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Vintage Knitting Vibes: Tracy / Hepburn Twinset by Arne & Carlos

For me, the iconic knit from any vintage pattern book is always the twinset. Usually it's outrageously fit-forming, sculpted by a turbo rocket bra and (infuriatingly) knit on size 00000 needles. Ouch!

Vintage knitting pattern twinset Lavvanda 471
Buy pattern here.

Thankfully, Rowan revived the idea of the twinset in normal needle proportions for Rowan Magazine 67, albeit with some flexibility (i.e. the "twin" in "twinset" could be as minimal as a scarf or shawl). However, I went right for the classically styled set, the Tracy tank and Hepburn cardigan by Arne and Carlos.

There were two elements to this twinset that set it apart from the vintage sort. First, the cardigan was shorter than the tank, like a crop. In vintage patterns the cardigan is impeccably even with the piece below it. I think this croppy change gives it a very modern feel, as cropped sweaters are super "in" right now.

Second, it had drop sleeves instead of set-in sleeves. Now, the ever-present knitting editor in me immediately wanted to to change them to set-in sleeves. But after making the tank, I realized that the bulkiness of the sleeve ribbing (made in DK yarn) might be problematic with a set-in sleeve. I decided to keep it as is (for once!) and really like how clean the shoulders look by having the lace extend so widely:

Sometimes I don't even see that dropped sleeve seam in these pictures!

I think all of that hiding is helped by the unique texture of the yarn used in the pattern, Rowan Cotton Cashmere. This 85% cotton, 15% cashmere DK weight yarn seems more like a raw silk than a cotton.

I used shades 225 Stormy Sky (light gray) and 232 Charcoal (dark gray), but you can see that colors are slightly tonal, which is something you see in silk yarns, too. It's like there is the slightest lighter color shade coming through each stitch.

I have used Cotton Cashmere quite a few times before, in the Florence crochet-along (free pattern!) and this kick-ass gnome. It knits like a cotton yarn and is cool to the touch like cotton -- but definitely softer. 

Buuuuuuuut it's time to confess that I DID NOT hand knit this twinset, I used my Taitexma mid-gauge knitting machine!

A little orientation for those of you unfamiliar with knitting machines: The wrong side of the knitting is always facing you. The metal rack on the bottom is used for ribbing. It can hold stitches open for binding off later, or can be closed in a tubular cast-on (like I did here). You just pull out the wire from the bottom (it's just like a blocking wire actually) and the piece is released. The holes are for weight below and the claws above add more weight to help the needles knit at tension. Many of you machine knitters will think I have too much weight here but I really like having weight when I do lace.

To create 'lace' you simply move yarn off of a needle to an adjacent needle (which is now a K2TOG or SSK depending on how you maneuver it) and then run the carriage everything including the empty needle. The empty needle becomes the "yarn over".

You may think that it is crazy stretched out of proportion, but it seems to hold up just fine!

Are you wondering where on earth I am taking all of these photos?? As many of you have, I had been working 100% remote since March 2020. My husband and I started losing our minds and found a rental in absolutely pastoral A+++ Richmond, Vermont. The property had two old barns, the red dairy barn where the cows were milked and the hay barn. Lest you think everything is always perfect, I was sweating and at war with little field flies the whole photo shoot, LOL!

But sometimes it was truly heaven.

That's my Vermont mushrooming outfit, ok?

There was one final touch I needed for my twinset... a button! I crowdsourced opinions on my Instagram channel:

I'm sorry if you voted and I didn't pick your choice -- believe me, I liked them all! But there is something even more vintage about using a covered button, so I agree with the final choice, in the end.

I want to finish with a shout-out to the rest of Rowan Magazine 67. There's some incredible pieces, and I'm making two other pieces from the twinset section.

Portia (jacket) and Ellen (tank) by Kaffe Fassett:

My version is fully machine knitted, with hand-manipulation of every stitch. What a bear of a project!

My version has hand-knitted lace sleeves but a machine knit body:

You'll notice a lot of machine knitting going on! I think Bowie is a great example of how machine knitting can really complement hand knitting. You guys know I love complex patterns, so that stockinette body with a 29 stitch tension and size US 2/3 needles stops me cold! By machine knitting the body, I've left all the pleasure for those incredible sleeves.

Don't worry, I still hand knit like crazy, too.

Till next time!


Dayana Knits

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