Complete Guide to Modern Knitting and Crocheting by Alice Carroll

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!

In: Knitting Miscellaneous

Blogger for 6 years and counting, I am a passionate creator who loves to tinker.

Comments (20)

  1. Elise September 28, 2011 — 12:48 PM

    Aaah awesome book! Loving that dress too, although I’d def get bored – right now I’m making a tshirt style top and its stalled slightly cause of the boring stocking stitch! But please feel free to attempt the dress for me to admire :)

  2. Jane September 28, 2011 — 1:21 PM

    ooh, short-sleeved ladies’ sweaters, pretty please!

    1. Liz September 28, 2011 — 1:27 PM

      I won’t be able to post it this week, but I can shoot for next week. :)

  3. Marie September 28, 2011 — 2:51 PM

    What a gorgeous book and lovely find for your collection!

  4. Tasha September 28, 2011 — 4:57 PM

    What a fantastic book, I would want it just for the cover alone (though of course I love the contents, too)! I can see why you had to have a copy, too. I’m not really surprised that there isn’t more in-depth detail about altering, I still have not really found any resources that touch on that much. It’s usually more along the lines of “if you need to knit a larger size, simply add the number of stitches to equal the number of inches you’d like to add”. When of course we know there are so many other considerations other than only that. I wonder how much of knitting and oral tradition comes into play, versus, say, the plethora of detailed vintage sewing manuals you can find? No clue, just throwing the idea out there. :)

    I’ve seen some great use of smocking in knitting patterns before, it’s really a neat technique. Knitted dresses always look so amazing but I don’t think they’re something I’d ever be able to pull off… which is a good thing because you’re right, that is an awfully time-consuming project. :) But so lovely!

    1. Liz October 3, 2011 — 1:02 PM

      When I was taking that knitting course at stitches about lining a jacket, I asked about the lining for vintage knitted dresses. She said the ladies used to wear special petticoats underneath their knits. While I don’t think they were ‘petticoats’ per say, I’m sure she was referring to the waspie undergarments. I bet there was also some reinforcement at the side seams to help the knitted piece retain it’s shape without being too clingy.

      The more I see vintage knitted dresses and skirts, the more I’m debating trying it out… I just wish I could try it out first on a knitting machine first so I wouldn’t have to spend 3 months on something that may end up looking ill on my figure.

  5. What a treasure! How lucky that you were able to find a copy. I think it would be wonderful if you posted some of the patterns – even I don’t actually get around to knitting them the pictures are great inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

  6. bonita September 28, 2011 — 7:45 PM

    ~ * ? * ~

    Smocked knitting looks really interesting; maybe we could get a pdf of the instructions? Other then that, I am seriously eyeing off that dress although I don’t know if I’d have the time to knit it, I would really like to try!

    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ? * ~

    1. Liz October 3, 2011 — 12:57 PM

      I’m sure I could add that to my queue of pattern posts for you!

      I’m also planning on posting up that dress in the next few weeks; it’s darling isn’t it?!

  7. I’ll love to attempt to knit the dress. Someone please transform me to an octopus! :)

  8. Meredith September 29, 2011 — 9:05 AM

    That dress is gorgeous! I love the look of vintage knitted dresses, but I don’t think I’d be able to finish without the aid of a knitting machine.

    1. Liz October 3, 2011 — 12:50 PM

      That’s exactly what I was thinking… I love knitting by hand, but dresses and skirts just call for knitting machines, don’t you think?!

  9. Casey September 29, 2011 — 4:53 PM

    Oooh! What a neat-looking book. The striped sweater is particularly fetching (or maybe it’s because I’ve been assembling a little stash of similar sweaters, scarves and 40s style pants for the fall? That outfit is kind of my “dream look” for the season! ;). Thanks for sharing these images with us!

    1. Liz October 3, 2011 — 12:55 PM

      I’m planning on sharing this striped sweater for my free, weekly pattern post this week.

      You’re so sweet for always posting up my patterns in your weekly round-up. I’ve *squeed* out loud to my husband the last few Sundays, after seeing I’ve been featured on your blog. You totally make my day! :)

  10. Tabitha September 29, 2011 — 9:18 PM

    I’ve been stalking your blog for so long, it’s time I commented !I have learned so much and been so inspired by reading your blog. ( I’ve got a scalloped hemmed dress in the works for my daughter based on your skirt.)

    Perhaps you’ve already heard of it, but if not, you should check out The website set up is a little dated, but the content is fantastic. I warn you though, there are a lot of great vintage patterns there that just may end up on your to knit list.

    1. Liz October 3, 2011 — 12:49 PM

      Hey Tabitha! Thanks so much for leaving me a comment and sharing the free vintage patterns link. I have been to that site before, but I don’t check it on a regular basis for new patterns. I’ll have to be mindful to visit them more often. :)

      I can’t even begin to tell you how many vintage knitting patterns are on my to-do list. As soon as I find one I’m comitted to knitting, another pattern pops up and makes me forget about the first one… This goes on and on and on…. heh

      Thanks again for leaving me a comment. Don’t be a stranger. :)

  11. Sophie September 30, 2011 — 5:17 PM

    well, i couldn’t help being a copycat either… although i didn’t find the majestic silver embossed version of the book, i did get my hands on the 1949 edition. can’t wait to start thumbing though it for inspiration!

    1. Liz October 3, 2011 — 12:45 PM

      YAY! You’re going to love this book! There are a lot more patterns that I didn’t share that are just as lovely.

  12. Maxine October 1, 2011 — 2:56 PM

    What a beautiful book – inside and out! I *love* that final dress pic you show.

  13. Helene April 21, 2013 — 5:16 AM

    Love, love love the dress. So very pretty! I’d love to have it, and I’d not mind making it.

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