BFL, my frenemy

Blue-faced Leicester (BFL) is a pretty common wool for handspinners to use. It was the third type of wool I tried (after a bad experience with Corriedale and a so-so experience with Merino), and the batches I bought from Spunky Eclectic were so much more fun to spin than either the Corriedale or the Merino that I fell in love with it.

Now, with a few years of experience under my belt, I have come to understand that the Corriedale I spun first was probably overly compacted, and spending a bit of time loosening the fibers before spinning would probably have made it just fine. I still look at Corriedale with squinty eyes, but I’m willing to try spinning it again sometime in the future.

Likewise, with the Merino, it was a bit trickier than I would have liked to spin a shorter-stapled fiber, but I have spun enough of it since then that I have come to understand Merino well enough. I think it’s overused in the commercial yarn world, but the last batch I did (see my previous post) of “acorn” was a joy to spin and is one of my better yarns ever, so I can’t say I hate Merino.

But BFL… well, I might not be buying a whole lot in the future.

BFL has a longer staple, but is soft and has a bit of luster to it. Usually the long wools have more luster, so that’s no real surprise, but the fact that a really good BFL can be as soft as a middle Merino is what makes it stand out. But one of the things I’ve noticed over time is that BFL can be sticky, which has started to make me think I might be parting ways with it. I don’t like sticky fiber.

I have spun some gloriously smooth BFL, of course. The stuff I bought from Spunky Eclectic was very nice, although I didn’t keep notes back then, so I’m going by memory here. But I have purchased a bunch of BFL from various sellers and have found most of them to be sticky in at least some places.

Now, I realize that some of this might be due to the dye used on the BFL. In fact, some of the sticky patches were clearly in the darker dyed patches, so I’m pretty sure that the dye did have something to do with it. But some of them were not. In fact, one of the stickiest four ounces of BFL I every laid hands on was white, undyed commercial top. And some of the dyers are people I trust to treat the fiber right (and have had some great fiber from in the past), so I hesitate to completely blame the dye.

And thus, the pound of BFL I have in my stash may be the last batches of BFL I spin. The four 4-ounce batches may be as smooth as butter to spin, and I might change my mind at the end of the end of them, but at this point, I am bidding farewell to BFL because I just can’t trust it.

Oh, and I finished up the 7.3 ounces of this BFL. A nice 4-ply worsted-weight yarn at around 320 yards, and it’s a very soft and squishy yarn–but oh, was it sticky in places to spin.

Aurora and I have already wound it into balls so she can knit it into a scarf for herself. I can’t wait to see how that works out.

Leave a comment

Your comment