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SANQUHAR GLOVES: A SCOTTISH TREASURE

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Sanquhar is a small town in Scotland with the oldest working post office in the world, established in 1712, and a strong old knitting tradition that gives the name to the knitting style. Sanquhar knitting is a collection of patterns, some of which are thought to have originated in the 17th to 18th centuries. However, no specific date can be given.


black and white sanquhar gloves
© https://atheairts.org.uk | © Barbara Knits Again

The pattern is made up of two contrasting colors that form a geometric design. A vast majority of these patterns are based on an 11x11 square geometric framework, and each one has a name. One of the most popular patterns is called the Duke, named after the Duke of Buccleuch, but there are others called Fleur-de-Lys, Rose & Trellis, and Glendyne, among others.


To learn more pattern names and see how they look, check out Sanquhar Pattern Designs Project. This project aims to work within the community, teaching the Sanquhar knitting tradition and allowing locals to have an extra income by producing high-quality knitwear and selling it mainly to tourists.


The Sanquhar pattern can be used in all kinds of garments, but the gloves have been a long-lasting tradition. Even though Sanquhar designs can be knitted on knitting machines, Sanquhar gloves must be hand knitted in the round using fine wool and double-pointed needles, with a challenging tiny gusset at the base of each finger. Some have a gauge of 48 stitches and 56 rows in 4 x 4” (10 x 10 cm). An experienced knitter can take up to 27 hours to knit a pair.


hands knitting gloves with dpns
© sanquharknits.com

The most frequently used colors are black and white or brown and yellow. It’s also common to knit the initials of the owners or even a date above the cuff. They can be made with just one pattern or combine two or more patterns into one knitted glove. The result is always a striking pair of gloves!

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