Once in a while I join a swap thru Ravelry. I especially like a group called "Ten Dollar Swaps" because that is the minimum and maximum that you are expected to spend on your partner's package. It takes some creativity to find yarn and a couple of goodies for just ten bucks (shipping doesn't count) but it can be done! Also, stash yarn and materials that you have on hand that you didn't have to buy don't count in the total. Each month has a theme, and this month is "Secret Partner Swap." That means that while I know where I am sending my package, the person doesn't know who is sending it until they get it. And on the flip side, I have no idea where my package is coming from, or who my partner is.
This month included a handmade item and my partner lives in a hot climate, so I went with the Saroyan Shawl. I changed it up a bit, making it in sock-weight yarn so it made for a light shawlette instead of a big heavy shawl. Perfect for when the AC is cranked and you're freezing. At the movies, for example. AC at the movies is always cranked to "antarctic." :)
But the thing that I am most proud of is the handmade stitch markers that I put together. Purchasing pretty, beaded ones wasn't an option as I know they are much more expensive than ten dollars. And the more that I looked at some of mine, hanging off the needles in a pair of mittens that I am working on, I said "Hey, I can totally do that!" A few years ago, when I worked part-time and then only-child Will and I belonged to a playgroup, one of the moms sponsored a jewelry-making class at her home. I became hooked, and being a whole-hog kind of girl, stopped at Michael's on the way home to purchase tools and more beads and supplies. I made a few necklaces, bracelets and earrings for holiday gift-giving that year, and was pretty proud of myself. When it was time to clear out my craft room (sniff sniff!) because I was pregnant with Sean and needed a place for Will to sleep, I packed up my jewelry-making and cross-stitch supplies and banished them to the basement. Finding them was half the fun, the joy of finding such pretties while "shopping in my own home."
This was so easy, and so fun. I see some more in the future, perhaps as knitter's gifts. One can ALWAYS use more stitch markers! (And project bags....some day I'm going to get out my sewing machine and make my own project bags. Ooh!)