Choosing Yarn for a Secret Shawl – Twenty Four Birds MKAL

Four skeins of hand dyed yarn in a row, from let to write a teal, a light green, a light gold and a light peach

If you get my newsletters or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I just announced the Twenty Four Birds shawl MKAL, which will begin when the first of six clues is revealed on Thursday, March 21st, 2024.

Presales are open now if you want to nab the pattern for a special early bird price of just £5 (plus applicable VAT.)

The response to has already been so wonderful!

I’ve had floods of excited questions about how to pick yarn for this mystery design, so this post should help.

You’ll find out what I used for the MKAL sample, where and when you can get your hands on it, and what to look for if you’re stash diving or shopping from your local yarn store or favourite indie dyer.

Yarn hints for the Twenty Four Birds MKAL

Deciding on colourways for a secret pattern can be challenging, so here are some hints. These are ever-so-slightly spoilery, but no more than they need to be to help you choose your yarn.

  • The mystery shawl pattern will use four skeins of fingering-weight yarn. This means that it’s an excellent stash-buster, with loads of room for creativity and experimenting with colour.
  • I used three gently speckled colourways to create a blended fade-type effect, with one semi-solid as a feature panel.
  • When deciding on your yarn, you might think about picking three relatively low-contrast skeins and one slightly higher contrast or pop.
  • The pattern includes lace, so highly variegated skeins may obscure the stitch patterns somewhat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all, just something to be aware of if that matters to you.
  • The sample yarn is a singly-ply fingering weight. I really enjoy a single ply for shawls because of the soft and airy effect it produces, but any sock/4 ply yarn would also work perfectly.
  • You could knit the shawl in lace weight yarn instead: you will end up with a smaller shawl, and it’s a good idea to swatch with the needles you’re planning to use to make sure you like the density of the fabric.
  • The sample yarn is 100% merino, but free to play with other fibres and blends. A bit of silk would be gorgeous! Someone asked if the design would work with linen: I don’t see why not, as long as you remember that linen yarn has less flexibility than wool and will be less “forgiving”. That can be a little challenging in lace knitting, but it’s totally doable.

Of course, my usual disclaimer applies: this is your shawl, and you should choose whatever skeins light you up. As long as you love the yarn and will wear the colours, that is all that matters. There are no wrong answers here, so go wild!

The Sample Yarn

Four skeins of hand dyed yarn in a row, from let to write a teal, a light green, a light gold and a light peach
The “Plume” kit from Voolenvine: left to right: Willow, Sage, Pimpernel, Gilded Lily

The Twenty Four Birds shawl sample used:

Voolenvine Nouveau [100% superwash merino, single ply, 365m/400y per 100g skein], 4 x 100g skeins.

Colour A:  Gilded Lily

Colour B: Pimpernel

Colour C: Sage

Colour D: Willow


Total of 330g (1205m/1320yds) of fingering weight yarn.

Approximate amounts used in sample:

Colour A: 65g; 237m/260yds

Colour B: 70g;  256m/280yds

Colour C: 95g; 347m/360yds

Colour D: 100g; 365m/400yds


4mm (US 6), 100cm (40”) long circular needles (or size to obtain gauge)


18 sts/32 rows = 10cm (4”) in stockinette stitch after blocking.

While exact gauge is not critical, be aware you may use more yarn if you knit at a looser gauge than the pattern and may need to allow for extra yarn.

Four skeins of hand dyed yarn, from left to right, a deep rust, a light peach, a light gold and a light green
The “Quill” Kit from Voolenvine, from left to right Marigold, Gilded Lily, Pimpernel, Sage

Kristin from Voolenvine is such an incredible indie dyer, and working with her yarn is always so inspiring. For this MKAL, she has really outdone herself.

The skeins Kristin has dyed for us have a beautiful Arts and Crafts palette that she developed based on a mood board full of Morris prints and antique illustrations. The colours are magical and nuanced, with a lovely depth.

Voolenvine is offering two different yarn kits for the shawl. Each has the same three speckled “fade” colourways, with a different semisolid “pop” colourway.

The first round of kits sold out almost immediately, but she is planning to do another update on Saturday, March 9th 2024 at 10am EST/3pm GMT.

The “Plume” Kit includes Willow, Sage, Pimpernel, and Gilded Lily

The “Quill” Kit includes Marigold, Gilded Lily, Pimpernel, and Sage 

As always, there’s never any pressure to use the sample yarn. It’s an honour for me to share the stage with a talented indie dyer and fellow small business owner like Kristin, so I love sharing the sample yarn information with you.

But with thousands of knitters all over the world, I know that only a small fraction of folks will be able to get their hands on one of these lovely kits.

I can also tease that there are some other lovely dyers in different parts of the world working on kits right now, so if getting yarn from the USA doesn’t work for you, stay tuned for more yarn inspo before long.

And if you’re knitting from stash: yay! We love to see it. Share your options and final picks on Instagram with the #TwentyFourBirdsMKAL hashtag, and in the Curious Handmade Ravelry Group: it’s a lot of fun and also wonderfully inspiring for your fellow MKALers.

Ready to join the Twenty Four Birds MKAL?

a background of illustrated birds with banners reading Twenty Four Birds MKAL and #twentyfourbirdsmkal

Click here to preorder the mystery pattern on Ravelry

Click here to preorder the mystery pattern on Gumroad

Right now you can join at a special Early Bird price of £5 (plus applicable VAT).

During the presale period, you’ll receive a PDF Infosheet with all the details you need to know to prepare.

The first MKAL Clue will be revealed on March 21st, 2024, and then you’ll receive one partial pattern clue a week for a total of six clues.

I hope you can grab a Voolenvine kit if your heart is set on one, and I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone else’s yarn choices.

This is going to be a very special knitalong, and I’m really grateful to share this experience with you.



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