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
CC3 blue 2 light
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
CC3 blue 2
CC3 blue 2
Knit this set of stripes twice, then knit 4 rows each:
CC1 blue 1
CC3 blue 2
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.