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Sanquhar Knitting

Decorated wooden knitting needle case


Wooden knitting needle case, for finger needles used for knitting Sanquhar gloves.  It is decorated with a flower motif transfer print on the side.


Sanquhar knitting was traditionally worked in the round on four, five or six needles with points at each end. This is the best way to make socks and gloves as it avoids seams and produces a strong, long lasting garment. It is also the simplest way to knit using two differently coloured yarns as every row is knitted on the right side in plain stitches, and the wool is stranded along the reverse side. This double layer makes a warm and elastic fabric.


The needles and the yarns used were very fine by modern standards and the patterns were intricate. This ensured a market for handknitting long after it became possible to make socks and gloves by machine.


The complexity of the patterns also protected them from imitation. Nowadays gloves are knitted using 3-ply wool and needles ranging from No 13 to No 16 (2 1/4 - 1 1/2mm). As the patterns are constant it is the size of the needles which determines the size of the glove. Sets of finger needles as little as 3" (75mm) long made the knitting of fingers swift and easy.

length 245mm, width 12mm
Sanquhar Tolbooth Museum
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Dumfries & Galloway Council

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