A Garden of Shawls by Karen Whooley

A Garden of Shawls by Karen Whooley

A Garden of Shawls by Karen Whooley is the book we shared on Yarn Thing podcast with Marly Bird today, and crochet loveliness abounds!

Karen says: I learned to crochet at the age of 7. My Nonna (Italian for “grandmother”) taught me to crochet one summer when my younger sister and I were visiting with her.   Nonna didn’t teach me from patterns. Since she only could speak Italian, any pattern I brought her we used a magnifying glass and figured out the pattern from the photos.  I didn’t learn how to read a pattern until I taught myself in my teenage years from Leisure Arts booklets! Because I learned to crochet from photos and word-of-mouth, I have always been a designer.  Even when I could read a pattern, I always changed up the item, from construction to how it was edged, and even the stitch pattern. Just about everything I made was inspired by the patterns, not from the pattern directly.

And that is how I got started designing!  Back in 1998, I met one of my favorite designers online in an internet forum.  She saw the work that I would display on my personal website that was just basically a photo album, and convinced me to submit some original designs!  The very first ones were purchased and off my design career went! After all these years, I still love designing!  Over the years I have been lucky to work with some of the best yarn and publishing companies out there. You will see my work all over.  But my heart has always been in self-publishing!  I have self-published several books over the years and more will be coming!

Karen’s new book, A Garden of Shawls includes 12 beautiful lace shawls that evoke that feeling of being in a beautiful garden.  Made with either fingering or lace weight yarns each shawl will inspire you to create your own slice of heaven.

The projects are worked using lace weight to fingering weight yarns – all from indie hand dyers – and are suitable for every crocheter who is comfortable with basic crochet stitches.  Each pattern includes charts, a special stitches section, as well as written text to help the crafter work easily and comfortably through the pattern.  The book also contains hints and information on how to adjust the shawls to work with heavier yarns and to customize a design to your personal taste.

Follow Karen Whooley through her website: www.KarenWhooley.com. There is also her Ravelry Designer page. She can be found in other social media locations as well, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can hear Karen’s previous visit to the Yarn Thing podcast in 2014.


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  1. Sabrina Templin says:

    I love soooo many things Italian. I’d love to learn the art of Italian lace work. Thank you for an interesting podcast 🙂

  2. Juanita Quinones says:

    If all the patterns in Garden of Shawls were inspired by italian lace then I would love to make them all.
    Thanks for the opporrunity. Wonderful podcast as always.

  3. Kathy Itson says:

    Italian Lace how inspiring! I have just started crocheting and I would love to do one of your patterns. Thanks for sharing with us. Great podcast.

  4. Michelle says:

    Italian Lace…I would love a shawl pattern called Italian Ice, one of my favorite summer time treats! I see a lemony yellow and lots of open work. Thanks for a wonderful interview ladies.

  5. bookskt19 says:

    Would love to see this book full of Italian lace! Just started recently getting into shawls-this would be perfect! 🙂

  6. Ida Williamson says:

    My Italian grandma taught me to crochet as well and I will definitely check out the Italian Lace!

  7. Elisa Avellana says:

    Loved this book!!! i would looooooove to have it! I have Karen,s bag class from Craftsy and it s excellent!

  8. karla smith says:

    I’m totally with you on crocheting in lighter weight yarn. Excited to hear about Italian lace originating in PacNW!
    Thanks, Marly, for spreading the needle craft word.

  9. Vicki L Lynch says:

    I enjoyed hearing why you love Italian Lace, the story of how you got in the industry and that your publishing company is named for a song your grandpa sang to you.

  10. Melody Corso says:

    I love the podcast and have been a long time listener. I would love to see how Italian lace is done and would love to make some of the lacy shawls! I love listening to the show. Kudos to Marly and Tammy!!!

  11. Alicia A says:

    I would love to try my hand at Italian lace. Fun to listen to the process of making the book. Grandma love!

  12. Amy says:

    It was so nice to hear Karen on the show. I took a class from her several years ago, and have been ogling her book since it came out. I didn’t know her inspiration was Italian lace. Gorgeous.

  13. Colleen McAvoy says:

    I have been trying to learn a variety of lace techniques. My grandmother grew up making Irish Lace Crochet. Italian Lace would just be a wonderful addition to my skill set.

  14. Leanne says:

    The shawls in this book look so pretty. They remind me of Italian lace. I love to crochet, so these patterns seem right up my alley.

  15. jodiebodie says:

    I have loved and appreciated Karen Whooley’s patterns for a long, long, time and would love to see her Italian Lace inspired Garden of Shawls on my bookshelf. It is so beautiful that Karen honours her grandparents with her crochet. Crochet is a great way to feel connected to one’s ancestors. I come from a line of Dutch knitters and crochet and it feels good to be able to continue on the tradition.
    Congratulations, Karen, on your publishing company and its first beautiful book.
    Marly, I totally agree with your back announcement that Karen is so encouraging to others etc. When I was first learning to make socks, I sent her a question and was so thrilled that “the designer herself”responded to my query. Thanks Ladies for a nice podcast today.

  16. Brenda Ocker says:

    Great interview with Karen. Opened me up to a new designer and new ideas. Can’t wait to try some of her Italian Lace patterns and buy her book.

  17. Mary Kay Smith says:

    I’d never heard of Italian lace before this podcast. Can’t wait to check out this beautiful book!

Marly Bird

The One and Only, Marly

Marly is a knitwear and crochet designer (and yarn addict) that is here to help you learn how to knit and crochet in a way that's fun and approachable.

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