Yarn Profile: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter
When Jared Flood took the keys to the candy store, he knew exactly what he wanted: a fine and flexible lofty woolen-spun yarn made entirely in the U.S. from the wool of American sheep—and from breeds developed in the U.S., no less. Working with the historic Harrisville woolen mill in New Hampshire, he first sourced fibers from Targhee and Columbia sheep that graze on the western U.S. ranges.
The fibers were then scoured, dyed, and carefully blended together to create 17 different colors—not dunk-dyed unidimensional solids, but gently nuanced heathers built upon at least two, sometimes three or more different hues. The blended fibers were then spun woolen, wound into 140-yard hanks, and sold through Brooklyn Tweed as well as at nine flagship retailers in the U.S.
If you're familiar with other farm yarns, Shelter may bring to mind Beaverslide Dry Goods or even Imperial Stock Ranch, with a dusting of Marr Haven thrown in—but at a finer gauge than all three, and in more colors.
While Shelter looks like the farm yarns of yore, I was disconcerted by its total lack of lanolin fragrance. I can't quite place the scent my skeins did have, but it definitely had perfume overtones of a woolwash, perhaps. The yarn does have the occasional bits of vegetation that speak to the yarn's proximity to the source. In two places I also pulled out tiny bits of shredded plastic, most likely from the bales in which the wool was shipped to the mill.
Knitting with Shelter is a distinctly pleasurable experience. The yarn willingly holds my hand and its two plies are perfectly united in a way that does not snag or pose problems on the needles. Within a few rows I was able to knit by touch alone—even in ribbing and even with my pointy-tipped Addi Lace Click prototypes—without any issues.
Smoother two-ply yarns would render stockinette in a somewhat shadowed, pebbly manner, but Shelter's blurry surface conceals those shadows and reflects a smooth and inviting surface. Ribbing, cables, and basic open stitchwork are equally lovely.
But as beautiful as the yarn is for textured stitches, it's even better suited to stranded colorwork—although true colorwork geeks will likely look for more colors than the current palette offers.
The yarn's halo (even before washing) helps conceal any colors running along the back of the work. And, as an added benefit, the jumbled woolen surface acts as Velcro to secure any stitches you may inadvertently drop. In a smoother yarn, those stitches would quickly run all the way down to your cast-on edge. But here, any dropped stitches will simply sit tight and wait for your return.
Blocking / Washing
Shelter is no different. As the fibers absorbed their warm soapy water, they finally had a chance to relax and stretch their legs. Any areas that were uncomfortable or otherwise distressed during processing finally got to move about and find a more comfortable position. When my swatch finally dried (washed at left, unwashed at right), it had bloomed into a full and cohesive piece of fabric. Any lingering listlessness was gone.
To my touch, Shelter is not itchy or scratchy (then again, I have a bias toward wool). It has a distinct but well-mannered presence. But, unlike its finer cousins, such as Merino and Cormo, Shelter isn't afraid to speak its mind. Under pressure, its fibers join forces and fight back with a unified front. When the fibers finally do surrender, they do so in small clusters that are willing to go when pulled.
As with any good woolen-spun yarn, Shelter has quite a bit of air in it. A yarn's warmth is dictated by the amount of still air it holds, making Shelter an excellent insulator for cold-weather wear. The abundance of air and springy fibers also makes Shelter quite adaptable to multiple gauges. The fibers will simply expand or contract to fill whatever space you give them. Such adaptability makes Shelter suited for a wider variety of patterns—though you'll want to look at Jared's patterns first, since many of them were conceived expressly for this yarn.
It would've been much easier to slap his name on a generic yarn from one of the massive mills abroad—and he would've kept a lot more from each skein sold. But Jared chose a more challenging path, from sourcing quality fibers from domestic farms and having them scoured properly to finding the right combinations for each heathered color and getting the yarn's thickness, twist, and ply just right. This is not an off-the-rack yarn.
If you look at the designs Jared has published over the years, most of which have a fine but earthy, heathered element to them; and even at the name he's been using for his business all these years—"Brooklyn Tweed"—you'll agree that this heathered, woolen-spun, dare I say almost tweedy yarn is a perfectly logical and fitting next piece in Jared's creative puzzle.
100% wool (Targhee and Columbia)
4.25 to 5 stitches per inch on US 7-9 (4.5-5.5mm) needles
Average retail price
Where to buy online
You can buy Shelter directly from Brooklyn Tweed or from one of the flagship retail stores
Weight/yardage per skein
50g/ 140 yards (128m)
Country of origin
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
None given. I recommend a gentle handwash in lukewarm water with a mild soap, followed by a rinse in lukewarm water and a nice long rest on a towel
Color used in review
Contact Brooklyn Tweed directly
Source of review yarn