I recommend LionsBrand.com website to inexperienced but enthusiastic knitters, as well as the more experienced looking for gift ideas to crochet or knit. If you sign up for their free on-line monthly newsletter, details of all the latest fashion accessories are shown as well as the latest yarns. Lions Brand make a reasonably priced yarn in many, many colors and textures and may be found at Walmart as well as more up-scale yarn shops. The knobby Homespun is particularly forgiving and my shawls have that wonderful textured surface.
My personal compulsion is to knit shawls and give them away to those who are hurting, needy, grieving, etc. It is my Prayer Shawl Ministry that enables me to tangibly comfort someone who needs comfort.