Happy New Year + 2018 Secret Valentine Exchange!! {CLOSED}

UPDATE: Sign-ups are now closed. We have 575 participants!!!!! WOW. Ute and I are busily getting all the partner information together and will send out emails by January 16th. If you signed up but didn’t receive a confirmation email from Google Forms, please contact us at secret.valentine.exchange[at]gmail.com and we will trouble-shoot!


Happy 2018, my friends! I’m having a hard time believing that we are now launching our 5th annual Secret Valentine Exchange!! Ute and I are teaming up as always, and we’re delighted to be hosting this non-traditional Valentine’s handmade event! Based on the Scandinavian Secret Santa tradition called Julklapp, our first SVE brought 40 participants together and last year we had over 400 participants! SVE is such a fun way to spread love and cheer through handmade goods and we’ve been blown away by the level of creativity every year. If you’ve taken part before, the following information will be familiar (thank goodness for copy-and-paste), but we’ve added a couple of new points so please read through the post.

SVE is super simple! Sign up using the Google form at the bottom of this post and Ute and I will assign Secret Valentines (we’re part of the gift exchange fun too). We’ll send you the info about the person for whom you’ll be making a gift, but you’ll be in the dark in terms of who’ll be sending you a gift. With the ever-increasing number of participants, we found out last year that one of the most important aspects is to ensure that participants enter valid emails and shipping addresses. We’d hate for people to miss out because we can’t contact you or get the parcels out to you!

IMPORTANT POINTS:

1. Gifts should be made with materials you already have on hand (we encourage recycling and repurposing). This is not meant to be an expensive project for anyone. It probably goes without saying, but please make the gift yourself.

2. You must be willing to ship internationally.

3. The gift should fit into a medium to large envelope to keep shipping costs down. There are no expectations to send more than one gift, but in the past couple of years we’ve noticed that folks love to include multiple small gifts, and that’s wonderful too. We know that shipping can get spendy if you’re sending internationally. If this is of concern to you, please do a quick check on average shipping costs from US to UK, let’s say, to determine whether this is something that you want to partake in.

4. Keep it fun and easy! No need to stress about what to make, although I know from personal experience that it could feel a little nerve-wracking to send your handmade creation if it’s not something you do regularly. Trust me, the gift will be received happily as many, many participants will attest. I know that quite a few tears of appreciation have been shed (I’m raising my hand high up here). There’s something magical about opening up a handmade gift, don’t you think?

Now, things have gone above and beyond expectations over the last four years, but with so many participants in far flung places on the globe, there were some delays with a number of shipments and a few missed packages last year. If you’re sending to a particularly remote place from where you live, it’s a very good idea to build in extra days for shipping and to add tracking if at all possible. Also, we know that life gets busy and stuff comes up. Ute and I are both flexible folks and we understand if gifts may end up a little late or if there are extenuating circumstances. We’ve both been there. However, because we want to ensure that everyone is giving and receiving, please only sign up if you know you can definitely commit to making and shipping a gift.

To get into the spirit of the event and for sneak peeks, use hashtag #2018sve on IG, but remember, it’s not necessary to have any kind of online presence. The idea was borne out of a desire to connect people in a way that no digital medium can accomplish, and we’ve learned that many friendships emerged from the Secret Valentine Exchanges. This makes Ute and me indescribably happy.

The process is as easy as can be:

1. To sign up, fill out the questionnaire below by Wednesday, January 10th.

2. We’ll take care of assignments and send out the Secret Valentine info to all participants by Tuesday, January 16th.

3. Make something fabulous and ship it by February 7 (if you’re shipping internationally, you might want to add an extra week or so). And don’t forget the Instagram hashtag #2018sve

4. Receive your Secret Valentine gift!

As always, I made some printable tags (the cute little doggy is inspired by Ute’s pet Maja). Feel free to download them here or click on the image above. I also added a version without “2018 Secret Valentine Exchange” for general purposes if you happen to like the design and want a handy little gift tag with some crafty animals! I highly recommend printing these on cardstock (in the example photo, I printed it on textured inkjet paper).

We can’t wait to see who signs up!! Are you in? Please feel free to contact me or Ute with any questions here in the comments section or at secret.valentine.exchange[at]gmail.com. We’ll also announce the exchange on instagram and you can find us there too (@ute_ig @sanaeishida). Hooray!!

P.S. SVE seems to be growing each year and with the increase in participants, Ute and I have found a corresponding increase in communication needs. We love SVE so much that we wanted to continue the tradition, but we both have pretty heavy workloads this year and realized that we won’t be able to comment on as many IG posts or get back to inquiries with the same rapid turnaround we’ve managed in the past. We will do our absolute best, but just wanted to give you a heads up. <3

 

Happy Friday + SVE Wrap-up

 

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Happy Friday! This is but a small sampling of the 800+ posts when you search the #2017sve hashtag on Instagram.

!!!!!!

Friends, this year’s Secret Valentine Exchange exceeded our expectations on every level. The creative energy, the kindness, the patience (we know that quite a few of you are still waiting…we’re doing our best to help loose ends get tied up, so keep us posted at secret.valentine.exchange@gmail.com). Ute and I are experiencing a lot of jaw-hanging and tear-wiping. We’ve especially been tickled by serendipitous pairings of people living near each other and we’ve been incredibly touched by gifts that arrived during trying and much-needed moments. And so much variety! DIY make-up! Bags of all shapes, sizes, colors! Dolls! Pet bibs! Knitted loveliness! Paintings! Jewelry! Hand-stamping / hand-dying / hand-spinning! And much, much, more. It’s been magic.

2017sve-wrapup4As for me, I received a lovingly crocheted bag in my favorite hues and the effort and care that went into it is abundantly clear. Thank you, Sally Mae! The shape makes me think of the word “pochette” for some reason — Google is telling me that it’s supposed to mean “wallet” in French, but in the Japanese culture little purses are often referred to as pochettes. My pochette was stuffed to the max with chocolate and candy, which made everyone in my family very happy. K immediately claimed the Fun Dips for herself. The sweetest part? My SVE partner included a little Pen Pal survey for me to fill out. I used to love pen pal letters when I was a kid! I promptly completed it and sent it to Sally Mae — so fun!

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In terms of my own gift-making, I took quite some time to come up with an idea for my Secret Valentine, Melanie of All by Hand. Her color and fabric preferences were very similar to mine, which was handy. I dug around my stash and pulled out a bunch of linens, then I noticed that her logo was a sweet blossoming tree branch which reminded me of this silky fabric I purchased eons ago. Risking some copyright infringement, I hand-painted her logo and made little notecards that I hoped might be useful for her to include with her shop items. Speaking of her shop, Melanie makes gorgeous rope bowls and assorted sewn items. I thought of hunting down some Japanese ropes to include as part of the gift, but when I did an online search for “Japanese ropes,” I wasn’t quite prepared for the intense bondage imagery that popped up. Red-faced and scandalized, I decided to table that idea.

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The silky fabric turned into an infinity scarf (which I realized isn’t totally seasonally appropriate for Australia, but oh well; it’s almost fall there, right?), and because I wanted to keep the gift compact, I decided to create little embroidered sachets. My stitches are never totally even, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending several meditative evenings letting the stitches come up with their own designs. I’m sort of in love with their wonkiness. I filled them with lavender and called it good. In fact, I loved making these so much, I’ve been caught up in a full-blown sachet-making obsession!

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Ute and I are so grateful to the 426 women who joined in spreading handmade cheer around the globe!!! As with any venture with hundreds of participants, there have been a few hiccups here and there and we’re taking them in stride, knowing that each challenge and learning how to deal with it will make the exchange even better next year. Overall, we’re quite amazed at how smoothly everything has gone — we even got a little more technically savvy this year with mail merge (thank goodness for YouTube)!

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And no SVE wrap-up is complete without me gushing about Ute. You’ve probably all figured out by now that she’s the one running the show, keeping the excitement thrumming, and saving the day left and right. My IG and general online presence can be, shall we say, hit-or-miss, but Ute has been commenting like a boss on massive numbers of SVE IG posts (how does she do that?????), which is no small feat. It’s just one of many ways that shows how awesome she is. Behind the scenes, she does even more and is truly a wonder. Not that I’m slacking off, but she’s so on top of things, it’s magnificent. Working on this project with Ute is hands down my favorite part of SVE.

I’m filled with anticipation for the 2018 Secret Valentine Exchange!! I hope you are too!

Aaaaaaand, that’s a wrap!

…except, once again, if you still haven’t received a gift, please let us know at secret.valentine.exchange@gmail.com. We’ll do everything we can to help out! xoxo

 

 

 

#2017sve

2017-sveupdate

Hello, hello! Just a quick update today. If you’ve been following the #2017sve hashtag on Instagram, the Secret Valentine Exchange is hoppin’! There are so many fun sneak peeks and quite a few people have already received gifts (I was particularly shocked that my gift to Australia got there in a blink of an eye because I was not, um, totally on the ball). Amazing!

I’ll do another SVE update next week, but Ute and I wanted to send out a reminder that because we ended up with over 400 people in 30 countries, the parcels are traveling far and wide. This means that it’s likely that some gifts will be a few days late due to unpredictable delivery systems. If you think your gifts will be extremely late (more than 2 weeks, say), do let us know at secret.valentine.exchange@gmail.com and we’re happy to contact your partner. We appreciate everyone’s patience in advance!

Have a wonderful rest of the week! I was attempting a post for tomorrow but due to some deadlines that cropped up, it looks like I’ll do a Monday post instead. Today’s theme is flexibility!

So many presents
To spread handmade love worldwide
It’s soul-nourishing

Happy Friday + 2017 SVE Updates

sh-tools

Happy Friday, I hope you all had a wonderful week! Ute and I have been working behind the scenes on the 2017 Secret Valentine Exchange pairing of partners and are pleased to report that all emails with SVE partner information have gone out. Please contact us at secret.valentine.exchange[at]gmail.com if you haven’t received an email from us or if you have any updates to the information you provided. The final tally: 426 participants representing nearly 30 countries!! WOW.

Thank you so, so much to everyone who signed up; we are super excited about the enthusiastic response! We can’t wait to see all the sneak peeks (please use #2017sve if you’re on Instagram) and I for one am foraging through my extensive fabric stash to find something lovely for my partner.

Whew, I’m ready for some R & R! Signing off with a little haiku and big wishes for a relaxing weekend for all…

It’s a long weekend
For MLK Jr. Day
Gonna celebrate

P.S. The image above is from my book, Sewing Happiness. The background surface is a little table I use in my kitchen to hold fruit. Love the texture!

Happy New Year + 2017 Secret Valentine Exchange!

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[UPDATE 2: Sign-ups are now closed! We have over 400 participants!!!!!!! Please double-check your confirmation emails to see if you have any missed or incorrect information in your form and let us know so we can update everything before we send out assignment emails (if you could let us know before Wednesday, January 11th, that would be awesome). Thank you, thank you, thank you!]

 

[UPDATE: We are at 300!!! So exciting!!! Please note that we’ll be closing sign-ups at the end of the day today (January 6th)]

Happy 2017, my friends! Can you believe it?? We’re embarking on the 4th annual Secret Valentine Exchange!! Ute and I are co-conspirators as always, and we’re delighted to be hosting this non-traditional Valentine’s handmade event! Based on the Scandinavian Secret Santa tradition called Julklapp, our first SVE brought 40 participants together and last year we had nearly 200 participants! SVE is such a fun way to spread love and cheer through handmade goods and we’ve been blown away by the level of creativity every year. If you’ve taken part before, the following information will be familiar (thank goodness for copy-and-paste), but we’ve added a couple of new points so please read through the post.

SVE is super simple! Sign up using the Google form at the bottom of this post and Ute and I will assign Secret Valentines (we’re part of the gift exchange fun too). We’ll send you the info about the person for whom you’ll be making a gift, but you’ll be in the dark in terms of who’ll be sending you a gift.

IMPORTANT POINTS:

1. Gifts should be made with materials you already have on hand (we encourage recycling and repurposing). This is not meant to be an expensive project for anyone. It probably goes without saying, but please make the gift yourself.

2. You must be willing to ship internationally.

3. The gift should fit into a medium to large envelope to keep shipping costs down. There are no expectations to send more than one gift, but in the past couple of years we’ve noticed that folks love to include multiple small gifts, and that’s wonderful too.

4. Keep it fun and easy! No need to stress about what to make, although I know from personal experience that it could feel a little nerve-wracking to send your handmade creation if it’s not something you do regularly. Trust me, the gift will be received happily as many, many participants will attest. I know that quite a few tears of appreciation have been shed (I’m raising my hand high up here). There’s something magical about opening up a handmade gift, don’t you think?

2017sve2

Now, things have gone above and beyond expectations over the last three years, but with so many participants in far flung places on the globe, there were some delays with a number of shipments and a few missed packages last year. If you’re sending to a particularly remote place from where you live, it’s a very good idea to build in extra days for shipping and to add tracking if at all possible. Also, we know that life gets busy and stuff comes up. Ute and I are both flexible folks and we understand if gifts may end up a little late or if there are extenuating circumstances. We’ve both been there. However, because we want to ensure that everyone is giving and receiving, please only sign up if you know you can definitely commit to making and shipping a gift.

To get into the spirit of the event and for sneak peeks, use hashtag #2017sve on IG, but remember, it’s not necessary to have any kind of online presence. The idea was borne out of a desire to connect people in a way that no digital medium can accomplish, and we’ve learned that many friendships emerged from the Secret Valentine Exchanges. This makes Ute and me indescribably happy.

The process is as easy as can be:

1. To sign up, fill out the questionnaire below by Friday, January 6th.

2. We’ll take care of assignments and send out the Secret Valentine info to all participants by Saturday, January 14th.

3. Make something fabulous and ship it by February 7 (if you’re shipping internationally, you might want to add an extra week or so). And don’t forget the Instagram hashtag #2017sve

4. Receive your Secret Valentine gift!

2017sve-tags-graphic

As always, I made some printable tags. Feel free to download them here or click on the image above. I also added a couple without “2017 SVE” on the parcel boat for general purposes if you happen to like the design and want a cute little gift tag with a narwhal-riding mermaid.

We can’t wait to see who signs up!! Are you in? Please feel free to contact me or Ute with any questions here in the comments section or at secret.valentine.exchange[at]gmail.com. We’ll also announce the exchange on instagram and you can find us there too (@ute_ig @sanaeishida). Huzzah!!