Kingsbridge Legwarmers

Audrey Burrell, my beloved mother-in-law, made these legwarmers for me back in 1980. They’ve been worn every single year since, maybe only for one or two days, some years a fortnight. Not bad, hmm? It’s wonderful 100% Shetland dk wool, and I know this because she used to make jumpers for her daughter, and for her little grandsons, with oodles of the stuff, and only Shetland was good enough. It’s waterproof unless you’re in deep drifts for several hours, and snuggly warm.

Obviously some of the colours will be discontinued and therefore difficult to obtain nowadays.  You can substitute any Shetland or Shetland-style yarn. Try JC Rennie or Rowan do some pretty substitutes. Or better still, ask around at your local knitting group to see if anyone has any leftovers you can buy. They would also look good knitted in a mixture of handspun yarns or heavy sock yarn, and of course you could double up weights to made the dk  tension.

So this is a recipe, you can follow or not-follow exactly, you can stripe or not-stripe, but since there is no shaping, you will need to do the rib in a substantial length or they’ll fall down.

You will need:

200 g of light dk Shetland yarn – the equivalent of four 50g balls, in one Main Colour (pink) and 5 remnant Contrast Colours:
CC1 blue 1 dark
CC2 cream
CC3 blue 2 light
CC4 beige
CC5 camel

Rough estimate, maybe 1-1.5 balls of pink and the rest mixed colours.

Approximate quantity: between 600-700yds or more if you want longer legwarmers.

You will also need:

Circular needles 4mm and 4.5mm


DPNs for knitting in the round


straight needles for knitting flat and seaming.

A bodkin for sewing in the ends, or the seam if you’re knitting them flat.

Here’s how Audrey did it:

To Knit them Flat:

Cast on using 4mm needles 68 + 2 seaming stitches using a long tail cast-on method.

Row 1: P1, *K2, P2* repeat until 1 stitch from end, P1

Row 2: K1, *P2, K2* repeat until 1 stitch from end, K1

Repeat these two rows 34 times, forming a 2×2 rib with one selvedge stitch for seaming.

If you are concerned about running short of MC, stop, put your rib section on some waste yarn and weigh it on some accurate kitchen scales. Reserve the same weight of yarn for the other end, and you’ll be fine.

Continue in 4.5mm needles and stocking stitch (knit on RS purl on WS) for stripe pattern. The stripe pattern is four rows of two Contrast Colours followed by four rows of MC pink:

4 rows of each colour:
CC1 blue 1
CC2 cream
MC pink
CC3 blue 2
CC4 beige
MC pink
CC3 blue 2
CC5 camel
MC pink

Knit this set of stripes twice, then knit 4 rows each:
CC1 blue 1
CC2 cream
MC pink
CC3 blue 2
CC4 beige

Or if you want to knit them longer, knit the upper section 3 times (or more to suit your fancy).

Finish with 34 rows of 2×2 rib as above, and cast off.

Seam using mattress stitch. With practice, you can make your seam pretty much invisible. It probably goes without saying, but knit two.

Here’s How I Would Do It:

To Knit them in the Round

Cast on 68 sts on 4mm needles and join to knit in the round. I use Harmony circular needles with wooden tips, but your favourite will be absolutely fine, or your beloved DPNS would also work well. This is a great pattern for your first try at Magic Loop!

Round 1: place marker to mark beginning of round K2, P2 to end
Round 2: K2 P2 to end. Yes, it’s the same!

Repeat this round until you have 34 of them, and then changes to larger needles and start the striping in K stitches throughout.
Note that in circular knitting that as well as no seaming, there are no purls in stocking stitch!

Finish with 34 rows of 2×2 rib as above, and cast off. You need to make two.


Kingsbridge is a pretty little market town on the edge of an estuary in the South Hams district of Devon, on the south coast of England. It was Audrey’s favourite place, and always worth a visit, whether or not you do so wearing her lovely legwarmers.


18 thoughts on “Kingsbridge Legwarmers

  1. I’m in love with the colors! I’m trying to get an idea is these will fit an adult leg when wearing jeans and shoes/boots. Could you tell me the length and width?
    Thanks so much for sharing this pattern.

  2. Hey thank you both. I love them too. :)

    Sue, the legwarmers are adult sized. I was in my 20s when these were first made. The red boot is my boot, worn just yesterday. I didn’t have snazzy red boots when the legwarmers were first made, we all wore cowboy boots.

    The measurement you will get will depend entirely on the gauge of your knitting. If you are unsure, cast on say 30 stitches in your chosen yarn, and knit 30 rows. Take a tape measure and count how many stitches make up 4 inches, and see how that matches up to the band on the yarn you are using. If you’re using dk, and on 4.5mm needles you will probably get around 20 stitches per 4 inches, maybe more, maybe a less, depending on your own technique and tension.

    The legwarmers here are 18″ long of which 3.5″ top and botton is rib, and 11″ is the stocking stitch stripe part. They are 6″ across, when laid flat, so 12″ in the round.

    If you have wider legs or bigger, chunkier boots, cast on more stitches. Approximately 5 stitches will give you an extra inch if your guage is 20 sts per 4″.

    Hope that helps – let us know how you get on!

    • Hello Colette! Thanks for your comment, and sorry I didn’t see it earlier.

      It’s double knitting weight yarn with the stocking stitch on 4.5mm needles, which translates as 20-22 stitches to 4″ or 10cm. Row gauge isn’t important: you can make them as long or as short as you need them.

      Hope that’s helpful!

  3. It is most straight forward to knit them flat as they are multi colour. If you use circulars you will get a jog. There are things you can do to correct that somewhat, but it won’t look so neat as the flat version. Yours look beautifully knitted and are lovely colours.

  4. I was searching for a pattern for legwarmers for my sister for Christmas on ravelry,com and these are perfect! And believe it or not, my parents live in Kingsbridge. I can’t wait to tell her the story of her legwarmers over a cup of tea and a scone! Thank you for the pattern!

  5. Hi, First of all I love the legwarmers, I’m knitting them for my 25 yr old niece for xmas,
    I have 2 questions.
    1. Knitting in the flat, the pattern on the rib reads rep these 2 rows 34 times.
    2. I have read a reply by you from another poster, you say the rib should be 3.5 inches
    at each end, I have completed 24 rows and I measure 3.3/4 inches now, do you think I should carry on, or will this be long enough.
    Sorry if I’m not quite getting it.
    Thanks Lynn

    • Hi Catherine,

      They already sound great! If I were you I’d go to 4″ since you are nearly there, and as long as you have enough yarn. It’s fashionable to have enough to crumple around the ankles these days.

      Do let e know how you get on and if she likes them. :)

  6. HI again Brenda, I did complete these legwarmers for my niece, I had some more yarn so I made her some hand warmers to match and she loved them, I ‘m very busy just now making hats and tops for small baby’s being cared for in my local hospital.

    Thank you again for the legwarmer pattern.

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