Saturday, 11 June 2011

Sanquhar Gloves - Prince of Wales

Yesterday I finally finished my second pair of Sanquhar gloves - this time the Prince of Wales pattern. This has to be my longest project ever - I started them on 24 September last year! I do find these gloves rather addictive because they are challenging in both pattern and technique for me. In particular, I was determined to crack the issue I have knitting gloves and socks, where I end up in pain because of a long-standing problem with my left elbow. I want to be able to knit for another 40 years, so I really wanted to fix this. I only have this difficulty with dpns, and it means tight and variable tension in my knitting, along with pain in my arm. I do think I have resolved it finally with this project, the first step was switching to Portuguese style knitting (lots of info on this on Ravelry and YouTube) which has helped, but the solution to the tension in my left hand (probably due to over-compensating for my weaker grip) has proved to be both holding my knitting lower and concentrating on relaxing. I seem to have trained out the tight knitting during this project, but it does mean the second glove is better than the first!
Here's a close-up of the main pattern sections, you can see the transition point between rounds in the centre. I used two remnant machine yarns for this, unfortunately the orange yarn turned out to be ever-so-slightly heavier than the undyed british breed yarn. Also the British breed was slightly variable in thickness. The bottom pattern is a two-colour rib, the middle "spot" pattern and the top is the main pattern proper.
The pattern puts three lines up the back of the hand, in imitation of the stitched lines on a leather glove. On the right hand side you can just see a similar line up the outside of the glove, which marks the start and end of the round. As for the pattern (the SWRI authentic pattern), there are a few pointers I can give to help. Firstly, only knit this pattern if you can concentrate properly, don't do too much as it gets tiring, and do read the pattern properly before you get too far with the second glove! I inadvertently started to knit a second left glove because I forgot that while the beginning of both is the same, you then have to - wait for it- read the pattern instructions BACKWARDS for the right glove! Yes, backwards, while the rows follow the same order, you actually read the stitch directions from the end to the beginning. Now that does take concentration!

The other thing with this pattern is that you repeat certain sections while doing the thumb increases, so the instructions for the increases are not correct when you're repeating the rows. I must have missed an increase or messed up some other way in this section because the pattern started to get messed up. I realised that I had the wrong number of stitches in total, but couldn't figure out whether I'd missed an increase at the beginning or the end, so had to work it out row by row after that, matching the pattern by eye. If I were to do it again, I'd write it out so that I had the right number of stitches in the thumb at all times.

For those with this pattern, there's also one typo in the 11th round which you only pick up when you're doing it backwards second time over - it should be "(3 lt., 3 dk.) 8 times".
Here's the thumb - you can clearly see a line where I put the stitches aside after the increases. I had this both times, thought it was my over-tight knitting. While it was better on the second glove, I couldn't figure out what had caused it - the stitches were really tight when I picked them back up. Then I had a "duh!" moment. I'd put them on a safety pin, a big safety pin, but still a safety pin. It was too narrow, the stitches had contracted as I knitted on either side and inadvertently pulled the yarn tighter. I should have used a proper stitch holder which was wider than the knitting needles, not a narrower safety pin. So if anyone reading this is planning to do this pattern, I pass this tip on to you.
So here they are, they could be blocked more beautifully but they'll change shape once they're on my hands anyway, and I'm not an absolute perfectionist. Like all Sanquhar gloves it seems, they are very long and extend well past my wrist - the spot pattern between the rib and main pattern runs round the wrist. You could shorten the rib section, but personally I think the length is one of the great things about these gloves, and I will appreciate it when I'm out in them next winter in the snow at -6 deg C.

I still have two SWRI patterns left to do, but think I'll put them aside until 2012. I'm seriously thinking about my next project being my first-ever "summer" wool socks, given the cold days and nights we've been having here in mid June!


  1. The gloves are stunning, do you knit them to sell?

    Margaret Kirkpatrick

  2. Margaret
    thanks for your comment, but no, I don't! They're knitted on such tiny needles and take so long. I really don't know how the good citizens of Sanquhar made a business out of knitting these things!