When I first received my copy of Knit Vintage (by Madeline Weston and Rita Taylor) from my Mum, the first pattern that jumepd out to me was the Celia Lacy Fine-Knit Twinset. I loved the elegant style and delicate lacework on the top and front edges of the cardigan. I knew it would be a challenge as it’s two matching garments made with very thin lace-weight wool but I had to try it!
Before starting, I did make a couple of alterations from the original pattern. Firstly, I decided not to add buttons to the front of the cardigan. I thought that buttons would weigh down the very light cardigan and I knew it was unlikely that I would button it up anyway! Secondly, I decided to shorten the pattern but 2-3 inches so that it would sit on my waist rather than my hips. I like this length for tops and I think it’s more flattering on me than hip-length tops.
Next, I had to find the right yarn for this project. The pattern suggests Fyberspates Scrumtious Lace but this yarn wasn’t available from Lovecrafts, which is where I like to buy my wool. When I need to find a yarn substitution, I like to use this website; it’s very thorough in its comparisons and it tends to show if a yarn is available from Lovecrafts. I also find that this website helps me to narrow down my options, especially when I’m shopping online and can’t feel the texture and weight of the yarn. Using this website, I chose Lana Grossa Cool Wool Lace in the colour #20. When it arrived, I was a bit intimidated by how thin and delicate it is but I loved the deep red wine colour and I was really excited to get started.
The making of this project was quite disjointed and I worked on it around other projects, which meant that I started work on it in March and didn’t finish until August. However, the stops and starts did in some ways help me to notice glaring mistakes I had made…
I started working on the cardigan while waiting for extra wool for my Clara sweater project, and I had just enough time to finish the right front. I worked 40 rows for the rib then started on the lace work panel. It took me a few attempts to get the pattern right, I kept knitting into the wrong part of the yarn-overs and miscounting stitches! However, I eventually found my rhythm and was able to complete the pattern repeats without even looking at the book. Embarassingly, what did catch me out was the armhole shaping. As the armhole and front are shaped at the same time, I misread the pattern and ended up with a really mishapen piece. I assumed at the time that it would be fixed by blocking and put it to one side while I finished the Clara sweater.
It was only when I went back to the project, having had a couple of weeks away from it, that I realised my mistake. So I undertook the painful process of undoing all my hard work to try again. On my second attempt, I also omitted the slip stitches on the side seam as this had made the edge of my first attempt really loose. Overall, I was much happier with version #2! With all the problems ironed out, I knitted the other side with no issues at all!
Knitting the back of this cardigan was totally uneventful apart from the fact that I worked on most of it during a week in hospital – I’m okay now, don’t worry! It was great at keeping me entertained and was a great conversation starter with the nurses and other patients. I followed my notes from the front pieces to guide me in how many rows I needed (170 to from the top of the rib to the shoulder) and I finished it so quickly that I was able to start on the sleeves as well – amazing what you can do when you have nothing to do in hospital for a week!
Knitting the sleeves also passed by with very little to report other than that I altered the pattern slightly to include directional increases and decreases rather than just K2togs. I did this on the front and back pieces as well. By the 17th June, I had all my pieces ready for blocking and assembly.
I decided to try something different with blocking this time around. In my previous projects I’ve blocked post-assembly but I wanted to try blocking pre-assembly this time as I’ve heard it can make putting the piece together easier. Particularly as this piece is so light and delicate, I did find blocking before I put it together made it easier to work with.
As usual, I worked really hard on my assembly, matching up each stitch to create the illusion of a seamless edge. I really enjoy this process, it’s very meditative and relaxing – though it does take a really long time!
And, just like that, the cardigan was done!
With the cardigan complete, I could move on to the top. I decided to make the top in one size smaller than the cardigan as the cardigan was a bit of a loose fit and I knew this top would look best fitted. Knitting the front and back was pretty easy, especially now I was so familiar with the lacework panel – I just had to get used to doing multiple repeats of the pattern in a row instead of working one up the edge of the cardigan. Again, by this point I didn’t even need to look at the book and I was finding the pattern quite relaxing to knit! The only problem I ran into was having one stitch too few on one side of the back placket – I couldn’t figure out why but I just increased a stitch to bring it up to the right number.
This project even got to come on the train to Cambridge with me for a weekend away!
The biggest change I made to this top was the sleeves. I knew I wanted them shorter and to have a band of rib at the bottom edge to match the rest of the ensemble. To achieve this, I did 20 rows of rib, then worked the increases every 4th row instead of every 6th row. I made the sleeve 4.5″ long then worked the shaping as the pattern instructed. As the sleeves were so much shorter, I finished them really quickly, then I was ready for blocking.
When I was working on the front of the top, I had a suspicion that the neckline would be too tight. To test whether I was right, once I had finished and blocked all the pieces, I sewed the side seams together properly but only basted the shoulder seams together so that I could try it on. As I thought, the neckline was far too tight.
To fix this, I undid the the front to make the neckline about 1/2″ lower. However, in doing this, I realised another mistake I had made. In my notes for the front, I had written ’23 rows after patt’, meaning 23 rows between the end of the pattern and the neckline. When I was knitting the back, I took this to mean 23 rows from the end of the pattern to the shoulder shaping, so the back was actually about 8 rows too short. So, I fixed the front and the back, sewed them together, and work the 2 rows of garter stitch to form the neckline. Then I tried it on to check the fit.
It was still too tight.
So, I undid the neckline and redid the cast off with a super-stretchy cast off which seemed to do the trick. Finally!
To finish up, I sewed in the sleeves, did the double crochet around the back placket and sewed on the buttons. With that finished, the twinset was done!
I absolutely adore this set, it’s so comfortable and elegant! It really makes me feel like I should be a student in the 1940s! I love the colour and the lacework – it adds a lovely detail to an otherwise plain twinset. I’ve already worn the cardigan so much, it was a great layer for the cooler early summer days. Now the weather is cooling down I’m really excited to wear the top and cardigan both as a set and within their own outfits. I’m also really pleased with how well my alterations worked out – alongside the challenge of the lacework and super thin wool, this project has really help me to grow my confidence in knitting!