Saltwater Mittens from the Island of Newfoundland: More than 20 heritage designs to knit


Woollen knitted mittens, especially trigger mittens, have long been a Newfoundlander’s best friend. The warmer the better, in a quirky climate of freeze, thaw, blow, and drizzle. Good mittens made all tasks easier—to split birch, hammer a nail, gut a fish, draw and haul water, hang clothes on a line, shoot a seabird, or snare a rabbit.

Social life, too, always required the finest mittens and gloves. This continues today.   These mittens are as practical as they are beautiful—double-knit with two colours means twice the warmth and wind resistance. The patterns are rated by difficulty and varied in style. These include trigger mitts, wristers, five-finger mittens (a.k.a. gloves), fingerless mitts for wee ones, and, of course, classic mittens for all.   The dozens of colour photographs will inspire you to make your own bold colour choices.

The nuggets of history, and tales of mittens and their knitters, make Saltwater Mittens a book knitters and non-knitters alike can enjoy.

Author Bio

Christine LeGrow & Shirley A. Scott

Christine LeGrow was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland. After a long career in retail she began Spindrift Handknits, a thriving cottage industry that creates local designs that are knit by Newfoundlanders.

Shirley Anne Scott, also known as “Shirl the Purl”, is a Come From Away who made her home in St. John’s in 2006. A librarian by profession, in 1989 she wrote Canada Knits, a history of Canadian knitting that opened many doors.

Both are lifelong knitters with a keen interest in the fascinating traditions of the wonderful place they live in. In the midst of busy lives they have co-written four popular books, Saltwater MittensSaltwater ClassicsSaltwater Gifts and Saltwater Socks.

Christine and Shirley love to celebrate the art of living in Newfoundland through its knitting.

Saltwater Mittens won the Best Atlantic Published Book Award in 2019 and the Saltwater Knitting Series won the 2021 Atlantic Canada Craft Award for Excellence in Product Design.

"This book is absolutely fabulous. Takes the mystery out of the trigger mitts. It is more than a "how to" knitting book–it is a story of the people that make up the magnificent Island of Newfoundland. The photography is "some brilliant" makes you long to be there. This is a book of Culture and Tradition. You don't even have to knit to enjoy it. " -Anonymous Reader

Two women in the province are keeping culture alive by recreating and sharing rare Newfoundland knitting patterns. Christine LeGrow, the owner of Spindrift Handknits, and Shirley "Shirl the Purl" Scott have assembled patterns for hand-knit items such as trigger mitts, flap caps and scarves. Scott, originally from New Brunswick, said Newfoundland has long been known for its variety of knitting patterns — more intricate than the popular diamond pattern of today. "When I first came here in 1979, I saw them and I knew they were special," said Scott. "I never knew that I would live here [one day], and I started buying them up. Over the years, I collected 30 different pairs with different patterns [from] all over Newfoundland. I've got mittens I found in Hibbs Cove, all kinds of places." Last year, Scott passed those traditional patterns on to Sprindrift Handknits. According to Scott, the company is committed to keeping traditional Newfoundland knitting alive. "People should be knitting these again," Scott said. "But, of course, they were never written down. They were passed from one knitter to another." – CBC

WHY WE LOVE IT: Sink into an armchair and cozy up to this special book filled with colorful flap caps, scarves, and rare mitten patterns. Through the work captured in this book, the two local authors aim to keep the tradition and culture of Newfoundland knitting alive.

Tao Tao Holmes, Director of Trip Design and Operations, Altas Obscura

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