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Book Review: Together or Separate – Knitting the New Twinset by Ann McCauley

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When twinsets are being discussed, normally one thing comes to mind: a tank top worn with a matching cardigan. Perfect for spring – tank top for the sunny days, cardigan for the chilly nights. The ultimate preppy uniform. Together or Separate: Knitting the New Twinset by Ann McCauley offers up nine twinsets (18 patterns total), with few tank-and-cardigan combos to be seen.

“Eyelet and Ruffle Cardigan and Shell” is a lovely example of a traditional twinset. The cardigan is a bit boxy — more like a jacket — with a sleeveless top beneath. Both feature eyelet trim and accents (an eyelet strip down the back of the cardigan; eyelet straps on the tank). I did not see a ruffle. “Moss and Feather Faggot Cardigan and Shell” is a simple textured set. Eyelets create striping amongst the feather faggot pattern on the jacket-like cardigan. The same pattern is used to create an illusion of a V-neck on the shell, while still maintaining modesty. “Arrowhead Lace Cardigan and Shell” uses the same technique, but mixes a solid knit with a solid eyelet.

Now we come to the “new” twinsets, which Together or Separate takes to mean any two pieces that match. The “Mock Pleat and Rib Turtleneck and Skirt” is a bland pairing, the only shaping given by the thick all-over ribs. “Uneven Cable Turtleneck, Headband and Vest” is actually a triplet-set, I guess. Sleeve lengths are reversed, with the long sleeves going on the turtleneck, and the vest being sleeveless. Knit in a wintery white, this looks like the perfect ski lodge outfit. “Seed and Triple Gull Cable Cardigan and Skirt” combines an awkward knit jacket with an attractive tulip skirt.

Some of these twinsets feel like a cop-out. “Striped Stockinette T-Shirt and Cowl” is a cute crewneck pullover… but its “twin” is nothing more than a cowl that can be pulled on over your head to turn the sweater into a turtleneck. “Twisted Rib and Cable Dress or Pullover and Wristlets” is a flattering sweater dress with a high V-neck. The twin is a simple ribbed wrist cuff that is almost invisible beneath the long-sleeved dress. It can be made into a pullover by simply not knitting to the knee. Finally, there is the “Chain and Double Cable Cardigan and Socks,” an adorable pair, but not quite a twinset.

Overall, the designs in Together or Separate are heavily hit-or-miss. They seem to be directed at middle-aged women who have office jobs.

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