Friday, April 6, 2012

Custom Crocheted Sweaters

I've been a fan of Dora Ohrenstein's crochet designs and articles for a while now, so I was delighted to see that she has a new book out called Custom Crocheted Sweaters. There are a lot of great knitting books about sweater design, such as my favorites, Maggie Righetti's Sweater Design in Plain English and Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top, but I hadn't ever seen an equivalent book about crochet. With Custom Crocheted Sweaters, crochet finally has a comprehensive book about how to make beautiful sweaters that fit well.

In this new book, Dora details everything you need to know about sweater construction, yarn choice, measuring your body, fiber choice, blocking and finishing. She takes you through the process from start to finish, beginning the book with simpler sweater designs and moving toward more complex designs at the end. Each pattern has instructions for alterations that you can do to make the sweater exactly the way you want it and to make it fit just right.

I have knitted many sweaters, but have never crocheted one. For the longest time, I have thought "knitting is good for tubes, crochet is good for flat stuff." Armed with what I've learned from this book, I am now ready to crochet a sweater. Several designs from the book are now in my Ravelry queue!

Added to my queue first is the first design in the book, the Floating Tee, which has a dropped-shoulder construction.

I have mostly avoided lace sweaters in the past, because keeping track of a lace pattern AND shaping is a bit much for me with a two-year-old and a four-year-old who never let me get a full night's sleep. This sweater consists of two T-shapes that are seamed together at the end, so there's no shaping. You only have to keep track of the lace pattern! That I can handle! It's so beautiful, too, and would go with just about anything.

Next added to my Ravelry queue is the lovely Double Trouble Shell:

I really love the motif... but I never wear shells. What I actually plan to do is make a Floating Tee with this motif, based on the versatile instructions that Dora gives in the Floating Tee pattern and in the earlier chapters about gauge and alteration. I think that would be so pretty!

Also to my queue goes the Eleganza Raglan, which I was immediately drawn to, because the raglan is my favorite sweater design.

The stitch pattern looks complicated, but it's actually not... it's a simple alternation of single crochet and double crochet stitches. It makes such a subtle, lovely texture.

Finally, into my queue and moved right to the top is my hands-down favorite design in the book, Uptown:

How beautiful is that? It would go with anything. And the design is something I hadn't realized exists in crochet... it's a top-down, in the round sweater! This is one that I'll definitely make using the yarn that's called for by the pattern, Lorna's Laces Honor. YUM. This will end up being my favorite sweater, I think!

The beautiful yet practical designs and the comprehensive information about sweater design and fit combine to teach how to crochet classic wardrobe pieces, favorite sweaters that will actually be worn over and over, instead of forever consigned to the bottom of your armoir (I know I have a few of those tragedies in mine... they laugh at me when I open the drawer).

I haven't started any of the designs from the book yet, but guess what I finished? The Spring Ripple Baby Throw! The best thing about working on something big, like a blanket, is that it will keep you warm while you work on it. Pics of the finished product next post!

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