This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘Orenburg’

Orenburg Honeycomb Scarf

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 3, 2012

Honeycomb Scarf

I need another knitting project, right? Actually, I had a problem — I have two balls of lace-weight yarn (blue Jaggerspun Zephyr and a ball of purple machine-knitting yarn), not enough to make a scarf individually, but together they will be sufficient. I’ve alternated two rows of blue with two rows of purple. I wanted another lace project, one that I could carry around and wouldn’t require a chart.

I found the gauge to be a little “off” from my own. I am using size 2 (2.75 mm) needles and cast on 106 stitches for a 19″ wide scarf or shawl. The original pattern called for 130 stitches, which produced much too wide a shawl. If I had access to more of this yarn I might have knitted it as a stole, but I was concerned that I wouldn’t have enough yarn to complete the project.

The “Orenburg Honeycomb Lace Scarf to Knit,” by Galina A. Khmeleva, is published inĀ PieceWork magazine (May/June 2010). At the moment, this back issue is still in stock. It’s their third annual lace issue, with an article on Herbert Niebling and a pattern for the lovely bag on the cover.

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Sometimes Things Don’t Work Out…

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 22, 2010


This is the square Orenburg shawl, moments before it was unraveled. It didn’t work out. See those deformed cats’ paws near the needle? That was the final straw. I finally faced the fact that this yarn, needle, and pattern were not a happy match.

The linen thread was working but not quite. It’s a little too slubby to knit up evenly. Sometimes I had to peel off 3-inch-long bits of unspun flax. I’m not sure the 2 mm nickel-plated Inox needle was such a good choice. It was a bit too slippery for me to knit fine yarn evenly and I think possibly it was a bit too small, although I did like the hole size in the swatches. The flip side is that if I were to have chosen a larger needle, the finished shawl would have been the size of a tablecloth. So either way there’s a trade-off. One thing’s for sure — I’m going to go back to my trusty, ancient aluminum-coated needles for my next attempt. You haven’t heard the last of this!

Shawl being unraveled with a ball-winder:


The former shawl, reduced to its elements. The linen is a nice yarn but better suited for fine weaving. NO, I am not going to look for a 32-dent reed for my table loom so that I can knit a bunch of napkins. This thread would work for a doily or tablecloth, preferably knit from the center outwards. The thread doesn’t have enough stretch for knitting off the edging selvedge.


The next possible substitute. I’ve had this yarn in my stash for about 15 years. It was an impulse buy in London on one of my first visits after I married an Englishman. Tonight I’ll cast on some stitches and see how the tension works with a 3 mm needle. Or maybe 2.5 mm.


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Locked Out & Modeling the Orenburg Shawl

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 1, 2010

Masha and I got locked out of our new office this morning.

Wait, back up, Avital.

In our last installment of the Adventures of Yinnon and Masha (Yinnon’s birthday party), I mentioned that Yinnon and Masha were moving out of my room to the seventh floor. They finally moved at the end of last week. The big surprise was that I went with them. Two other technical writers were asked to move into the new room so that their seats could be given to systems engineers. One of the writers got quite upset about having to move. I had a look at the new room and decided to offer my old place to the miffed tech writer and move upstairs to be with my old office mates. (I wouldn’t move for just anyone, guys! I’ve been in that room for three years and loved it.) The fourth person, Chaim, was also a former office mate in that tiny office in the corner, so we all know each other’s foibles.

Chaim gave me a key to the room last night and I left it on my desk. We never locked our old room, so it never occurred to me that I would actually need to use it. Masha hadn’t yet come in since last week so she didn’t have a key. Chaim left last yesterday and locked the door.

We called security and waited. And waited.

I set up my tripod (which just proves that a girl should never go any place without her tripod) and cable release while the executives started arriving and went into the conference room at the end of the hall. We have a room in executive row, which is why we have a nice couch and painting above it; the rest of the building doesn’t look like this.

I took pictures. We were feeling sorry for ourselves. I’m on the right, in the green hat.


Locked out of our room


Locked out of our room

Security guy: “This is really your room?”


The real reason I brought in my tripod and cable remote was so that I could photograph myself wearing the new shawl. So here it is, folks — me and the shawl.

Orenburg shawl

Oops — camera angle is a little low. Took this shot before I remembered to raise the tripod.

Orenburg shawl

Orenburg shawl

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Finished Orenburg Shawl

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 31, 2010

Orenburg shawl

On the blocking wires:

Orenburg shawl

I’m not sure when I started this shawl but it’s been on the needles for far too long. Last night I realised that I only had another 7 inches of the upper edging, so I sat and knitted it until I came to the end. Then I turned the corner and grafted the last stitches. Ugh. I don’t think I will ever love the Russian method of grafting stitches!

The mitered corner is, in my opinion, a bit too tight for a 45-degree corner at the ends of the triangular shawl, although it works for the 90-degree corner at the bottom. I had to block the corners into submission to get them to lie flat. I also had difficult with the length of the edging matching the diagonal upper edge of the shawl. Maybe I knitted the edging tighter than the body but it had to be stretched rather hard during the blocking stage to eliminate puckering.

The shawl pattern is from Gossamer Webs Design Collection: Three Orenburg Shawls to Knit. I will probably try the square medallion shawl in this collection in the future.

I just had a look at my previous postings on the subject. It looks like I started in August.


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Orenburg Warm Shawl

Posted by Avital Pinnick on September 2, 2009

This is an update on my previous Orenburg shawl blog entry. I was very lucky that Masha hadn’t yet taken her grandmother’s shawls home. I had a closer look at the grey shawl, which I had originally assumed was machine-knit. I wanted to check the borders to see whether they were hand-knit and I discovered that the entire shawl is a hand-knit “warm” shawl. It was carelessness on my part, but I had assumed it was machine-knit because of its very fine gauge (9 stitches = 1 inch over the garter stitch center) and exceptionally even tension in the lace sections. Also, the fuzziness of the goat hair made it difficult to see the stitches clearly and even more difficult to photograph them. Masha saw me struggling with the shawl corner in one hand, the camera in the other, holding them in front of the window so that the light would shine through the knitting, and she offered to be my extra pair of hands.

Corner detal:

Orenburg warm shawl

The grafting, which is how Orenburg shawls are finished, is visible in the upper right. The seam at the right side of the photo shows where the shawl’s stitches were picked up from the edging but, interestingly, the side edgings were not knitted at the same time as the main body of the shawl, from end to end. The were grafted on afterwards on three sides, it appears. If you have difficulty finding the references in the photo, click the photo to go to the original Flickr page. I’ve provided notes on the photo itself.

Where the goat’s down has worn away in spots, it is possible to see the grey cotton thread that was plied with the strand of goat’s down. The border pattern is simple but qutie attractive.

Orenburg warm shawl

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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

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    Miniature Orenburg Shawl, 2002

    Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 18, 2009

    Miniature Orenburg Shawl, 2002

    I made this shawl in 2002. It was worked on size .5 mm (8/0) needles with 140/2 cotton thread. It measures 5.5 x 1.75 inches and weighs 607 milligrams. It was a donation to Leigh Witchel’s annual benefit auction for his ballet company, Dance As Ever. It sold for $60.

    I had almost forgotten about this piece. I was reminded by my current knitting project, a full-size triangular Orenburg shawl.

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    Triangular Orenburg Shawl

    Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 18, 2009

    I haven’t knitted for ages. Last week I started a triangular Orenburg shawl.

    Triangular Shawl

    The Gossamer Webs Design Collection: Three Orenburg Shawls to Knit

    I had some fingering weight yarn, not quite enough for a square shawl, definitely not enough for a sweater. It’s been a while since I knitted an Orenburg shawl and my grafting skills are rusty. According to this book, the Russian shawl knitters use 7-8 inch straight needles. How on earth do they manage to keep track of the patterns if they never see the shawl spread out? It must require very careful counting.

    That reminds me of a miniature shawl I knitted years ago.

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