Fabulous Leg Warmers

As winter stretches on into the end of January, I found myself shopping for boots recently and not for cute open-toe spring sandals. I was able to escape the store without making any purchases, and I went straight home to knit something for myself instead. My creative side was burning for an outlet since being indoors was the safest place to be during yet another January snow storm.

I had recently read Carol Huebscher Rhoades’s article on Leg Warmers in the January/February 2016 issue of PieceWork and was intrigued. I fell in love with Carol’s companion project.

Fortunately for me, there is a fabulous kit for these leg warmers! The newest PieceWork kit includes the January/February 2016 issue of PieceWork and all of the yarn needed to complete the leg warmers. There’s also the Fall 2012 issue of Knitting Traditions with Donna Druchunas’s pattern for leg warmers that she re-created from an illustration in a nineteenth-century book.

116-0320Carol was inspired by historical versions of Estonian and Finnish leg warmers, known as benholkar. Carol explains in her article: “In 1984, Dr. Maija-Liisa Heikinmäki (1931–2003) published an article about the use of benholkar in Finland and Estonia, which included information from research she conducted in 1972. When I asked a few Swedish-speaking friends about the word benholkar, it was unfamiliar to them. The word they use is the precise equivalent of the English leg warmers: benvärmare. I have since discovered some possible derivations for benholkar, with the word most likely descriptive of an encasement for the leg. From her 1972 study, Heikinmäki discovered that in some areas of southern Finland, a few older women still wore very old-fashioned styles. We quickly understand her use of benholkar rather than benvärmare (leg warmers) because the more general word was needed to encompass the variety she observed or heard about.”

For her leg warmer project, Carol was inspired by the traditional leg warmers from the island of Muhu in Estonia, which are very colorful, and the plainer ones from Finland. I can hardly wait to finish mine! I know they will make me smile every time I look at them, and I will have warm legs for what may be a long cold winter. You can check our kit here: https://www.interweave.com/pw-leg-warmers-kit.

Happy Knitting!

Tamara Schmiege
Editorial Assistant, Specialty Fiber

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