Until the 1980s, leg warmers were the province of dancersmostly ballerinas. Wooly and warm, leg warmers kept lower leg muscles warmed up and loose to help prevent injury. Then came those free spirited dancers who starred in the irresistible movies Flashdance, Fame, and Footloose; and Jane Fonda with her best-selling aerobics tapes. They all knew a good thing (comfy leg warmers) when they saw it. And while toe shoes, tutu’s, and colorful Lycra stayed mostly in the studio, leg warmers came out on the street. These days, they’re less a trendy accent and more of a friendly accessory. Wear them with tights and a skirt, over jeans, under or over boots.
Cecily Glowik, designer of the Desert leg warmers, learned to knit three years ago when she received a copy of Stitch-n-Bitch for Christmas. Since then, her designs have been published in magazinesKnit 1, Knitscene, and Knit Simple, among othersand in several books. For another Cecily design, see Web-Letter #5.
Desert is a self-striping, thick-and-thin 100% wool yarn with a soft hand. The thick-and-thin texture of the yarn is made by twisting some portions of the yarn and leaving other sections untwisted. In the spinning process, twisting the roving tightens and compresses it making it thinner. The sections that are only slightly spun remain loose and puffy. Some yarns take the difference in thick and thin to extremesthe thin sections knit up almost like lace relative to the fatter unspun sections. Desert is more consistent; the variation in thickness is subtle enough to create an interesting texture that doesn’t compete with changing its color ways.
For another of our favorite projects in Desert, see the Sideways Knit Cardigan in our pattern collection Celebrated Classics.
This beginner leg warmer pattern uses basic stitches that can be easily learned and applied. The body is worked in stockinette stitchby knitting across one row, then purling across the nextand as many knitters eventually learn, stockinette stitch alone will roll. To prevent rolling, a knit 3, purl 3 rib is used at the top and bottom, and a knit 1, purl 1 rib is used along the sides of the stockinette. The trickiest part of this pattern might be the eyelet holes for lacing the ribbon. So, here is some more info on yarnovers and decrease stitches.