NatCroMo 2015, March 4: Dora Ohrenstein

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National Crochet Month

Welcome to Crochetville’s third annual Designer Blog Tour, taking place all throughout March 2015 in celebration of National Crochet Month (NatCroMo). Each day on our blog, you will find 1) in-depth profile posts for two crochet designers, with a link to their blogs so you can see what specials (free patterns, discount coupon codes, tutorials, etc.) they may be offering for NatCroMo, 2) a daily giveaway post with entries open from 8:00 AM CST to 8:00 AM CST the following day, and 3) during the last week of the month, daily posts from a Crochet Guild of America board member. Join us each day for a new surprise!

Today’s Posts: Stacy Vaka, Crochet Kitten | Dora Ohrenstein, Crochet Insider | Daily Giveaway | Halos of Hope Hat Collection | Complete Designer Schedule


Dora Ohrenstein, Crochet Insider

Crochetville is very proud to have designer Dora Ohrenstein of Crochet Insider with us today, March 4, as one of the featured designers on our 2015 Designer Blog Tour in honor of National Crochet Month (NatCroMo).





Dora’s Designs:

If you’re not familiar with her work already, we’d like to share two of Dora’s designs with you.


Galatea Cowl Neck Top, available for $6.00 on Dora’s website

A gorgeous lace top that is worked in the round as a tube, with no shaping. The pattern begins at the bottom and is worked in the round. At the armhole, divide for front and back. Then work again in the round to make the cowl. So simple and pretty!



Tosca’s Tunic, available for $5.00 on Dora’s website

In the Tosca’s Lace Tunic, Dora matched a plain, light worsted weight yarn with a well-defined graphic stitch pattern: a flower surrounded by plenty of air. The strong statement is in the pattern, and the drape of the soft yarn plays a supporting role. Although the stitch pattern is bold, the color is gentle, giving the design both softness and drama. The stitch pattern also employs chain stitches, to connect one flower to the next, adding a linear element. The garment is constructed with vertical rows for a more flattering look.


About Dora:

Dora started crocheting during the Age of Aquarius, that is, in the 1970s. She made some pretty things without really knowing what she was doing, as she learned by doing instead of through formal classes. Dora enjoyed crocheting, but she put her crochet hook down for 25 years while her career path led her into a totally different profession.

If you are a music connoisseur and think you recognize Dora’s name, you probably do! For ten years, she was the solo singer of the Philip Glass Ensemble . If you Google her name and add “soprano”, you’ll find some of the recordings she’s made throughout the years. Dora truly has a beautiful voice. She says, “My performing life has given me excitement, travel and much more to be thankful for.  Now I teach singing at Wagner College in Staten Island, and privately in my home.”

Dora is currently a crochet designer, writer, and teacher, and yes, she’s still a singer.  Her designs have been published in just about every crochet magazine, as well as in several pattern collection books.  She enjoys writing on her website, Crochet Insider, and currently co-writes the newsletter Talking Crochet for Annie’s. She has published five books on crochet: Crochet Insider’s Passion for Fashion, Creating Crochet Fabric, Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments that Really Fit, The New Tunisian Crochet, and her newest book, The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop, which I’ll tell you more about a little later.

One of Dora’s particular interests is the history of crochet, a lamentably neglected field. Dora has taken quite a few trips to other parts of the world to investigate the beginnings of crochet and how it evolved in other countries. She’s had articles about her trips published in several crochet magazines. Please check her Archive pages on her website for some truly fascinating reading on the History of Crochet and her Textile Travels.

Dora currently  lives in Manhattan on the upper West side, across the street from the Museum of Natural History and a block from Central Park. Dora is lucky enough to fabulous fashion every day, which often inspires her crochet. She says, “My one room studio apartment, where I also teach singing, is filled to the ceiling moldings with music and yarn.” Some day, I’d love to visit with her in New York City, so we could share a trip through Mood Fabric of Project Runway fame, spending lots of time in their button department!


Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop:


I will start off by saying that I have all five of Dora’s books on my crochet bookshelf. They are all fabulous, and I’ve learned something from every single one of them. I believe Dora’s latest book, The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop, is one most crocheters, and especially designers, are going to want to add to their own bookshelves.


The Techniques section of the book covers the following topics:

  1. Choosing Yarns
  2. The Crochet Toolbox
  3. Controlling Tension (a whole chapter on consciously altering gauge)
  4. Fundamental Techniques (including alternatives to standard turning chains and 13 ways of looking at insertion points)
  5. Shaping and Construction in Crochet
  6. Crochet in the Round
  7. Advanced Shaping (achieving shaping in complex stitch patterns and more)
  8. Texture
  9. Crochet in Color
  10. Finishing Techniques



This book is much more of a reference book and not so much a pattern book. However, Dora has included five different patterns that will help you put into practice some of the skills you will learn. Here are just some of the skills you can practice with the patterns in the book:

  1. Slouchy Hat: controlling tension on tall stitches, achieving drape with heavier yarn weights
  2. Marguerite Cowl: foundation single crochet, controlling and changing tension when working different stitches
  3. Colorwork Bag: changing colors, working in the round, finishing details
  4. Lace Capelet: sophisticated shaping techniques
  5. Cabled Lace Scarf: selecting the right yarn to achieve drape, post stitches, slip stitch seam


My Favorite Part of This Book:

Over recent years, I’ve had several discussions with fellow designers about the distinct lack of any good resource books that discuss how to achieve shaping when working with complex stitch patterns. It’s fairly easy to achieve complicated shaping if you limit yourself to the basic single crochet stitch. But when you want to branch out to more complicated stitch patterns such as pineapples, shells, and stitch patterns that involve quite a few stitches and/or rows per pattern repeat, figuring out how to add or remove another pattern repeat can be enough to make you tear your hair out. I was so happy to see that Dora has devoted an entire chapter to achieving shaping with complex stitch patterns.

First, however, she starts with a chapter that covers the basics of shaping with crochet. She explains both the why and the how of achieving shaping. She even walks you through a couple of examples of the math involved in figuring out where to place your shaping. After covering the basics, Dora moves into the specifics of advanced shaping.

She covers shaping the V stitch, textured stitches, and how to work with half-pattern repeats. Dora then moves on to discuss shaping a multi-row pattern. While Dora provides examples using specific stitch patterns, you’ll be able to her notes and tips to help you figure out shaping for other stitch patterns as well.

In addition to covering shaping at the ends of rows, Dora provides a lot of detailed information on internal shaping as well. You’ll learn how to change the size of pattern repeats, how to add shaping in columns, how to build internal pattern repetitions, and how to incorporate short rows into your work.


Who Needs This Book

Personally, I think every crocheter will find this book a valuable resource to add to their collection. If you’re brand-new to crochet, you’ll learn how to select the best yarn for your project, how to get control of your tension, and a number of fundamental techniques that will help you develop your crochet skills quickly. More advanced crocheters will find information about crocheting in the round, textured stitches, working with different colors, and finishing techniques to further improve their skills. Current designers and those who are thinking about creating their own designs and patterns will find invaluable information on shaping.

Buy Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop now on Amazon!


Visit Dora’s Blog: NatCroMo Sneak Peek


You will definitely want to visit Dora’s blog post today! She’ll be talking a bit more about the importance of tension in your work and why it’s a good thing to develop the ability to consciously control your tension to achieve different effects. Dora will also talk more about advanced shaping techniques and how important shaping is to creating high-fashion garments with plenty of drape.



Find Dora Online:

Ravelry: crochetinsider (must be logged in to view profile)

Crochet Insider website:

Crochet Insider blog:

Ravelry Designer Page:




Additional Blog Tour Information:

Icons via and


36 thoughts on “NatCroMo 2015, March 4: Dora Ohrenstein”

  1. It’s so neat how you started with a completely different career and you fill so many different shoes. I don’t see how you do it, I’m lucky if I get a little time a day to crochet. All your work is so beautiful.

  2. The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop is a great book–I requested the local library buy it as I wanted to see what I thought of it, and quickly went out and bought my own copy after spending some time looking through it.

  3. The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop is a great book and I love The New Tunisian, too! It’s a delight to read about you and see your work. Visi D’Arte is one of my favorite arias so Tosca’s Tunic has particular resonance. Your travels and commitment to exploring and documenting are a profound contribution,especially as certain traditions fade. Fabulous lady!


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