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How to Knit Easy Armwarmers

Armwarmers with fingerless gloves. CC BY 2.0, via Flickr.
Armwarmers with fingerless gloves. CC BY 2.0, via Flickr. | Source

Your house is cold, and you’re huddled under your blankets. But in order to type on the keyboard you have to stick your hands out from the comfort of the warm cave you’ve created. What do you do?

If you’re like me, you might try to stretch the blanket to make it work somehow, but it never quite reaches, or ends up uncovering your feet or some other part leaving you cold anyway. (Or maybe I just need a bigger blanket.)

But there is a better way. Aside from tossing on a sweater, jacket, or long sleeve shirt, which really only adds bulk and may leave you sweltering instead of comfortable, why not try using armwarmers?

Armwarmers aren’t only great for the situation described above, but for any situation where you want to keep your arms warm, without the bulk of extra clothing.

What are Armwarmers

Armwarmers are lengths of fabric created to cover your arms and keep them warm. It’s kind of like wearing sleeves without the shirt. Some armwarmers stop at the wrist, while others may include a fingerless-glove portion to help keep your hands warm too.

Originally, armwarmers were associated with dancers and some athletes, as a way to keep arms “warmed up” prior to practice. However, armwarmers have been around in mainstream fashion since at least the 1980’s.

Reasons to Knit Your Own Armwarmers

  • Keep your arms warm
  • Make a fashion statement
  • Add extra layers without tons of extra bulk
  • Save money
  • Create them to look however you want
  • Coordinate with your wardrobe and color preferences
  • For the satisfaction of DIY
  • To make easy knitted gifts for family and friends

Important Note

The patterns listed below are for basic armwarmers without the finger-less glove portion.

How to Knit Armwarmers

Armwarmers are easy to knit, and make a great beginner knitting project. One of the easiest ways to knit armwarmers is on straight needles. All you do is create a rectangle that is twice the size of your arm, fold it over, and stitch it up.

Here are a couple of easy patterns for knitting your own armwarmers:

Basic garter stitch armwarmers -- so how they curl at the hand? CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr.
Basic garter stitch armwarmers -- so how they curl at the hand? CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr. | Source

A Note About the Basic Garter Stitch

While this pattern is great for basic knitters, the garter stitch tends to curl at the ends. You may experience some of this with your armwarmers. Unfortunately, this is the nature of this stitch.

For an armwarmer that lays a bit better, see the instructions below which involve using the stockinette stitch.

Basic Garter Stitch Armwarmers

First, you will need to determine the size of your arm by taking a few measurements. Using a flexible tape measure, determine how big around your arm is at the widest and smallest points. Then, determine how long you want your armwarmers to be by measuring the length of your arm. Write all of these figures down.

This basic armwarmer pattern involves knitting a rectangle, and then folding it over and stitching it together to create a tube. If you are a beginner knitter, simply omit the decreasing rounds. You will end up with a piece that is a little baggy, and not as tapered, but which will be easier to knit. However, this is also a great pattern to for practicing decreasing stitches.

Gather a skein of yarn, your favorite knitting needles (that are sized appropriately for the yarn you are using), a needle for stitching up the sides later, and a pair of scissors. Typically, a larger skein of yarn (100+ grams or more) will allow you to make a pair of armwarmers. However, this will vary depending on the desired length.

Armwarmers are knit top down and uses the basic garter stitch.

  1. Cast on enough stitches so the piece is as wide as the widest part of your arm.
  2. Knit every stitch across; turn and repeat.
  3. Continue knitting for 20 – 40 rows or more, or until the desired length is reached and you are ready to decrease. You will want to follow the shape of your arm, so hold the piece up to your arm occasionally to determine when you are ready to begin decreasing.
  4. Decrease the first stitch in the row, knit across, decrease the last stitch in the row.
  5. Next row knit across.
  6. Decrease first and last stitch, knitting the rest of the stitches in the row.
  7. Repeat alternating decreasing and regular rows until the piece is as narrow as you want it to be.
  8. Knit across for the last row. Cast off and fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing.
  9. Turn piece inside out, and fold over so that the right sides are touching (and the wrong side is facing out towards you). Stitch up the side to close.
  10. Repeat for the second one. You now have a pair of armwarmers.

Basic armwarmers with stockinette stitch at top and bottom to create ribbing. CC BY 2.0, via Flickr.
Basic armwarmers with stockinette stitch at top and bottom to create ribbing. CC BY 2.0, via Flickr. | Source

About the Stockinette Stitch

For the stockinette stitch, your stitches should line up with the row above it. Meaning, all your knit stitches should line up, and all your purl stitches should line up, creating a ribbed effect.

Basic Armwamers Using the Garter and Stockinet Stitch

For a slightly fancier armwarmer pattern, and for armwarmers that don’t curl at the end, try combining the stockinette stitch with the garter stitch. The stockinette stich is most commonly used for cuffs on items such as gloves, shirts, sweaters, and more, and works perfectly for armwarmers too.

This pattern is customizable, so before you begin determine if you want cuffs on both the top and bottom of your armwarmers, or just one or the other.

Just like before, gather a skein of yarn, your favorite knitting needles, a needle for stitching up the sides later, and some scissors.

  1. Cast on enough stitches so the piece is as wide as the widest part of your arm.
  2. Knit the first two stitches, purl the next two stitches, and repeat across. Because you’ll be stitching the piece together afterward, make sure the first two stitches in the row are knit stitches and the last two are purl stitches.
  3. Turn. Purl the first two stitches, knit the next two, and repeat across.
  4. Repeat these two rows until the ribbing is at the desired length.
  5. Switch to using the basic garter stitch, and knit each stitch across, until you get to the point where you are ready to decrease.
  6. Decrease first knit stitch, knit across, decrease last knit stitch.
  7. Turn and repeat. Continue until you are two inches short of your desired length.
  8. Switch to using stockinette stitch again. Knit the first two stitches, purl the next two, and continue across, with the last two stitches being garter stitches.
  9. Turn, purl the first two stitches, knit the next two, repeat across with the last two stitches being knit stitches.
  10. Continue until the cuff is the desired length. Cast off and fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing.
  11. Fold piece in half, with right sides touching, wrong sides facing out towards you. Stitch up the sides and tie off.
  12. Repeat the process. You now have a pair of armwarmers.

Other Ways to Knit Armwarmers

Want more of a challenge? Try creating armwarmers with finger-less gloves. Or, try knitting your armwarmers in the round using double-pointed needles, and forget about having to stitch them up afterward.

Watch the videos below to learn either technique.

Knitting Armwarmers with Finger-less Gloves

Knitting Armwarmers on Double Pointed Needles Video Tutorial

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Comments 2 comments

tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand

This is great. I have been trying to think of a knitting project to do at work when things are quiet and this one fits the bill to a T. Thanks for sharing this information.


jennabee25 profile image

jennabee25 11 months ago from PA

Fun! I might knit myself a pair of your arm warmers. I'm always looking for new projects to try.

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