos: My Flickr Album




Don't deny it - I saw your evil twin June there too.

Clara
Your friendly Knitter's Review publisher
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Lanea
Permanent Resident

USA
5189 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2010 :  08:53:13 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lanea's Homepage Send Lanea a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So, what if I am the evil twin, and I'm trying to keep you all from meeting my good twin, hmmmm?

See proof of insanity: http://crazylanea.com/
Read my audiobook reviews: http://booksforears.com/
Buy handmade sock knitting bags: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5031570
Join the KR Webring: http://www.crazylanea.com/fiberarts/2006/07/the_knitters_re.html
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Jane
SustaYning Member

USA
4377 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2010 :  12:09:20 PM  Show Profile  Visit Jane's Homepage Send Jane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Clara

quote:
Originally posted by Jane
That's it, Clara -- I saw those two whooping it up in the tavern at the Retreat!

Jane

Betty needs a warm hat: Support KR
Blog: Not Plain Jane
Photos: My Flickr Album




Don't deny it - I saw your evil twin June there too.

Clara
Your friendly Knitter's Review publisher


Busted! And Lanea -- I figured that one out years ago! You've been quite the evil enabler since I met you!

Jane

Betty needs a warm hat: Support KR
Blog: Not Plain Jane
Photos: My Flickr Album
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mathiemom
Chatty Knitter

USA
242 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2010 :  4:13:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit mathiemom's Homepage Send mathiemom a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ooh, ooh, ooh, BFL, love of my life! I've been onto this breed since buying some Spirit Trail DK weight at the KR Retreat a few years back and knitting it up into a pair of soft, lovely socks that wear like IRON. It so happens that I started a Madli's Shawl (from Nancy Bush's Estonian lace book) in Fleece Artist BFL 2/8 before taking a break to make a vest for the ravelympics. That's all done now, so . . . on with the BFL shawl! The 2/8 is a nice weight - just a little thinner than fingering - so it feels comforting and substantial while still sporting a fabulous drape. I'm using sz 7 needles . . . that way, the project works up pretty quickly and will make for a nice big shawl!
Wendy

ps: Clara, for the vest project I used yarn spun from my friend Helaine's sheep, a Romney/Corriedale cross. I was a little worried that it would be too scratchy, too rough, etc., etc., but it I was determined to take your philosophy from KBOW to heart and just go for it. I'm so glad I did - the vest worked up beautifully. While I probably wouldn't wear it right next to my skin (I am especially prone to "wool scratchies"), it's lovely and soft over a cotton top. And - bonus - while I was working on this vest, the natural lanolin in the yarn did a fantastic job of keeping my hands soft; I didn't need hand lotion for the two weeks I worked on it! I'm so glad that you're doing these projects to introduce us to different wool breeds. Thank you!

Wendy
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marfa
Permanent Resident

USA
1994 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2010 :  06:28:10 AM  Show Profile  Visit marfa's Homepage Send marfa a Private Message  Reply with Quote
How do.

As someone else wrote re lurking,so shall I - February flew by as did the 56" of snow we had. Seems prudent (whenever did that come into play, you ask me ^.. ^) to read about the faboo BFL WIPs & do one for myself later.

Can't wait to see what you all do.

Martha

http://marfasmewsings.blogspot.com
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