It’s over: After 4 books, a popular knitting series is coming to an end

Christine LeGrow models trigger mitts made from the pink-dyed wool from Baynoddy, the craft shop and farm that Linda Lewis runs in Chapel’s Cove. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)

Many people in Newfoundland and Labrador have turned to knitting during the COVID-19 pandemic – and no one knows it better than the two women who wrote a series of bestselling books filled with local patterns.

Christine LeGrow and Shirley A. Scott are well known for their popular knitting books, the Saltwater Knit Series, and they conclude with their fourth and final book, Saltwater socks. They kicked off the series with Saltwater Mitts, which was released in 2018.

“Four pounds in five years. For women who are way beyond the point of needing a new career. … It’s wonderful to have this job to do,” Scott said in a recent interview, adding that she and LeGrow have found knitting to be a great comfort over the past two years.

“It was wonderful to have a purpose during the pandemic, you know. And something to do in the winter, that was invaluable to me. And something creative to do in the winter.”

Don’t know how to knit socks? Authors Christine LeGrow and Shirley A. Scott focused on patterns for home knitters to use. (Block Books)

When it came to their books, LeGrow said, people had lots of suggestions for what they should tackle next, and they went for socks off for their latest book.

“So many people, like we did for every book, said to Shirley and I, ‘Are you going to do a book about socks? Are you going to do a book about sweaters? Are you going to make a children’s book? So we opted for socks because socks are such an important part of Newfoundland’s knitting heritage. And we thought we really wanted to give them their due,” LeGrow said.

Their new book doesn’t just have sock patterns, but also headbands, caps and trigger mitts, she said, as well as plenty of nautical-themed prints.

Launch derailed by Fiona

Scott’s favorite knitting pattern in Saltwater socks is for leg warmers called Warm Ups For Legs.

“It was in Middle Cove Beach in the middle of winter, just to take a little walk there and it was so cold I had to go back to the car. I thought we needed something like this to put our jeans on in the winter and to keep the sloop away from everything. So I really, really like them and knit them in my spare time,” Scott laughed.

The couple were in Charlottetown last weekend to officially launch the book at the PEI Fiber Festival. That plan, however, was derailed by post-tropical storm Fiona, which canceled the festival. They were able to have a signing session at a store instead.

Saltwater socks will launch in Newfoundland on October 6 at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Water Street store in St. John’s.

When it was a theme for Saltwater socksLeGrow said they were intentional with the model choices.

“In this book, we have chosen the theme of all the iconic things Newfoundland is known for, for tourists and for ourselves.”

For example, there’s the Sound Waves sock model, inspired by whale songs, and the Signal Hill Vamps with “heart-shaped soles” — when you look at the foot, you can see a heart, LeGrow said.

After Saltwater Mitts came out in 2018, Boulder Books asked them if they’d like to do more, so they decided on two more books, LeGrow said.

They followed the first book with Saltwater Classics in 2019 and Saltwater Gifts in 2020, which was supposed to be the concluding book.

A pattern for leggings is included in Saltwater Socks, the latest book in the series. (Block Books)

But the books picked up steam under lockdown and sold very well, LeGrow recalls, so Boulder Books asked if they would do a fourth book, and they decided to focus on socks.

Not only is the Saltwater Knits series popular with locals, but also tourists, who pick up the books as keepsakes and coffee table books, LeGrow said. The book is also filled with stories about the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Scott said it was great to see how well received the books were and how people enjoyed their work, as well as the spectacular photos in the books.

LeGrow and Scott will be busy with a whirlwind book tour, including stops at Cast On! Cast Off’s new store at Triton and Some Good Market at Clarke’s Beach.

Since the Saltwater Knits series began, LeGrow said, they’ve held webinars with yarn shops in other provinces, including Prince Edward Island and Alberta, and they’ve some upcoming dates in the United States.

“We have a very tight schedule with an online presence, so we won’t be bored,” LeGrow said. The pandemic has opened up a new virtual world for them to share their knitting knowledge and stories, she added.

Christine LeGrow, left, and Shirley A. Scott have produced four books for knitters in almost as many years. (Block Books)

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