Thursday, January 17, 2013
Stranded Color Work—and Sanquhar
Stranded color work knitting is a big topic. And while I have been doing stranded color work knitting almost from the moment I could knit, I am no expert—though I can skillfully execute most styles.
I know there are different flavors: Generic stranded work, Turkish work, Scandinavian stranded work (old) or Bohus (new), Fair Isle, (a term often used for generic stranded work) and Sanquhar –or if you prefer, Sandquhar, or ... (there are lots of different spelling.)
Every different style of stranded color work has rules—or if not written rules, then rather strong traditions. Generic stranded color work might look like Fair Isle knitting to the untrained eye—but proper Fair Isle, has several distinguishing characteristics. (for more information see AliceStarmore's book on Knitting Fair Isle, and others)
Sanquhar stranded work has distinct characteristics, too. I don't know them all, but some are quite evident to the eye—Like: generally 2 colors (sometimes a third color is uses as an accent)--Most often black and white. Motifs are tile like; each is a square and patterns are simple repeated (a single tile pattern) or some times 2 or more patterned tiles are arranged in a checker board type pattern. The patterns within the tiles are very geometrical—squares, rectangles, diamonds, triangles and stars motifs predominate. Whether the overall design uses one tile design, or many, the tiles are neatly lined up in a grid work Often the grid work is outlined in black. For small spaces that are needed to fill in a shape (like say a thumb gusset) a simple birds eye stitch is used—but the same birds eye stitch pattern is also used inside of tiles
The tiles motifs are worked plain and inverted (that is one tile might have black background and a white diamond design, and another will have a white background with a black Diamond). The patterns are also rotated—the simplest example would be stripes or rectangles designs: first worked as horizontal stripes, then as vertical ones. There are a few patterns that are used over and over again—but the range patterns is actually quite extensive—easily dozens of patterns are traditional.
The work is fine—16 to 20 stitches per inch is, I think the 'normal gauge'-- and with this fine gauge is common to have 5 to 6 large (10 or more stitch) tiles on the front of a glove. Typically Sanquhar work is used for gloves. The gloves are knit on size 17 (old UK sizing)--equal to about a 4 zero/0000(US Sizing) or 0 .75 mm or so needles (not the honky big 2.75mm needles I am using). And while gloves are the most common example of this kind of work, scarves and hats are not unknown
There might be other characteristics that make up the rules of Sanquhar work—but these rules are immediately evident—and just knowing them allows you to identify Sanquhar style work.
My socks are not Sanquhar work. But they are inspired by Sanquhar work. They have some of the elements of Sanquhar work—but not all of them by any means.
I broke a number of the rules. First Navy (not black)--and white. Second gauge: my sock are done in Kroy sock yarn (4 Ply) and it's a pretty heavy weight sock yarn. I am getting just about 8 stitches to the inch. With fewer stitches to work with—my tiles are at once bigger and the designs in my tiles are cruder. But—I am not calling my work Sanquhar work—just Sanquhar inspired. Close, but not the real thing. Through out this post, every time the word Sanquhar is a link, it is to a different example—so you can see the real stuff for your self (before you Oh and Ah over my crude copy, see the real stuff).
I made a lot of progress on them yesterday—I was jone'n to knit socks, and after a eon of ribbing, (the shell) making my finger do the 2 yarn color dance was a joy. I am almost done with the color work part. The heel, foot and toe are just going to be plain navy stocking knit. But even plain knitting will be a joy.
Speaking of color work—Today's mail (well actually yesterday's—but I just checked the box today) brought me this colorful yarn! Home spun loveliness. A beautiful blend of merino, angora, alapac and more...Thank you again,Laura—It's just beautiful! The label is from the batt--and there is a pattern for the yarn too (and a bonus mitten pattern.)--I don't spin--but I know lots of knitters who do--so I thought you might be interested in seeing the origin.