Development and Adaptation

4. Sanquhar Gloves as a Living Tradition

This section explores how contemporary knitters have adapted elements of Sanquhar gloves, both by building upon established methods and by using elements in unexpected ways.

Knitting traditional Sanquhar gloves and patterns is challenging and fascinating to many contemporary knitters; as they work, the patterns evolve and develop in ways that reflect current influences. Further, as knitters have admired and knitted Sanquhar gloves over the years, they have also adapted the patterns and conventions of Sanquhar knitting to design and develop their own variations. Some knitters today alter, personalise, or modernize the two-colour patterns, but otherwise continue to make the gloves according to the accepted conventions. Others transfer both traditional and adapted forms of the two-colour patterns to new garments, including mittens, mitts, and other types of garments.

Adapted patterns often use the basic grid or ‘dambrod,’ as in the ‘Duke’ design, as a starting point. Recent adaptations vary from skull and crossbones to mathematical symbols. Further adaptations can be made by varying the size of the squares away from the standard 9 × 9 stitches, and several examples like this are shown in the exhibit.

Finally, the exhibit shows how the patterns have been adapted for socks, which are are an obvious choice for using the small two-colour Sanquhar patterns effectively. Also shown are examples of neckwear and other garments knitted in Sanquhar patterns, including a full-length coat.

SanQR – 21st Century Sanquhar incorporating QR Barcode – QR 3D Manchester Science Fair Exhibition Gloves, Pattern. 2011. Designer/Knitter Sue Carne, Slough, UK. Yarn: Jamieson & Smith 2 Ply Lace Weight, 100% wool, 185 yards/25 grams on size 1.75mm/US Size 00 needles. (Photo: Sue Carne)