Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Secret Valentine Exchange

 I recently participated in a handmade gift swap for Valentine's Day, and I was pretty pumped since I had never done anything like this before. Sure I like to do crafty things, but I've never made anything for anyone besides my family, Lauren, and Heather (who are pretty much family). I was excited to try new crafty techniques, but I was even more ecstatic to receive a surprise gift in return. Have I mentioned yet that I love receiving letters and packages in the mail?

The person we were making something for was not the same person who would be making something for us. In the beginning of January all of the participants filled out a short survey about our likes and interests. Towards the middle of January, we received someone else's survey responses and we were to make something for them and ship it so that they would receive their gift by Valentine's Day.

From reading my recipient's questionnaire responses, I took away that she likes neutral colors, knitting, and reading. But I was lost after that. I had no idea how to form these interests into something more tangible to make. So I did what I always do in times of need; I went to Lauren for guidance. Being a true knitting fiend herself, she mentioned that knitters always need project bags. She also suggested that I make bookmarks to hone in on her reading hobby. Thanks Lauren, you're the best as always!
Participating in a swap was appealing to me because I thought it would be a good chance to learn a new technique, and it gives me the chance to share something I'm confident in that most people don't necessarily know how to do. I decided to make a project bag and a pouch for knitting notions; both are tutorials by Noodlehead. In my entire life I've only sewn in two zippers but I had a lot of help with them. I thought these projects would be good in practicing this technique. I no longer wanted to fear sewing a cute project just because it had a zipper. I don't know what I was so worried about. Once Lauren showed me how to use the zipper foot, sewing both of the pouches was a breeze. They still took me a lot longer than they should've, but I deliberately took my time, chalking it up as a learning experience.
For the bookmarks Lauren and I decided that incorporating cross stitching would be a good idea. For the past two years I think (yes, I'm slow), I've been diligently working on the Summer Sampler and have stitched up some pretty cute little characters. I decided to make three bookmarks, each with a separate character/scene I thought my recipient would enjoy. I picked the watermelon, whale, and arrows. I created  my own simple tutorial on sewing up these cross stitched patterns into fabric bookmarks. The hardest part was getting the top stitching just right, but honestly, that's always the most frustrating part of sewing projects. Lauren came to the rescue again and helped me figure out this tedious task.

I'm pretty happy and proud of what I was able to make, and I hope my recipient is enjoying her surprise goodies. Both Lauren and I wanted to keep the tiny mint green linen pouch for ourselves, but I promised to make more if we could let this one go. I shared a picture of what I received from Fiona (and she did too- that's the kind of blogger I like!) and I'm still super tempted to start a new knitting project just to use that cute pouch. But, I have to finish what I've already started, otherwise hoarding unfinished projects is going to become one big habit that I definitely don't need. I'm in love with my presents and I'm pretty certain I want to participate in another swap soon. I think I made Lauren catch the swapping bug as well!