This and That

Random bits of my life

Orenburg Shawls

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 31, 2009

My Russian office mate, Masha, brought in her grandmother’s shawls. Vera moved to Orenburg from St. Petersburg in the 1950s as a newlywed, with her husband and mother (Sonya). The shawls all date from this decade. Vera’s husband was working on the St. Petersburg – Orenburg phone line and Vera lived for most of her adult life in Orenburg, until she emigrated to Israel in 1991 (she is now 83 years old; her mother Sonya, who also moved to Israel, died 5 years ago).

Sonya’s Shawl

This shawl belonged to Masha’s great-grandmother, Sonya, and was probably purchased in Orenburg. It is knitted from a strand of spun goat’s down plied with a silk thread. The design is made up entirely of diagonal holes. There are no peas or fish-eyes. The border is the characteristic 5-tooth border.

Hand-knit Gossamer Shawl

Hand-knit Gossamer Shawl

Hand-knit Orenburg Shawl

Vera’s Shawl

This shawl was knitted by a friend of Masha’s grandmother, Vera, as a gift. Although it is also made of goat’s down plied with silk, it is somewhat “hairier” than the purchased shawl. I’ve never seen the central gathered stitch in a diamond frame in any of the books on Orenburg shawls. The border is a simple diagonal border.

Hand-knit Gossamer Shawl

Hand-knit Gossamer Shawl

Machine-Made Shawl

Cheap, machine-knit shawls were made in the Orenburg region from the 1940s onwards.

Update: This is not a machine-made shawl! Its gauge is so fine (9 sts/inch) that I had assumed it was machine knitting but it’s actually hand-knit. See my later posting for details.

Machine-knit shawl

Machine-knit shawl

More information on Orenburg shawls

  • Gossamer Webs: The History and Techniques of Orenburg Lace Shawls
  • The Gossamer Webs Design Collection: Three Orenburg Shawls to Knit

  • 3 Responses to “Orenburg Shawls”

    1. […] Orenburg Shawls […]

    2. Joyce Fong said

      I saw an old Russian lady today, she was wearing an Orenburg shawl which bought from Russian years ago. I never saw a so beautiful shawl before and already gave me a feeling that I want one. Not just buy one but to knit one by myself. Is there anywhere or any way that I can learn how to knit? And where can I buy that goat down yarn? Thanks

      • apinnick said

        There are two books mentioned at the end of this posting by Galina Khmeleva are most useful for teaching yourself to knit these shawls. As for the goat’s down, that is harder to find. You can buy cashmere and cashmere blends at her site,

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