General blather · Knitting Traditions

At long last, Sanquhar

I’ve been meaning to write about Sanquhar knitting gloves for a while now, but as it turns out, researching a thing and then thinking of a thing to say about it is a little bit harder of posting current work in progress pics and attempting an amusing remark about them.  Who knew!

Anyway, to start, Sanquhar is a town in Scotland, which is famous for a number of things including having a nice museum and also a post office that has been in continuous use since 1712 and claims to be the oldest post office in the world.  But that is not why we are interested in it today.  Though if you are a fan of postal history, you may want to check that out as well.

Why we knitters are interested in Sanquhar is that they developed a distinctive style of glove knitting.  The gloves are knitted in two color stranded colorwork – often white and black, but really it could be anything.  The pattern are very distinctive as well, with the most distinctive being a sort of grid pattern (dambrod) with alternating geometric designs in the grids.


Here’s the first one of the pair I am currently working on.  The other type will have an allover pattern of a check or tweed sort of thing.  They will often have the owner’s initials on one glove and the date on the other, though that is a flourish and not a necessary feature.  The other distinctive thing about these gloves, at least in my limited experience, is that you knit little gussets between the fingers to help with the fit.  Also, to make the gloves fit larger or smaller hands, you don’t change the pattern, you change your needle size and the weight of the yarn you are using, which I also found interesting.  There are a limited number of traditional patterns, which you can purchase at Sanquhar Pattern Design. The tradition is that these patterns went on gloves, but as is the way with a nifty knitting idea, the designs are now used on hats, socks, cowls, legwarmers, sweaters, and pretty much anything else you can knit. Recently a group created an online exhibit showing both traditional items of Sanquhar knitting and recent artistic innovations – new knitters are taking the patterns in interesting new directions!   If you are interested in checking out the many, many different options for working with this technique, start with the Sanquhar knitting Ravelry group and go from there.

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