Have Ewe Any Wool?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Fabulous and Fascinating Galina!

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Wow....This year has been the year of incredible retreats and incredible classes and workshops. Last Friday, Galina Alexandrovna Khmeleva of Skaska Designs came to Leesburg to teach a full weekend of workshops sponsored by the Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers guild (one of the local guilds I belong to).

On Friday evening, Galina taught a workshop on "Spinning in the Russian Tradition" and then Saturday and Sunday she taught a full two day workshop on lace knitting - Orenburg Lace. I was only able to attend the spinning workshop due to schedule conflicts, but I'm hoping she'll be teaching again in the area in the next year or two so I can take the lace knitting class!

The method of spinning for lace making is very different from any other spindle spinning I've done. This spinning method uses a supported spindle. The spindle rests in a bowl and then you spin. It took a bit of practice, but I think we all finally got it! You can literally spin anywhere....even in the car! How cool is that?

The class covered fiber preparation (cleaning/aligning fibers), spinning, plying, and setting the twist in addition to some educating us about the various fibers and their pros/cons. She displayed many wonderful examples of shawls out of all the luxury fibers. Some of the examples were also used to display "what not to do" - something that many instructors seem to forget.






Cleaning and aligning the fibers









Spinning in the Russian Tradition


Plied ball (below)






Galina is a marvelous teacher - full of many tips and hints. Her style is very engaging and she's a fabulous story teller as well. We learned so much! The presentation of the material was fabulous - she'd teach, then we'd try it, then she'd teach some more. My head is absolutely crammed full of the wonderful knowledge garnered from this class. One student had never spun before - and she seemed to have mastered the technique as well - proof positive that Galina is a fabulous teacher! If you ever get the chance, you definitely should take one of her classes!


I only had one of Galina's books ("The Gossamer Webs Design Collection"), so I had to purchase the other one, "Gossamer Webs - The History and Techniques of Orenburg Lace Shawls" which covers the entire process of creating a shawl - including a wealth of information on the spinning techniques. I also bought 3 spindles and a bowl. I believe I'm all set for creating an Orenburg shawl - all that's left to do is to practice spinning until I've mastered the process!

Galina had some fabulous fibers and yarns for sale. I took full advantage of the opportunity to purchase some luxury fibers. I also picked up a couple of skeins of yarn - some Merino lace yarn as well as some spun silk lace weight for plying with the luxury fibers.

The fibers I purchased were incredible. I'm definitely set for a while and have enough fibers to create a few shawls - I just need to get busy spinning! The fibers are (from left to right):

  • Australian Cashmere
  • Qiviuk (aka Qiviut)
  • Camel/Silk
  • Yak



Post Script - The funniest part of the day was realizing that I had met and talked to Galina on numerous occasions over the years. My latest encounter was the 3 days that I had spent in Rhinebeck at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. I had spent my entire time at a booth directly across from hers, chit-chatted with her when we got the chance, and always thought of her as the "Orenburg Lace Lady" - it never occurred to me that she was "THE Orenburg Lace Lady"!!! When she arrived to teach the class, we both did double takes - until that point, I hadn't realized that she was Galina! We got quite a laugh out of it!

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