Tour de Fleece day 5

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Picture for woah, cat for scale

Happy Independence Day!

Today is the day we here in The United States celebrate our decision to declare independence from Britain. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m in my mid thirties and I’d not read the Declaration of Independence fully for a VERY long time. I’d forgotten how specific our founding fathers were at listing the king’s misdeeds.

The fact that I’m celebrating while spinning a British wool dyed here in America, and following a French bicycle race is not lost on me.

I’m spinning Blue Faced Leicester wool, a breed of long wool sheep. According to the BFL Union of America, the wool standard for these sheep is as follows:

WOOL

On both white and natural colored Bluefaced Leicesters, the wool should be tightly purled, fine, dense, semi-lustrous, and when parted, it should open cleanly to the skin. There should be an even, consistent fleece coverage on the body, and the fleece should be free of hair and kemp. There should be no tendency for the main body of fleece to “peel” (the fleece breaking and sloughing off).

The Bluefaced Leicester is classified as a longwool breed with a staple length of 3-6 inches, a fleece weight of 2½-4½ lbs., and a fiber diameter of 56s–60s count, or 24-28 microns. It creates high-quality semi-lustre yarns with soft hand, beautiful drape, and excellent dyeing properties.

This is “More Coffee” dyed by the lovely Amy at Spunky Eclectic. I had to take the picture above just so I would remember the image of what felt like a mile of gentle gradation from cream to brown.

When I first took the fiber out of the bag I thought that Amy had literally laid out a pound of fiber and dyed it end to end. It took closer examination to discover that no, this was four four ounce pieces of fiber that were perfectly painted together.

I spent my spinning time today sampling this fiber. The staple length is somewhere between 6 and 7 inches in length, and there’s about 5 crimps per inch of fiber. Since this is a lustrous fiber I want to emphasize that so I’m choosing to spin this worsted again.

Five samples of BFL

This is a variety of two and three ply yarns. The two yarns on the right are woolen spun (one straight and one from the fold) two ply yarns. The samples on the left are three ply yarns, spun from the fold, then semi-woolen, then fully worsted. The sample on the left is the winner. I’m choosing it for its round shiny nature. It’s soft and about the right weight. I’m going for a worsted weight yarn.

I’m going to take this first four ounce piece of fiber into three even pieces. This first four ounces is really a very large sample in itself. I have a picture in my head, and I really want this yarn to match that picture.

What will I use this for? I have no idea. I have a nephew who will wear anything that his Daddy wears, so maybe a pair of matching winter hats? A pound is a weird amount. It’s too much for just a hat or two, but it’s not enough for a sweater for me.

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