Monday, January 19, 2015

Zebra Chevron Legwarmers

Legwarmers are a great way to try out a new stitch pattern. They're so simple in structure that starting one isn't much different from making an in-the-round gauge swatch, which is why I pretty much never gauge swatch a legwarmer. Gasp! I know. It's a travesty. But I hate swatching, and if I guess right the first time, I don't have to. If I don't guess correctly, I have a gauge swatch and can figure out from there what I need to change. Clever, eh?

The only tricky thing about this design is adjusting a stitch pattern written to be worked flat into one that can be worked in the round. This is fairly simple to accomplish and is a good way to learn about how stitch patterns function. To revise a stitch pattern so all sides are the right side, every other row (the wrong side ones) need to basically be flipped inside out and backwards.

No problem, right?

For this project, I used Zebra Chevron from Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. It's a fabulous book, and you should have it. I resisted buying such a thing because there are so many stitch patterns available on the internet, but it makes a big difference to have something to hold, flip through, and mark up.

The original version read as follows:

Note: On all right-side rows (odd numbers) all sl-sts are slipped with yarn in back. On wrong-side rows (even numbers) all sl-sts are slipped with yarn in front. 

Cast on with color A and purl one row.
Row 1 (Right Side): With color B, k1, * sl 1, k2; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 2: With B, k1, * p2, sl 1; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 3: With A, k1, * k1, sl 1, (k2, sl 1) 3 times, k3, (sl 1, k2) 3 times, sl 1; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 4: With A, k1, * sl 1, (p2, sl 1) 3 times, p3, (sl 1, p2) 3 times, sl 1, p1; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 5: With B, k1, * k2, (sl 1, k2) 3 times, sl 1, k1, sl 1, (k2, sl 1) 3 times, k1; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 6: With B, k1, * p1, (sl 1, p2) 3 times, sl 1, p1, sl 1, (p2, sl 1) 3 times, p2; repeat from *, end k1.
Rows 7 and 8: With A, repeat Rows 1 and 2.
Rows 9 and 10: With B, repeat Rows 3 and 4.
Rows 11 and 12: With A, repeat Rows 5 and 6.

It looks rather complicated, doesn't it? For me, it's difficult to picture what exactly you're doing and why. Parsing it out to be worked in round clarifies things quite a bit.

The first step is to take out the stuff that no longer applies. That note about slipping stitches in back on right side rows and in front on wrong side rows? Lose it. All stitches will be slipped in back.

Next, remove all those extra stitches on the edges. We won't have any edges, so we don't need those.

For example, on Row 1 instead of k1, * sl 1, k2; repeat from *, end k1, we can simplify it to *sl 1, k2.
So easy!

Something pretty nifty happens as we move into the next, wrong side row. With the edge stitches removed, it reads * p2, sl 1. Since all our sides are the right side, we need to work in reverse and change the p's to k's. Revised version: *sl 1, k2.

That looks familiar! It's the same as Row 1. And the same goes for every wrong side row. When revised to work in the round, they're the same as the row before. Isn't that nice? The full revised stitch pattern is given below in the legwarmer pattern itself. Enjoy!

Zebra Chevron Legwarmers

Size 6 and 8 dpns, or whatever you prefer for small circumference knitting.

Gauge: 18 sts and 20 rows for a 4" x 4" square.

Color A: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Oxford Gray
Color B: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Black

With A, CO 48
With smaller needle work in  k1, p1 rib for 1.5" (9 rounds)
Switch to larger needle  and knit one round. Start stitch pattern.

Stitch Pattern
1 & 2: With B *sl 1, k2
3 & 4: With A *k1, sl1, (k2, sl 1) 3 times, k 3, (sl1, k2) 3 times, sl 1
5 & 6: With B, *k 2 (sl 1, k2) 3 times, sl 1, k 1, sl 1, ( k 2, sl 1) 3 times, k1
7 & 8: With A, repeat rows 1 & 2.
9 & 10: With B , repeat rows 3 & 4.
11 & 12: With A, repeat rows 5 & 6.

Continue to approximately 15.5” total length (or length desired), ending on round 12. K 1 round. Switch to sz 6 needles and work in k 1, p 1 rib for 1.5”

Bind off using a stretchy method. I used Lori’s Twisty Bind Off.

These are fairly slim legwarmers, but there isn't a lot of leeway with a stitch pattern that requires a multiple of 24 sts. You could certainly add another repeat if you like big slouchy legwarmers, or just go up a needle size.

Happy knitting!

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