Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Top-Down Sweaters

One of my favorite designers is Dora Ohrenstein. I have several of her books, and each one is well worth the price. They are more than pattern books. She always includes lots of useful information for learning new skills. Dora's latest book is Top-Down Crochet Sweaters. The top-down style of construction is popular because it allows you to try the sweater on as you crochet it and adjust the fit as needed. I haven't made a lot of top-down sweaters so I was eager to get this book. 

The book contains 14 sweater patterns that are arranged in pairs. The members of each pair share the same basic theme - the style of yoke, either round or raglan, and the stitch pattern. But other than that, they are different sweaters. They're made with different yarns. One may be a pullover while its pair is a cardigan. One might have long sleeves and the other short sleeves. The necklines might vary. I've never seen a book arranged this way, and it's very intriguing. 

One of the most eye-catching designs in the book is Nanette which is featured on the cover. It's a lovely half-sleeved cardigan that can be worn buttoned in the front or the back. It's pair is Erde, a pullover with 3/4 length sleeves. They both use an interesting crossed stitch with plenty of texture.

As I mentioned above, Dora always includes more than patterns in her books. Chapter 1 contains a detailed discussion of top-down construction including the two styles of yoke, neckline shaping, creating the underarms, and adding the sleeves and body. Chapter 2 contains information on choosing an appropriate yarn, swatching to get gauge and achieve your desired drape, and how to block your sweater. Chapter 3 describes how to take your measurements so your finished project will fit the way you want. Dora also explains reading schematics, how different fibers affect fit, and here's the best part - how to make alterations to customize your sweater both in fit and elements of the design. Want a tighter neckline? Dora tells you how to do it. Prefer long sleeves to short sleeves? That's covered too. So is adding waist shaping and adjusting bust size. She even explains how to change a pattern from a pullover to a cardigan. I love this! Dora gives you the tools to make exactly the sweater you want. 

I know I'm going to make several sweaters from this book. I chose Zora, a pullover with lace panels, as my first one for a practical reason. I had appropriate yarn in my stash. The biggest modification I made was to lengthen the half sleeves to full length. I also tightened the neckline a bit and increased the armhole depth all with information contained in this book. I'm very happy with the result.

So, what shall I make next? I think I'd like a cardigan. I have yarn that should work for either Janelle or Magda. I love Janelle's relaxed look, and Magda's cables. I'm going to swatch for both of these patterns and see which which one speaks to me. 

If you're tempted by a sweater or 3 from this book, get yourself a copy and join us in Dora's Crochet Insider group on Ravelry for a crochet along. No worries about starting or ending dates because it's open ended. Some lovely sweaters have been the result so far.

Dora has several earlier books that I also recommend. Custom Crocheted Sweaters tells you how to customize sweaters of various of constructions to achieve your desired fit. Creating Crochet Fabric is a manual on how to take virtually any yarn and get the fabric you want. It's a great resource and includes a small stitch dictionary. See more of Dora's books and individual patterns here

That's it for today. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to leave a comment if you decide to make a pattern from Dora's book.


  1. The Crocheter’s Skill Building Handbook is a great book, too. I think I'll have to get Creating Crochet Fabric.

    Great job on the sweater. All of Dora's designs are lovely.


    1. Thanks, Gina. I have the Skill Building Handbook too. It's another great book.


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