Because I'm leagues-deep in sweater mode right now, I favourite a ton of sock and shawl patterns on Ravelry. I tell myself -- and this is probably going to end up being inaccurate -- that I can knit shawls and socks again in three months, once the Year of Twelve Sweaters is over. One of the ones I've saved is Reyna, a simple and beautiful pattern for a variegated sock yarn. One skein is kind of my default for sock yarn, when I find something too lovely to leave behind but for which I have no idea what to make. One skein of sock yarn is a good compromise, as it could become a pair of socks, a pair of mitts, a shawl or cowl, or it could be coupled with another skein of sock yarn to make something striped. Basically, it's enough to make something nice, without making you commit to investing hundreds of dollars in yarn before you even know what you want to make.
Noora Laivola's free shawl pattern, Reyna, is the answer to my wishes. I would think it's best suited to variegated, handpainted, or semi-solid colourways, because the lace pattern would show those off best, and it will maximize the use of your single skein of yarn, since it's knit from the top down. It's available for free on Ravelry in three languages (English, French, and German), and the pattern sheets even include a little bonus section tracker.
Images by Noora Laivola