Nfld. & Labrador

Who knit ya? Book about Newfoundland mittens so successful it has a sequel

The warm and fuzzy success story of a book about traditional Newfoundland mitten patterns isn't without its loose thread.

Book about locally-crafted mittens in high demand with a follow up just as popular

The Saltwater Classics book is a sequel to Saltwater Mittens. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

The warm and fuzzy success story of a book about traditional Newfoundland mitten patterns isn't without its loose thread. 

Saltwater Mittens by Shirley Scott and Christine Legrow is doing very well, they say.

So well, in fact, that it's putting pressure on its publisher to keep up with the demand. 

The book is a how-to on knitting your own mittens, and Gavin Will, president of Boulder Books, said sales have far exceeded expectations to the point where Saltwater Mittens has had to have been reprinted three times.

"It exploded. It went wild. We were basically caught with our pants down with the demand," Will told CBC Radio's Weekend AM.

Gavin Will, president of Boulder Books, said Saltwater Mittens was such a huge success that his company published 10,000 copies of its follow up just to be prepared. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

"I thought maybe if we could sell maybe 1,000 copies, 2,000 copies, we'd be doing OK and just go on from there."

For a company that employs only five people, who all work from home, Will said things can get a little hectic when they have a bona fide blockbuster on their hands.

Especially around the holiday season, when the book sold out on two different occasions, according to Will.

Follow up

One success story deserves another, and Scott and Legrow have made a sequel to their first hit. 

Saltwater Classics is preparing to hit shelves across North America in mid-September. This book will feature other items to keep you warm over the long and cold winters , including designs for knitted hats, gloves, socks and vamps. 

Shirley Scott and Christine LeGrow are the minds behind the Saltwater series. Saltwater Mittens is so popular that their publisher has had to reprint the book on three separate occasions. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

Will said this time, Boulder started with a modest 10,000 printed copies, but he has already gone back to the printer for more copies — well above Boulder's usual printing numbers.

"It's a problem you want to have, but it's still a problem."

Will said a lot of the pressure comes from trying to break into the U.S. market, where distributors' timelines for product are six to eight months in advance, which he said can be a bit of a challenge. 

Gavin Will of Boulder Books talk about how his small publishing company is keeping up with the demand of two of its biggest sellers, and Heather checks out a very, very large collection of salt and pepper shakers. 22:10

Amazon

Saltwater Mittens and Saltwater Classics are also now featured on Amazon, which is a game changer when it comes to keeping up with supply, Will said.

The online retailer sells practically anything a person could ever seek out, and brings in billions of dollars annually on book sales alone.

"Amazon is the big beast nowadays when it comes to book selling. ... I believe that a lot of the U.S. demand is being met through Amazon, and what we're used to is Canadian-type demand," Will said.

"So when you try to reach the U.S. market you're suddenly in a new universe in terms of supplying a market that's 10 times larger than you're used to dealing with at the top end."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Weekend AM

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