Let's look at the main types of classic downy products and indicate their differences from each other.
In fact, all of them are ideal for some specific purpose. Some of them are warmer, while the main task of others is to demonstrate a beautiful pattern and knitter's craftsmanship.
Main types of downy products:
SQUARE SHAWL, LACY SHAWL, STOLE
SQUARE DOWNY SHAWL
Initially, there was only one type of downy products - a square downy shawl.
Historically, this very item became the ancestor of the entire craft. A square shawl unites the best properties of goat down and the skill of knitters.
It makes a great combination of warmth and beauty.
This is a fairly dense and warm item. Its production is done with the use of cotton-based yarn with high down content. The yarn makes the product warm and durable. A square shawl is able to protect from severe frost; it is highly wind-resistant. Another feature of the shawl is the presence of a pattern not only on the edge, but also in the central part.
That is, a square shawl is the starting point for all other types of downy products. It's warm, beautiful (has a pattern knitted all over its surface), not very heavy yet not web-like either. In other words, a shawl is a versatile item that will not let you freeze, and that will also let you surprise others with the beauty of its patterns.
Now we will compare all other types of downy products to this shawl.
A shawl or a warm square shawl is the warmest item out of all types of Orenburg downy products. The concept appeared already in the 20th century
Its main purpose is to warm its owner (female or sometimes male, for one forgets about prejudice when it's freezing outside) from cold weather. The product is so warm that it will easily protect you when the outside temperature is -30 and even -35 °C.
The item is densely-knitted, and the used yarn is thick and cotton-based. As a result, the weight of a 130x130 cm product is usually 600-800 grams. This concentration of down is the guarantee that the shawl will not let you freeze in any weather.
The composition of a shawl is more modest than that of a square shawl; usually the pattern is located only on the border and close to it. Shawls can be fairly regarded as being most plain in terms of pattern, because usually their main purpose is to provide warmth, and the beauty of such product is secondary. However, lately there appeared a tendency to decorate downy shawls with complex, elaborate patterns. Still, the purpose of a shawl is to provide warmth, and usually a border pattern is enough, because the border is the only decorative element seen when a shawl is worn. This is due to the fact that a shawl is usually folded diagonally and worn on the head like a triangular scarf.
So, let's sum up: a shawl is very warm, but do not expect to see any complex artistic patterns.
Lacy shawls are also a new type of downy products. Like a shawl, the concept came into use only in the 20th century.
An lacy shawl is basically a thin gossamer downy shawl. It is not as warm as its "older sibling", but its patterns are often a work of art.
Due to the fact that its yarn is based on natural silk, an lacy shawl turns out very elastic, soft and silky. This yarn allows knitters to make works of art that differ in a variety of patterns, complexity of composition and elegance of appearance.
An lacy shawl is the most beautiful and delicate out of all types of downy products. It is not as warm as a square shawls or a regular shawl, but its pattern is usually superior because of its beauty and variety of its elements. Although one should not think that an a-jour shawl doesn't mean warmth. You can wear it in the bitter cold - in fact, it will be much warmer than any knitted (or maybe even fur) hat. But still, a regular shawl is more suitable for severe frosts.
So, an lacy shawl is always beautiful and airy, but not as warm as a shawl.
A stole is a completely new concept in the history of Orenburg down-knitting. Stoles started to be made in the Soviet times. They appeared not as a tribute to fashion, but due to the working-hour norms.
Often those knitters who knitted a-jour shawls had to work in accordance to specific workload plans - and produce a certain number of knitted goods. So, in order to make the process and production time more efficient, the so-called "halves" appeared. This was the way to name one half of an a-jour shawl. A shawl of rectangular shape that started to look like a scarf later on.
According to its properties, a stole is basically an a-jour shawl, only of rectangular, not square, shape. That is, a stole is, in fact, a light warm downy shawl with a beautiful composition of patterns.
One of the main advantages of a stole is its practical size. You can wear this shawl almost everywhere, it won't be a burden to its owner and will fit into a handbag easily.
So, a stole is a rectangular lacy shawl - a convenient and practical accessory that does not take up much space and is warm enough to protect its owner even from severe frost.
Finally, one should also bear in mind that various downy products have different purposes and look different, too - different kinds of downy products are usually knitted by different people. That is, if a knitter makes dense shawls, she won't be able to knit an lacy shawl just as skillfully. Back in the Soviet times, the cooperatives of knitters officially divided their masters into the teams of shawl-makers (those who knitted warm square shawls and regular shawls) and lacy-shawl-makers (those who knitted lacy shawls and stoles). This, once again, confirms the fact that the ability to knit downy products of a certain type is a special art that requires both talent and years of practice.
New kinds of downy products have been appearing lately – ponchos, capes, cardigans, snoods, hoods and many others. But since they are more of a response to fashion trends, rather than classic Orenburg products, we will analyze their features in other articles. However, you will find such products in our catalog, too.