Review & Giveaway: “Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments That Really Fit” by Dora Ohrenstein

Dora Ohrenstein's "Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments that Really Fit"

ENTRIES FOR THE GIVEAWAY ARE NOW CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who participated! I enjoyed reading all your responses. A winner will be selected at random later on today. Good luck everyone!


Making crocheted sweaters can be a daunting challenge for a novice wanting to improve his or her skills. It’s risky business to spend lots of money on a pile of yarn in the hopes that it will transform into something wearable. Bonus points if you fall in love with it.

But what if you pour your heart into a garment and it doesn’t fit right? How do you determine where you went wrong and what you’d do differently the next time around so that you are more successful in your craft? Enter Dora Ohrenstein‘s latest book, “Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments That Really Fit.”

Floating Tee

Right from the get-go, Dora sets a comfortable tone with her readers in addressing the possible fears they might have in making garments which range from not knowing one’s own body measurements to picking the wrong type of yarn. Then she sets out on a systematic, well-scripted endeavor in replacing her readers fears with knowledge about garment construction, yarn choice, body measurements, fit, reading schematics, shaping, altering, and finishing. And she does all of this under the guise that you’re creating art from your craft, a sentiment that is carried throughout the book as each sweater is introduced.

The spirit of this book is about empowering crocheters to create sweaters that will become timeless pieces in their wardrobe by understanding their own body size, the measurements of their favorite sweater(s), and how to calculate changes in fit. Dora manages to achieve this without confusing the reader by giving many clear examples in a manner that’s both conversational and educational, and by explaining terms that might be unfamiliar which I find refreshing after having perused and even purchased other similar books. Like rungs on a ladder, I’m incredibly impressed with how she takes the reader from one established understanding of thought to another newer one further up the ladder, building on knowledge and thereby gaining the confidence of the reader; fear is overshadowed by fact.

Cream Puff

The best such case of this is in the section entitled, “Shaping and Alteration 101″ in which Dora outlays the logical steps one would take to make changes in either width or length using gauge. If it isn’t clear just how important or necessary it is to create a swatch from the gauge before beginning – and you know you’ve questioned the purpose of this little menial task – Dora illustrates through example how useful it can be in calculating the right fit for your garment (so do it!) And yes, you will see math in this book, but don’t be afraid because each calculation is backed up with very clear explanations which help demystify it all (and that’s coming from someone who isn’t very mathy).

And then there are the sweaters, which don’t disappoint.

Each garment introduced is an opportunity to learn something new and is packed with illustrations, stitch diagrams, and schematics (hurrah!). At the conclusion of the pattern, Dora explains the construction details as well as how to substitute yarn. But the real gem of each? It’s the “lessons” that accompany them. The reader is given a first-class seat behind the designing wheel of each pattern, beginning with the Floating Tee where Dora carefully lays out how to alter body and sleeve lengths in a dropped shoulder construction all the way to learning how to change length, waist and bust measurements in a round yoke, top-down sweater like Cream Puff. Even if you’re not a round yoke, sweater-wearing kind of person (like myself), I highly recommend you read each and every “lesson” to increase your knowledge in these areas.

Fiji Cardi

My absolute favorite pattern is Fiji Cardi. And I’m in love with Dora’s under-the-hood explanation of how to adjust the armhole and sleeve caps in this fitted sleeve sweater. I’m blown away by her attention to detail and willingness to guide the reader through each and every step in getting the best fit. She’s covered all the permutations in making adjustments to both and still turn out an altered sleeve that will fit the body portion; she doesn’t leave you hanging hoping it will turn out alright on its own, so much so that she’s dedicated two full pages to it.

Other favorites that I adore include Eleganza Raglan (a great weekend at the beach kind of sweater), Floating Tee (a perfect accompaniment to a lovely skirt for work) and Cream Puff (a comfy-looking, every day kind of sweater). Again, each is accompanied by a lesson or two in how to alter it and each is worth a read.

Honestly, who ever thought you could buy a book that is teeming with such a wealth of knowledge about tailoring crocheted garments to your body and include an abundance of fabulous, wearable patterns that incorporate detailed instructions on how to alter them? There hasn’t been a single book on the market that does that for me, until now. And if you haven’t checked out Dora’s first book, ”Creating Crochet Fabric: Experimenting with Hook, Yarn, and Stitch,” do so. It’s a great prequel to “Custom Crocheted Sweaters.”

Eleganza Raglan


And now it’s your turn. Lark Crafts, the publisher of “Custom Crocheted Sweaters” is allowing me to give away one book to one of my lucky readers.


Rules: To enter to win a copy of  ”Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments That Really Fit” by crochet designer Dora Ohrenstein, leave a comment on this post by midnight, EST. on Monday, April 2, 2012 telling me about your garment-making errors in the past and how this book might help you. One winner will be chosen on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 via

Extra ways to enter to win: Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter (include @NexStitch in your tweet so I see it!). Or, follow me on Pinterest and comment on or re-pin one of these sweaters that I’ve pinned to my board called, “Crochet/Knit Pretties.” These will count as a separate entries, giving you more of a chance to win because free stuff is cool, right?

P.S. Comment moderation is on (as always).


81 Responses to “Review & Giveaway: “Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments That Really Fit” by Dora Ohrenstein”

  1. Kristin says:

    Enter me please. I’ve been crocheting for many many years but have been to intimidated to make garmets for fear they may not fit right. This book would definitely help me get over that fear. Thanks

  2. Jamie Saphow says:

    My biggest challenge, ALWAYS, is gauge. It is seriously my enemy. No matter the gauge swatching or number crunching, I’m rarely at the size I meant to be when I started….

  3. Carolyn says:

    I am an experienced crocheter and have long awaited a book with instructions that will help us make crocheted garments that really fit. Until now there has been no other resource that actually addresses the details in making crocheted sweaters and other garments that are customed to each individuals body shape. I am excited about Dora’s book and would love to get a free copy to include in my crochet library. But whether free or not I will definitely obtain this awesome resource.

  4. Patti Panuccio says:

    I love the challenge of sweaters and keep on trying in spite of having trouble with the math, this book might be my bible. Please accept my entry.

  5. Pam Plymell says:

    I’d love to win this book. I need it. If I don’t I guess I have to buy it. Cross my fingers!

  6. Adkcrochetier says:

    Oh, maybe now I have found the instructions so that my sweaters aren’t too big for the shoulders but are big enough for my ample butt!!!! Would really love to have this book.

  7. I have started many items but when I wore a vest i had made, a woman came over to me and said “homemade?” I was devastated and never have worn it again. I need this book. I am tired of just making scarves and afghans. I want to make sweaters and vests which I live in year round as I live where we have snow and temperatures just at and below freezing for 6-7 months of the year and my cabin is heated with a small wood stove. Temperatures in the cabin seldom get above 50 degrees from October until the early part of June. I need sweaters that don’t shout “homemade”. Please consider me for the book ( or send someone who can sit with me and show me how. Please

  8. Liz says:

    I usually am afraid to make clothing at all since I so often want to alter something but I don’t want to put a lot of work into it and have it not work out, so I don’t even try. This book would be perfect for me!

  9. Pick me, Pick me! I am so tired of spending hours on making a sweater that doesn’t fit…..and that is with a correct gauge. I need the help!!

  10. Margo says:

    I’ve been crocheting for years but have yet to take the plunge and make a garment. This book sounds like it addresses many of the issues that have prevented me from making a sweater.

  11. Lisa says:

    This book looks pretty incredible. I have a problem getting the “generic” sizes to fit me. I’ve made sweaters before and had to pull out and adjust to a larger size for parts of the sweater. My arms are too long for my size. Stomach is too large for my size. It would be great to finally make a sweater to fit my shape and do it right the first time.

  12. Michelle says:

    I would love to learn how to custom-fit garments to my size. I’m a plus size, so there’s not much out there that’s flattering.

  13. Denise Royal says:

    I have only made one garment so far. I followed the pattern and would actually make some changes if I ever make it again.
    Because I am short and have a chest and hips it is hard to find things to wear so making my own would be great.

  14. Monica says:

    I have been so scared to crochet my own garments because I know I have a difficult time fitting RTW plus-size clothing. I have made a granny square cardigan, and it just fit so WEIRD! The back pooched out and looked strange, and did NOT fit right!

    Help, Dora!

  15. Oh I’ve made probably a dozen garments over the past 7-8 years and wouldn’t you know only ONE of them actually fit me! First there was the cardigan that probably cost $75 in yarn that was too short but too big, then a few that were way too tight in the bust, a cardigan that went almost to my knees…the list goes on. I’m hard to fit, as I’m busty and a bit short-waisted but want desperately to create some of the gorgeous crocheted top patterns that I’ve seen. This book sounds like exactly the solution I’ve been looking for!

  16. Maren says:

    I haven’t made many garments, but would really like to. I’ve made a vest and two shrugs, and one out of the three fits really well (because I took out the trim stitching several times!), one fits moderately well, and one is unusable — it’s way too big and the yarn is stretchy so it’s only worsened with time. I would love to learn ways to fit and stabilize garments so that I could be happy with something on which I spent so much time!

  17. Carol H says:

    I usually have avoided crocheted clothing as they seem so bulky. Hope this book would give me ideas to overcome that problem.

  18. Anne says:

    Not an hour ago, I ripped out the second garment (a poncho this time) that I have tried to make with this certain yarn. My problem? I, naturally, didn’t do a gauge swatch. Waited until I had the 7 rows required for gauge completed and then measured. And you guessed correctly, my gauge didn’t match. So almost 200 yards of worsted weight pulled out. The first time (a ruana) the yarn didn’t really like the pattern. Again, I would have know that had I done a gauge swatch!!!

  19. Erica says:

    I’ve tried to make sweaters and jackets, and have always been disappointed because of poor fit. Swatching didn’t seem to avoid the problems, either. I’ve thought that being small-busted prevented me from wearing a whole range of styles, but the custom fitting techniques in this book would help me learn to make any style successfully.

  20. This looks like a great book. I’d love to learn this skill. Thanks for doing this!

  21. julia cook says:

    i just picked back up crocheting , haven’t done any crochet since i was a teenager and i’m now 47. i’ve done a couple scarfs and would love to learn to do sweaters among other items, i would love to win this giveaway, ths\ank you

  22. Helen Auch says:

    I could really use this. I’m constantly crocheting, but I’ve never finished a garment for myself. Completed projects tend to be shawls and hats.

  23. janet says:

    I love them all – they are so beautiful

  24. Marlys says:

    Oh my goodness, how about attempting to make a size extra large sweater that turned out to be a child’s small?!
    Love the idea behind this book!!!

  25. Tammy says:

    “Garment-making errors” – that describes every adult sized sweater I’ve ever made! Here we go with just a few problems I’ve had with knitted sweaters, I’ve had so many failures, I’m trying for crochet for my next project! : trying to adjust length by the seat of my pants; not testing gauge; buying yarn in the wrong dye-lots; and getting the wrong yarn to start with – ending up with a sweater that fits and eventually stretches ridiculously long.

    I could certainly use this book!

  26. Nelly Dean says:

    This book looks great Id luv to apply the tecniques to improve the fit of my garments. I can sometimes make them fit with a few re do’s . Id luv to have them fit right first go ! I’ d love to win this book. thanks for writing it . It will make a great contibution to the society of crochet lovers world wide xoxo Nelly


  27. Debi Carmichael says:

    I’ve been a fan of Dora’s work for awhile. She really has quite an eye for color and her fabrics are beautiful.

    I’d love to get to spend some time in her book and see what I’ve got to learn from her. Here’s hoping my name gets picked!

  28. When I was just starting to crochet I made an ‘incredibly easy’ vest in a fuzzy, supposedly mohair based yarn. I didn’t bother to gauge swatch at all… You can imagine the end result. In desperation I tried to shrink it in the washing machine. No luck. My daughter used it as the basis of a ‘two headed monster’ Halloween costume, because it was big enough she could wear it with a friend!

    If this book had merely convinced me of the importance of making a swatch, and how to do it, it would have saved me a lot of wasted yarn!

  29. Carmen says:

    I’ve only made one garment. It was a crocheted cardigan. It turned out “ok”. The sleeves were a bit short, but that meant they actually fit me. But I didn’t like the collar and didn’t wear it much. My sister fell in love with it, so she now owns it.

  30. [...] entered the Techno Hooker giveaway for Dora Ohrenstein’s “Custom Crocheted Sweaters” book (April 2 deadline) and the Knitting Project of the Day Submission drawing. Did not win [...]

  31. Jo Parry says:

    OMG! awesome book! Wow, which woe to choose?!?!? So usually my biggest issue to trying to make a crochet cardigan or sweater fit my very broad shoulders. Undoubtedly no matter which pattern i try the shoulder seams end up sitting about mid shoulder and the arms end up about 5 inches too short! not to mention that it cuts into my armpits underneath. aaaargh!!! I haven’t come across a pattern yet that i can actually wear. HELP!