SanQR - 21st Century Sanquhar incorporating QR Barcode - QR 3D Manchester Science Fair Exhibition Gloves, [] 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)

Development and Adaptation

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)

Black and White Gloves in ‘Rose’ and ‘Drum’ Patterns. Designer/Knitter: Michelle Poulin-Alfeld, Utah. Yarn: Cascade 220 Fingering, 100% wool, 273 yards/50 grams, 11 sts/inch on 2.25 mm/US Size 1 needles. (Photo: Michelle Poulin-Alfeld)

Varying the Historical Patterns

Here are examples of gloves that play with historical grid patterns and design conventions.  Most of the examples shown were created by students attending workshops in Sanquhar knitting taught by Beth Brown-Reinsel.

Michelle Poulin-Alfeld, who started a study group in her town, comments:

“I loved learning the traditional basic construction used for Sanquhar gloves: specific stitch and round count, defined block (dambrod) patterns, gussets between the fingers, and the elegant use of pleated fingers. And yet the structural constraints in which the destiny of each stitch was known surprisingly became a template for creativity and personalization of an entire series of these charming gloves. The intuitive and comforting rhythm of knitting them drew me to my knitting nest daily. What started for me as a gasp of awe when I saw the first marvelous pair knitted in Scotland was followed with that same response with each finished pair I made, both from me and from loved ones who received them.”

Here, Michelle knitted one glove in the ‘Rose’ pattern (left), and the other in the ‘Drum’ pattern (right), making a subtly mismatched pair. The difference between the two patterns lies in whether the central stitch in the diamond is surrounded orthogonally by stitches of the same colour or contrasting colour.

In another example, she changed the look of the glove by omitting the cuff rib, giving a rather sleeker look to the overall appearance.

Grey and White Gloves in an original unnamed pattern using 7 × 7 stitches. Designer/Knitter: Diane Pearsall. Yarn: Unknown. (Photo: Diane Pearsall)

Varying the Grid Size

The Sanquhar patterns are usually 9 stitches × 9 stitches inside the grid, but contemporary knitters in these workshops have altered the dimensions:

For example, the grey and white gloves in an original unnamed pattern use motifs measuring 7 stitches × 7 stitches, a smaller grid. (First Slide Image)

The ‘Compass Rose’ gloves use motifs of 11 stitches × 11 stitches, a larger grid. (Second Slide Image)


Green and White Gloves in ‘Winter’ Pattern. Designer/Knitter: Beth Brown-Reinsel. Yarn: Upton Yarns Cotswold × Romney Fingering weight, 105 yards/25 grams, 12 sts/inch on 1.75 mm/US Size 00 needles. (Photo: Beth Brown-Reinsel)

Improvising New Patterns

Knitters also replace the historical patterns with new ones of their own devising, as these three examples show.


“I have been knitting and researching these gloves for some years and love the discipline of designing within the parameters that the style demands.” – Angharad Thomas

“The patterns for both came from various places in my Estonian book collection. I pulled from knitting patterns, embroidery patterns, anything I could find that had a tiny pattern that might fit in the grid.“ – Nancy Bush


Fingerless Glove (left), Fingerless Mitt (right) in ‘Duke’ Pattern. Designer/Knitter: Beth Brown-Reinsel Yarn: Upton Yarn Cotswold × Romney Fingering weight, 105 yards/25 grams, 13 sts/inch. (Photo: Beth Brown-Reinsel)

Other Hand Coverings

Adapting Sanquhar Techniques for Other Hand Coverings

The gloves form can be adapted to other types of hand coverings, as shown in these examples of fingerless gloves and mitts.


Sanquhar Cowl in a sampler of Sanquhar patterns. Designer/Knitter: Wendy D. Johnson (“WendyKnits” on Ravelry), Alexandria, Virginia. Yarn: Woolfolk Tynd 100% merino in Black and White, 223 yards/50 grams, 7 sts/inch on 3.25 mm/US Size 3 needles. (Photo: Wendy D. Johnson)

Beyond the Glove

Adapting Sanquhar Techniques for Other Garments

Sanquhar patterns, in particular the ‘Duke’ pattern, have been adapted for use in garments other than gloves. Designers have created socks, scarves, cowls, sweaters, and even a coat. Here we show a selection of these adaptations.

Slide 1:

“Nice use of a variegated yarn to give interest to the brown squares. These socks were first published in Cast-On, the magazine of The Knitting Guild Association (“TKGA”).” – Beth Brown-Reinsel

“Almost eight years ago, a photograph of a Sanquhar glove in the ‘Duke’ pattern crossed my desk, and I was immediately smitten with the beautiful stranded work. The fine gauge, the cunning little gussets, the geometrical design… what was there not to love? I found a pattern and began plotting to make a pair. The clean lines and small repeats were perfect for mittens, socks, hats, and just about anything else knit. I love watching the patterns develop on my needles, growing row by row and block by block.  (When one is knitting at 14 stitches to the inch, it is encouraging to see such growth.) I am sure there are many more Sanquhar-inspired projects in my future.” – Carolyn Vance

Slide 2:

“A few years ago, I became utterly transfixed by the intricate simplicity, and/or the simple intricacy of the Sanquhar patterns. The gloves are so beautiful, but knowledge of them is quite niche, and I couldn’t bear the thought that one day, the patterns might disappear forever. I genuinely hope that my scarf will help, in part, to preserve the Sanquhar patterns, showing that even the most delicate and fragile traditions can stand up to, and even benefit from development and innovation.” – Nathan Taylor


Slide 3:

Wendy D. Johnson adapted the Sanquhar patterns into a knitted cowl sampler. There are at least 60 interpretations of this cowl on Ravelry. Perhaps the appeal of this project is that it gives knitters a chance to make these fascinating little patterns without the challenges presented by glove construction. Also, cowls have become a fashion staple over the last few years.


Slide 4:

This coat, designed by Judy Furlong, is created using panels of the ‘Duke’ pattern for the body and the ‘Fleur-de Lys’ motif for the sleeves with one of the classic ribbing patterns for the neck, cuffs, and part of the hem.


Slide 5:

Tom of Holland has knitted Sanquhar gloves and then adapted them to these pencil cases, to be found on his blog.