Dora Ohrenstein's "Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments That Really Fit"--and a Giveaway!

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Dora Ohrenstein about her stunning new book: "Custom Crochet Sweaters- Make Garments that Really Fit."  She was nice enough to write the following post and send us a copy of her new book for a giveaway!  Here is what she had to say about her book:  

Dora modeling the
"Shrug Hug" design

I'm so excited about this opportunity to talk to Jimmy Beans blog readers about my new book, Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments That Really Fit.  While there have been a number of excellent books on this topic for knitters, I believe this is the first one offering crocheters in-depth knowledge of how sweaters are put together, and how to alter them when necessary.

It may not be widely known that garment making with crochet has a long and fine history.  Think of the gorgeous Irish Crochet blouses and dresses of the early 20th century!  Even in American magazines of the 40s and 50s, there were plenty of crochet sweaters, dresses, coats and the like.  Only in the decades after that did crochet become more of a "home dec" craft.  Thank goodness, crochet garments are making an awesome comeback.

"Eleganza Raglan"
The lapse caused problems however.  Many skilled crocheters had not learned the knack for following garment patterns, reading schematics closely, and knowing what to do when their measurements are different from the "standard." Since I love designing and making garments best, I wanted to write this book so people could once again be empowered and comfortable with it.

"Shawl Collared
I devote a large section at the beginning of the book to tackling the broad issues that crocheters face:  firstly, taking good measurements of your own body.  The tape measure can be cruel, I know, but truly you can't make a sweater look good if you don't know the dimensions of the body it's going to cover.  There are key measurements at the bust, shoulder, hip, and sleeve that will help you master fit.  

The book also covers how you can measure your store-bought sweaters and learn more about such things as how much ease you like, how low and wide you like your necklines, the depth of your armhole, and other tidbits.  Once you've accumulated all these numbers, you can now examine very closely the schematics for sweaters and see if they need alteration.

"Shrug Hug"
"Floating Tee"
Lots of times people choose a size to make based on their size for store-bought items.  Keep in mind, however, that sizing is always done based on "standard sizing," yet very very few people are actually standard sized!  I find many women have a discrepancy between their bust and shoulder size: the former may be a medium or large, but the shoulders are a small.  If the shoulders on your sweater are larger than your actual shoulders, this will definitely affect the sweater's fit adversely.  The shoulder and neck is where the sweater hangs from, and good measurements here are really important.  This in turn means that altering the armhole may be one of the most important alterations to learn.  That's the area where fabric is removed from the bust to the shoulder.  I devote plenty of space in the book to this particular issue.

There are ten designs in the book, and each is quite different, though all the garments are, I like to think, classics suitable for everyday life that will remain stylish for years to come.  To help readers understand the various types of sweater constructions, I used all the major ones in the book:  Dropped Shoulder, Fitted Sleeve, Vertical (or side to side) Construction, Raglan in pieces, Top Dow Raglan, and Circular Yoke Construction.  Each of these constructions is analyzed, its advantages and disadvantages discussed, as well as potential fitting problems. 

It's funny how people sometimes think they can't wear one or the other type sweater -- but once I teach them how to make it fit, they often change their minds.  Even a very simple, rectangle sweater with no shaping can look fantastic when made to the right dimensions and with a yarn that gives plenty of drape.  

"Cream Puff"
I've gotten great feedback so far on this book, which makes me very happy, of course. Some readers have requested more hands-on attention, so I am offering online classes at my website,, to teach the material that's in the book.  I've taught this class a few times, and you'd be amazed at the gorgeous sweaters that students are making for themselves since taking the class!  If you're interested, please check out the info here:
"Uptown Top"

I will be offering these classes again soon.

If you love crochet but haven't yet ventured into garments, I urge you to take the plunge!  If you already make sweaters but aren't always pleased with how they fit,  I truly believe you'll learn what you need to know in Custom Crocheted Sweaters.  I'm on a mission and seeking others  to join the cause. Holding hooks high, let's show the world how gorgeous crocheted garments can be!

Thank you so much Dora for your insiders look at your book!  For those of you crocheters out there looking to create your own well-fitted garments, this is the book for you!

Now for the fun part.  Dora has graciously given us a copy of her book to give away to one of our lucky readers!  To be eligible, please leave us a comment (one per person please) on this blog post telling us what design from the book you are most excited to crochet!  Cut off time for this giveaway is Sunday evening, 3/18 at 11pm (PST) and the winner will be announced in Jeanne's blog post on Monday.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a happy weekend!


PS.  Have you heard about Stitch Red yet? Check out how you can get involved here.

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  1. I love the sweater on the cover. I'm always going to dinners and that would be prefect
    Deb S. NY

  2. I like Cream Puff and Floating Tee.

  3. I like the floating tee best. It would be light enough to wear here even in the summer.

  4. I like the Uptown Top. My daughter would love it.

  5. I would really like to try the Shawl Collared Tunic. You can really see from the picture the shaping at the waist, something I've never been able to accomplish with crochet. This book sounds perfect.

  6. Cream puff - it would be a great layering piece

  7. I want to make the Floating Tee. It's gorgeous!

  8. Eleganza Raglan is a sweater I would wear often. I love crochet and these patterns look fabulous

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  10. I'm no good at picking just one! :) I would love to make the cream puff, floating tee and the shrug hug. The cream puff might be my favorite though!

  11. The floating tee looks like a fun design, perfect for spring and summer. That purple is great too!

  12. I love the "Eleganza Raglan"!!

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  14. So far I really like Cream Puff for the shape and the stitches. This is a book that I'm sure I would really enjoy! Thanks for the information, and for the giveaway.
    Betsy is the snowy Seattle suburbs

  15. All the sweaters are beautiful & I love that the author show how to make the pattern to fit "you"!

  16. I love these sweaters! What a great variety.

  17. I love that cream puff! I love how popular crochet is becoming.

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  19. Information is pretty good and impressed me a lot. This article is quite in-depth and gives a good overview of the topic. Thanks