Sweet Spiralin’ Leg Warmers

So I may not have any project updates from recent stuff yet, but these were a fun project I knit for a friend’s sister for a Christmas gift. My friend did most of the work in terms of the pattern search, after I exposed her to the wonderful world of Ravelry.

If you haven’t heard of it, Ravelry is basically a huge online database of knit and crochet patterns. I started using it to keep my projects organized and keep notes on them, but it’s a great way to explore the larger knitting community. I feel like searching for patterns on Ravelry is like shopping for shoes on Zappos – there are a million different kinds and the site lets you tailor your search and be [k]nit picky and search in terms of knit versus crochet, yarn weight, needle size, free versus available for purchase patterns, and category of the knitted goodie you want to make. Even better? If you like a pattern and want to see how it came out for knitters other than the designer, you can see the pictures they uploaded and comments they made about the pattern before you commit to starting the project. What more could you want?! Oh, you know, each pattern is rated overall out of 5 stars and then rated for difficulty. This place is a dream.

[This is awkward, but…I don’t really have any Ravelry friends yet, I stick to groups, so, uh…please be my friend if you’re a fellow Raveler? See the new little button on the right of my blog page? Click away šŸ™‚ ]

Back to the legwarmers, yes? My friend, Julie, told me that her sister likes bright colors and needs the legwarmers to keep cozy, as she works at a ski resort. Because of these being a super functional gift, I figured the best route for yarn would be washable wool. I went to my local little yarn shop and bought some bright orange Cascade 220, which, from my understanding, is a pretty popular worsted weight washable wool, not to mention SOFT.

The problem with non-washable wool is that it can be scratchy on the skin and when you wash it, it’ll felt. Not the case with the yarn I bought. It felt so good in my hands as I knit it – it was soft and smooth. The most reassuring part was knowing that when I finished them, they were finished. No worry necessary about shrinking in the wash or becoming a feltedĀ train wreckĀ later.

The pattern Julie picked was a Purl Bee pattern [just about everything they do is swoon-worthy]. In terms of heeding the directions in the pattern, I only followed the pattern for its spiral rib. I actually swatched beforehand to make sure they wouldn’t come out too small or too big, but I felt like knitting the whole leg warmer on the same size needles would be weird, unless Julie’s sister’s legs from the knee down are of freaky uniform circumference. My solution for this was to knit the ankle on needles 4 sizes smaller than the bulk of the legwarmers [size 3 dpns], and then gradually increase needle size until the gauge the pattern called for [size 5 dpns, then size 7 dpns]. My last sizing issue was with the part of your leg just above your calf but below your knee. It’s smaller circumference than your calf, and droopy legwarmers would probably look pretty sad, even if they are bright orange. So I hopped back over to my smallest size needles and knit the last inch on those.

One last thing before I get to the actual pattern. The original called for the legwarmers to be really tall, but I thought that could either of two ways: ridiculously high above the boot or ridiculously bulky when scrunched down to the height of the boot. I made ’em 17-18 ins tall instead of the 30 the pattern called for.

Now that I look at it, these look a little on the short side. It's because my tall sister is the model - she was blessed with mile-long legs.

Here’s my tweaks to the original pattern:

  • Knit the first 18 rounds on size 3 dpns [or needles 4 sizes smaller than the size you need to obtain the pattern’s gauge].
  • Knit 6 rounds on size 5 dpns Ā [or needles 2 sizes smaller than needles used for pattern gauge]
  • Knit on size 7 dpns until leg warmers are about 1 inch shorter than desired length, ending on a round that’s the end of one of the rib rotations – each is 3 rounds]
  • Switch back to smallest size dpns [size 3, in my case] and knit 6 rounds [2 portions of the spiral rib rotation]
  • Cast off as pattern indicates.

When these were finished, the spiral pattern totally jazzed up what would otherwise be straight, boring rib, and the rib contributed to the bounce and squish of the things. It was really hard to give them away. Just to squish them in my hands was heaven.

Verdict? Triumph.

I’ve never, ever worn legwarmers, but now that I knit, I’m considering the idea. Anybody have a sweet pattern for ’em? Or thoughts on how to make the ones I made even better?


2 thoughts on “Sweet Spiralin’ Leg Warmers

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