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Modeled after the famous TV program called Inside the Actor's Studio, The Designer's Studio is the place where you will meet a well-known designer and read about her/his designing style, philosophy, most favorite techniques, publications, and many other interesting details of the creative world of knitwear designers. Our guests will be answering a set of 15 questions (the same for every guest) and you will have the opportunity to leave the comment or your question after the interview is posted. We will try to keep up with your questions. This is a very exciting project and I hope you will visit here often and will not miss any of the interviews posted here.


Faina Goberstein.

March 19, 2010

TODAY'S GUEST: DORA OHRENSTEIN

If you are a crocheter and follow the news in the world of crochet I am positive that you already know Dora's beautiful designs. Either you are new to the craft or an experienced crocheter, you are in for a treat. I wish you all met Dora in person. She has a personality that makes you feel that you always knew her and always have been her close friend. At least that's what I felt when I met her. Dora lives in NY and has a lot of interests in fashion and arts. She is what I call a typical New Yorker who makes me want to live in New York city with all the exposure to fashion right there on the streets. When I visit NY, my favorite thing to do is to watch people on the streets of Manhattan. Dora gives voice lessons in between her numerous publications in Interweave Crochet and other magazines. She is the author of two books and she has an online crochet magazine called Crochet Insider. I encourage you to check her designs out by going to the links in her interview. She tells her story by answering my 15 questions. So, get comfortable and read below.

1. When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?

I am a self taught crocheter. My mom was not domestic or crafty at all, though she did teach me how to sew a seam. I started crocheting in 1971, while I was living in a tiny little houseboat in Amsterdam. I was a full-blown hippie and everyone was really into being crafty and creative. A friend had a weaving shop with the most gorgeous colors of yarn, and she gave me some. I started crocheting things for myself to wear -- with no background at all, I figured it must be easy!

2. When did you begin publishing your designs?

I was at my first CGOA meeting in 2003 and Jean Leinhauser was sitting next to me at a class. I had no idea she was one of the most prolific book producers in the field! She saw a cotton crochet top I was wearing and asked if it was my design - I said yes. She then asked if I wanted to earn some money for my designs - duh! At that conference, she and Rita Weiss bought 5 of my designs. These were all things I had made for myself. Jean taught me how to write patterns. Sizing I had to figure out for myself.

3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?

I love all kinds of crochet. Tunisian, slip stitch, regular crochet, whatever - it's all beautiful, and each has its own look, feel, and drape.

4. When you are thinking about some new design, what inspires you the most? Is it different every time? Could you give us some examples on inspiration for some of your designs?

I get inspired by things I see people wearing on the chic streets of New York City. I live in a neighborhood with lots of boutiques and see inspirational pieces hanging in the store windows. I also look at runway shows at style.com, and buy fashion magazines to keep abreast of new trends.

5. What does your studio look like?

My studio is one room where I live, teach singing, and do all my designing. It's ridiculous! Every time a voice student comes, I have to tuck all my work away as best as possible (not very well!) so that the place is presentable. But hey, it's a cheap apartment in one of the best neighborhoods in Manhattan, so what can I do?

6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?

On my comfortable couch (which is a futon that's also my bed), surrounded by stitch dictionaries, calculator, computer, ruler.

7. Do you spin your own yarn?

Haven't tried this yet, maybe some day.

8. Do you belong to a knitting group?

I belong to CGOA and the NY chapter of CGOA. Both great groups.

9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters who knit your designs?
I talk to other designers all the time, by phone, email, etc. When people email me with questions about designs, I do my best to help. I love meeting other designers at trade shows, this is where we share all the inside gossip and get to commiserate about our lot in life as designers. That's how I met you, Faina, and so glad I did! Forming new relationships with other like-minded people is one of the real pleasures of this industry.

10. Where can we see your published designs?

My new book: Creating Crochet Fabric, just released by Lark Books. My first book: Crochet Insider's Passion for Fashion. My pattern shop: crochetinsider.com in the store. Interweave Crochet, Inside Crochet, Crochet Today, Crochet!, and Tension magazine.

11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?

I have taught at CGOA conference and plan to do so again, and I teach online classes as well. I'll be offering some on line garment-making and designing classes soon: check crochetinsider.com on the Classes page.

12. What would you like to tell knitters who are timid and do not believe they are skillful enough to knit some of your designs?
I'm here to help, don't hesitate to ask questions. If you need to upgrade your skills, take advantage of my online classes, ask at your LYS, or come to a CGOA conference.

13. What are your plans in the near future?

Last summer I traveled to the Balkans, mainly to see what I could find of Old World crochet, and discovered a world that I'd known little about. I was re-bitten by the travel bug, and now that crochet is my focus, it's a way of connecting with women and textile people all over the world. This summer I am planning a trip to Central Asia, where the people of the Pamir region make the most amazing slip stitch socks. The women raise their own sheep, then spin and dye the yarn, and the socks resemble Oriental rugs. I think it's going to be quite an adventure!


14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?

I'm working on a gorgeous shawl pattern for Inside Crochet out of Malabrigo silk/wool, articles for Interweave Crochet about slip stitching, and a design using that technique too. Also working on smaller projects like hats, neck warmers etc. for self-publishing.
FG: This is Dora's latest design from Interweave Crochet. It is called Kristy Cardigan
And here is another new publication Prelude Houndstooth Skirt by Dora in Tension magazine.

15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?
It's been lovely to have this whole new chapter in my life after having been a touring musician. I love having both things going on in my life now: teaching is very social, designing very private. I am passionate about crochet, and want to be a force for upgrading its image and helping people build skills. That's why I started CrochetInsider.com. The site has articles by many different contributors on crochet history and technique, and interviews of designers, fiber artists, and editors. Our pattern shop is also growing: we are becoming THE place to shop for high quality crochet patterns.


FG: Wow, Dora! Thank you very much for letting us into your world. How fascinating! I want to crochet more after reading your inspiring story and looking at your gorgeous designs. We all want to see more of your future designs! Thank you for stopping by and see you in NY and at TNNA meetings.

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