What is the Sanquhar Pattern? It is a style of knitting that originated in the town of Sanquhar, Scotland in the 18th century. And it isn’t just one pattern but a variety of patterns comprised of two contrasting colors, most often black and white, that create a distinctive geometric design.
In the late 1700s, the entire Scottish hand-knitting industry was in decline due to the loss of trade with the American colonies and the progressive industrialization of the processing of wool. It is thought that the Sanquhar Pattern was developed in an attempt to create a product that stood out and thus protected the livelihood of local knitters. Exports of Sanquhar garments reached their peak during the Victorian era. Knitted gloves, mittens, and stockings from this region were especially sought after for their high quality and unusual designs. Another unique feature of Sanquhar gloves was that that the wearer’s initials were knitted into the wrist.
Some of the designs were named for benefactors and dignitaries. The Duke is named for the Duke of Buccleuch who placed large orders of gloves for himself and his family in the 1880s. The Glendyne was named after Robert Nivison, a native of Sanquhar and successful financier, when he was raised to the peerage in 1922 and given the title Lord Glendyne of Sanquhar. The Rose was created to commemorate the birth of Princess Margaret Rose in 1930, and was all the rage thoughout the 1930s.
Today, thanks to the internet, the Sanquhar Pattern has gone global, and tourists visit the town of Sanquhar from all over the world to see where it all began. Sanquhar is also known for its tiny post office, which is the oldest working post office in the world.
The Sanquhar Patterns can be divided into three types: 1) the dambrod designs consisting of a grid of black lines on a white ground that is filled in with diamond or cross variations, 2) the all-over designs such as checks, dots, and other small motifs, and 3) the linear designs that are used for cuffs and fingers. Julia saw the dambrod designs with their square geometry as perfectly suited for re-creation as crystal collages.
To Julia, the most compelling characteristic of the Sanquhar Pattern is that it is both a traditional pattern with a long history and strikingly modern at the same time. In 2014, an initiative called Sanquhar Pattern Designs was set up to revive and preserve this unique local tradition. Julia encourages you to visit their website at www.sanquharknits.com.