Posts Tagged ‘BFL’

01
Mar

New Month, New Projects

Posted under Life, Sewing and Quilting, Spinning No Comments

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It’s officially the first of the month, though I’ve got to say as I’ve not slept yet it’s feeling a lot like February still. I am taking advantage of the time I need to stay up to make sure the laundry gets done so I’ve got work shirts tomorrow. The Craft Yarn Council just changed up my class offerings in a big way, so I’ll be doing a demonstration tomorrow looking for class signups and working on some of the new samples. Tomorrow looks like it’ll be pom pom rug making day.

I started spinning a wonderful single of natural colored BFL wool which will become a 2-ply light fingering weigh yarn for my mom to knit into a scarf for my grandmother. I’d spun some yarn before, but as a DK weight yarn, I’m afraid it’ll be too thick and warm for her to wear in Southern California. Thanks to my new electric spinner, I’m almost done with the first ply, about 45 grams of wool if I recall correctly. Not too bad for a quick evening spin!

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When I needed to get up to change the laundry, the yarn kept coming undone when I wrapped it around my flyer like normal. It’s not the most wonderful way to hold the yarn when you have to get up, but sometimes it works. Then I thought about the package of new clamps I’d just ordered sitting right beside my wheel. Perfect. They’re just easy enough to open without sacrificing clamping power for me to be in love with them. Then as an added bonus? I find out the reinforced nylon handles weigh just enough to keep the very high twist yarn from untwisting under the weight of the clamp on the platform. I clipped the yarn into the clamp and then just set the clamp down. You can’t get an easier and more foolproof way of setting your spinning aside! I’ll definitely be keeping one of these guys in my spinning supply box from now on. I’ll post a full review of the new clamps too once I get to try them on my woodworking, but I figured you guys would love to see my new spinning solution!

Then, since I just tossed my work clothes into the dryer, I figured I’d get some fabric I bought last week into the wash so I can cut it up and get sewing. My physical therapist has a small pillow which we use every week under my shoulder because I can’t lay flat on my back on a hard surface without something under my right shoulder. The pillow in question here is an airline pillow that was stolen ages ago and is starting to really show it’s age in the fragile from the start blue cover. It’s just falling to shreds. So I’m going to make a pair of washable covers for his extra positioning pillow!

Here’s the fabric I picked out for him.

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The black with glow-in-the-dark skeleton fabric will be for the body of the pillow. Then, for the border along the open edge, I found this wonderful black and white grid which to me looks a lot like graph paper. I think it’s the perfect combination. We’ve got the anatomical organic shapes from the human body and it’s infinite complexity mixed with the rather stark, mathematical grid of the relatively nonsensical numerical grades and measurements for everything to keep insurance companies happy. Sure, it’s a little deep for a pillowcase, but I’m thrilled with it so far. It can only get better from here. Plus, it looks like I should have enough fabric leftover to make a cover for my equivalent little pillow at home and maybe a couple ice pack covers for me too! Sometimes little treats like a goofy ice pack cover can make all the difference on a high pain day.

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11
Feb

Handspun BFL to FO

Posted under Knitting, Spinning No Comments

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I ended up only spinning about half, or 2 oz, of the BFL from January ‘s spinning study group. I ultimately decided that the BFL we sourced was just too full of VM for my tastes and it wasn’t worth the effort to try to clean, card, and spin it into a lacy yarn. I’d originally planned on spinning 2 bobbins each with 2 oz and plying them for a lace weight 2 ply yarn. Instead, I chain plied my one bobbin which gave me about 200 yards of a light fingering weight yarn with about 16 WPI.

I hate having my handspun yarn just sit around and collect dust, so I started looking for a suitable project immediately. I settled on some fingerless mitts. They’re absolutely lovely. Here’s some photo highlights! They’re so light and airy it’s crazy!

The most important thing I learned about spinning came while knitting the yarn into mitts rather than while spinning the yarn. I’d started with a washed but still not super clean fleece and carded it by the handful into rolags to spin. In randomly grabbing wads of fleece to card, I’d grabbed some cleaner and some dirtier sections of wool. This caused some subtle color variations in the finished yarn that doesn’t wash out because dirt is so tightly spun into the yarn. It is most noticeable in this photograph. See the horizontal line across the finished mitt juat above where the thumb separates off?

Next time I’ll have to run the wool through the cards twice. Once to clean it up and get it untangled from the locks it came in, and once to jumble up bits from rolag to rolag so that I get a more uniform finished yarn color! Even with the color variation, I am really looking forward to taking these with me to my spinning study group meeting for February! I’m in awe of the idea that only a month ago these beautiful, light and lacy fingerless mitts were just a large handful of filthy wool from a sheep named Poppy. It’s magical.

 

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10
Jan

Spinning Study Group

Posted under Spinning No Comments

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On the second Thursday of each month, I’m lucky enough to get to join a spinning study group at Table Rock Llamas. The ladies in the group are wonderful and I’ve learned so much just being around them. Almost every month, we have a dedicated thing to work on learning. Two months ago, we had a workshop taught by a study group member on how to spin coil or beehive yarn. Here’s my beehive yarn from November being modeled by my older dog, Sketcher.

In December we just goofed off and held a gift exchange. I ended up with something I had no idea I needed so badly, a yarn bowl! I’ve been using it non-stop since I got it and I’m considering getting one made from the same local artisan for holding two separate balls so I can use it for fair isle work, particularly as I’m planning at least two stranded projects for my county and state fair entries this year. If you haven’t tried a yarn bowl, you need to!

As for this month? We did a study of Blue Faced Leicester wool. Blue Faced Leicester is pronounced “blue faced lester,” and commonly referred to as just BFL. BFL is a fantastic fleece for the handspinner. It’s got a magnificent crimp and shines almost as though it contains silk. BFL is known for it’s luster. BFL is considered a longwool and the narrow locks range from 3-6 inches on average. The wool I’m spinning today has some variance but lends itself toward the long end of the spectrum. While the wool is rather soft and could be worn against the skin, I’ve gotten a bit spoiled with affordable Merino wool top and if I’m going to really splurge like I had to on the BFL, I’d rather just save a bit longer and snap up a bag of cashmere or higher micron count Merino than I usually buy.

The shop owner where we hold our meetings bought two BFL sheep fleeces for us and washed them. Here’s the view into my sack of BFL after today’s spinning. I’ve got a ton left to card and spin. Just look at that shine though! Wow!

Washed BFL

Members of the study group could buy as much as they wanted for $4 an ounce. That’s a lot more than I usually pay for sheep’s wool, but it was a matter of wanting to spin with the rest of the group.  I’ve spun BFL before, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but I’m very, very glad I splurged on some of this local wool from a sheep named Poppy! (my donkey’s name is also Poppy) BFL is fairly uncommon in our area so fleeces command a higher price. I ended up buying 4oz. That’s about as little as I ever buy of any spinning fiber because 4oz provides plenty of freedom to decide how to spin the yarn and a multitude of possible projects. I could make a lace shawl, a pair of fingering weight socks, or a worsted hat. The only time I buy less than 4oz is when I buy little bitty 1/3oz bumps of fiber for spinning hexipuffing yarn, but that’s for another post.

Given the high crimp of the BFL in our study group fleece and the burning desire I’ve had to try out the Majacraft lace kit my brother D got me for Christmas this year, I opted to spin my BFL into a lace weight yarn which will then most likely end up knit into a shawl of some sort depending on the finished yardage. Due to the quantity of vegetable matter in the wool even after washing, spinning is a bit slow. I’m carding my wool into woolen rolags and picking as much VM from the wool as I can both while carding and while spinning. With the high crimp and the wool’s luster it is working up to be a fantastic fine thread of a single even if it is slow going due to the relatively dirty wool.

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I will later ply this, likely a chained 3 ply, to make a finished lace yarn. I will probably also dye this fiber as I’d like to see first hand how the BFL takes up dye. I’ve heard good things about BFL’s receptivity toward acid dyes and that the wool’s natural luster makes the colors shine from within.

 

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