For much of Valentina Fedorova’s adult life, she worked in the shadow of her older sister Olga Fedorova, a lace-knitting prodigy. I first met Olga and Valentina in June 1990, during a visit to Orenburg and the Orenburg Regional Museum of Fine Arts. I had the opportunity to develop a close working relationship with Olga, and I was honored to learn from her. At that time, Valentina worked as a bookkeeper for a local gas company, though she continued to develop and foster her creative side.
My early attempts to market Orenburg knitted lace shawls in Europe did not meet with much success: Europe’s mild climate wasn’t suitable for this type of lace, and the local Orenburg women never embraced it. After a subsequent show in Paris, I traveled back to Orenburg to meet with the Fedorova sisters about the prospect of starting production of triangular Orenburg-style shawls. According to some in the local Orenburg knitting community, a triangle-shaped shawl was nothing more than a “poor women’s shawl,” which is reminiscent of an old Russian saying: “a goat is a poor man’s cow.” Nevertheless, the classical Orenburg triangle found its genesis during this period in Olga Fedorova’s creative mind.