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Watch the video episode to learn about the centuries-old tradition of Orenburg lace knitting.

First this video is taking you for a look around the region of Orenburg. You will hear a few fun historical facts about the area. Put them down.

Then you will learn about the famous craftsmanship goat down shawl originated in the Orenburg Region. It is promoted by scholars, researchers, and enthusiasts of folk Russian arts and crafts. Create a glossary to build terminology for a short presentation about this craft.

Finally, the art historian mentioned a few tricks that can help professional knitters not to fall asleep while knitting. What are these tricks?

The name Оренбург comes from the German word “Ohren”, which means "ears“ and “Burg”, meaning fortress. Orenburg is simultaneously situated in two parts or the world, Europe and Asia. There’s a bridge in the city that goes across the Ural River that defined geographically as the border between two continents.

Pushkin visited Orenburg in 1833 during a research trip for his book The History of Pugachev and left an extensive geographical, ethnographical and historical survey of the area. He also discovered Pugachev for the Russian reader. Having described the Pugachev uprising in his short novel The Captain’s Daughter, Pushkin concentrated on major shift in Russia's cultural history. He analyzed the complex interplay of culture and hisotry of that moment revealing neutral historical perspective on Catherine the Great's attempt to efface all memory of Yemelyan Pugachev, the frightening rebel who ravaged the area.

The very intricate style of knitting extremely thin lace was originated in Orenburg area about 300 years ago. The first mentions of Orenburg shawls date as far as 17-th century. Catherine the Great, called the shawls, ‘little works of art, fit for a queen’ and she had several examples. Russians that settled in Ural Mountain area needed warm clothing made from goat down to withstand the severe winters. Knitting was an easy way for most women to create a warm, serviceable shawl. Many women began producing these shawls for sale in the 19th century to help supplement income. In 1857, at the International Exhibition in Paris оренбургские пуховые платки Orenburg down shawls were presented for the first time to the public abroad and received international acclaim.

The Orenburg Lace is made with hair of the native goats. The hair is combed, not cut, spun and then knit into spectacular shawls. The goat hair yarn is called down and is frequently plied with silk. The down hair of Orenburg goats is the thinnest in the world – 16-18 micrometer, and that of Angora goats (mohair) is 22-24 micrometer. The thinness of hair is partly due to the severe snowy winters of the Ural mountain steppes, along with particular qualities of feed and living.

Orenburg shawls are still knitted today with many of the same designs as the mid-nineteenth century. Shawl could be very basic, made with simple knit and purl stitches or ornate with geometric and nature designs worked into the knitting or with decorative borders. These shawls are usually a single color, and should be square and very fine. Many can be stored in a glass jar, or the shawl can slide through a wedding band. They are delicate, fuzzy lace that is very lightweight. A good knitter can knit two платки kerchiefs – паутинки (“spider lines”) of medium size or three tippets a month. It will take a month or more to knit a large shawl or a kerchief with a pattern or inscription. Because of the high cost of down hair and yarn, an original hand-made Orenburg shawl or kerchief is an expensive item.

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