Posts tagged ‘BFL’

More of the BFL recovery going on. I don’t need it for Maker Faire but I’ll do something with it so it’s still an ongoing project. I have one bobbin done and a box of fiber ready to spin.

Box of BFL

One day it will be finished 3-ply yarn. Right now it’s a box of wool. I split the top and pulled it thinner, I also have a plastic bag full of the neps removed in the process.

While I was going through the closet, I pulled out a bag of brown Bluefaced Leicester top. It’s nice fiber, but the prep is less than spectacular. I knew this when I bought it and it was certainly a nice price, but the little bits of tangled fiber mixed in are a bother. I’ve taken it out several times to try to find a project for it, without coming up with something I could get excited about. And the nuisance of picking out the neps isn’t really the problem.

Modern handspinners love them some BFL. It’s hugely popular among novices: fast to spin, easy to find and not hideously expensive. I got it originally to practice short forward draft (I normally do short backward draft for worsted) so it’s ok if the yarn doesn’t come out perfect. But it’s not the fine wool that I normally work with and I can’t decide what to do with it. I’ve tried a bunch of different samples in different techniques and still nothing jumps out as “gotta do this!” I know that brown is part of the problem for me, but I thought it would be interesting to play with.

pile of random bfl samples

It drafts well with long draw either from the fold or directly from the end of the top, in 3-ply it makes a fuzzy knitting yarn. I can’t think of anything I’d want to knit except maybe another hat. Hats make nice gifts. I’d have to think about who I might give a handspun, hand knitted hat to who doesn’t have one already, can be trusted to take care of it and would actually wear it. Fuzzy yarn is warm, but prone to felting.

The next sample was sock yarn, a couple different ways. Directly from the top a 3-ply worsted was ok but uninspiring and picking out the lumps a nuisance. I combed some to see how annoying it would be to remove the bits and the results were only so-so. There is a huge range of fiber lengths so combing makes a top that is half the fiber length at the shorter end. This makes it draft differently in the different sections. And planking, re-combing and all that is way too much work for an eh fiber. There is also still the question of who would I be giving these brown socks to, provided I were able to actually finish both of them.

Then were various weaving yarns. As a single, with enough twist for warp, it was a little harsh. It might be interesting garment fabric. 2-ply was just boring. I tried carding, both to see if it would open up the lumps and if it would make a more interesting yarn, and it accomplished neither.

Once again I set it aside for another day. I’ve gone through probably 50g trying to find something I like, so it’s good I’ve got a bag full of it.

Just because I have given up on getting this yarn done in time for the San Mateo County Fair, that doesn’t mean I’m not working on it. I finished spinning all the fiber I had prepped a few weeks ago, so now I’m back to flicking wool. I’ve been doing a lot of sorting and messy prep work on the kitchen floor, as it’s the easiest to clean. Flicking wool throws little bits of junk everywhere no matter how I try to contain in. I’m going to vacuum and mop in the morning anyway because we have guests coming over, so I figured this would be as good a time as any. The loom parts are put away for tomorrow.

While I was at the store the other day, I got some Ashland Bay top in two identical colorways of Merino and Merino/tussah. Again, everybody was shocked I bought something not natural color, but I’ve been branching out. I’m also coming to terms with commercial top and feel better about spinning it. I’d still much rather do all my own prep, but I’ve gotten better at spinning commercial top without too much reworking (as long as I’m not overly fussy about the results.) Since the two blends are the same except for fiber content, I had this idea to weave a twill block pattern with one in the warp and one in the weft. When you do this with two colors, you get some blocks more the warp color and others more the weft color. If the colors contrast enough, you get this shimmery op-art sort of effect.

The two yarns would differ only in sheen, the silk being reflective and the Merino matte. I haven’t tried anything like this before but the theory makes sense. At any rate, it should make nice fabric. It will be singles, and I’ll almost certainly do one with S twist and the other with Z. I’m not sure which, however, so I want to experiment with twist direction in another fiber first. I bought some discount (because it had some bad spots) brown Blue Faced Leicester top a few weeks ago for exactly that purpose.

I finished two of the millspun copies and added the new pictures. I spun the fat single for the Brown Sheep sample and then had to go back and remove twist because it had too much. Ick. Now I guess I’ll start on the next one, I’ll do both from commercial Merino top. The others would have come out smoother if I had done that, but I had to use fleece to match colors.

I’m waiting for the water to boil to steam more blue yarn for a second attempt at the Andean swatch. I hosed the warp tension so badly I gave up and pulled it apart. I can still use most of the yarn but I need more blue and white for the pattern. If I’m going to re-do the white yarn anyway, I am going to go get some different fleece out of storage. The Blue-faced Leicester is nice, but the staple length is shorter than I’d like. I think the Shetland will do. I hope to get it warped by this weekend so I can work on it at a local spinning event Saturday.

This winding skeins business is getting really old. I’m doing fast skeins right now, so it seems like I get two new ones finished for every one wound.

Another weekend of spinning. This is about how it’s going to be until everything is done. I finished more yarns over the weekend and now that The Boyfriend is done borrowing my camera I’ll get pictures taken. A local knitting group did a dye workshop a few blocks away, I stopped by for a visit Saturday afternoon and ended up with a bottle of extra dye. I need to dye some of the Andean two-ply for the traditional three color patterns, so now I have medium gray, white and blue. The white is from a Blue-faced Leicester top I picked up for fun, it’s similar fiber although not so long a staple length.

I also did the drop spindle skein, again because I didn’t like how it came out the first time. The fiber for that was a grab-bag of fleece that appears to be Border Leicester. It was cotted (tangled) and had some color variation, so I flicked, drum carded and then combed just a little. Saturday I reeled some silk and Sunday was the guild meeting where I did fiber prep. I tried an experiment with the mystery farm fleece, a 4/3 12-ply cable. It was lofty and bouncy and huge, and with that many plies it doesn’t matter what the single looks like. But the fiber is filthy, so there I was with the dog brush yet again to get the junk out. It’s short and fine and crimpy but obviously has some down breed in it. The woman from the farm thinks it might be part Rambouillet, closely related to Merino, but there’s no way to really know.

Today I’m working on the remaining woolen with the Suffolk fleece. I used a friend’s drum carder to make batts and now I’m tearing them into chunks to make rolags. I couldn’t do it with hand cards because I couldn’t get batts large enough for the yarn I need. I’m also doing it with the quill, because it has to be large and low twist. Long draw works really well that way and the Lendrum quill head is huge. It’s weird to work with this big spike pointing directly at me, I can’t draft as far as with a normal position but this yarn doesn’t take long. Even if it’s still slower to spin than it should be because I have to get it as perfectly even as possible. Woolen just doesn’t like to do that.

Creative Commons License

© 2004-2007 Andrea Longo
spinnyspinny at feorlen dot org