Friday, February 10, 2012

Sanquhar Classic Knits

While doing research on two and three color knitting I discovered Sanquhar knitting. It is from the southern part of Scotland and looks very elvish. It is not quite Norwegian and not quite Fair Isle, but it is beautiful. The patterns are based on squares. Each square is outlined in a darker color and inside the individual squares are a set of geometric shapes in the dark color on a light background. The shapes compliment each other and there is usually a ten row repeat of the patterns. The odd number squares exchange patterns with the even numbered squares back and forth for the length of the piece. These patterns are not for the faint of heart or easily frustrated. Once you master the repeats you can let up your guard some, but it requires close attention for the patterns to be true. I strongly recommend you start them when it is quiet and you are at the top of your game mentally. Sanquhar knitting is a great warm-up for the NYT Sunday puzzle or a hidden object game. You definitely need a row counter and rings to separate the pattern repeats. It is as good as any meditation technique. When I am learning a pattern the whole world fades away and only the colors on the grid come into focus. After thirty minutes I have to take a break or the pattern becomes too hard to follow.

I have a set of socks on the needles now and I shall post them on etsy as soon as they are finished. Sanquhar knits are also great for gloves and scarves. Be careful how tightly you carry the colors. If you pull them too tight the stretch will be gone from the knit. If you don't keep an even tension you will find the individual stitches are not even and that gives you an uneven pattern.

So far the best wool for me has been Peruvian fingering weight wool, but I think it would be a good idea for a less experienced knitter to start on large needles with worsted weight yarn and make a Sanquhar lap robe or scarf. A triangle shawl might also be a good way to start.


  1. Sounds an exciting and unusual knitting technique! One I would have gladly tried in an earlier lifetime - before I began toy-making fulltime. The latter doesn't require so much concentration on counting and pattern-following. That's one of the reasons I have up knitting, which I had done since being taught by my Ayah when living in India, at the age 5 or so.

    Counting was also the reason I preferred knitting to crochet! The latter was "murder" from the counting point of view!

    Look forward to seing the socks. Meanwhile, I'm going back to my toys at and the blog at

    See you there, in between the squares, maybe?

  2. Toy-making is a wonderful occupation. It is a time honored way for women to care for their children. The socks should be on etsy next week. Right now I have basket weave cables and Norwegian style color work posted. The Sanquhar style is challenging, but it is so beautiful. Better than a psychiatrist by a long shot for tension reduction.