Bluefaced Leicester (which I only recently learned is pronounced "less-ter") is an English long-wool breed first brought into existence through the work of Robert Bakewell and the Culley brothers in the early 1900's. The combination of Leicester Longwool, Teeswater, probably some Old Ryeland, and maybe some Cheviot resulted in what we now know as the Bluefaced Leicester sheep. At first, BFL was considered to be a mostly meat breed since the ewes could produce many lambs that fattened up quick for the market but their long-wool lineage also meant that their fleeces could be used to create textiles.
In the 1970's BFL sheeps eventually made their way to North America and found favor among stateside handspinners and knitters thanks to the soft and lustrous yarns that could be coaxed from their fleeces. If there ever were a "Where's Waldo" situation where you were needing to spot a BFL sheep, just look for alert ears, and a prominent blueish "Roman" nose. (If you'd like to learn more about BFL, have a look at the Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America's website.)
I really enjoy spinning BFL fiber. In fact, it might be my favorite. With a longer staple length, it doesn't try to get away from me too much and can be spun at a range of weights quite easily. In spite of that longer staple, the finished yarn isn't super toothy and I have found it soft enough to wear next to skin - plus it's pretty and shiny. My first big spinning project was with a pound of BFL, so it will always have a special place in my heart.
The fiber I used to make this yarn is natural white BFL combed top, grown and milled in Vermont. It was a gift from my beloved and so far I've only tapped into about 3/4 of the two pounds she gave me. If memory serves, it took about two weeks of consistently being at the wheel to give me a sweaters worth of yarn.
The specs: 17 wraps per inch | 6 stitches per inch on a US 3 | 293 grams total
I hemmed and hawed about what I would make and have decided on Annie Rowden's Menhir sweater. It's been in my queue for a while now, and I think that this yarn will be a perfect pairing. Heres why: the drape and weight of this yarn creates a fabric that will nicely suit the relaxed fit of this sweater, the color is a creamy white and I have a hand-me-down sweater in a similar color (and with a similar fit) that I love so I know I'll get a lot of use out of it, and last but not least the thick and thin diameter of the yarn will look real cute knit up in a broken-rib stitch. Also, Annie is a super cute person and I always love knitting from her patterns.
(p.s. I'm real close to finishing the sweater currently on my needles, so hopefully I'll be casting on for Menhir within a week or two so stay tuned!)