Whenever folks publish a second (or even other) edition of a book that I really like, I always question why? What has changed? What has been deleted and what has been added? Is it worth the increased price (rarely do new editions come DOWN in price) to upgrade? Has anything been lost in the translation from the previous work?

SDIPE ... first and second editons: a side-by-side comparison

Maggie Righetti’s classic, Sweater Design in Plain English, has just been published in a “second edition”, adding a co-author (Righetti’s friend and fellow retiree). I decided to do a side-by-side comparison for myself (and you, dear reader benefit from my OCD-ness) to see if the additional cost (the reprint of the original was $14.95 while the second edition is $24.99) was truly worth it. [FYI, both the reprinted first edition and the second edition are, as of this writing, still available for purchase — and Amazon is showing them for the same price].

If you’ve never seen SDIPE before, you really should get it — at least from your public library to ensure you like the Righetti-esque style. Personally, this is one of my “must haves” for sweater design and better knitting. It’s a classic text that is fun to read as Righetti has a chatty, I’m-in-your-living-room-with-you style. Her drawings and graphics are very low key — but don’t let them fool you; the text that accompanies these drawings is excellent! This is not a glitzy, color-drenched book but rather one woman’s take on how best to design hand-knit garments.

So, what has the second edition added or deleted?

  1. The layout is similar but different — all the text is two-column to ensure greater coverage of material in the same space. Somehow, though, the new layout seems more readable and lighter.
  2. The graphics and schematics are the same, but the photographed samples are cleaner, clearer and easier to see the details.
  3. The new edition took out the Coat of Many Colors (designing a top-down cardigan with leftover yarns — which is a fun and interesting exercise) but kept in the 4-page inches to centimeter chart (why? this chart goes from one inch to 60 inches … and all parts in between!).
  4. The new edition adds yarn-company contacts (for obtaining the yarns mentioned in the texts) including websites, but gives only nodding reference to the plethora of great knitting websites available for help in designing hand-knits.
  5. The new edition has greatly expanded the “pattern stitches” section, adding an additional chapter of more intricate stitches (both written and charted directions) for a total of 45 pages (the first edition only talked about the basic stitches and was 34 pages long) just on knitting stitches and their characteristics.
  6. The new edition does not include the “preventing knitwear disasters: a quick quiz” which was a very useful checklist of items to consider when designing a garment. Not sure why they took it out … other than that the information is scattered throughout the text. I just liked the one-stop-ness of the quiz.
  7. The new edition includes a “common abbreviations/symbols” listing and a glossary with detailed information.
  8. In the appendices, the new edition has deleted the “ounces to grams, yards to meters chart” as well as the knitting needle size conversion chart (showing US, UK and Metric sizing).
  9. The new edition deleted the National Knit/Crochet Standards charts for baby through adult sizing for pattern directions and actual body measurements, but kept in the “Leisure Arts standards”. (Why? Leisure Arts is NOT the standard, CYCA is. The additional measurements Righetti adds are great but I’d rather see what publications require as the standard for fitting hand-knits rather than a single publisher’s “standard”).

    Bottom-line: if you already own the first edition of SDIPE, go ahead and keep it and buy yarn or knitting accessories with the money you would spend on getting the new one. What is added to the new edition isn’t enough of a reason, in my opinion, to buy it unless your copy is tattered and needs replacing. The new edition has a nicer layout but that’s not a deal breaker for me; the additional information is available all over the internet.

    If, however, you don’t currently own SDIPE and would like to improve your knitting, make sweaters that fit and look good on the recipient, or want to begin designing garments, this is a MUST HAVE on your shelf … whether you get the first or second edition.

    BTW, I wrote this review based on my own desire to know what made the two editions different — I did NOT receive a review copy of the 2nd edition, but I did buy it online from Amazon (where you can get it for the best price — the links above will take you to Amazon, and if you buy either book thru that link, I will get a small commission).

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