By Dora Ohrenstein

One glimpse of Olga’s work convinced me I had to meet her. That glimpse came when Tatyana Mirer, of the NY Crochet Guild, brought a stunning Irish Crochet-inspired jacket to a Guild meeting, made by her friend. Several months went by before I was able to fulfill my impulse. When the day came, I took the subway down to Olga’s apartment on Fulton Street, one of the craziest corners in all of New York City. Looming over the old neighborhood, Olga’s humungous 60-s era building peers down at the tumult below. Where once fish teemed, now tourists do. I took the elevator to a high floor and arrived at a spacious apartment with a great view of the urban landcscape and terrace overlooking the hubbub.

The door opened on Olga’s lovely smile. She sat me down on a black leather couch and began pulling boxes out of closets and piling her work on my lap. Among the treasures in her chest: the olive/gold Irish lace jacket, sprinkled with red and yellow, that had made such an impression on me; and the crystal-encrusted lace collar below.

We spent hours taking photos on the balcony, chasing around the light on our sliver of skyline. These are among the fifty-five shots I took that day. Further along there’s another fantastic Irish Crochet cardigan, and a chic sweater Olga designed for Chanel.

Then Olga showed me her “experimental” work: cut up strips of fur coats, knitted with wool to make the most elegant and unusal knitted fur outerwear. My mind was blown over and over until it dawned on me: the lady is a genius!

Olga’s story, as it unfolded through the day, was tinged with sadness. She was a nuclear physicist in Russia, and moved to NYC with her husband thirteen years ago. He was a famed scientist, compelled to move to the U.S. for medical treatment unavailable in Russia. Like many immigrants, both were denied their profession in the U.S. Olga plunged into her other love, needlework. Though her designs have been shown on the runway and in fashion catalogues and magazines, too often others have claimed her work as their own. She believes poor English has held her back in this country, but I suspect it has more to do with a gentle temperament.

Another facet of Olga was revealed when she invited me into her teeny little NYC kitchen to share her culinary creations. She and her husband are devoted to mushrooms. They go out to Long Island when the picking is plenty, then dry and store a variety of mushrooms for consumption all year round. More than a delicacy, Olga holds, mushrooms have healing properties. The lady is a scientist, and I have since been sauteeing them regularly. She also swears by a brew of fermented beets, which I tasted with apprehension; it turned out to be quite palatable and according to Olga, is a cure for many ills. She promised to email me the recipe.

It’s moving to meet a lady of such tremendous creativity, pursuing her muse out of sheer passion, shying away from commerce. We parted with a vow to cultivate this new friendship.

We spent hours taking photos on the balcony, chasing around the light on our sliver of skyline. These are among the fifty-five shots I took that day. Further along there’s another fantastic Irish Crochet cardigan, and a chic sweater Olga designed for Chanel.

Then Olga showed me her “experimental” work: cut up strips of fur coats, knitted with wool to make the most elegant and unusal knitted fur outerwear. My mind was blown over and over until it dawned on me: the lady is a genius!

Olga’s story, as it unfolded through the day, was tinged with sadness. She was a nuclear physicist in Russia, and moved to NYC with her husband thirteen years ago. He was a famed scientist, compelled to move to the U.S. for medical treatment unavailable in Russia. Like many immigrants, both were denied their profession in the U.S. Olga plunged into her other love, needlework. Though her designs have been shown on the runway and in fashion catalogues and magazines, too often others have claimed her work as their own. She believes poor English has held her back in this country, but I suspect it has more to do with a gentle temperament.

Another facet of Olga was revealed when she invited me into her teeny little NYC kitchen to share her culinary creations. She and her husband are devoted to mushrooms. They go out to Long Island when the picking is plenty, then dry and store a variety of mushrooms for consumption all year round. More than a delicacy, Olga holds, mushrooms have healing properties. The lady is a scientist, and I have since been sauteeing them regularly. She also swears by a brew of fermented beets, which I tasted with apprehension; it turned out to be quite palatable and according to Olga, is a cure for many ills. She promised to email me the recipe.

It’s moving to meet a lady of such tremendous creativity, pursuing her muse out of sheer passion, shying away from commerce. We parted with a vow to cultivate this new friendship.
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A work in progress


Recent “experimental” work

Chanel jacket. The real thing, not a copy