Wednesday, March 14, 2007

BFL-DK ... My new favorite yarn?

With so many yarns and samples, I try to experiment with each one so that I can have a feel for some of the properties of the yarn. I'm looking for how it feels as I knit, how needle sizes create tighter or looser fabrics, how the yarn absorbs dye, what changes in the yarn occur during the dye process or just from a hot bath.

I had worked my way through the Blue Faced Leicester yarns on the website, and two weekends ago decided to gift myself a cone of the BFL-DK, a round creamy 4-ply. Boy, was I in for some fun! This yarn has enough heft to it to make you actually feel the yarn as it slips through the fingers. It is so very soft and knits into a beautiful fabric.

Elizabeth Zimmerman's patterns fascinate me, so I decided to try the BFL-DK on her Ganomy hat pattern (from Knitting Almanac, from Schoolhouse Press). The Ganomy pattern neatly places increases at the ear level and decreases at mid-forehead to give a comfortably curved hat. The picture above is of the hat as it reaches the point where I must divide the work onto two circular needles. It was knit on US Size 8's, and I will do the next one on size 7's for a little firmer fabric. Unfortunately this hat is too small for me, since it is lighter than the weight that EZ used for her Ganomy. I'm going to increase the next hat by 8 stitches, and place markers according to the percentage of distance between markers on her original pattern. Hopefully, I will come out with something I can wear to keep my head warm when I go to an April event in central Virginia. It looks sort of like what Colonial women would have worn, right? Oh, well. I'm planning to get away with it, even if it has to be worn under my colonial bonnet, as I head up a group of spinners, weavers, knitters and fiber processors (is there a better word?) in the old Spinning House on one of the few remaining plantations in the area. Should be fun!

This sounds like I have actually constructed a bonnet and a costume, but that is not the case at all. In fact, just writing this, reminds me that I need to pull the fabric and pattern out and get to work!

But, back to the yarn. I think I like the DK weight because it is not too heavy, and I can see doing one of Karen Alfke's Top-Down sweaters in it, and in the natural ecru, too. This cone that I gifted myself is not even from the new batches which are being processed in Italy and have even more loft and luster showing through! Imagine what that next batch will look like. Luscious!

This is the reason some people call Blue Faced Leicester 'the poor man's cashmere.'

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