A bright, sunny Sanquhar welcomed us to our study day on Saturday. Finally we were in the home of the famous Sanquhar knitting and what a treat was in store: gloves and more gloves in the Sanquhar black and white as well as a range of other colourways.
Old gloves in the Tolbooth Museum, new gloves knitted by Tom van Deijnen and Mary McCormick. Just being in the town where this distinctive and now extremely popular style originated was exciting and around 40 keen knitters converged on A’ the Airts, a wonderful community arts resource, to learn more about a knitting tradition that still seems shrouded in mystery.
Hand knitting was to the fore but we were also treated to the opportunity to have a go at Sanquhar ourselves on a knitting machine. A community initiative is investing in knitting machines to produce a range of traditional and new Sanquhar designs. It is the history of Sanquhar knitting, the power of tradition and its rootedness in the local economy and culture that feeds the interest from knitters from Scotland to Japan, but there was much discussion about how important it is to teach the skills and knowledge of hand knitting to the young generation in order for this very special part of Scotland’s heritage to survive.
Thank you to the staff and volunteers at A’ the Airts who made us so welcome, and to everyone who came along with their knitting and enthusiasm.