A historic knitting pattern, the world’s oldest working post office, a thriving arts and craft scene, a spectacular scenic route to reach it all… welcome to the market town of Sanquhar in Dumfries and Galloway.
Its claim to fame?
Sanquhar (pronounced sanker) in the River Nith Valley is home to a rather unique knitting pattern.
It has been seen at London Fashion Week and on TV in BBC’s The Terror, and attracts knitting and heritage enthusiasts from across the globe.
What’s so special about this knitting pattern?
It’s a world-famous geometric design that dates back to the 17th century.
A piece of living history
The Sanquhar pattern is actually a number of patterns – not just one.
But it’s much more than that.
It’s a community project that’s keeping the pattern and the knitting tradition alive.
An ancient tradition is kept alive
The Sanquhar Knitters are preserving and promoting the local hand-knitting tradition by passing on their unique skills, production patterns and the long-term goal of producing high-quality knitwear using the traditional distinctive Sanquhar pattern.
Where can you see it?
There are displays at Sanquhar’s Tolbooth Museum, a splendid Georgian town house showcasing the history of local weaving and handknitting traditions.
Close by is A’ the Airts Community Arts Centre, an arts and crafts hub on the Sanquhar high street, where you can buy items in the famous pattern.
We love a good yarn
From practical everyday items to stylish clothing, all the Sanquhar knitwear is a merino-blend yarn hand-made to order.
Choose from a baby blanket with the name sewn in – an ideal christening gift – a stylish poncho, wrist warmers or cushion covers.
The chic gloves have the owner’s initials sewn into the cuffs – a hand-some gift for one lucky person.
A noble connection
The Duke stitch pattern is said to be named after its patron the Duke of Buccleuch whose seat is Drumlanrig Castle 10 miles away.
The Sanquhar pattern has proved a hit with the local community and overseas visitors.
Our guests have come from as far as New Zealand to learn more about it.
Join a tour to see how the pattern is made
Get some hands-on experience and discover up close this traditional way of knitting on a tour organised by A’ the Airts.
It’s here you’ll learn about the fascinating history of textiles in Southwest Scotland.
Workshops are a vital part of the industry to pass on the skills and knowledge of the Sanquhar pattern.
And the tour includes a visit to the world’s oldest working post office so be sure to send your holiday postcard from here.
What’s the history of knitting in Scotland?
This craft came late to Scotland. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries, the early knitters were professional craftsmen who were paid well but kept the secrets of their trade within their own professional communities (corporations or guilds).
But by the 1700s, knitting had become popular across the country and a thriving industry came about.
In the main it was knitted stockings but sales increased and were shipped to the home market and further afield.
Get a taste of Sanquhar in the café…
The tour includes welcoming refreshments and lunch.
Relax with superb home baking in a friendly space.
The scones are legendary. The bakers know what they’re doing!
No wonder A’ the Airts was finalist for café of the year in Dumfries & Galloway Life Magazine.
A bright future – great things to come
A’ the Airts has received a massive investment (£1.2m) to expand the centre to be able to welcome more groups of crafters and artists – and visitors.
And it’s amazing.
Definitely worth a visit.
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Discover some great things to do in nearby Dumfries here or unmissable attractions in the Artists’ Town, Kirkcudbright here.