Especially when you know that even though you're making something you want to make, you're still likely to have a really appreciative recipient. That's why I love participating in the Secret Valentine Exchange (2014 giving and receiving, 2015 giving and receiving and 2016 posts)
I get such a warm, fuzzy feeling from that gift exchange that I'd always wanted to make something each for Sanae and Ute, the organisers. Previously I'd sent Ute a macrame necklace that she kindly modelled here, but before I could decide what to make for Sanae, she threw out an offer to make something for anyone who asked....
Sanae had talked on her blog, in multiple instalments, about working towards a debt free life. In the final chapter she was obviously feeling very generous as she offered a custom illustration for the first 50 respondents.
Embarrassingly, I failed to pay attention to the suggestion that the illustration might include an animal or an inspirational word, or a decorative motif etc. I fired off an instant, begging email request for a family of four bears on bicycles with the word "Together".
No sooner had I hit send than I realised by how much I'd overstepped the mark. I apologised in another email just moments later, but Sanae had already been captivated by the idea and promised she would fulfil my crazy request.
When my family of bears arrived in the post they were accompanied by a solo bicycling bear, another version of the bear family image without the script, and a kangaroo on a penny farthing! I can't describe how lovely these illustrations are...
and damn if I hadn't met my match when it came to overachieving! :)
The time for the Tour de France was approaching and I loved the idea of a handstitched project as a gift for Sanae. When @_measuretwice suggested a #tourdestitch sit in on Instagram I found a virtual companion and the motivation to start.
I limited myself to 14 inches square, and that took me past the finish line in Paris and into the "fourth week". But it was lovely to have a portable project that could go to lacrosse games, on the train to the city, to the pool and even into the emergency hospital when I was struck down with Ear Pox (not really, just a bog standard, misdiagnosed middle ear infection).
The cushion was backed in plain navy linen, and then the lovely Nicola of the Handmaker's Factory gave me a little sample of someone's shibori dyeing which I used to make my corded piping.
I lined the inside of the cushion cover with some mustard coloured cotton. There's no tutorial for making a piped, lined envelope cushion cover as I ballsed it up quite a few times, and by the time I got the insides on the inside and the cross stitch on the outside I'd lost track of how I had done it.
I felt a little bit guilty about posting an empty cushion cover, but the postage, had I left an insert in it, would have been crazy. I got a delightful email from Sanae today to say she'd received it and had recently bought herself, apropos of nothing, exactly that sized cushion insert. Happy coincidence, huh?!
|A much better image of this illustration is here|
I got some ridiculously expensive framing quotes for my little illustrations and in the end I did it myself. I bought one of those bevel edge board cutting tools (yes you want and need one too, I know), some matte board and these super cheap Ikea frames.
The illustrations are gathered at the entrance to our kitchen area and they make me smile every time I see them there. The kids have nominated who's who in the group image and P is thrilled that he's been depicted descending the mountain hands free!
There really is no nicer feeling than the one you get from giving. Making, creating, giving, receiving and communicating with someone you've never met - it just fills me up with that sense of absolute delight and crowds out every thought that isn't one of pure joy.
And I'm delighted to think that my handiwork is softening the seat of a chair somewhere and providing comfort to a bottom that may have had a hard day!