Knitted Ballet Legwarmers and the Magic Loop

handknitted leg warmers

I finished my first sweater and cast on stitches for a second sweater.  I know!  Not only that, but this second one is TO GIVE AWAY.

ballet leg warmers

So the standard is a little higher.  I really, really want this second sweater to be gift-worthy.  When I made the Agnes Sweater, I flew to Pasadena and knitted most of the body along the way.  I was juuuuust about ready to knit the sleeves on the flight home, and didn’t know how to use double-point needles.  I asked Jaime of Fancy Tiger at a knitting-and-coffee session she hosted, and she said she NEVER uses double points since the learned the Magic Loop.


I already thought double-pointed knitting needles were pretty wackadoo, and now you tell me there’s a MAGICAL WAY TO DO IT, TOO?  Hellooooo, Hermione Granger!  SPEW!!

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 1.36.26 PM

Jaime said Magic Loop Knitting is, like, way easier.  But I didn’t really want to learn it ON the gift sweater.  I wanted to practice it first.  So when I found this perfect shell/ballet pink wool, I knew I could kill two birds with two sticks, to invent a metaphor: learn (and master) the Magic Loop and simultaneously make my daughter leg warmers for her ballet class.

knnitted in the round

I made the pair for my elder ballerina first, but when you have two young girls taking ballet at the same time, you’re pretty well assured you’ll be making TWO pair of leg warmers.  Which was fine, because I mis-read the pattern and bought double the wool, thinking that the instructions were for only one warmer, when of course they were for two.  D’oh!

These knitted up like a DREAM.  I used this pattern, cast on March 25, finished pair one on March 31 and pair two on April 5–so, somewhere around a week per pair, knitting just while they were in their ballet class and for about an hour in the evening when everyone was reading quietly or over the weekends when they were outside in the sunshine (I recognize how that sentence sounds, like we’re living in some bizarre modern Jane Austen happy unicorn fantasy, but that’s really how it happened–I am merely reporting facts here, people).

leg warmers made w magic loop

The Magic Loop part I picked up from this video, which was excellent.  I kinda played around trying to work it out on my own, but just couldn’t quite make sense of where all the pieces fit–but the video made it super clear, and I felt like I got back up to my usual knitting speed using the loop pretty quickly.  I like that using the circular needle, I didn’t get funny divots in my tube of fabric as I was knitting it, which I got with double-pointed needles on my Agnes sweater, and which I really did not like–the whole sleeve looked like a stretched-out triangle, and I was not a fan.

Our girls were so, so, so excited to get these and to wear them.  When the older of the two asked what I was making and I told her they were leg warmers and let her try one on, my husband LOLed and thought I was joking, that it was really a sweater sleeve.  When the younger asked and I told her, she immediately asked if she could wear them over leggings with her dresses, and if I’d make her a striped pair next.  She’s channeling the 80s, clearly.  They both looked like little ballet princesses wearing these in their classes, and their instructors just about melted on the floor to see our sweet girls in wooly ballet pink.

I’ve gone back to the sweater for which I was practicing, and am just about to cast off the second sleeve.  From there, it’s just ribbing and BUTTONHOLES, and then I’m a second-sweater knitter!!

#cantstopwontstop, y’all.

You Might Also Like

  • Rae
    April 14, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve heard so much about Magic Loop yet year after year, there I am knitting tiny sleeves with DPNs like a sucker. Neeeeeeed to get on the ML train!!!

    • Deborah
      April 15, 2016 at 8:35 am

      I had no concept such a thing even existed, but once I tried it, making the loop felt really logical. I thought for a second that I *almost* figured it out just by fiddling–the leg warmers were SO low risk that I could kinda fool around and not be freaked out that I’d make some un-fixable mistake, because HA! I don’t know how to fix it if I screw up–but I couldn’t quite pin down where all the stitches were supposed to go. The video I linked to is really nicely done, she sets it all up and just PING! makes it happen. Worked like a charm, and all my tubes have been super smoothly round ever since! Now to see if I can figure out how to properly add buttonholes… #challenges

  • Chris
    April 15, 2016 at 8:13 am

    I do not like the magic loop at all and never use it. The results are so much better with double points.

    • Deborah
      April 15, 2016 at 8:32 am

      I’m so surprised to hear you say that! I was not at all satisfied with the look or feel of the fabric I was making with double points, but with magic loop, I was really happy with the four perfectly round tubes I made for the girls. I liked the ribbing portions much more, too. Is there something specific about using the loop that you don’t care for? Something you’re seeing in the finished product that you think double points do better? I’m so curious to hear!

  • sewing princess
    April 15, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I also found that video very useful! Initially I thought I could easily use the 16′ cord…but you also need shorter tips and I didn’t want to buy any additional supplies. Though magic loop feels like it takes longer I was also dreading losing dpns…so have been using it ever since! Results were good for me.

  • Ruth
    April 15, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Great job, Deborah!

    Is it weird that I love both methods? I learned with DPNs first and I never had an issue with them. The first round always feels a bit weird but once it’s all joined, I’m good to go. Magic Loop is great but feel strange toward the end of my hats (which is what I knit the most) once the stitches have decreased significantly.

    Both methods have their quirky bits, but I love knitting in the round so much that I don’t care how I accomplish it. LOL!