Have you been to Sanquhar? I am ashamed to say that I hadn’t — until Saturday.
At the workshop May MacCormick, who has knitted literally hundreds of pairs of Sanquhar gloves, was demonstrating her considerable skills.
I was particularly intrigued by the finger gussets, which, as I understand it, are a unique feature of these gloves.
My comrade-in-wool Tom of Holland, gave a great talk about Sanquhar patterns and the many different ways in which they have inspired him, from the creation of swiss-darned socks to pencil case patterns
Then over at the Tolbooth Museum we were introduced to many intriguing items from the collection. I particularly liked the selection of gloves that had been commissioned by a local cyclist to match her different outfits. She possessed gloves in Sanquhar patterns knitted in wonderful shades of russet and gold, and must have cut a very striking figure as she zipped about on her bike.
Her beautiful gloves were evidently much loved and used, as is apparent from their very visible mends.
One thing that particularly intrigues me about the Sanquhar story is the relationship between the local carpet industry, and domestic hand knitting.
Woven rugs and carpets, with geometric monochrome patterns similar to those that characterise the gloves, were created in the homes of Sanquhar folk. The gloves were knitted from the strong yarns used to weave these rugs, as well as from the drugget threads that were used in John McQueen’s Mill, a carpet and blanket manufacturer formerly situated in Crawick, near Sanquhar.
It was a day which brought much knitterly food for thought.
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the folk at A’ The Airts, many exciting projects are underfoot: projects that will assure a bright future for the distinctive knitting styles of Sanquhar. I thought A’ the Airts was a very inspiring place: one of those exemplary, welcoming community arts centres which local folk really feel part of and proud of – and with reason. When you have an opportunity, I suggest you go and visit the centre and the Tolbooth Museum, and make sure you leave time to have lunch in the cafe, and enjoy some of Norma Simmon’s fantastic locally produced and home-cooked food.
Thanks to Glasgow University and A’the Airts for a great day.