I found The Complete Guide to Modern Knitting and Crocheting by Alice Carroll on a whim through Abe Books after seeing a photo of the cover on another blogger’s post. The typography on the cover made it worthwhile for me to track it down. Even if the book was terrible, it’s too beautiful with its burnt orange, book cloth cover stamped with silver ink not to have.
The publication date is 1942 and the book is filled with basic stitch guides as well as an assortment of patterns from the period. Overall there’s a textbook quality to the book which I really like.
In the front of the book is a super handy chart of needle sizes in millimeters and the vintage numbering for them. Thanks to the book I learned that steel DPNs had a different numbering system from straight needles. That was worth the $5 plus shipping right there.
I actually think the stitch pattern guides will be useful as I don’t own many stitch guides and these would be considered commonly used in patterns of this time period.
I originally wanted to see the patterns in the book, especially the ladies garments which are of the period and even include a small range of sizes. There is also a section to help design a garment with various necklines, sleeves, collars and pockets.
The book includes pattern sizes mostly in vintage sizing like 14, 16 or 18 but in some patterns, the sizing are listed as the bust size, most commonly at 34. I found a list of the common measurements for the numbered sizing on Chronically Vintage.
Size 14: 35.5 bust, 27 waist, 38 hips
Size 16: 37 bust, 28.5 waist, 40 hips
Size 18: 39 bust, 30.5 waist, 42 hips
There are patterns for accessories, home decor and garments for men and children as well. There’s even a his-and-hers cardigan set and a men’s fairisle reindeer sweater. I think my husband would never speak to me again if I made him a reindeer sweater. However, there are classic military-style pullovers that he would love.
I was actually surprised that the illustrations in the book were photography. Not that photography wasn’t common in the 40s I just assumed it would have been more cost effective to use illustrations for a large book so I was actually quite delighted.
Finally, in the back of the book was a folded pattern torn out of a McCall’s Treasury of Needlecraft book from the same time period for a hat and mitten set. This was the true treasure for me — I love seeing the items people tuck into books to save and this little pattern is no exception.
If you have an opportunity to pick up this book, I recommend it if only for true vintage details in the photos, patterns and garments.