A Tale of Orenburg Lace: Valentina’s Polushawl

A polushawl (polushalok in Russian) is a smaller version of a traditional Orenburg warm shawl.

Elizabeth Prose Feb 11, 2019 - 3 min read

A Tale of Orenburg Lace: Valentina’s Polushawl Primary Image

Detail of “Valentina’s Polushawl to Knit.”

Every fine lace shawl has a beginning—a knitter embarks on a journey accompanied by fine yarn worked with small needles and a pattern. Master Orenburg lace knitter and designer Galina Khmeleva’s “Valentina’s Polushawl to Knit,” featured in PieceWork’s May/June 2017 issue, is no exception. Yet, this shawl’s tale began its journey as a team effort between three women.

Orenburg Lace

Galina Khmeleva’s in-process half-warm shawl, made with luxurious pygora, merino, and silk yarn, is destined to become a family heirloom.

A polushawl (polushalok in Russian) is a smaller version of a traditional Orenburg warm shawl. Galina explains:

  • “This project was the genesis of a collaboration of three women in Orenburg [Russia]—Valentina, Tatiana, and me. My younger sister, Tatiana, suggested that I design a lighter, less bulky version of a classic Orenburg warm shawl, one that could more comfortably be worn under a heavy winter coat but large enough to cover the shoulders and front, extend down to just below the waistline, and reach the third knuckle of the hand.
  • Valentina, younger sister of Orenburg lace knitting legend Olga A. Fedorova, created a newer, more modern version of the classic Orenburg warm shawl. Using thicker yarn but with the classic Orenburg gossamer style, Valentina was able to create a design that used teeth with four holes instead of the usual classic five-hole increase/decrease, thus the teeth became more round than pointed.”

Orenburg lace

An original half-warm shawl made by Valentina Fedorova, using yarn made from Orenburg goats.

The yarn Galina chose to use for her version of the shawl is a scrumptious small batch pygora, merino, and silk-blend yarn from Rainbow Farms Pygora. Pygora is a breed of goat whose luxurious fiber calls to mind kid mohair and fine cashmere. Rainbow Farms Pygora owner Terry Mattison is also a handspinner, dyer, knitter, and weaver. Her goal is to produce an exquisite yarn that showcases the splendid hand of the pygora fiber. The yarn is stunning indeed!

Valentina’s Polushawl to Knit” is now available as an individual downloadable pattern. Embark on a gratifying knitting adventure in Orenburg lace and create this exceptionally wearable and timeless addition to your wardrobe. The ethereal fabric will add a touch of elegance and warmth on the long, cold nights of winter.

Happy lace knitting,

Featured Image: Detail of “Valentina’s Polushawl to Knit”. Photos by George Boe.