Sunday, January 22, 2012

She's Got Legs...

Ok, I don’t have rock star super model legs by any stretch of the imagination, but now, after several months of off and on knitting, I’ve got leg warmers to keep them warm!

Often in the winter, I’ll change into jammies or a flannel nightgown early in the evening, especially if I’m just going to be sitting and knitting and watching tv or listening to books. I would bundle up pretty well, but with a nightgown, I’d still have cold legs, especially when I’d have to leave my little nest for some reason. I realized two or even three years ago that leg warmers would be the answer, but it took this long to get going and actually make some.

Even though I could have figured out something on my own, I decided to find a pattern as a jumping off point. I liked the looks of a pattern called Ribbed Thigh Highs from the Lion Brand website; it was what I had in mind – something long enough to go over the knee, and just a basic stitch design. I can't link directly to the pattern - you'd need to register and log in just to look at it :(

The yarn I chose was a vintage yarn from my stash – City by Aarlan. It’s a superwash merino wool, DK weight, and long ago discontinued. I bought this yarn via mail-order in the 1980s, and have kept this little stash of it for so long, looking for just the right project. I have only a few balls each of four bright 80’s colors, and I could never figure out what to do with them. There wasn’t enough of any one color to make something big, and combining the colors would need just the right project. Plus, it was superwash MERINO, which at the time of purchase was something rare and cherished. It’s still a luxury fiber, but it’s more readily available today.

I finally decided it’s time had come, and selected the teal color for the legwarmers. I started knitting in October of last year, and although it was easy going, I kept having to the knitting aside for more urgent projects.

I didn’t follow the pattern exactly as written. My row gauge must not have matched, because if I had worked 12 rounds between decreases, these would have been miles long! I did a few 12 round intervals, then switched to six, then to four, then back to six. Whatever looked like appropriate leg shaping.  I kept track by making notes on the pattern, and finally got the first one finished. I put it on one cold evening while I started the second legwarmer, and already I could feel the difference.

While working on this project, I realized that I do not have a problem at all with “Second Sock Syndrome”. For me, it’s just the opposite. Usually it’s the first sock that is the tedious affair, because from the beginning I have so much to figure out. How many rounds of ribbing? 10? 12? 1 inch? 2? Ok, 2 – write that down.  Write down rounds and keep track of repeats of stitch pattern. Which rounds have leg shaping? Write it down. How many rounds for the foot? Write it down. How many stitches left on the toe for Kitchener stitch? Usually, I have a pattern page or a memo pad full of jottings, hash marks, and hopefully usefully information like needle size and stitch counts. All this deciding and calculating and estimating takes extra time.

So once the first sock, or in this case leg warmer, is cast off, I’m ready for smooth sailing on the mate. All the hard work has been done. All I have to do is follow my notes, tick the same number of hash marks, and the second sock, leg warmer, or mitten, almost flies off the needles.

The leg warmers were finished last week. I wore them one evening, and they feel wonderful. There is a little drawback that they don’t stay up on bare legs, which I was sort of expecting. But they only droop when I’m walking around, and not much. So once I’m settled on the sofa, I pull them up and stay comfy cozy.

There was one ball of teal yarn left, and I think I’ll use it and the other bright colors of City for some multi-color socks similar to the pair in my Etsy avatar. Those were made and sold years ago, and I miss them. They were quirky and fun, and the world needs another pair!

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