In November 2014, A’ The Airts launched a major new knitting project which is hoped to make a significant impact on the economic climate of Upper Nithsdale.
Sanquhar Pattern Designs initiates and supports a long-term project to produce high-quality knitwear using the traditional, distinctive Sanquhar patterns: two-colour geometric designs that possibly date back to the 1600s.
The organisation behind the arts centre, the Upper Nithsdale Arts and Crafts Community Initiative (UNACCI) won an award from Santander in the bank’s Social Enterprise Development Awards. These are given to social enterprises and trading charities to grow their businesses to improve the local community both economically and socially.
The project was set up in a small studio in a building next door to the arts centre which was purchased in 2014 with a grant from the Scottish Land Fund. It opened its door to the public on November 1. On the same day, the arts centre hosted Glasgow University’s Knitting in the Round: Sanquhar Knitting Workshop, a major event organised by the university’s Department of History.
Five enthusiastic knitters – Elma Clark, Kate Sloan, Sheila Crompton, Jean Ramsay and Vivienne Duncan are creating a range of Sanquhar pattern hats, scarves and other items that are being sold in the arts centre shop.
The initiative ultimately aims to resurrect a dying cottage industry which will provide income for the arts centre and for the knitters of Sanquhar. More knitters are always needed, so anyone who wants to come on board should be made very welcome. For more information, click here.
Through additional support from Santander, the project intends to offer an internship in the near future for a recent graduate in knitwear design, who will work alongside the local knitters to enhance and modernise the range of Sanquhar pattern designs. A Sanquhar Brand will also be developed for genuine articles knitted in and around the town, which should guarantee quality control and protect the local provenance of the pattern.
See us on BBC Reporting Scotland here.