Have Ewe Any Wool?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Fabulous and Fascinating Galina!

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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