2018 SVE Underway!

Hello my friends! Final tally of Secret Valentine Exchange participants came out to 576. 576!!!!!!!!! Ute and I are, as always, bowled over by the enthusiasm of all involved and this is an extra special year because after 5 years, we finally have not one but THREE gents joining in the festivities. Welcome, guys! We love how the diversity of the group keeps expanding for this global swap.

A few housekeeping notes:

  • If you included an instagram handle but have a private account, please consider making it public for the duration of SVE (until February 14th, perhaps?)
  • If you haven’t received a partner info email from us yet, please check your spam folder, promotions tab, etc. first before contacting us.
  • If your partner didn’t provide any social media info, you might have to do a little sleuthing with good ole Google if you’re keen on finding out more about your partner. Alternatively, simply take a stab at making something that’s in your wheelhouse in the color(s) your partner likes.
  • For any inquiries, please contact secret.valentine.exchange[at]gmail.com

That’s it for now. Oh, and have fun!!!

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

UPDATE: Sign-ups are now closed. We have 576 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

 

Merry + Bright

It’s Christmas Eve and our house is quiet. My mom is drawing in the kitchen, K is off with a friend on a last-minute shopping expedition, M is also out and about — probably hunting for gifts as well. I am sitting by our tree, candles aglow, marveling at the snow that is drifting gently outside.

It’s been quite a year, my friends. I launched one book, completed another (out next September!). I had so many adventures near and far. There were ups and downs, joy and sadness, ebullience and exhaustion. Overall, however, it was a far better year than the previous one, which was one of the toughest. I feel lucky that everything turned out as well as we could have hoped for — there were some touch-and-go moments in 2016 due to some family health issues, and I’m so grateful that 2017 kept improving each month.

I haven’t been around much in the interwebs arena for a long while now. Part of it was intentional; I wanted to slow down and experience life directly. I was also taking care of many things and many people that I didn’t feel I could discuss on a blog, and it took all my focus to juggle the projects I had in the background.

This will be my last post of the year until January, when Ute and I will get the 2018 Secret Valentine Exchange rolling — our fifth year!!! Last year blew us away with over 400 participants. So very many kind souls all around the globe! More details to come so stay tuned…

I am incredibly excited for 2018. I don’t know if I’ll post more here, but I would like to. I would like to start making lots and lots of things for the sheer fun of it. A variety of things in addition to books. I feel my energy coming back, and it’s lovely.

I am also profoundly appreciative of all the people I’ve met (in actuality and virtually) through this blog. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, comment, send emails, connect. Thank you for being so wonderful. Again, I feel so lucky to have such regular contact with uplifting, generous folks. M tells me it’s crazy magical and really rare, and I would have to agree.

Happy holidays to you and all your loved ones, and cheers to another year filled with more adventures! Let’s do this. xoxo

Holiday Sewing Happiness Book Giveaway! [CLOSED]

And the giveaway goodness continues! Sasquatch Books and I are teaming up again this week to offer up two copies of Sewing Happiness as an end-of-the-year hurrah!

It’s hard to believe that over a year has passed since its publication. I’ve met SO many amazing people through the book and it was a labor of true, true love in collaboration with magical folks.

I’m keeping this post short and sweet since we’ve all got holiday festivities and preparations to attend to, yes? On top of a signed copy of the book, we’re adding a mini Sashiko sewing kit that includes 2 Sashiko needles, a spool of Sashiko thread and indigo cotton/linen fabric (I think? It might be cotton only, but it has a linen texture as well). The fabric is pre-cut and pre-quilted so you can make a Sashiko-embroidered coaster, similar to the trivet in the book.  I’m also throwing in a mostly-made heart-shaped  sachet that can be filled with lavender (or whatever you please) and closed up with just a few stitches. The fabric is one of my favorite Nani IRO designs.

(The embroidered pin cushion is just a prop and is not part of the kit — it was too cute not to include in the photo!)

It’s the usual to enter the giveaway: any comment will do! If you’re keen to share something specific, I’d love to know about a fun activity you’d like to do in 2018. A friend just told me she started taking Bollywood dancing lessons and that sounds awesome to me! Might give that a whirl…I’m also looking forward to going hiking more in the new year. Gotta take advantage of all this gorgeous and accessible nature in the Pacific Northwest!

The giveaway is open until Thursday, December 21st, and I’ll contact the two winners by the end of the day on Friday, December 22nd. I’ll also post this on IG (@sanaeishida) too if you’d like to enter there to increase your chances. Good luck!!

Please note: US residents only and the parcel will arrive after January 2nd.

Happy Monday + BIG Holiday Giveaway!! [CLOSED]

Happy Monday, my friends! I’m so excited — Sasquatch Books/Little Bigfoot contacted me last week to see if I would be interested in hosting a holiday giveaway, and I jumped at the chance.

‘Tis the season for giving! Sasquatch Books has generously offered 20 copies to give away in celebration of the festive season: 10 winners will receive a signed copy of Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl and 5 winners will get the GRAND PRIZE: a signed copy of both Little Kunoichi and Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet.

And that’s not all! I’m including some watercolor holiday tags that I painted, which I think are quite charming, if I may be bold enough to say so myself. They’re based loosely on the 12 Days of Christmas song, and there are a few other holiday motifs as well (it’ll be a surprise!).

We’ll try to get the parcels shipped in time for Christmas, though they may land on doorsteps a few days after. These would make great gifts any time of the year if you’ve already got a copy of either or both books!

To enter, please leave any comment below, though if you’d like some ideas, I would love to know what your favorite holiday tradition is. I started making K an advent calendar six years ago and hands-down, it’s the loveliest part of the holidays for the entire family. I challenge myself to come up with something different every year, K has something to look forward to almost every day of December, I include activities for family bonding, and it does double-duty as holiday decor. This year, I asked her to write down something she’s grateful for every day, and her growing gratitude list is so sweet! Here’s a little shot of this year’s advent calendar.

You can see past calendars here and here and here and here and here.

I’ll also post this giveaway later today on Instagram and if you’d like to comment there as well, it might up your chances of winning! The giveaway will be open until Thursday, December 14th and the randomly selected 15 winners will be contacted by the end of day Friday, December 15th. Good luck!

Important note: this giveaway is limited to US residents.