Guest Blogger: Dora Ohrenstein (and a Giveaway!)

Please help me in welcoming crochet maven and designer extraordinaire, Dora Ohrenstein to the Universal Yarn blog! Dora is the author of numerous crochet books, including her latest, “Top-Down Crochet Sweaters.”


I’m going to let Dora take it away, but I’ll be back at the end of the post with details on how you can win a copy of her new book plus yarn to make one of the gorgeous projects inside!

One of the constant themes in my new book, Top Down Crochet Sweaters, is the importance of choosing great yarns for crochet garments. We all know that crochet is sometimes compared unfavorably to knitting when it comes to garment-making. Why is that?  Crochet stitches were born in the 19th century to imitate hand-made laces and were worked with very thin threads on slender hooks. As the 20th century unfolded, hobbyists turned increasingly to yarn, and some of the nuance of crochet, blown up to larger proportions, was lost. Of course crochet can look great even at a larger scale, but one has to choose pliable yarns, usually in weights thinner than worsted.  My favorites are DK, sport and fingering weight yarns.  

Today we have so many choices of yarn weights and fibers that one can make absolutely stunning crochet garments. Fibra Natura’s Infusion Handpaints is a great example of a DK that works beautifully in crochet.  Its fibers are acrylic and wool, and in this case they have been spun to such perfection that the resulting yarn is as soft and supple as one could wish for.  That’s why I chose it for the pullover called Zora from my book.


Excerpted from Top-Down Crochet Sweaters © Dora Ohrenstein. Photography by © Melinda DiMauro

It uses simple double crochet clusters as the main stitch, adorned with vertical panels of more open lace. Increases are plotted throughout each row, rather than at raglan points, resulting in a yoke that ends with a smooth curve with no raglan points. Because of this, you can divide it up for body and sleeves in any way you like. It’s a great way to get the dimensions that work best for you.

I used another Universal Yarn, Whisper Lace for the garment called Rosina. 


Excerpted from Top-Down Crochet Sweaters © Dora Ohrenstein. Photography by © Melinda DiMauro

Here I wanted to feature a large lace pattern called Peacock Stitch. The size of the stitch pattern dictated the choice of a thinner yarn. I love how Whisper Lace looks with this stitch — it’s slight fuzziness lends a softness to the stitch pattern. To make a more solid fabric for the body I used double treble stitches so the garment works up suprisingly fast. 

As the title implies, all the garments in my book are worked top down. If you’re inspired to get going on Zora or Rosina, please join me at my ravelry group for a CAL on this sweater and others from Top Down Crochet Sweaters. Here’s a link:

I think you’ll be very pleased with these fabulous Universal yarns, and how lovely a crochet sweater can be!

Thanks, Dora! This really is a beautiful book with extremely wearable garments inside. Want to win a copy? How about some yarn? We’ve teamed up with Dora to offer two lucky winners a copy of her new book, Top-Down Crochet Sweaters plus enough Whisper Lace or Infusion Handpaints to make Rosina or Zora (love those project names!).

Here’s how you can win:

  • Leave a comment on this post telling us what your favorite thing to crochet is. Be sure to enter your email address so we have a way to contact you!
  • This offer is only open to US residents.
  • You have until Friday, October 7th at 12:00 am EST to leave a comment.
  • Two comments will be selected at random. Winners will be announced the following Monday back here on the blog.

52 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Dora Ohrenstein (and a Giveaway!)”

  1. I love making crochet garments; top-down sweaters almost exclusively. The designs in this book are fantastic, and I can see these becoming classic pieces in my wardrobe.

  2. My favorite thing to crochet is shawls but winter is coming and I plan to make a sweater from Dora’s exciting new book. I hope Universal helps me with my decision.

  3. I love crocheting sweaters. I have known Dora’s work for some time and enjoy the detail she offers in her patterns. The peacock stitch dress looks like something I need to do asap. I would use cool ripples in whisper lace. The color way would look great!

  4. I love to try different patterns. I have top down, C2C sweater, capes, shawls etc. If its pretty and catches my eye,I will give it a try.

  5. I was drawn to Dora via a greatman,Charles Voth! He’s a designer and writer on crochet and knitting! Plus a great teacher!!
    I mainly make clothing,but have done blankets to lapghans to Aminas,and graphghans too. But top down tops are my favorite to make❤❤

  6. I love to crochet with fingering weight yarn, making cowls, coverups, scarves. I recently made a shawl using Whisper and loved it!

  7. I learned to crochet so I could crochet garments. I learned to work top-down so that is my preferred working direction. I love using beautiful yarns for my garments. No squeaky yarns for me, please! 🙂

  8. My absolute favorite things to crochet are infinity scarves, because I find them so versatile in my wardrobe, from dressy to casual.

  9. Favorite thing so far is amigurumi animals for foster kids and for kids undergoing chemo. Favorite yarn, Universal, Batik. Love it!

  10. I tend to make more hats than anything. I have used patterns from Dora Ohrenstein as inspiration. The items she make do not tend to look old fashioned like some do.

  11. My favorite thing to crochet depends on my mood. Sometimes I want a beautiful shawl. Other times I want something small and portable so I choose a scarf or fingerless mitts. Right now, I find my wardrobe short on nice sweaters. So guess what I’ll be crocheting!

  12. In the past my favorite thing to make were purses, but I made my first crocheted top,this summer and now I’m really excited about crocheted clothing.

  13. After crocheting for 25+ years never making anything for myself I have discovered I love making sweaters for myself and making what I have termed selfish crochet.

  14. My favorite things to make are blankets, mostly grannies . I started out with scarfs because they were easy. I ventured into hats and mittens. I have not made any vests or sweaters, but would love to venture out further. Thanks so much for the giveaway.

  15. This is definitely my passion is making garments. I crochet in my mothers honor and memory she could make such beautiful lace tablecloths, and doilies where her favorite todo but she could do anything and I miss her deeply!!! I have honored my blog to her, come over and learn why I call it that Im just starting out and am still learning how to do all this blogging stuff so forgive my mess lol but my contact email is thank you so much for the chance to win this fabulous book!

  16. I will try anything as long as I have a written pattern. At this point in my life, age 60, I have made just about anything offered in crochet. I am trying to get my nerves up to design my own sweater pattern from a friend’s knitted sweater that she bought. I just haven’t had the opportunity to work on it. I am working full time once again, working on 3 projects at the same time. I take a project to work and work on it when I have down time, I have a second project at my bedside to work on before I go to sleep, and one by my favorite chair to work on in the living room.

  17. I’ve been crocheting most of my life ~ I just love making something different ~ I’m learning sweaters now ~ love love love ~ ♡

  18. I’m a sucker for a gorgeous granny square. Easy to tote around and so many flower ones! Sweaters are the next challenge on my list. ^^;

  19. Mine favorite to crochet right now is sweaters scarves and hats being I’m a cancer survivor… I give to our cancer center here

  20. My favorite thing to crochet is a baby blanket. Big enough to get a good rhythm going but without taking forever.

  21. My absolute favorite crocheted item to make is doilies. However I don’t make because I’ve run out of recipients 🙂

  22. I love making accessories – hats, headbands, cowls, boot cuffs. They make great gifts that people seem to appreciate.

    I have been thinking lately that I need to start making more things for ME. I realized this when I was wearing an acrylic hat from WalMart when I was driving around to pass out hand crocheted accessories to a group of friends at a Christmas party……

  23. I have to choose a favorite?! I like variety and rarely make the same thing twice. I seem to gravitate to shawls/shawlettes though. =)

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