Sanquhar Scarf by Nathan Taylor

Sanquhar Scarf

October 2014
Light Fingering ?
30 stitches and 41 rows = 4 inches
in Stocking Stitch in Double-Knitting
US 3 - 3.25 mm
1750 - 1859 yards (1600 - 1700 m)
One Size - 227.5 cms (7ft 9.5in) in length by 26 cms (10.25 ins) in width.
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This really long, luxurious scarf is double-knitted for extra comfort, and features all of the traditional Sanquhar knitting patterns that I could find.

Sanquhar is a small town in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and is famous for a couple of reasons. One: it has the oldest working Post Office in the world, and two: it has given rise to one of the most fascinating knitting traditions that I have ever come across.

The two-colour patterns that evolved in Sanquhar are intricate, geometric, symmetrical, and astonishingly beautiful. Many of the designs are based on a grid of 11x11 stitches, and are known as the “dambrod” (an old word for draughts board) patterns. There are many different examples of dambrod patterns, and they have wonderfully evocative names: the Rose, the Drum, the Glendyne, and the most famous of them all, the Duke. The other style of patterns are all-over patterns known as the Tweed patterns, and take their inspiration very much from the older woven designs from non-knitted fabrics. They also have great names: the Shepherd’s Plaid, the Pheasant’s Eye, the Fleur de Lys, etc.

I became slightly obsessed with these patterns a couple of years ago, when I first discovered them while looking into historic British knitting traditions. The elegant simplicity of their construction captivated me, and I was fascinated by just how many designs were possible using just two colours in such a small number of stitches. Not being an expert in stranded knitting, I wanted to find a way of using these patterns, but perhaps in a new way, giving the old traditions a modern application.

Double-knitting seemed to me to be the perfect way of bringing these centuries-old designs into the 21st Century.

I wanted to incorporate as many aspects of the Sanquhar gloves into the scarf as possible, so I’ve taken the idea of the corrugated rib cuff, and turned that into the “fringe” of the scarf. Then comes the initials panel. As I’ve already said, this aspect of the gloves was usually worked into the wristband, so I’ve positioned it in a similar place in the scarf’s structure. I then wanted to include as many different traditional patterns as possible into the body of the scarf, so I’ve worked out a schematic that alternates between dambrod patterns and tweed patterns as they work up the scarf. You’ll notice that I’ve started AND ended with the Duke pattern. This is entirely deliberate, and is intended to give the impression of symmetry to the scarf even though all the other patterns only feature once each.


An introduction to the basics of double-knitting

Detailed instructions for how to create charts for Non-Reversible Double-Knitting, so that your initials can be readable on both sides

Charts for the full alphabet, in the traditional style of the Sanquhar gloves, taken from extensive research and first-hand charting from the gloves themselves - includes many alternative letter styles to choose from

Also includes separate charts of all the letters upside-down, to make charting the initials panel at the top of the scarf easier

Charts for 14 different Sanquhar patterns, again, taken directly from original items, and charted by the designer

Links to specially-recorded video tutorials for unusual techniques

Detailed instructions on how to work corrugated rib in double-knitting

Detailed tutorial on how to perform the Kitchener graft to close the ends of the scarf, from only one needle, without having to separate the two sides of the fabric first

All in all, this pattern will lead you through the steps needed to knit a very special scarf indeed, for you to wear with pride.