Tube Sock Leg Warmers

In my mind tube socks were always the territory of my older brother. Although tube socks factor prominently in some of my least favorite olfactory memories, I do have a deep fondness for the image of my gonzo brother bushwacking his way through adolescence in his always-mismatched tube socks.

I'm pretty sure that every American who lived through the seventies and eighties has a similar nostalgic feeling for tube socks. It seems that when such a humble object becomes so iconic to a whole generation then the power of design must be at work. The classic white tube sock with the three bright stripes under the knee is crisp and clean, but it also conveys a sporty confidence that is hard to resist.

And so in homage to timeless design and to my brother, who, in his forties, still sometimes shows up in two different tube socks, I decided to knit up a contemporary version of the classic tube sock. Instead of a replica pair of tube socks, I thought I'd shake things up a bit and make a pair of sassy little leg warmers. Perfect for young fashionistas and, why not?, even for us fogies who just have a really tender spot in our hearts for tube socks!

For this job I turned to Koigu's classic sportweight Kersti. Crepe spun for a clean finish and hand dyed for beautifully deep color, Kersti is as good as merino gets, durable and amazingly soft too!

The Materials

  • 4 total skeins of Koigu's Kersti, 100% Merino Wool. You will need 3 skeins of the Main Yarn (I used #0000) and 1 skein of the Contrast Color (these colors, from the left, are: #2100, #2229, and #2130).
  • A US #5, 12 inch circular needle.
  • A US #6, 12 inch circular needle.

The Pattern


6 1/4 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

Finished Size

One size fits many: 12 inches around (stretching to approximately 18 inches around), and 16 1/4 inches long.

To adjust the sizing, just cast on any multiple of four stitches. For example, for smaller sizes you would cast on 64, 68, or 72 stitches and for bigger sizes, 80, 84, or 88 stitches. (For much bigger sizes you may want to purchase one extra skein of the Main Yarn, unless you plan to make your leg warmers shorter than 16 1/4 inches.)


With the Main Yarn and the smaller needle, cast on 76 stitches.

Place a marker and join to work in the round, being careful to not twist your stitches.

Round 1: *K2, p2, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat Round 1 until piece measures 3 inches from cast on edge.

Change to larger needle and knit 10 rounds.

With the Contrast Yarn, knit 4 rounds.

With the Main Yarn, knit 3 rounds.

With the Contrast Yarn, knit 6 rounds.

With the Main Yarn, knit 3 rounds.

With the Contrast Yarn, knit 4 rounds. Cut the Contrast Yarn.

With the Main Yarn, knit another 7 1/2 inches.

Change to the smaller needle.

Next Round: *K2, p2, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat the last round until bottom cuff measures 2 inches.

Bind off in the 2 x 2 rib pattern.

Cut the yarn and weave in ends.

Then make another!

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16 Responses to Tube Sock Leg Warmers

  1. Sharon says:

    How many paIr does the pattern make? Can't wait to try these!

  2. purl bee says:

    Hi Sharon-

    The pattern makes one pair.

    Thanks for your nice comment and question!

  3. Amy says:

    Hi! I'd love to make these for my baby. Do you have an idea of how many stitches to first cast for an infant size? These are fantastic!

  4. purl bee says:

    Hi Amy-

    This baby legwarmer story uses the same yarn as it's base so it could easily be adapted into a version of these. Here is the link:

    Thanks for your question!

  5. Apseed says:

    I like these colors! Simple and gorgeous at the same time.

  6. bec says:

    love, love, love these! this makes me wish i could knit. time to learn, i guess…

  7. Marie says:

    Amy's question reminds me of a question *I've* always had.

    If there's a pattern that's meant for a child — how do you usually convert it to an adult and vice versa?

    I love, love, LOVE these legwarmers! They are super cute — thank you so much for sharing and continuing to post, PurlBee <3 I love you guys.

  8. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says:

    These are so cute. I love how they are reminiscent of old fashioned gym socks. Very retro :)

  9. purl bee says:

    Hi Marie,

    Unfortunately, there is no easy formula for resizing a pattern! It is true that the easier the pattern, the easier it is to rework in a different size. In the case of the leg warmers, converting to a child's size is actually just a simple matter of determining the circumference you want and multiplying that number by the gauge. So let's say you want an 8 inch leg warmer, times the gauge (6 1/4), equals 50 stitches. Then because if the 2 x 2 rib you want to make sure that the number you cast on is a multiple of four, so you would cast on either 48 or 52 stitches.

    Thanks for your question and good luck!

  10. Leigh Anne says:

    These will be perfect for my niece! She told me she wanted leg warmers, I had not found a pattern yet. She plays soccer and gymnastics but loves pink. She can be a priss and a tomboy at once. Her birthday is Tuesday; guess what I will be doing this weekend!

  11. Allison says:

    I'm having a great deal of trouble getting the correct gauge. When I tried using size 5, I got 22 stitches for 4 inches (5.5/inch). Even when I went down to a size 3, I still wasn't getting the 6.25 stitches per inch.
    Can I change the number of stitches that I would initially cast on? If so, what might that be? I honestly struggle with understanding modification of gauge (I also struggle with math), so if I have 5.5 stitches per inch, would that mean I'd need MORE stitches or FEWER to make the proper 12″?
    Thanks for any assistance you can offer. :)

  12. purl bee says:

    Hi Allison,

    You should cast on 64 stitches. Here's how I got 64: I multiplied 5.5 (stitches) by 12 (inches) and got 66. Because of the ribbing, the cast on number should be a multiple of 4, so I chose the closest multiple, which is 64! I guess that probably does sound more complicated than it is – I understand your struggle!

    Thanks for your question!

  13. Janis says:

    I find that the circular needles make too big of a circle and the 64 cast on stitches are stretched to fit around the 12 in cord of the needles. Would #5 dpns work better

  14. purlbee says:

    Hi Janis,

    The 12-inch circular needle should measure 12 inches from tip to tip and shouldn't really be too long for the 64 stitches. Maybe you actually have a 16-inch needle whose cord is 12 inches? Anyway, using double pointed needles is a perfectly good option!

    Thanks for asking and good luck!


  15. Kate V. says:

    You could also Magic Loop. :-)

  16. Julie says:

    Oh wow, those legwarmers brought back fond memories of stark white tube socks with bright stripes! I used to buy them for my husband all the time because he likes his socks to go up his leg (no anklets for him!). Now all tube socks are plain white (such a shame)

    I'm gonna have to make some one day :)

    Tanks for the memories ;)

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