Not feeling the Shelter love

My current project is a cardigan for my daughter Emma, knit with Brooklyn Tweed’s worsted weight wool, Shelter.  This is one of those love-it or hate-it yarns; it seems to draw equal numbers of complaints and accolades.  At the moment, I can say, I am really not feeling the Shelter love.

First, however, a photo showing my progress, because Emma asked for one.


I have finished the back, which is knit in a textured pattern, and both sleeves, which are knit in reverse stockinette.  The pattern is Tinder, a design by Jared Flood.  The sleeves have quite a roll to them, which will block out, but which makes it hard to photograph.  (I draped some circular needles over the sleeves to try to cut down on the rolling for the photo.)

I think my problems really began when I started the sleeves.  I do not like the way Shelter feels on my hands while I knit; it feels rough and my fingers start feeling abraded.  It’s hard to describe exactly, but the yarn just doesn’t feel nice.  It feels soapy, and when I have been knitting with it for a while my hands feel dry and scratchy.  I knit the back really fast and was enjoying the fast progress.  The stitch pattern seemed to make the process more lively and I didn’t really notice that much discomfort.  Once I started the stockinette, however, the knitting seemed to drag.  The texture of the finished product isn’t pleasing. (Note to Emma; never fear, this will all be fixed by the blocking.  The finished project will be gorgeous, particularly when worn by you!)


I know for a fact that the yarn will soften considerably when washed and blocked and will become lofty and airy.  I know that it is lighter than almost any other worsted weight wool, so the finished sweater yard-for-yard, will weigh less.  I love the rich shades, the tweediness, the slubs of bright colours, and the rustic quality of the wool.  Most of all, I love the design aesthetic behind Brooklyn Tweed.  That said, I am really not enjoying knitting with this yarn.


I have knit once before with Shelter – but never finished the sweater.  This is a total shame because it is an absolutely gorgeous pattern, Exeter by Michelle Wang.


© Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed


I finished and blocked the back and both sleeves, and they are fantastic, but then I got annoyed with the fronts and put the unfinished project in a plastic box, where it has sat for the last 4 years.  Here is a photo of the blocked sleeves:


and another which shows the beautiful cables:


Why haven’t I finished it? Partly, I suppose, because I have gained weight since I started this project, and partly because the fronts are really fiddly and I can’t find the enthusiasm to finish.  But maybe, subconsciously, the lack of Shelter love has contributed to this project languishing for so long.

Interestingly I have knit two projects from Brooklyn Tweed’s fingering weight wool, Loft, which shares a lot of the properties of Shelter.  These are my Carpino sweater, designed by Carol Feller (blogged here):


and my Escher cardigan, designed by Alexis Winslow, which I have blogged about extensively (here is a link to the Escher posts):


For some reason I find the feel of this yarn less annoying in a fingering weight than in a worsted.

I do think that blocking will work wonders with this wool and that the finished cardigan will be cool.  Perhaps that experience will make me weigh up Shelter and find it worth the effort.  There are a lot of Brooklyn Tweed designs calling my name.  Jared has brought some fabulous designers on board and I love so many of the things they are creating.   I must admit, however, that the next time I knit a BT design, I am likely to substitute the wool.

8 thoughts on “Not feeling the Shelter love

  1. If blocking will improve the feel of the yarn in the finished piece, would washing the skein before knitting help? I know knitting yarns usually have the spinning oils washed out, but you never know. I’ve never knit with Shelter myself – I’ve been knitting with handspun for so long that even the “good stuff” just feels wrong to me :/

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Alison. I’m sure that washing them first would have been a good idea. I have done that with linen with some degree of success. We might mark this one up as laziness. Knitting with handspun – count me as very impressed. Someday I may just get there….

  2. I was going to suggest pre-washed the skeins, but Alison beat me to it! I really love Shelter and Loft, and I agree they each have a different hand. But this reminds me of just how lucky we are these days. Back when I was first knitting, in Nebraska as a young girl, the choices were Sugar and Cream cotton, and perhaps some Orlon. When we lived in St. Paul for 6 months in the early 70’s, we bought yarn at a department store, and I think there was one wool available – Germantown by Bernat, but the rest was stuff like Virgin Orlon. Pattern selection was extremely limited. Now, we have the world at our fingertips, and more types of yarn imaginable, so there is something for everyone. It is a great time to be a knitter!

    • Oh Susan, how right you are! I used to knit up projects and then rip them out and re-knit them just because yarn wasn’t always easy to come by. And some of that stuff was horrible. I have certainly become spoiled. I am pretty sure I will be happy with the finished cardigan, but as a process knitter (and a now quite spoiled for choice one) I wonder whether it’s worth it to waste time knitting with yarn that isn’t fun to knit with. And it’s not the “sheepiness” that bothers me (I know you like your sheepy wools) its some other quality of the wool which I am having trouble defining. I will definitely report back.

      • Life is too short and there is too much fabulous yarn to knit with something you don’t like. And, if you don’t want to finish Exeter, don’t. If it bugs you, offer it for sale, even if just for postage.

  3. Pingback: Pretty much perfect in every way | Knitigating Circumstances

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