Many people across Newfoundland and Labrador turned to knitting during the COVID-19 pandemic – and nobody knows that better than the two women who have written a best-selling series of books packed with local designs.
Christine LeGrow and Shirley A. Scott are best known for their popular knitting books, The Saltwater Knit Series, and they are concluding with their fourth and final book. Saltwater Socks. They started the series with saltwater mittens, which was released in 2018.
“Four books in five years. For ladies who are well past the point where they need a new career… It’s been wonderful getting the job done,” Scott said in a recent interview, adding that she and LeGrow found knitting to be something special comfort in the last couple of years.
“It’s been wonderful to have purpose during the pandemic, you know. And doing something in winter was very valuable for me. And to do something creative in winter.”
When it came to her books, LeGrow said people had many suggestions as to what to do next, and they settled on socks for her latest book.
“As with any book, so many people have said to Shirley and I, ‘Are you going to do a sock book? Are you going to do a sweater book? Are you going to do a children’s book?’ So we chose socks because socks are such an important part of Newfoundland’s knitting heritage, and we thought we really wanted to do them justice,” said LeGrow.
In addition to sock patterns, her new book also includes headbands, hats and mittens, she said, as well as lots of nautical motifs.
Start of Fiona derailed
Scott’s favorite knitting pattern in Saltwater Socks is for leg warmers called Warm Ups For Legs.
“It was the middle of winter on Middle Cove beach, I was just taking a little walk there and I was so cold I had to get back to the car. I figured we needed something like this to put on our jeans in the winter Keep the sloop away from everything. So I really like them and I knit them in my spare time,” laughed Scott.
The couple were in Charlottetown last weekend for the official launch of the book at the PEI Fiber Festival. However, this plan was derailed due to Post-Tropical Storm Fiona canceling the festival. They could have a book signing at a store instead.
Saltwater Socks launches October 6th at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Water Street Shop in St. John’s, The Netherlands.
When it came to a topic for Saltwater SocksLeGrow said they were intentional with the pattern selection.
“In this book we’ve tackled the subject of all the iconic things that Newfoundland is known for, for tourists and for ourselves.”
For example, there’s the Sound Waves sock pattern inspired by whale songs, and the Signal Hill vamps with “sweetheart soles” — if you look at the foot, you can see a heart, LeGrow said.
To Saltwater Mittens When it was released in 2018, Boulder Books asked them if they wanted to do more, so they decided on two more books, LeGrow said.
They followed along with the first book Saltwater Classic in 2019 and Saltwater Gifts in 2020, which was supposed to be the final book.
But the books gained momentum under lockdown and sold really well, LeGrow recalled, so Boulder Books asked her if they’d do a fourth book and they decided to focus on socks.
The Saltwater Knits Series is popular not only with locals, but also with tourists who buy the books as souvenirs and illustrated books, LeGrow said. The book is also full of stories about Newfoundland and Labrador culture.
Scott said it was great to see how well the books were received and that people appreciated their work and the books’ spectacular photos.
LeGrow and Scott will engage in a whirlwind book tour, including stops at Cast On! Cast Off’s new store in Triton and Some Good Market in Clarke’s Beach.
Since the Saltwater Knits Series began, LeGrow said they’ve held online seminars with yarn shops in other provinces, including PEI and Alberta, and have a few upcoming dates in the US.
“We’re on a very tight schedule with an online presence, so we never get bored,” LeGrow said. The pandemic has opened up a new virtual world for them to share their knowledge and knitting stories, she added.
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