FREE PATTERN: Karl’s Legwarmers

I disapprove of legwarmers as a general fashion accessory, but Karl (our resident who departed this morning) is a real live dancer/choreographer, so I was delighted to make him legwarmers. I went with a Flashdance palette in handspun merino: one ply Barbie pink, one ply black.

The XOXO cable comes from Adrian Bizila’s Besotted Scarf. It’s a very pretty, simple cable, though it gets lost in the marl here. It would be more adorable in a solid color.

The same pattern with fewer stitches makes arm warmers (included in pattern).

I must admit that these were absurdly cozy, so despite my not being a dancer and my longstanding objection to non-dance employment legwarmers, and I’m very much tempted to make some for myself, strictly for at-home wear. (I mean, I wouldn’t wear house slippers as shoes, but I wear them at home. So what’s the diff?). They were also pretty speedy to knit, under 4 hours each.

Medium/large was a good size for me. I have large calves. These were sized to fit Karl from low on his ankle to just under his knee, about 16″. He’s tall, so they were longer on me, going down over my heels.

Yarn: 6-8 oz of chunky handspun merino balanced 2-ply, about 350 yards

Needles: US#3 and US#9 16″ circular needles (or dpns; or longer needles for magic loop)

Gauge: 15.5 st = 4″ on US 9 needles

Size: arm warmers (small/medium adult legwarmers , medium/large adult legwarmers)

With smaller needles, CO 30 (40, 50). I used the Twisted German Cast-on, but anything stretchy will do. PM, then Join round, being careful not to twist stitches.

Work 20 rnds in K1P1 ribbing.

Switch to larger needles. Work 4 full repeats of Besotted Cable, then work first 4 rnds of cable. For longer leg warmers, work extra repeats, but always finish with the first 4 rnds of the pattern.

Switch to smaller needles. Work 20 rnds in K1P1 ribbing, then CO loosely in pattern.

Besotted Cable (single), cribbed from Adrian’s Besotted Scarf:

Worked over 16-rnd repeat.

All rnds (except as noted): P2, K8, P2, K to end or rnd
Rnd 3 & 7: P2, C4B, C4F, P2, K to end or rnd
Rnd 11 & 15: P2, C4F, C4B, P2, K to end or rnd

C4B: Slip 2 onto cable needle. Move held stitches to back of work. Knit the next 2 stitches on your left needle, followed by the two stitches you were holding to the back.

C4F: Slip 2 onto cable needle. Move held stitches to back of front. Knit the next 2 stitches on your left needle, followed by the two stitches you were holding to the front.

  • stephanie says:

    must agree with you about the legwarmers – never could quite get “into” that fashion accessory – and I was totally 80’s :)

  • Rachel says:

    These are beautiful, I love them! I’m a huge fan of them under my jeans, or even over tights with the right skirt and shoes. I’ll be linking to this project and adding you so I don’t miss a thing!

  • amber says:

    these are the perfect solution to my lost legwarmers i’ve been searching for. i’m excited about making these!

  • darci says:

    I am totally going to try this but make them mid thigh length with slippers.. for around the house.

  • ginger says:

    I loved this pattern and iam going to post your address for others to come see it.Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
    hugs ginger

  • Sarah says:

    As I have knitted Aran all my life this was the perfect leg warmerpattern for my grand daughter when running track.
    Thank you

  • jenny says:

    love the patteren now i wouold like to knit knee warmers any ideas

  • Nikol says:

    Just make them shorter!

  • Lotta says:

    Glad I found this pattern – winter is coming very soon and I will need some of these beauties..

  • Tami Alvis says:


    1. The guage of 15.5 st = 4″ on US 9 needles – Is that working the garter stitch or the K1P1 ribbing?

    2. For the legwarmers, the CO stitches are 30 (is this small? what size is the calf for each of these?) 40 and 50 – same question.

    You state that Medium/large was a good size for you but you don’t give the size of your calves in inches to help me figure out which CO amount you used.

    My sister-in-law asked me to knit her a pair of legwarmers (she is a dancer) and your pattern looks perfect!

    Thanks for all your help! Tami

  • Nikol says:

    1. Stockinette.
    2. Hm. That’s subjective. Skinnny, regular, big?

    Mine are about 15 inches at widest part, 13 just below knee. Big enough so that most boots are too tight in the calf, but not so big that finding boots is impossible.

    Karl’s a tall muscular man (modern dance choreographer) & they fit him as well.

  • Joanna says:

    Thanks heaps for this. I’ve never been into them but find they might just be the solution I need. I’ve taken to riding a motorbike to work and the mornings are freezing. Plan to knit some that will fit inside the trouser legs. Wearing tights and/or thermal leggings are too bulky sometimes to wear and in the arvo is just more bulk to pack to take home because the afternoons are too warm for them

  • Jean Bryant says:

    How do you pring the patterns?

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