Leg warmers are an accessory that can be used for many different reasons. Typically, they are used by dancers during practice and by those looking to keep their legs warm before and during a workout to prevent muscle cramping and injuries.
They are also great to use just to keep your legs cozy at home.
Whatever the use, leg warmers are fairly easy to knit up. You can choose to keep it simple with an easy pattern or make them fancy by adding cables or bobbles. Either way, you need to make sure that you use the right yarn to make them.
Choosing The Best Yarn For Leg Warmers
There are certain factors or properties you need in yarn when using it to make leg warmers. Knowing what you need can help you decide which yarn to use.
The yarn used to make your leg warmers needs to have elasticity, but not lose its shape when stretched. The warmers will need to move with your legs, adjusting to stretch and shape, not causing constriction during movement. There are yarns that allow for stretch, but which also return to their normal shape and size afterward.
- Machine wash
If you are using your leg warmers during dance or exercise, chances are that they are going to get sweaty. Choosing a yarn that is machine washable is really important. You don’t want to have to carefully handwash a delicate yarn every time you use your leg warmers. Make sure that the yarn will hold its shape, color and size once washed as well, and that it can also be machine dried.
You need to use a lighter yarn that allows for breathability but still provides warmth. A yarn which is too thick could overheat your legs and not let in any air or let any sweat absorb into the material.
If you plan on using your leg warmers regularly, the yarn needs to be durable and strong. You don’t want it fraying, losing shape or size after a few uses. There are some great yarns that offer durability but still provide comfort.
Choose a yarn that feels soft on the skin. Having leg warmers made out of itchy or scratchy material will just drive you nuts, and will be horrible when exercising. You probably won’t end up wearing them if they don’t feel soft and comfortable on your skin.
There are some yarns that do not offer great warmth. The point of leg warmers, as hinted by the name, are to keep the legs warm. Some of the warmer yarns are quite expensive, but you can find affordable yarns that will do the job well.
Types Of Yarn
Here are the different types of yarn available to knitters. Each has different properties, pros, and cons, helping you decide which is the best to use for leg warmers.
Wool is made from the fleece of sheep and is widely popular. It is an affordable yarn and is easy to work with. Wool is commonly used for winter items, so for leg warmers, it is a good option. It has good durability and resistance to moisture but also has great breathability and moisture-wicking.
Often, wool fibers are mixed in with other fibers to increase their durability. It can be dyed into a wide range of colors. However, wool can be prone to pilling over some time.
Wool needs to be gently hand washed in tepid water, which could be a downside to using it for leg warmers.
Mohair is considered a luxury fiber and has a soft sheen and incredible lightness, but it is still really warm. Mohair happens to be very elastic, and easily stretches and springs back to shape, this prevents it from wrinkling and sagging.
This elasticity is great for leg warmers, but it can cause some irritation to the skin. It is sometimes blended with wool to add some weight to the fiber, but mohair can be quite difficult to knit as it is considerably fluffy.
Mohair can be machine washed and dry-cleaned, making for easy maintenance as leg warmers.
Cotton is a common natural fiber and is fairly inexpensive. Cotton is smooth and is a good yarn to use when showing off intricate knitting, but it is inelastic and can split while knitting. The only other upside to cotton is that it is machine washable.
Cashmere is a superbly luxurious yarn, and usually has the price tag to match. It is an incredibly soft fiber which actually improves with wear. It has great insulation and can be used to make winter accessories and garments. However, it does not breathe well as other fibers, but it can be stitched loosely to accommodate for this. Cashmere can be blended with other fibers to make it more affordable, and it can be machine washed which is a plus.
Angora comes from the fur of the angora rabbit and is one of the finest fibers available. It is incredibly warm and is light and silky-soft. Angora yarn is very expensive and is more of luxury yarn. The yarn tends to be slippery when knitting, and it does not have much resistance against stains, but it is odor resistant which is a good factor when leg warmers are used for exercise.
To clean, angora yarn needs to be dry-cleaned or hand washed, only in cold water.
Alpaca wool comes from the fleece of the alpaca. It is hypoallergenic, which is a great thing for those who have sensitive skin. It is often blended with other fibers to improve its elasticity and durability. It needs to be gently hand washed when cleaned.
Rayon is a man-made fiber. It is silky, smooth and can be created with great color. It is comfortable and cool and has the ability to conduct heat away from the body, which makes a good material for leg warmers. However, it does not retain heat well and does not have very good elasticity. It also needs to be hand washed, so it isn’t necessarily the best yarn for leg warmers.
Nylon is a synthetic fiber and is smooth and shiny. It is cool to the touch and easy to launder. Nylon is machine washable and is quite durable, so it is a fairly good option for leg warmers if you want to use synthetic fiber.
Polyester is often blended with natural fibers to create an easy care yarn. It has good draping, as well as wicking and breathability qualities. It can sometimes feel scratchy against the skin, and you won’t be able to achieve pronounced stitch definition with polyester. It is machine washable which is a bonus.
The Best Yarn For Leg Warmers
To sum it up, your best bet is probably to go for wool, mohair or nylon when knitting leg warmers. These are durable, have good elasticity and are fairly easy to wash and care for. You just need to decide what is most important to you and what your budget is, from there it should be easy to decide which one you want to knit your leg warmers with.
The Best Way To Knit Leg Warmers
Leg warmers can be knitted using straight needles, but are much easier to make when knitted with circular needles. It allows you to knit in the round, and circular needles help to distribute the weight of the project better, taking the strain off your wrists and hands.
Here is a simple way to knit some plain leg warmers:
What you need
- 2 skeins of worsted knitting yarn, the color of your choice
- Circular knitting needles (size 8)
- Tapestry needle
- Tape measure
- Cast on 42 stitches using your circular knitting needles
- Knit in ribbing stitch for 2 ½ inches (knit one purl one)
- Knit in stockinette stitch until piece reaches 19 inches. Use the tape measure to keep a careful watch on the length.
- Repeat step 2, ribbing stitch for another 2 ½ inches
- Cast off your knitting
- Weave in the ends of the yarn using the tapestry needle
- Repeat the above steps to create the second leg warmer
Make sure to keep a close measurement while you are working. This is important when knitting a matching pair of items, as you don’t want them to be different sizes when you have finished. It will look quite odd wearing two different length leg warmers!
The Best Yarn For Leg Warmers
Leg warmers are a wonderfully versatile accessory, from some bouts of workout to relaxing at home keeping your legs warm. They also make a wonderful gift for a loved one during the colder months.
Remember to do your research and find the yarn that will best serve its purpose being used for leg warmers, and choose one that suits your needs as well. You might not need the leg warmers for exercise, so just choosing an incredibly warm and soft yarn might be perfect for you.
Choose your yarn, pick a great pattern and get knitting!