Introduction: How to Knit Reflective Arm Warmers

About: I design and hand-manufacture knitwear for active lives


I've been cycling to work for years and I always worry about whether or not my hand signals are seen at night. I designed these circular knit reflective arm warmers to be worn over any clothing so that you can be sure that you are seen at night. Best of all, they can be made from whatever yarn you like so you can make some for summer and winter.

These armwarmers are made on a circular knitting machine using 8ply yarn and reflective thread.

Circular knitting machine
Circular knitting machines come in a range of prices. The main difference is the number of needles and the final diameter of the knitted fabric. Here are some examples.

Singer Knitting Machine 22 stitches, 15-20cm (6-8inch) diameter knitted fabric $26 - $50

Prym Knitting Machine Mill 44 stitches 13 inch diameter knitted fabric $100 - $120

Addi Express Professional Knitting Machine22 stitches, 15-20cm (6-8inch) diameter knitted fabric $125-$150

8ply yarn (sportsweight)

You can choose whatever type of yarn you want but I would recommend a natural fibre as it goes through the machine more easily than acrylic. If you are using wool, try and purchase 'superwash' or machine washable wool. This isn't a design requirement, it's just less heartbreaking if you accidentally throw the armwarmers into the washing machine!

Reflective Thread
Reflective Thread is available in many lengths and widths but unless you want to buy it in bulk, I recommend Hatnut Safe Reflect (100metres) Reflective Thread on Etsy. (approx $10US) This will last for approximately 5 pairs of arm warmers. Reflective Thread

Skills you will need
On the machine: Casting on, knitting in the round, casting off
By hand: single crochet stitch

Step 1: Step 1: Materials

You will need

1 skein 8ply or sportsweight yarn
Reflective Thread
8 ply Waste yarn
Crochet needle
4.5mm Tapestry needle

Step 2: Step 2: Knit Your Armwarmers

Set up
With your waste yarn cast on as per your machine's instructions
Change to your main yarn

Begin knitting armwarmers

*Knit 15 rows
Add the reflective yarn
knit 10 rows
Take out the reflective yarn, be careful not to drop any stitches
The reflective yarn will make the knit bunch a bit so pull it down from the centre of the machine as you knit.
Knit 20 rows
Add the reflective yarn
knit 5 rows
Take out the reflective yarn, be careful not to drop any stitches
Knit 5 rows
Add the waste yarn knit 10 rows*

Change back to the Main yarn and repeat process from * to *

You will now have 2 armwarmers

Step 3: Step 3: Finishing Your Armwarmers

Take the knitting off the machine by cutting off the waste yarn and turning two full rounds without any yarn.

Once off the machine, carefully cut through the waste yarn knitting to end up with 2 separate armwarmers

With your 4.5mm crochet needles, crochet the open stitches at both ends of the armwarmer

Remove the waste yarn
Sew in all loose threads
Steam iron the armwarmers so that the wool relaxes *

*when fabric is being constructed on a knitting machine it is under great tension. When it comes off the machine it takes a while for the fabric to relax. You can speed the process by handwashing and blocking or by ironing with a steam iron. Be careful to use a damp cloth on top of the woollen garment

Step 4: Step 4. Wearing Your Armwarmers

Your armwarmers are designed to both keep your arm warm and be seen when you are cycling in the dark.

When a car light hits the armwarmers, they reflect in the areas where the reflective yarn was knitted.

The reflective yarn will wash in the machine but overall, I'd recommend hand wash.


and if you want to see more of my reflective pieces, visit

Bicycle Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Bicycle Contest 2016