How to Make Leg Warmers on a Knitting Machine


Leg warmers used to be a big deal in the 1980s, but everything old is always new again, and so leg warmers have returned. On a knitting machine you can turn out a pair in under an hour and seam them during a single television show. First, you measure your legs, then you take a gauge of your yarn, and finally you "e-on" (see Resources section) the appropriate number of stitches and zip, zip, zip, you are done. This is easy and fast.

Things You'll Need

  • A knitting machine--either regular or bulky
  • Cone yard or wound hand yarn
  • Steam iron
  • Measuring tape
  • Gauge measuring tool
  • Double-eyed needle
  • 1/4-inch elastic (optiona)l
  • Decide what type of yarn works best on your type of machine (see Reference #1). Measure your legs (see Reference #2).

  • Take a gauge of your yarn by casting on 30 stitches and knitting 40 rows at normal machine tension; see your machine directions for this information. Remove the swatch from the machine and steam lightly. Use a yarn gauge to decide how many stitches to the inch and how many rows to the inch.

  • Take a piece of paper; make a sketch of your leg warmer and translate your width measurement into number stitches to cast on and length into number of rows to knit. Add an extra 2 inches for the inside of the hem at the top and bottom of the leg warmer. Use the "e-on" method (see Resource #2) to cast on the number of stitches. You may add an inch for ease, but yarn stretches, so this is optional.

  • Knit 20 rows at a tension two numbers lower than you used to make your gauge swatch. Knit 1 row two tension numbers higher than your swatch gauge. This is called the turning row. Return to the previous tension and knit 20 more rows. Hang the hem and turn the tension to the same as you used on your swatch. Knit the length of your leg warmer according to the calculations you made when you determined gauge. Repeat the same process you used for the upper hem of your leg warmer and after you have hung your hem, cast off. Repeat for the second leg warmer. Leave a tail of yarn at least 18 inches long.

  • Use a double-eyed needle and the long tail of yarn to seam up each side of the leg warmers. If you wish to make the ankle hem tighter, insert a length of 1/4-inch elastic an inch smaller than your ankle measurement. After insertion, stitch the ends together and the leg warmers will be snug around your ankle.

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  • Photo Credit Rainbow scarf image by Galaxy from
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