Insane Sanquhar Gloves

I’d spent a whole day at Ally Pally, enjoyed myself, bought some pretty things but hadn’t seen that one “to die for” project to make my heart race. In fact, I think I’d gone Wool-blind from seeing too much lovely yarn! Then I spotted a Japanese lady sitting at her stall doing the most incredible Fair Isle while chatting to customers. I would have had to insist that the whole of Ally Pally was silent to knit what she was doing while barely looking!

Then I saw them – Sanquhar Gloves! I had to buy the kit to make them. You know how I love a challenge…

I think I got a real bargain – 4 different glove patterns and 4 balls of yarn for £15! 😀

No idea what a Sanquhar Glove is? A piccy of some completed ones that live in the Future Museum

Aren’t they intricate?

A quick bit of history now.

Sanquhar is a small town in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. There was a thriving glove knitting industry there in the 1800’s. There are several designs, all are done with the two handed Fair Isle technique and traditionally have the wearer’s initials worked into the cuff. The patterns and construction of the gloves cannot be altered so size is determined by changing the needle size. Read more about the history here and more pictures of old gloves here.

The yarn is Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Lace Yarn – Eeekk it’s fine 😯

The Gloves are usually black and white but I chose 2 shades of pink so they’ll match my Daisy scarf. You can see the pattern in that piccy too. I have chosen to do the “Duke design”. It’s the most popular and I thought it would be the easiest to memorise (I’m making my life hard enough already!!)

The pattern is written and distributed by the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute and can be purchased here for the princely sum of 60p!

Guess what size needles these are done on….2.5mm like socks maybe?

HA! 😮 I wish!

To make a pair to fit “a lady’s hand” I am using 1.5mm needles (that’s an old UK No.16 or a USA 000). That’s tiny!

I managed to find “The Susan Bates Sock Set” of tiny DPNs on the Knitting & Crotchet Guild’s website. It’s 4 sets of DPNS in tiny sizes – 1.5mm,1.75mm, 2.25mm and 2.25mm. I’d never seen any DPNs that small before!

Want to see my progress?

Here I’ve just got past the cuff and the thumb gusset

For some reason, Ben found the phrase “Thumb Gusset” hysterical and spent a day giggling and muttering “thumb gusset” to himself – Little things….. 😉 I’m a little worried at the reaction I’ll get when I break the news to him that the base of each finger has a triangular “Finger Gusset” – he may explode…

The main part of the glove has gone much quicker than I thought it would. I think it’s because of that “I’ll just finish the next pattern repeat” thing that happens when we knitters do patterns, stripes or cables – I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.

Here’s where I am today…

You can see my initials on the cuff – I should have spent more time on the lettering – It should say “S . J . C .” but it looks rather like “SIC”!

Looking at the 18cm long DPNs and stitchholders on the fingers reminds me of childhood….

Anyone else have Kerplunk?

23 Responses

  1. Aberdonian
    Aberdonian November 29, 2007 at 1:01 pm | | Reply

    Wow! You’re doing really great on those. Well done!

  2. ContinentalCat
    ContinentalCat December 1, 2007 at 8:46 pm | | Reply

    It looks incredibly difficult, but sooo beautiful. And I agree with Ben, ‘Thumb Gusset” is a funny term 😉

  3. Yvonne Kolesar
    Yvonne Kolesar December 2, 2007 at 10:51 pm | | Reply

    They’re coming on beautifully and they look even more brilliant in real life – so what’s wrong with a gusset – great word in anyone’s imagination…..

  4. Soo
    Soo December 3, 2007 at 10:41 am | | Reply

    Those gloves are amazing – they look fabulous already. I just finished some Selbuvotter mittens and the thumb on 15cm dpns was fiddly enough for me!!

    I’ve heard rumours of small ‘glove’ dpns — but I’ve never seen them anywhere.

  5. bee
    bee January 6, 2008 at 7:02 am | | Reply

    They are beautiful. I want to give it a try.

  6. B Trotwood
    B Trotwood January 24, 2008 at 2:13 pm | | Reply

    Where can I buy/get hold of the Sanquhar patterns, please?

  7. susan crowe
    susan crowe January 24, 2008 at 2:33 pm | | Reply

    Hi Betsy

    There is a link in the post to the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute.

    It takes you to this site…

    Good luck!


  8. Patricia Fletcher
    Patricia Fletcher January 24, 2008 at 2:52 pm | | Reply

    Hello Susan
    Thanks to your website I have now emailed the SWRI to order either a kit or the patterns for the Sanquhar gloves! I heard about them today on Radio 4 in a programme about Sanquhar and had to find out more. Of course, having seen them on-line I just have to make some! I am a very keen knitter and am Scottish to boot! Have you finished the gloves yet?

  9. susan crowe
    susan crowe January 24, 2008 at 4:53 pm | | Reply

    Hi Patricia

    Ahhh – Radio 4 has been talking about them – that explains all the hits I’ve just seen coming in to this page…

    My latest update on the gloves is here:-

    After this little problem they have been “resting” while I knit other things – I promise to get back to them soon though.


  10. penelope smoker
    penelope smoker January 25, 2008 at 4:29 am | | Reply

    Hello there Sue,
    I am a true Brit living in America at the moment and I listen to BBC Radio 4 on mycomputer every morning whilst having my cup of tea, so i heard the programme about these gloves this morning and as I am an avid knitter I was very curious. having done some internet searching found your wed site and a link to get a pattern. I hope they will send one to America. I shall watch you progress with interest.

    Penelope Smoker

  11. Charlotte Whitelaw
    Charlotte Whitelaw March 13, 2008 at 2:32 pm | | Reply

    I live in Scotland about 30 miles south of Sanquhar where these patterns were first knitted. I have copies of quite a few of the patterns. I am having difficulty in sourcing the correct yarn which is 3 ply pure wool in black and white. I have tried Jamieson and Smiths 2 ply lace yarn but it is wound too loosely and I would prefer a firmer glove as was the original. I am happy to supply patterns – can you help with the proper yarn.
    Charlotte, Dumfries, Scotland

  12. Joy
    Joy October 5, 2008 at 2:42 pm | | Reply

    If Charlotte, Dumfries, Scotland, gets in touch I can assist her.

  13. Pat Caris
    Pat Caris October 15, 2008 at 12:27 am | | Reply

    Hello there,

    Having “rescued” a pair of Sanquhar gloves, knitted by my mother, before she sent them off to a charity shop I am keen to locate the correct wool. I think she’d run out of the wool as the finger on one was unfinished but she’d completed it using an angora mix and it obviously doesn’t look “right”. Can you help me, please? I hope to give them back to her and let her see the current world wide interest via the net then persuade her to re-knit the finger. I am sure she doesn’t value her efforts and takes her kniiting skills for granted.

    Thanks and keep up with your good work.

  14. Joanne Garzia
    Joanne Garzia April 17, 2009 at 11:58 am | | Reply

    I would love to see you put out a instructional dvd.
    That would be very helpful in making these gloves and doing this kind of knitting.

    thanks. Joanne

  15. anne durante
    anne durante April 20, 2009 at 2:56 am | | Reply

    Just came across this website. Wow, does this bring back memories,
    6th grade at Sanquhar Academy we were required to knit these for a grade on our report card!!! I need to see if I can still do it , hope the link to the WRI is still good.

  16. Sandi Beecher
    Sandi Beecher August 19, 2009 at 7:23 pm | | Reply

    Following the piece on Womans Hour, I wrote to the Scottish women and they sent me a pack of patterns for around £3.50. They were photocopied, but not very well. I spent a long time trying to locate three ply wool before finding some on E-Bay. When it arrived it turned out to be 2 ply which Jamieson & Smith kindly told me might be theirs in which case it would actually knit as 3 ply. I have been knitting socks all year (with the odd “umbilical chord” hat) and thought it was time to have a go at the gloves. I have been a knitter for 60 years and have knitted both fair isle and gloves but the pattern I chose (Shepherd’s plaid) became unintelligible after a few inches. Only one of the patterns actually gives sizes, apart from ladies and mens (which really isn’t enough). I have the Duke design and also a Prince of Wales pattern which has measurements but a terrible reproduction of the pattern and the odd weird instruction (possibly a misprint). I am so glad I found your site and can see that you have actually manged the Duke design. I managed to acquire a pair of something like size 14 needles for the Shepherd’s Plaid design which started with size 11 which I had used for the socks. I think I may have a go with them as my hands are not really tiny though I always have medium rubber gloves, or perhaps, I’ll take them back to the shop and see if they have size 16 but I doubt it. And it seemed such a nice challenge to start with! Did you use size 16 and how big have they turned out to be, please?

  17. Susie
    Susie December 30, 2009 at 11:59 pm | | Reply

    I’ve got to the first finger. I cannot figure out what/how to do the gusset… it’s just so difficult!

    Looking at my own fingers, the long side of the triangle (9 cast on stitches) should be on the palm side, but the SWRI Duke pattern doesn’t make it easy or clear. I’m going to have to abandon them if I don’t find a clear picture of how this gusset works — help!

  18. Fiona Dyer
    Fiona Dyer February 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm | | Reply

    Hi, Susie, Congratulations for taking on Sanquhar gloves. The nine stitches of the gusset should lie between the front and back of the glove, and taper away to nothing as you knit the first five rounds of the finger. These nine stitches are then picked up to form the basis of the third side of the next finger, along with the stitches from the palm, and back, which make up the other two sides. Hope that helps. It’s a bit difficult to explain in words!

    All the best with them

  19. GavinHodgson
    GavinHodgson October 21, 2010 at 11:03 pm | | Reply

    Lovely to see pictures of Sanquhar gloves, just like the ones my mother knitted in the forties while working in a school in Moniaive, Dumfriesshire, which is where I think she must have been taught how to do them. I have two pairs: one brown and cream, and the other green and black. She had no written pattern, so how she managed to do them, I don’t know! I think she also knitted some Sanquhar mitts. Anyway, great to read about them and be reminded of her love of knitting. Thank you.

  20. siouxian
    siouxian May 16, 2011 at 7:30 am | | Reply

    You were inspired by the Japanese lady and me by you. I have started out with a few commercial patterns for my projects before tackling the SWRI patterns. Evenwith those I have worked the seond finger a couple of times to master the construction. I can post some more detailed photos on my blog. It is basiacally a diary of my Sanquhar studies so far. Like you I am in awe of the skill these knitters had and would love to see it revived. Have another go! What you did do looked great, a shame not to use.

  21. Laura
    Laura August 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm | | Reply

    I tried to email the sales department of the SWRI and never received a response… does anyone know how to know how much P&P is to either US or S Korea? Been dying to get the patterns, but can’t seem to find but one of the types online….

  22. Kristin Reid
    Kristin Reid November 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm | | Reply

    Where may I purchase the same fine yarn in Aberdeen?

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