A look at Bluefaced Leicester (BFL)

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Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) Sheep

5 Bluefaced Leicester sheep looking at the camera. They have curly cream coloured wool, white faces with black noses.

Andrew Curtis / Friendly Bluefaced Leicester sheep on Ewe Hill / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bluefaced Leicester (often abbreviated to BFL) sheep are part of the English Longwool family. They were developed in the early twentieth century and have roots to the Dishley Leicester*.

Their wool is often creamy white although can be found in black or grey. These traits tend to be bred out due to cream and white wool being more valuable due to how well it can be dyed.

BFL Fibre

Wool from Bluefaced Leicester sheep is one of the most valued and well known of the British breed wools. Due to its softness and lustre it is sometimes known as the “British Merino”. It has a fibre diameter of 24-28 microns which is close to Merino’s 20-22 microns. It has a long staple length (the length of each fibre) of up to around 15cm and hangs from the sheep in curly locks.

BFL Yarn

Generally Bluefaced Leicester wool feels soft however it is spun. It does best with being worsted spun as this shows off its natural lustre (shine). Being longwool it can be strong enough for socks if it is spun tightly enough, although it isn’t often found prepared this way.

I stock a range of Bluefaced Leicester yarns which are suitable for pretty much anything apart from socks. The wool may not be robust enough for outer garments that get a large amount of wear. Its softness means it can have a tendency to pill, or bobble, although not to the extent that Merino is known for.

As the wool is a creamy white, colours are often slightly more subtle when compared to bright white yarns such as Corriedale.

Due to its versatility, I currently stock yarn weights from 4ply to Aran. I hope to be able to expand into laceweight and chunky weight yarns time and space allowing. You can view all the Bluefaced Leicester yarn I have available here.

*The Dishley Leicester Longwool breed, now extinct, where the first seriously “improved” breed of sheep. They were created by Robert Bakewell, who’s practices and research we have to thank for many of the sheep breeds we know today.

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