Karie Bookish Dot Net

Knitting Mahy – Yarn Choices

Mahy1 The weather gods were in our favour. We finally have proper photos of the Mahy shawl. I’ll write about the inspiration behind the shawl in the next blog post, but first I wanted to talk yarn.

Mahy was knitted using roughly 770 yards of Shetland Organics 1ply.

Gulp, doesn’t 1ply mean that this is cobweb, sewing-thread thin and ethereal? Oh, Karie!


In this context it simply means that the yarn consists of a single strand rather than several thinner plies twisted together. The yarn is registered on Ravelry as a cobweb and I find that grossly misleading.

Shetland Organics 1ply is a heavy laceweight. I used the light grey shade which runs 700 yrds per 100 g. The shawl is knitted on 5mm needles which results in a lightweight, yet substantial fabric.

This is not an ethereal, dainty shawl. Mahy is delightfully light on my shoulders, but it is also warm and practical.

The yarn was given to me by Louise Scollay who understands my taste in yarns.  In many ways, this yarn is reminiscent of Garthenor 1ply  (which I used for my Ronaes) and also of my beloved Snældan 1ply (which I used for Hoxne and Storegga): it is a heavy laceweight which has a lot of body despite appearances, blooms beautifully after blocking, and has a great deal of character whilst you work with it. I recommend both the Garthenor and the Snældan as good substitutes. Any excuse to use Snældan, really..

But what if you don’t share my passion for crunchy, rustic and woolly laceweights? Well, here’s another photo of Mahy and then we’ll talk yarn subs.

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Susan Crawford’s Fenella 2ply would make a really lovely shawl. The yarn is a smidgen heavier, but it looks beautiful worked up in garter stitch. The colours are all subtle and beautiful – and the yarn is very well-sourced (if you care about such things – I find I increasingly do).

Mahy is a true hap shawl using traditional Shetland techniques – and if you want a traditional feel and also want colour, Jamieson’s Ultra is a natural choice. Note that the balls are 25g balls, so you’ll need to order accordingly. I find the Ultra slightly more frail during blocking than other similar yarns, so take care.

As for handdyed yarns, why not think outside the box and go for slightly heavier yarns? Dublin Dye Co. Plush Lace runs 600 yrds/100g (you’d need two hanks). MoonlightYarns does an amazing gradient set which would look stunning with Mahy. You can use finer yarns, but make sure to swatch (i.e. simply work up enough of the central triangle!) to check you like the fabric you are getting. You may also want to consider using handdyed sock/4ply/fingering yarn – it would make for a bigger shawl and you’d definitely need to watch your yardage – but I love that idea. Due to the stitch patterns used, Mahy can take a fair amount of colour shifts, actually.


  • I used roughly 770 yards of a heavy laceweight (700yrds/100g)
  • 1ply does not automatically mean cobweb etherealness!
  • Think about yardage/weight if substituting yarn.
  • Choose a yarn that looks lovely in garter stitch on 5mm needles.

(One day I shall convert you all to squishy, crunchy, oatmealy, rustic, woolly goodness.)

Mahy will become available as soon as my technical editor gives me the thumbs up. As for now, it’s wrapped around my shoulders.

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16 Thoughts on “Knitting Mahy – Yarn Choices

  1. Renee on June 25, 2015 at 3:42 pm said:

    Stunning. I am with you for the yarn.

  2. skeindalous on June 25, 2015 at 3:52 pm said:

    Very fine! When you post the pattern, I will be there. Really love the Snaeldan 1-ply in Sorrel Red. O my. (Problem is two 50 gm skeins are right on the edge of being enough! Better plan on three.) Have never tried their yarns, and this will be a great excuse! Always exciting o find a new yarn company, especially one whose philosophy blends with mine.

    • Karie on June 25, 2015 at 6:55 pm said:

      Snældan 1ply is my Desert Island yarn. And I’d grab 3 50g hanks just in case.

  3. Oh, Karie, this is simply gorgeous! I have a nicely rustic N. Ronaldsay 3ply stashed away that I’m itching to use and miiiiiiight just stretch to it. Looking forward to hearing about your inspiration too…

  4. Shuna Marr on June 25, 2015 at 4:34 pm said:

    I was thinking if it was worked into a square that it would make a beautiful baby shawl. Sorry, don’t want you to think I’m messing with your pattern before it’s even printed, but as I might be a granny soon I’ve obviously been thinking along those lines. :)
    Would obviously have to try one for myself beforehand of course!

    • Karie on June 25, 2015 at 6:58 pm said:

      You are not the only one dreaming of making it into a square! Just had that conversation elsewhere. Also, congratulations of possible granny-hood!

  5. I do enjoy working with lovely rustic squishy wool. Next year when my time is my own again I’ll get to play with some!

  6. This looks super! I’m not confident about LACE. But am attending a one day workshop in Sept which will help me I’m sure! And fingers crossed for your endangered files!

    • Karie on June 26, 2015 at 7:07 pm said:

      I’ll also be writing a few tutorials over the next few weeks which I hope will explain a few things :) Enjoy your workshop!

  7. Gulp… I had to give myself a quiet moment to appreciate the stunning loveliness of the Mahy shawl!!!

    And having read your substitution suggestions, I’m now torn… The 1ply gorgeousness you recommend or Fenella, which I LOVE and have been desperate to use for me rather than treating baby niece and nephew to vintage baby clothes in a yarn, which is lost on them!

  8. Elaine on June 27, 2015 at 2:55 pm said:

    I have downloaded the pattern from Ravelry and am busy looking into my stash of sock wool.
    Squishy, oatmealy, rustic, long-wearing yarns are my favorite too. As soon as Byatt is done I will start on Mahy. With the changes in pattern I will use different colors, probably in browns.

  9. Tina W on June 29, 2015 at 4:30 am said:

    This is lovely! I have 1000 yards of Wool out of Wales Leicester Longwool that is cobweb. This looks like a perfect match for it.

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