Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quick Knit Leg Warmers

The weather's getting chilly, so why not make some quick fun leg warmers. I wanted to make a knit item using different sizes of knitting needles to get different widths of fabric. I thought leg warmers would be perfect because legs taper pretty nicely. Most patterns I've found suggest knitting a simple tube, but my leg isn't a cylinder.

Step 1: Assemble your knitting needles.

I knit my leg warmers flat and will seam them up the back when I finish because I don't have enough different sizes of circular needles for that to work. Gather all your flat or circular needles within a reasonable range.
This is what I have:
sizes 3, 8, somewhere between 9 and 10, 10.5, 13, 15, and 17.

Step 2: Knit a gauge swatch.
I knit from smallest to largest because that made the most sense to me. Cast on over 2 inches worth of stitches in the yarn you'll be using (I'm using worsted weight acrylic). Knit about 2 inches with each set of needles. When switching sizes, just knit onto your new size from the smaller size. I used a stitch marker in the last stitch of each type to mark the spaces. I knit my swatch in stockinette. Figure out the stitches and rows/inch for each needle size.
switching needles

Step 3: Measure your leg.
Figure out how long you want your leg warmers to be. Mine should be about 18 inches to go from below my ankles to about my knee. I like them a little slouchy. Now measure the circumference of you leg at different points. I measured my leg about every two inches.

Step 4: Make your pattern.

This part will probably take some guess work to start. I started at the bottom of my leg and figured out how many stitches I would need to make the correct size with size 8 needles. (The size 3 needles knit up too tight for my taste and yarn)

I worked my way up and checked how many stitches I'd need with each progressive set of needles at each circumference change. Mine were all somewhere between 33 and 40 stitches, averaging about 36 stitches. The goal is not to increase or decrease any stitches. The shape comes from switching needles.

Once you know which needles you'll be using at each step, figure out how many rows you'll knit with each set of needles. I have increments of 2 inches, so it was pretty easy to figure out.

I decided on about 2 inches of ribbing at the top and the bottom and to work the rest in a checkerboard pattern. Each square would be 3 stitches by 4 rows. The squares will get bigger as the needles get bigger and help show the technique used. Stripes or other patterns would be good too.

The checkerboard pattern goes as follows:
Row 1: k2 *p3 k3* repeat until last two stitches k2
Row 2: p2 *k3 p3* repeat until last two stitches p2
Row 3: as row 1
Row 4: as row 2
Row 5: as row 2
Row 6: as row 1
Row 7: as row 2
Row 8: as row 1
Repeat these 8 rows.

Step 5: knit
size 8 needles
I cast on 37 stitches (about one stitch will be "lost" when I seam them).
rows 1-12 rows in k1 p1 ribbing
rows 13-26 rows in a knit purl checkerboard pattern
knit next row onto size 10 or 10.5 needles
rows 27-38 continue checkerboard with size 10 needles
rows 39-54 on size 13 needles
rows 55-68 on size 15 needles
rows 69-76 on size 17 needles
knit 7 rows of ribbing (might be good to switch back to size 15 or 13 needles to get a good fit. I used size 13)
bind off loosely but don't cut yarn!

Fold right sides together. I find it necessary to use stitch markers (or something equivalent) to mark matching stitches so it isn't seamed unevenly. I crocheted the seam using a slip stitch. It might be necessary to use different hook sizes when working on this project.

Cut yarn and weave in ends. Turn it right side out and you've finished one! 
here's a picture of the seam on the right side

Make two. I've got to knit my second one now so both my legs can be warm. I think this should be a one skein project. I'll let you know once I finish the other one.

Switching needles can be applied to many different projects. It can be used to make a fitted waist on a sweater. Using two different sizes of needles (one of each) can be used to make a sort of rippled scarf. I used this technique in the picture below with some yarn that changed thickness as it went.

I hope this inspired you to make some leg warmers of your own, or to experiment with the different sizes of knitting needles in your life. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, I will try this technique. I was looking for a simple way to taper the legwarmer.