Zen and the Art of Orenburg Lace Knitting

Sarah Read, project editor of Interweave Crochet, shares with us her excitement for PieceWork's newest kit.

Knitting an Orenburg piece is much like walking a labyrinth—not the kind where you get lost, the older kind, where the walls guide your feet (or the chart guides your needles) and your mind is free to wander other paths. It’s a meditative experience and one every knitter should try. It’s an exercise in balance and symmetry that is every bit as relaxing as it is engaging.

Galina Khmeleva

Any fan of Orenburg lace knows the designs of Galina Khmeleva. She’s done many incredible lace pieces for PieceWork and Knitting Traditions over the years. Her Snowflake Scarf pattern originally appeared in the January/February 2011 issue of PieceWork, and it has occupied a corner of my mind since I first saw it. It’s the perfect piece for setting off on the Orenburg path, with its fairly simple, but traditional, snowflake motif bordered by diamonds. The pattern is both written out and fully charted.

A Snowflake Scarf by Galina Khmeleva

I haven’t made one yet, but it would appear that now is the time to do it. The PieceWork team has put together a kit for this project, and it’s one that makes me a little weak in the knees. Included are the pattern, the Windy Valley Muskox Quiviut Luxury Blend (quiviut/merino wool/silk), the Signature Needle Arts Needles in the size you need to make it, AND a blocking kit to finish your lace work properly. I’m fairly certain my knitting zen will be even more zen with this kind of luxury in my lap.

I got to see the Windy Valley yarn and the talented Galina at the Wool Market in Estes Park, Colorado, this past summer. I was a little star-struck talking with Galina, so I don’t remember much of our conversation, though I’m sure I said something silly about the pretty things she makes. I do remember the yarn, but I’m not sure if I can quite describe it: When you lift a scarf made with this yarn, you can’t tell that you are holding anything at all, except that your hands are instantly warm. It’s that soft and light, and it’s perfect for Orenburg lace. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I left the yarn up there in the mountains, and I think it’s about time I am reunited with that yarn.

I’m going to tape a picture of the kit to the bathroom mirror in my house, under a paper Christmas tree, as a subtle hint to my family about what mom might like this year! After all, September is not at all too early to think about how I’m going to relax after the holidays.

May your knitting bring you your own zen,


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