Mortaine’s Mystery Shawl Knit Along

Hello, and welcome to Mortaine’s Mystery Shawl Knit Along! There is less mystery in this shawl because I’m posting a picture of the prototype online before opening the KAL to signups and starting the KAL.

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NEW! The swatch chart is now up!

Shawl Description

This is a square shawl in the Shetland/English style. It has a large, asymetrical motif with heavy use of stockinette stitch in the center panel, and lace pattern border and edging. Optional beads trim the outer edgings.

If you are not going to participate in the no-spoilers/Surprise group, you can see the prototype’s photo on the spoiler page. Please note that the prototype photo is not exactly precise-- I’ve made some design changes since finishing the shawl, but overall, this is how it looks. The spoiler page also explains the origin of this shawl and the pattern’s title

The finished shawl is 45 inches (114.3 cm) across and tall when blocked. There is an opportunity to increase the overall size of the shawl by increasing the border. Doing this will require not only more yarn, but will also require more beads. Increasing the border by one repeat, will add 6” to both the width and height of the shawl, and require at least 440 yards of additional yarn and 80 more beads. Additional repeats will require more than 440 yards of additional yarn (beyond the 440 for the first extra repeat) for each repeat, and will require an additional 80 beads (on top of the 80 beads for the first added repeat).

Techniques You’ll Need
You will need to know how to yarn over, k2tog, ssk, k3tog, pssk, pick up and knit on an edge, and knit an edging onto live stitches.

I would classify this as an intermediate to advanced pattern, based on the techniques you need to know, but it’s OK for beginning lace knitters. The shawl starts out fairly easy, has a nice complicated, but rewarding spot a couple of weeks in, followed by a little more easy knitting. The border is a little more challenging, but is easy to memorize. The edging is more challenging, but can be memorized, and introduces a very small amount of wrong-side patterning (no more than you would get knitting a rib stitch). The finishing touch is a tiny amount of grafting, which you can use Kitchener stitch to complete. Because lifelines are required on all four borders, the edging is fairly easy to knit on. If you have knit a top-down heel-flap sock before, then you know all of the techniques you’ll need to make this shawl.


Approximately 1480 yards of laceweight yarn in a solid color (the prototype used 1311 with almost none to spare, and the minor design changes since the prototype require a little more yarn). See above in Shawl Description for yardage requirements for making a larger shawl.

I do not recommend variegated yarns for this shawl at all-- there is little “movement’ in the lace to allow the variegation to show itself off. Personally, I would recommend anything in warm tones (reds, pinks, yellows, oranges), any shade of green, and neutral tones. I would stay away from “cool” blues for this shawl, unless you are a fan of The Glass Menagerie. Purple would look fine. Semi-solid yarns, such as Malabrigo, should be OK.

Optional: Approximately 700 size 6 or 8 seed beads (somewhat less than 2 small tubes of size 8s). These go on the edging to give the shawl a little weight and sparkle, and they're entirely optional. They can be selected and added in the last month of the KAL-- you don’t need to have or even decide on the beads until the majority of the shawl is complete. If you want to add beads elsewhere in the shawl, you are of course free to do so. This is, after all, your shawl.

Size 2 US (3.0 mm) circular needles.

Gauge: Although gauge is not crucial for fit, the gauge of this shawl is 5-6 sts per inch in stockinette, after blocking.


The first clue will be released on September 3rd and 4th. Each clue will be released 1 week later. There are 14 clues in total. The last clue is released on December 3rd and 4th. The goal is for you to have a shawl that you can wear for New Year’s. If you are a fast knitter, you could even make this as a knock-em-out-awesome holiday present.

All times are approximate and refer to the Pacific time zone. I will be traveling extensively during the KAL (Pacific Northwest, UK, Rhinebeck, and Hartford), so I may release clues earlier in the day than originally scheduled.

Pace Groups

To better manage the group dynamics, I’m splitting the KAL groups into four areas, based roughly on your knitting/KAL speed. You can self-select a group to be in, but for group dynamic reasons, there is a limit to the number of people I’ll put into any single Yahoo! group.

The starting date is September 3, when the first clue will be released to the Early Group. You can join the KAL until September 12th-- this is so when your friend sees you knitting the first clue, you can tell him or her “oh, go join the group! It’ll be fun!”

If you want to be placed in the same group as your friend, please indicate your friend’s email address in your signup form. If you don’t use the email address your friend used, I can’t guarantee you’ll be in the same group. If you’re in a group of knitters doing this as a KAL, please pick one person who will be your “point person” and use their email address to join the group. That person doesn’t have any particular responsibility, it just makes it easier for me to organize all the knitters in that group.

Early Group
For those who tend to knit quickly in KALs and want to be the first to have the clues. You know this is the group for you if you’ve ever done a KAL where you were literally refreshing the files page looking for a new clue at midnight! If you don’t self-select this group, you won’t be in it. It’s a-ok if you join this group and discover that life gets in the way and you’re not really tackling the clues early, but if you tend to be more laid back, you might want to go for the mid-season group. Because this group is the first group to get the clues, you’re most likely to find any errors in the clues. Therefore, if you absolutely hate having to troubleshoot or fix an error in the chart, or if you’re pretty new to lace knitting and don’t yet know how to read lace, don’t join this group. Because of the higher chance of finding errors, you will only be put in this group if you select it. Early Bloomer clues go live on Thursdays.

Main Group
This group will get the clues on Friday afternoons, about 36 hours after the Early Bloomers do, just in case any errors are caught by the early group. It’s the main group, for folks who tend to knit roughly on pace with everyone else, or you’re a new knitter. This is also the group for anyone who already knows they’ll be hanging onto the clues until they get to see pictures of each finished clue as it comes out, or for anyone who just doesn’t know if they’re going to knit the shawl at all.

Surprise Group
This is the no-spoilers group. This group promises not to look at the picture of the completed shawl, and wants to enjoy guessing about the theme and design. This group also gets the clues on Friday afternoon. In this group, rules on off-topic discussions are more relaxed: as long as you stay excellent to each other and mark all Off Topic posts as “OT,” non-commercial/non-promotional off-topic messages are OK. This is because it is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to participate in the Ravelry group without reading or seeing spoilers for the shawl, so you might not want to join that group until around the 4th or 5th week. Anyone posting spoilers before the end of Week 6 will be moderated (silenced) immediately.

A note to Surprise participants: The theme of this shawl will be pretty evident after the 4th clue, and blindingly obvious after the 6th.

New Buddies
There is no Newbie-specific group, but new lace knitters are asked to identify themselves when signing up, so I can disperse them among the Main groups evenly (new knitters will not be put in the Early group). This is the group you join if you haven’t knit much lace before. If you’ve knitted more than three or four lace shawls and/or scarves in various styles, but you’ve never done a mystery KAL, just group yourself by speed, as you’re not a new lace knitter.

Non-English Groups
In the sign-up page, please indicate your native/preferred language if something other than English. This pattern is written in English, but is fully charted with instructions. If I get at least 35 participants and a moderator willing to moderate the group and translate the pattern, I will create groups in languages other than English for you to discuss the shawl and participate in the KAL in your native tongue.

Group Etiquette/Off-Topic Chat

The following will apply in all groups:

  • Be excellent to each other.
  • There will be NO commercial messages, sale announcements, fundraisers, etc., except from sponsors, as posted by me. If you want to sponsor the KAL, email me directly. If you have something you’d like to advertise without talking to me, buy ad space in the Ravelry group.
  • All Off-topic chit-chat unrelated to knitting this shawl belongs in the Ravelry group ONLY. If you’re not a member of Ravelry and you want to chit-chat, go join Ravelry. This especially applies to the big 3 no-no conversation topics: religion, politics, and sports.
  • I had to think long and hard about prayer requests, because on the one hand, I neither appreciate nor particularly believe in them. On the other hand, this pattern ultimately will raise money to fight cancer-- and often, that’s a good reason to pray. Thus, prayer requests are permitted, but only in the OT: Prayer Request thread on Ravelry. If you are a praying person or particularly giving with your compassion, you can watch that thread for opportunities to provide love and support.
  • I reserve the right to remove or moderate anyone who is disruptive, sends commercial messages to the group (even if it’s not YOUR commerce), baits, trolls, or otherwise makes it difficult to be excellent to one another.
  • I also reserve the right to remove or ban anyone who violates my copyright or any other designers’ by asking for or distributing copyrighted patterns.

Purchasing the Pattern, Distribution, What to Do if You Miss Clues

Participation in the Knit-Along is free. When the free KAL is over, you may continue to knit your shawl, of course. All the clues will be removed on December 30th. If you’re in the KAL and you don’t download them in time, you can get the clues by emailing me directly.

Do not distribute clues to anyone outside the KAL, or anyone in the KAL after the KAL is over. They are copyright to me, and when I find my copyrighted content online without my permission, I literally feel like someone has punched me in the stomach. Please don’t punch me in the stomach. If you miss the clues, email me directly before June 1, 2010, and I will happily send them to you.

The pattern will also be available for sale to KAL participants starting December 10th, for a reduced rate of $5. On January 1, 2010, it will go on sale at its full cost of $7. After June 1st (2010), you will need to buy the pattern if you missed the clues and still want a copy.

$2 of every purchase, whether the advance/reduced rate sales or the full sale price, will be donated to the American Cancer Society. You can also donate to the American Cancer Society as part of my KAL fundraiser (spoiler alert for Surprise Group participants).

About the Designer

I am a long-time knitter, crocheter, and spinner who adores making lace shawls! I live in a motorhome and travel full-time around the US, while writing and publishing Handknit Heroes, the comic book for knitters. Please note that the shawl in this KAL isn’t thematically related to Handknit Heroes in any way.