On Friday, I turned the BFL singles into this:

I was careful when spinning to keep the colors as separate as possible, so I have very long color repeats on each single. Since there were small variations in the amount of each color and the thickness of the yarn as I spun, the color changes don’t always line up, and so I get long sections where the three plies are different colors, as well as some where they are all the same. It’s definitely not the most even yarn I’ve spun, but it is pretty.

There’s a huge difference before (right) and after (left) setting the twist. For starters, the “after” yarn actually keeps the twist, instead of un-plying itself as the “before” yarn tends to do. It also blooms significantly in the bath, going from 12 wpi (before) to 9 wpi (after).

It’s interesting to compare the BFL and the Coopworth. I spun them both with the same method, from combed top. The Coopworth is a shorter staple, has much tighter crimp, and makes a very thick, fuzzy yarn. The BFL is a smoother wool, almost silky, with a long staple and long, loose crimp, and it keeps a lot of shine in the final yarn. I think it will have much better stitch definition, and I expect (much) less pilling from the BFL.

Of course, I wanted to play with the yarn once it was dry. The question is: what to knit with it? It’s still a heavy yarn, so it wants big needles. I love the look of a marled (barber pole) yarn, but I have a very hard time coming up with ways to knit it. Most patterns obliterate the twisted look, and it seems like that’s a special part of the yarn that’s worth keeping. Too much texture in the stitch pattern makes for a confused piece, because there’s already so much going on in the yarn itself. I also don’t have much yarn (~250 yds), so openwork would be good to help it go as far as possible.

I started out with a plain stockinette fabric, which I love. (This surprised me, as I usually feel that stockinette does not do justice to a marled yarn.)

I think I might like the reverse side even better. Unfortunately, a few inches of this dense fabric had already made a significant dent in the first ball of yarn, and I only have 3. Not a good sign.

So I added some holes to take up space. I like the braided look of the purl rows, but I don’t like the rigid columns of holes, and I didn’t think that this pattern really worked with the yarn.

So, I added even more holes, by trying a brioche-related stitch:

I like this because it preserves fairly long stretches of the yarn, so that I can actually see the details of the plying. On the other hand, there are so many long segments that it can look confused, and just generally too busy. I like this stitch better when it’s stretched out.

It feels wonderful, too. Since the yarn is loose and open, it really lets you feel the silky smoothness of the fiber. Still, I wanted this to be a warm, thick scarf, and the brioche is almost too open. I really like it, but I’m not sure it’s the perfect stitch. I wanted to see what else I could get out of the yarn. Next, I tried a feather and fan:

Visually, I think this stitch pattern works best with the yarn. From a distance, the brioche can just look tangled and random, but the feather and fan is a more solid pattern, and it keeps the purl-braids that I liked in pattern #2. The problem? It has serious bias. I was using only k2togs for decreases, so I think I could eliminate the bias issue by balancing out my decreases, though that usually isn’t necessary in this pattern. A slightly less tractable problem is that it also takes a lot more yarn (fewer yo’s means more yarn per square inch, and a much shorter piece).


Branden and I both agree that the brioche feels the best, but that the feather and fan looks better. The brioche might block out nicely, but I have a feeling that it won’t hold the blocking particularly well.

So, I’m not sure yet what to do with this yarn. It’s enough for a scarf, as long as it’s an open pattern. There may be some biasing (though it behaves as though it’s a well-balanced yarn in everything but the feather and fan), so a firm fabric is probably advisable, or at least a pattern that balances its increases and decreases. I dunno. What do you think? Keep swatching?