Top-Down Crochet Sweaters by Dora Ohrenstein, Storey Publishing: 2016, 176 pages. Paperback, spiral bound, and several digital editions available. Grade: A.
I bought this book because I wanted a guide to designing my own crocheted top-down sweaters. I love knitting sweaters top-down and I’ve already crocheted one sweater the same way. That one was designed by Peter Franzi, who seems to have been a very active author recently. My issue with his sweaters is that they typically use the same all-over stitch pattern with some very beautiful embellishments in color and / or texture. I didn’t really feel like crocheting a second one using his favorite all-over alternating rounds of double crochets and half-double crochets through the front loop this soon. How dull! What choice did I have? It was time to find a way to make up my own stuff. In the future I’ll make another Franzi sweater, for sure, but I need variety, too.
In her Introduction to Top-Down Crochet Sweaters, Dora Ohrenstein explains her objectives: 1) the book is devoted to sweaters with raglan and circular yokes, 2) the reader can learn how to design a sweater from this book with the aforementioned yokes, and 3) the fourteen patterns provided will please crocheters at all levels, from beginning to advanced.
From here, the text is divided into two sections: First, how to design and “tweak” and, second, the fourteen patterns.
The design section is very informative and gave me all of the information I wanted, which was a happy surprise. The author gets into the details of shaping and provides diagrams that illustrate the process of crocheting a sweater top-down. The diagrams are very clear, helpful, and welcomed. She then gets into the nitty-gritty of the considerations one should take in planning a garment, covering necklines, yoke shaping for a good fit, how to measure oneself for the yoke, the principles of raglan and circular design, and how to get the lower body and sleeves just right. A great deal of text is then devoted to all the measurements required with a solid discussion of ease.
One of the aspects of this section that I have truly found useful are the photographs and wise use of models. To demonstrate, for example, the importance of choosing the right neckline, examples are shown on different models. To clarify how to get the shaping just so, a variety of women with different body types are pictured wearing samples.
And then we move on to section two, which, honestly, doesn’t interest me much because all of the sweaters are designed for women. No possible hacking could ever make any of the garments suitable for me and my preferences. However, I think there’s a lot here to interest a woman, or, even better, to motivate a man to crochet a really awesome top-down sweater for his mom, sister, friend, or girlfriend. A lot of the women in my life crochet tons of sweaters for themselves because the men in their lives don’t want one, so I don’t think I’ll find much use for the patterns. However, for me these patterns will be helpful to study and learn from because they combine – in a delightful variety of ways – all the techniques and methods described in the first section of the book on design and tweaks.
This book deserves a grade of “A” because it’s just what one needs to learn about crocheting sweaters top-down. I could be cruel and give it a grade of B because there are no patterns for sweaters I would like to wear, but I think that would be totally heartless. First of all, what man besides me wants crocheted sweaters? Second of all, I’m pretty sure the vast majority of crocheters in the world are women who deserve to make themselves some really chic top-down sweaters. This collection has plenty of trendy fashions for the ladies to create and wear.