textiles · exploration · misadventure

Sequence Knitting: Some Thoughts on Price and Value

coverClara Parkes recently wrote a glowing review on Cecelia Campochiaro’s Sequence Knitting, a new technique manual recently published by Chroma Opaci Books.

There’s been some online complaint about the high price of the book. I was curious, so I went and checked it out. This is my opinion and includes a little guesswork, but as a former production editor—I made books for a living—here’s my take on why it’s priced as it is, and why it’s worth it if you’re interested in the subject matter.

At 388 pages, the book is of fair size, and contains over 900 charts and images. I made similar books (subject education, not textiles, boooo!) and that much art = $$$$, especially when the publisher or author arranges a fine photo shoot for the book, which appears to be what happened here given the cohesion and resolution of the art.

Clara mentioned this book had a pedigree and a sophisticated design. I agree. Given the interior use of blank space, text, and art, I’m certain this book was laid out page by page, instead of having a general design that you would basically just throw all your text and images into, let things fall where they will, and then tune for the niceties. Very few books are laid out this way anymore. It is a work of art by a talented typesetter/designer, in which each page has been purposefully planned. And that = $$$$.

The book is also Smythe sewn, one of the highest quality binding styles there are. I mean, it’s archival, and is used for textbooks and library books meant to hold their own against years of wear. And that = $$$$.

I’m no paper expert, but given the care lavished on the art, design, and binding, they’ve likely used top notch paper. Thick, coated, and/or acid-free paper would be archival too… and $$$$.

I think the price and quality speak to the publisher’s faith that the book has the potential to become an industry reference over time, along the lines of Principles of Knitting. They want this book to last. It’s durable as all get out, and given the shoddy standards of SO MUCH manufacturing these days, I appreciate a business going to the lengths necessary to make something last more than three years* before it dissolves. You buy this book, and your descendants will be knitting with it 70 years from now. It’s like that beautiful old handmade (fill in the blank) of your grandmother’s that’s still in such great shape.

I know it’s not an option for everyone, but libraries will have this soon, and many libraries have comprehensive inter-library loan programs. You might consider checking it out, and if you love it and want to endlessly rifle through it and play, then consider purchasing your own copy.

That’s where I’ll be starting.

*three years: our country’s legal description of “durable goods” states that they must last “three years”. Three years. I don’t know about you, but this fries my goose. My idea of durable goods is my grandmother’s mixer, with which my sister is still baking.