A few months back, my coworker and fellow knitter Maria, came over to my office to show me an awesome vintage knitting book she found at her local Goodwill store. She offered to let me borrow it for a while, and I proceeded to hoard it for over a month. I then came to the realization that I should just see if I could locate one for my very own, since I couldn’t bring myself to part with her copy. I really didn’t mean to hoard it… It just sorta happened.
Lo and behold, I found several versions either on etsy or ebay for sale, but only one of them matched her copy exactly.
Complete Guide to Modern Knitting & Crocheting by Alice Carroll:
Isn’t it gorgeous?! I do hate being a copy-cat, but after relishing Maria’s copy, I had to see if I could find one identical since it was just so cool. This is a second edition from 1947, and the original version was published in 1942.
All of the text on the cover and spine is raised and appears to be embossed in silver. It’s a gorgeous book. (As a general fyi, I used to be really into book binding and have made several books. You can see them here or here on Felix’s site if you wish.)
Upon opening the book, you’re greeting with a pretty, colored image of a knitted suit from the 40’s.
I love reading these books cover to cover, because this would have been the same book that ladies would have been buying back in the day to utilize as a manual in order to knit up all of the stitchcraft patterns I’ve been posting up. It’s also really interresting to read about different techniques or construction methods that I’ve always considered as modern, that just happen to pop up in these old books.
My favorite part of vintage books is the introduction or editor’s notes, since that can show the true age of the book. It makes me happy to read the intro and find that a lot of the editor’s thoughts continue to be applicable today:
Knitting is one of the most ancient forms of handiwork. Pieces of beautifully designed knit fabrics have been found in the ruins of ancient Egypt and in Peru. What the knitting instruments with which the work was done were like today, we have no way of knowing, but the stitches are similar to those we do today, knitting and purling.
Within more modern times, knitting has served two functions. The one – and for a good part of the time the most important – was to make garments which were intended to keep the wearer warm. The second function was to make garments which were fundamentally practical, attractive. Within the last few years this latter aim has become the most important, and today knitting, and its close relative, crocheting, have been turned not only to practicality but to high style.
The fundamentals of knitting are few and easily learned, and it is not long before the knitter is ready to turn the most complicated designs and original patterns. This book, then is designed to bring together in once place the fundamentals of stitches and technique, the directions for classic models and basic garments with enough style interest to make them attractive, and the basis by which the expert can go on designing her own patterns.
While this book isn’t as in depth at altering patterns as I initially had hoped for being an intermediate knitter. But if you’re still just delving into vintage knits (& crochet) for the first time, you would love this book!
It includes chapters on: Equipment, Basic Stitches in both knitting and crochet, Pattern Stitches, Knitting the Garment, Assembling the Garment, Simple Knitting and Crocheting Patterns, Knitting for Children, Women’s Garments, Men’s Garments, Army and Navy Regulation Knitwear, Socks and Stockings, Mittens and Gloves, Added Touches, and Making Your Own Designs.
And the neatest chapter I came across in this book is chapter 14: Making Your Own Designs.
While I don’t think it’s as comprehensive as it could be for modern standards, it’s still a great intro into making a knitted piece from scratch.
Have you ever thought of smocking your knitting? I know I never did until I saw this page right before Ch.14.
The main chunk of this book includes lots & lots of patterns. They begin with children’s wear and easier patterns geared towards the beginning knitter and then progress to teen’s, women’s, then men’s patterns and closes off with some accesssories.
Note: I only snapped images of the book with my camera, but if you’d like me to post up any of these patterns up on my blog as one of the free, weekly downloads be sure to leave a comment letting me know which you’d like me to post.
This is a cute, baby’s set geared towards the beginning knitter:
Isn’t this little girl’s sailor cardigan cute? It’s almost as cute as she is. :)
This is one of my favorite women’s patterns:
While they don’t list out the colors, this would be a great stash buster if you had several colors that coordinated with one another.
There are a few service men’s outfits, but I thought this sweater is a classic one:
While there are a ton more ladies patterns, I’ll leave you with my favorite one in the book, a boucle knitted dress:
I don’t think I’ve ever been tempted to make a knitted dress before since they seem very time consuming and difficult to piece together (without showing all of one’s bumps and bits). But this dress may have pushed me over the edge to wanting to make one for my very own. Isn’t it just lovely? *sigh*
Again, let me know in the comments section if you’d like me to post up any of these patterns for download. Happy knitting!