Traditional Scottish Knitting Patterns

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In this post, you will see traditional Scottish knitting patterns and learn about the long and rich history of knitting in Scotland.

In many regions of the country, knitting has been deeply integrated not only with people’s clothing but also with the economy.

Moreover, the Scottish knitting designs have survived through time and influenced modern knitting patterns. 

The Blue Bonnets

Knitting reached Scotland around the 15th century and it was male-dominated. 

Traditional felted knitted bonnets (berets) were made of coarse wool in black for the middle class, blue for the working class, and a few in russet color.  

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The blue bonnet was mostly worn by the Highland people and as the Highland Regiment came to be the blue bonnet became a symbol of the Scottish soldiers.

Later, in the 17th-century knitting became a family affair and the main source of income for a lot of people. 

They made everything from socks, sweaters, gloves, to underwear.

And they exported and traded their knitted goods. 

The Scots Blue Bonnet
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Hawick 

Hawick is a town in the Scottish Borders known for its knitwear. 

In 1771 Bailie John Hardie brought the stocking frame to the town and marked the city’s long affair with knitting.

In the early 19th century many knitwear manufacturers were founded like Pringle, Barrie Innes Henderson, Lyle & Scott, Peter Scott, and Robert Noble.

As the demand grew the variety of knitwear increased, stockings became a set of underwear and later outwear, sweaters, cardigans, and the twin-set. 

Sanquhar 

Sanquhar is a village on the River Nith in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland and it’s famous for its knitting patterns. 

Knitting in Sanquhar leads back to the 1700s and was done mostly by hand at home. 

The Sanquhar knits export reached its peak during the victorian era but the modernization was fatal for the cottage industry.

Sanquhar Gloves

The pattern is a unique square geometric pattern, in an 11×11 grid and traditionally knit in a black and white combination,  other color combinations you could find Sanquhar patterns are yellow-brown and red-green. 

The gloves usually feature the owner’s initials knit into the cuffs and socks. 

Many of the Sanquhar patterns have names like the Shepard’s Plaid, Prince of Wales, Duke, Cornet, Drum, Rose, and Trellis.

In one item two or more patterns can be combined. 

Fair Isle 

Another very popular Scottish design is the fair isle. 

The pattern is a combination of bright colors and small geometric shapes. 

Crosses and lozenge-shaped hexagons containing symbols, religious, OXO pattern, anchors, ram’s horns, hearts, ferns, and flowers.

Fair Isle Origins

The pattern originates from the Fair Isle and probably was brought there by traders.

Fair Isle is a remote Shetland island located 80 miles off the Scottish mainland, halfway between Orkney and Shetland mainland.

The islanders there in the 19th Century were already skilled knitters and with the influence of the passing people, the fair isle pattern was created. 

There is another story though on where the pattern comes from, a ship El Gran Grifon from the Spanish Armanda was shipwrecked in Fair Isle in 1588. 

The 17 families took the sailors in and they taught the locals how to knit the now fair isle pattern.  

The fair isle was (and is) a famous design during the 20th century especially after HRH Edward Prince of Wales wore a fair isle sweater during golf. 

Scottish Traditional Knitting Patterns

Scottish knitting designs create beautiful knits and have had a huge impact on the knitting industry.

Many of these patterns are recreated and worn regularly even today.

If you would like to make a traditional Scottish knit take a look at the list below and you might a pattern that you want to make!

Traditional Scottish Knitting Patterns

Take a look through the list below where you will find a collection of both free and paid knitting patterns.

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4 Comments

    1. Hello Cindi,
      I’m so happy you like the patterns, there are so many to choose from!
      Happy knitting 🙂
      Louise

  1. Thank you for these wonderful patterns. The hardest part is trying to decide what to knit first.
    I appreciate all your hard work.

    1. Hello Ann,
      Thank you so much for your kind words, I’m so happy you like the patterns.
      I hope you can find something you want to make, they all have so much history.
      Happy knitting!
      Louise