We Have Legwarmer Knitting Patterns. Do You Care?

There is a schism in our office over the topic of legwarmers. Half the staff thinks they are cute, and that includes my colleague Sarah. The other half loathes them. I am in the other half.

via GIPHY: I blame Flashdance and the American Film Institute

For those of you old enough to remember, legwarmers were everywhere in the 1980s along with big hair and Jordache jeans. The movies Fame and Flash Dance, along with the aerobics fitness craze, catapulted legwarmers into popular fashion. It didn’t matter if you were a dancer or not, you wore legwarmers. Preferably neon ones.

Yes, people dressed like this. Credit: Getty Images/Alina555

Sarah is much younger than I, and definitely less jaded, so she had a very different take on today’s leg warmer fashion:

“I’ve seen some fashion-related drama in my short existence; I lived through the 1990s, leggings becoming pants, and the struggle with my mother over the usage of pantyhose, but I obviously have no personal experience with the legwarmers of the 1980s outside of jazz-tastic aerobics videos. To me, legwarmers are a sign of progress in women’s fashion. They are a powerful finger to the evils of pantyhose (whose only function is to change the shade of your legs ever so slightly) and increasingly uncomfortable tights (as companies keep adding constricting “shaping” to parts of my body I never thought to “control”). Trust me, this is a bandwagon you won’t regret jumping on, and I have three reasons why.” – Sarah

3 Reasons to Love Legwarmers

1. They are a great replacement for uncomfortable tights (and they will definitely keep your legs warm).

*Note from Allison: I don’t understand your antipathy toward tights, but that’s a different conversation. And these are pretty cute, upon reflection.

legwarmer knitting patterns

Look at these Gansey-inspired beauts; so modern and trendy! Her legs are now safe from a dreaded spring or fall cold snap. This quick, simple project looks great with a skirt, and there’s no heel to turn.

Gansey Legwarmers

Finished Size: 11″ circumference and 17¾” long.

Yarn: The Fibre Company Road to China Light (65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% camel, 10% cashmere; 159 yd [145 m]/1¾ oz [50 g]): jade, 3 skeins. Yarn distributed by Kelbourne Woolens.

Yarn Weight: #2 – Fine

Needles: Sizes 2 (2.75 mm) and 3 (3.25 mm): set of double-pointed (dpn). Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.

Notions: Marker (m); tapestry needle.

Gauge: 26 sts and 38 rnds = 4″ in patt on larger needles.

2. They complete your hiking gear.

Seriously, who wouldn’t want to hike around in the beautiful wilderness in this set? Classic Aran cables and simple shapes make the Inishmore Hat and Legwarmers. (Allison isn’t buying this, but she has been known to hike in a skirt, so I’m ignoring her.)

Inishmore Hat and Leg Warmers

Finished Size: Leg warmers: 9¼ (11, 13)” circumference and 16½” tall. Hat: 18½” circumference and 8″ tall.

Yarn: MountainTop Crestone (100% wool; 100 yd [91 m]/1¾ oz [50 g]): #5103 smoke, 6 (7, 8) skeins (4 [5, 5] skeins for leg warmers only, 3 skeins for hat only), distributed by Classic Elite Yarns.

Yarn Weight: #3 – Light

Needles: Sizes 4 (3.5 mm) and 6 (4 mm): double-pointed (dpn). Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.

Notions: Marker (m); cable needle (cn); tapestry needle.

Gauge: 26 sts and 30 rnds = 4″ in Cable patt on larger needles.

3. Use them to learn and practice techniques.

Mosaic knitting? Sounds fun to me! *Note from Allison: I totally agree here. Mosaic knitting rocks. Knitting a set of legwarmers is a quick project, perfect for perfecting new techniques. In Knitted Leg Warmers: Learn Mosaic Knitting with Double Pointed Needles, you’ll learn color knitting the easy way with designer and instructor Allyson Dykhuizen.

Allyson will guide you through the traditional method of using double-pointed needles to knit in the round on small-diameter projects, and you’ll end up with a beautiful, stylish set of textured legwarmers. Use a solid-colored yarn that coordinates with a colorful variegated yarn, and knit a bold, geometric design. By working with only one color at a time, create a beautiful stained-glass pattern that you can apply to future knitting projects.

If you’re not ready to commit, here’s a FREE legwarmer pattern from Plum Dandi Knits.

What do you think? Leave them to die in the 1980s? Wouldn’t be caught dead in neon scrunched leg catastrophes? Or do you think they’re fun, and you are willing to give them a try? Let us know in the comments!

Happy knitting,

Allison and Sarah

Legwarmer Knitting Patterns and More in the Store!


  1. Diane T at 8:50 am January 29, 2018

    I lived thru the 80s and have always like the look of leg warmers. Plus, they are practical. Happy to see them making a comeback, maybe I will knit myself a pair! The fashion of the 80s looked pretty awful in the early 2000s, but now, nearly 20 years later, it has a certain fun, charm to it.

  2. W. E. G at 10:45 am January 29, 2018

    A few years ago on request I knit some leg warmers for my youngest dtr. At the time she had to wait (in a Colorado winter) at the bus stop for up to 20 mins if the bus was late…at the end of her ride she had a walk. She wore them over her pants (that there tucked into calf high boots. She specifically wanted them to go from the top of the boot to the bottom of her thigh length jacket. I also knit a giant scarf to keep her neck, chin and ears (could be pulled over her hat too) warm! For those who need to get around without a car they really are indispensable. Scarves and leggings can be taken off easily if need be. I made the leggings ribbed so they’d expand over her boots and shrink back enough to fit her slender legs. They were attractive and a huge (and practical) hit! And that warmed my knitter’s, and my mother’s, heart! : )

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