Monday, October 25, 2010


Last Friday we drove up to Fletcher, NC (near Asheville) but not to attend the Tractor Show.

This was my first time to visit SAFF; Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. It was a wonderful experience and I didn't even make it to the Sheep-to-Shawl event or any of the livestock shows or sheep shearing demonstrations.

Weather was delightful, but, as you can see, fall foliage must not have been at its peak. That's OK as I was not there primarily for leaf peeping.

I was lucky enough to land a spot in one of Galina Khmeleva's classes; the fundamentals of Orenburg knitted lace, an all-day class on Saturday.

I've mentioned before that I've enjoyed all the "Piecework" articles on Orenburg knitting history and Galina's patterns. I've read, reread, and studied the patterns and charts, but frankly have been more than a little intimidated by them. I'm not a stranger to fine yarn and tiny needles, but these have a completely different construction than anything else I've tried.

Here was the set-up in the McGough Arena:

Workshops were held inside those portable dividers in the center of the arena - except if you'll notice closely (you may have to click to enlarge) areas 9 and 10 (you see only 10 marked in the top left of the photo) had only partial makeshift screenings. When I first spotted this on Friday I worried that the distractions would be too great and also that I wouldn't be able to hear.

I worried needlessly. It was GREAT. Galina is a champion instructor, not only thoroughly expert on the Orenburg shawl history and technique, but an excellent teacher, superbly prepared, and able to overcome any shortcomings in the surroundings. Truly once we started, I never even noticed the vendors or visitors.

Besides being such an enthusiastic and excellent teacher, she's so much FUN and has a great sense of humor. It was a such a delight to be in her class and a huge treat to get to see and touch so many of her amazing shawls.

We worked a couple of the traditional motifs, reviewed the others, and also learned to turn the corners. She made it all seem so easy and, indeed, repeatedly assured us that it was so.

So I am back at home now and I hope to have time in the weeks to come to complete the small sample shawl as a learning project. It isn't a shawl really but a miniature example that incorporates all the elements of a large project. I'm struggling but I keep hearing Galina's encouraging words.

If you are at all interested in this type of knitting, keep your eyes open for her workshops at events in your area. In the meantime, there's an excellent interview with her on this podcast.


YesterUkes said...

I didn't know there was livestock involved with SAFF. Might get hubby to go sometime. We just won't show him the "not the tractor show" sign.

Paula said...

Maybe she will be at Stitches Midwest next year. I appreciate your review of the class. It sounds right up my knitting alley!

Mary said...

What a thrill this must have been! I know you'll master the Orenburg lace shawl.

Sheri said...

So much fun, and so interesting! Have fun!!!!

minipurl said...

Looks like awesome stuff :)