Description



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.

March 04, 2010

TODAY'S GUEST: CATHY CARON

Every time I open Interweave Knits or Vogue Knitting magazines or look at the Twist Collective website I hope to see another design by Cathy Caron. There is something about her designing style that makes me knit her patterns right away. Maybe because she is from a European background or because she is a New-Yorker, I can relate to her sense of fashion very well. I also love hats and other accessories, so Cathy's interesting constructions and styles are fascinating for me. Cathy Caron is the author of three knitting books and a contributor to many knitting publications. On her Ravelry page you will see that plus to her own books she has her designs in 12 books. Altogether there are 189 designs listed there. That's quite a number considering that many of them appear in highly respected magazines. I am very pleased that Cathy was able to find some time in her very busy schedule to answer our 15 questions for this interview. This is a chance for us to get to know Cathy Caron better.

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

I started around 10 years of age. My Latvian grandmother taught me how to knit in the Continental fashion, however I only learned the knit stitch from her as she had a
stroke soon after which it left her paralyzed on the right side. I taught myself to purl reading books, but as it turns out I was making a ‘twisted purl’ stitch, which in some sense was okay as I was consistent is doing so. However, when I was around 12, our family assisted a Slovenian family in emigrating to the USA and it was the wife, Naca, who corrected my purling.

2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
Although I have knitted for decades, it wasn’t until 2005 when my book Hip Knit Hats appeared. It was inadvertent to say the least. In the mid-1990’s I was living in London (my husband has been transferred for his job) and I began to research ‘knitting for the military’ – a subject near-and-dear to my heart. I spent two years researching and another 2 years writing. While looking for a publisher I began to knit hats to fit my large head and became transfixed with design. When we returned to the States in 1996, I called Classic Elite Yarns to ask them if they were interested in hat patterns; quite honestly I don’t know what possessed me to do so. The designer director at the time told me that they did not publish but that the owner, Pat Chew wanted to see what I had anyway. To make a long story short, she promised me that she’d find a publisher for my work and she did. And so my publishing life began. The moral of the story perhaps is that solid design speaks loudly?!

3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?
For me it is an imperative to knit creating the least seams possible as I think ‘finishing’ a garment does the hardiest souls in. So I am a top-down knitter. However, I don’t limit myself either and will experiment to achieve whatever desired effect I am seeking to create.

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 think about design and ‘the new’ constantly’, I am insatiable. I am always seeking out new ways of rendering form. I think most knitters are enthralled with ‘surface design’ – intarsia, stitchery, coloration, etc. which is all well and good, but the new territory to explore is in ‘form’. Form is tough, as it’s not obvious and the possibilities are infinite.
As for inspiration – it all depends on what I am trying to achieve. I love to be given a ball of yarn and ask to do something…the yarn says so much about form and elasticity; the yarn tells you what is possible as clearly things are possible in wool that aren’t in linen and visa-a-versa.
As for garments, the neckline shaping is key and that’s often the jumping off point for me. Innovation in designing best occurs when there is a constraint, so that you are forced to problem solve.





5. What doe
s your studio look like?
Admittedly, I have an amazing space to work in…but mind you I am no spring-chicken and for years I worked wherever there was a chair and that was often at the dining room table. About 3 years ago, my husband and I purchased a one-bedroom apartment in our building on the Upper Westside of New York City. We live on the 11th floor and the apt – now my studio – is on the 4th floor. It took a year to renovate it; the interior is painted linen white, the accent color in the work space is a cherry red – the chairs, picture frames, accessories – very cheery. It’s unbelievably fabulous to have my own space, something that I have wanted since childhood. After I do my morning chores, I immediately scoot downstairs and begin my day. I can make any sort of mess I want – and I make messes with beads and yarn and ribbon and stuff – and I don’t have to tidy anything or move anything for anybody. And I can leave my work to run back upstairs to make dinner, meet my daughter as she arrives home from school, only to run back downstairs after dinner. It is totally and completely blissful. My studio is also at the back of the building so I don’t get any street noise – it’s extremely quiet so I can think and work. For music, I’ve adopted an old boom-box that one of my daughters discarded – I play Duffy, classical, show tunes, whatever.
My hubby has to be given a pat-on-the-back for helping me realize this dream…but I bet he was glad to have my creative musings on another floor as well!

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

7. Do you spin your own yarn?

No – have no interest in doing so – but I do like to buy locally made yarns

8. Do you belong to a knitting group?
Not really – although I am a ‘member’ of certain ravelry groups. Designing is my profession and work and time-wise, it’s really hard for me to join and be an effective member of other groups

9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters who knit your designs?
I am not in touch with other designers per se – if I am in touch with anyone it’s with the staffs of the knitting magazines and my publisher (Sixth & Spring / Vogue Knitting). Occasionally, I get asked to contribute to projects.
I have no ‘knitters’ – I do all my own knitting; Although for the first time members of the staff of Sixth & Spring are knitting some of my designs for my forthcoming book (Fall 2010) because of time constraints. We have 40 projects to do in 3 months!

10. Where can we see your published designs?
I have three books out – Hip Knit Hats (2005), Knitting From the Top-Down (2007), Hattitude (2009) and a fourth book for the Fall 2010. In the past my work has been published in Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, Knit Simple, Knit.1, knitscene, Rowan magazine and All You. I have also contributed projects to a half dozen books.


11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
Occasionally, I have taught classes at my local yarn shop in Washington, CT – The Village Sheep – but as of late I have done little or no teaching as designing takes all my time.

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?
Have no fear – be brave – jump in – cast on.

13. What are your plans in the near future?
At the moment I am working furiously and with haste on another book on ‘neck gear’ due out Fall 2010 for Sixth & Spring. I also get ideas for garments and love to pitch the magazines when I can. For the long term, I would love to get my military knitting history published and plan to have another look at that manuscript next summer after my youngest decides on college. I also have other book ideas some related to knitting and a few not! I’d love to entertain doing work for a yarn company.

14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?
I never reveal what I am working on at moment as it would be taking-the-wind-out-of-the-sails of the good people that publish my designs.
However, perhaps I can offer a few thoughts on what I would like to explore going forward be it commercial or not: there are many garment shapes, especially necklines which I would like to explore; I would like to design a scrumptious mohair coat; I am very interested in exploring alternative materials and I just love using and designing with ‘scraps’ (stash?); Of course, exploring ‘form’ is a never-ending quest and I wouldn’t mind delving into ‘art knitting’ someday, although I am not sure I will get there as I find garment and hat design continually mesmerizing. I often think that if a lull arose in my ideas that I would branch out, but so far I have a laundry list to do!

15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?
FG: Cathy left this question open, so I took the liberty to copy her words from Ravelry.
Knitting is a passion. I am continually experimenting with top-down design and seamless knitting. I love classic knitting and styles - what’s not to like - but I am more intrigued by new approaches to shaping and design.









FG: I want to thank you, Cathy, for this great interview. It was very interesting to learn how you work as a designer. Good luck with your upcoming books. I know I will be looking forward to them.