Christmas knitting is officially past swatching stage and has firmly and definitely begun. The felted tote bag for my aunt is actually almost done (at least the knitting stage) which means of course I should be posting a picture and of course that I don't have one at the moment.
The bag is pretty hilarious right now. I've never knitted for felting before and so I see it as a big, floppy ugly thing and I cannot wait to see all tightened up and felty. I started it last weekend. Now, I live in an *apartment* and that means that I don't have a *washing machine* which means I cannot *test felt* because even if I went to the laundromat to test felt one measly swatch, they're all front load washers which can't be opened during the cycle, because they'd make a terrific mess if you did. So I did hand felt a swatch, but even like 20 minutes of that doesn't really give you the full idea of how much the piece will shrink. In writing the pattern, I decided (randomly) on a shrinkage of 2/3. Which means I was multiplying my desired finished measurement by THREE and using that figure. Well, I didn't even get a third into the base rectangle of the bag before I realized that there was NO WAY that could be right. So I dashed off to WEBS and found that they had a free pattern for a felted bag out of the yarn (Valley Berkshire). Using their figures (thank you, Webs, for giving before and after felting measurements), I rejiggered my whole pattern and am now more or less confident that I will end up with a nice tote bag. And my friend is going to let me use her washing machine.
I am also knitting a scarf out of this ugly sparkly yarn for someone that I don't like but must still give gifts to. I wanted a spiral scarf and found a suitable non-short-row pattern (no problem with short rows, she's just not worth putting that much work into it!). I didn't revisit the pattern I found online, assuming I knew what to do. After all, its just CO 100 sts, k 1 row, then increase in every stitch for one row - repeat as necessary. So I did k1, yo and wasn't feeling too confident about it but plugged away anyways. I was all the way up to 800 stitches on the needle before I looked at the pattern which says k into f and b of every stitch! No big deal. I ripped it, all 800 stitches and will be casting on again soon. I don't care because it makes great TV knitting. I think it still would have spiraled, it was just too holey.
All this goes to show you, I'm no knitting genius. But practice makes perfect and I get plenty of that.