Secret Valentine Exchange Recap


It’s time to highlight the utter loveliness that was the Secret Valentine Exchange!

In total, we had 39 participants including me and my indispensable co-organizer Ute – amazing! There were ladies from the U.S., Germany, Canada, Australia, Singapore, India, France, Spain, Ireland and Italy. So international, right? I’m overwhelmed that these are all — in some capacity — readers of this little blog. One of my favorite aspects of this project was that I got to know the various folks that stop by here a little better. Blabbering to the great interwebs can sometimes leave me feeling slightly ridiculous, like I’m that demented lady talking to herself again. But through this exchange, I got a better glimpse of the wonderful women behind the comments and visits. I loved reading all the questionnaires and getting acquainted with all the blogs and checking out the Pinterest boards and browsing through the flickr accounts.


Of course, the best part was the making and receiving and celebrating an untraditional Valentine’s! Before I launch into what I made and what I received, I thought I should briefly go over how the partners were selected. It was an ad hoc method involving K, a lot of little pieces of paper, and a good dose of bribery (K got tired of selecting the names after the fourth one. Chocolate is a powerful motivator). I created little pre-sorted piles roughly by location so that shipping wouldn’t take too long. I’m not sure that we were completely successful, but we tried.


I was assigned Asmita, who authors the lovely Elephant in the Study blog. What a thrill to ship all the way to India! Great procrastinator that I am, I worried that I wouldn’t finish in time but luck was on my side and I was at the post office two weeks before Valentine’s Day. Unheard of. Then I ran into a snafu when the post office guy told me that customs can cause all kinds of problems, and I needed to get a phone number. So I had to email Asmita pretending that I wasn’t her secret valentine. Sneaky, sneaky. Fortunately, Asmita responded right away so I skedaddled back to the post office and happily shipped off the gifts. What I made: a little fabric pouch/organizer with hearts-emblazoned fabric (I tossed in some sewing goodies there), a house-shaped hot pad (or potholder? it’s made with wool batting), and two small colorful cotton zipper pouches  (one stuffed with bookmarks). Asmita’s favorite colors are red, orange and yellow, so I tried to incorporate the colors and also kept in mind that she’s a bibliophile and loves to bake. I was filled with relief when I received an email from Asmita confirming receipt just before the big day. And what an email – I got a little teary-eyed by the sweet note.


And the teariness continued when I opened the door to find a package for me. Sonya of Fashion Fragile drew my name, and as much as I loved the gifts (a beautiful cowl/neck warmer in my fave color, a brooch made out of what looks like kimono fabric, handmade cards), it was the handwritten note that got me all choked up. The considered care that goes into handmade gift-giving has powerfully uplifting qualities. Another participant, Gita, included a quote as part of one of her photos that perfectly encapsulates what I’m trying to say.

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thank you, again, Sonya, for the thoughtful gifts. I will treasure them!



The talent factor of everyone involved is enormous, and I was in fact a little cowed by the projects that started popping up in the Flickr pool. Which you can see just below. I embedded a Flickr slideshow for easy perusal, and friends, you know this is embarking into extreme high tech territory for me, so I hope this works. Let me know if it doesn’t.

The variety and creativity are so very inspiring! I also saw some trends: buntings, lots of pouches, and hearts, naturally. Below, I’m including the list of awesome participants; some have blogs and where available, I included fun links to their blog posts about Secret Valentine Exchange (look for the “SVE blog post” links). Please give me a holler if I missed any posts, blogs or any other info!

Ute and I are already plotting for next year – what do you think? Would you be in?

Thank you to everyone who joined in the exchange! We hope it made Valentine’s Day and winter a little extra special.

Here are the participants:

Alison // pinterest // flickr

Amy F. // pinterest

Amy L. // pinterest // instagram

Ann // blog // pinterest // instagram // SVE blog post

~anu // blog // pinterest // flickr // ravelry

Asmita // blog // pinterest // flickr

Claudette // pinterest // flickr

Crys // blog // pinterest // flickr // instagram

Dagny // blog // pinterest // flickr // instagram

Fiona // blog // pinterest // flickr // instagram // SVE blog post

Ginnie // pinterest

Isabelle // blog // pinterest // flickr

Jillian // blog // pinterest // flickr // instagram

Jordan // pinterest

Julie Ma. // blog // pinterest // flickr

Juile Mo. // blog // pinterest // instagram

Karen H.

Karen J.

Kathryn // pinterest // flickr

Katie // blog // pinterest // flickr // instagram // SVE blog post

Kristi A. // flickr

Kristi M. // blog // pinterest // flickr // SVE blog post 1 // SVE blog post 2

Lightning McStitch // blog // flickr // SVE blog post

Lucinda // pinterest // flickr

Meghan // blog // pinterest // flickr // instagram

Michelle D. // flickr

Michelle L. // pinterest // flickr

Nicole // blog // pinterest // flickr // SVE blog post 1 // SVE blog post 2

Robin // blog // pinterest // SVE blog post

Roslyn // blog // pinterest // flickr // instagram // SVE blog post

Sarah D. // blog // pinterest // instagram

Sarah K. // blog // pinterest // flickr // instagram

Sheila/Gita // blog // pinterest // flickr // SVE blog post

Sonya // blog // pinterest

Stephanie // blog // pinterest // flickr // instagram // SVE blog post

Suzy // blog // pinterest // flickr // instagram

Tamika // blog // flickr

Ute // pinterest // flickr

+ Me!

Many, many thanks again to Ute for her general rock star-ness, and that’s a wrap!






26 thoughts on “Secret Valentine Exchange Recap

  1. Cool! Your gifts are gorgeous and I love what you’ve written. I’m in for next year! This was so much fun. I look forward to re-visiting the flickr pool and checking out the blog posts when I get a sec. For now, a big huge hug and thanks to you and Ute for putting us all in touch. It’s been very touching to see how all of our seemingly distant worlds intersect and happily collide, bringing a little realness to the often surreal cybersphere.

    1. Hugs to you! Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and lovely write-up as well, Gita! Your handmade gifts were amazing!

  2. Thanks so much, Sanae and Ute! It was lovely of you guys to host this, and so nice that you opened it up to all of us to participate. The internet is both strangely intimate as well as anonymous, so it was nice to have some touchable contact with some of the other people out there with whom we share our virtual spaces.

    And, wow, some work really went into that long list of participants and all of our links! It is cool to check out, so thanks.

    1. Ute and I couldn’t believe how many people ended up participating – it was spectacular! And all the hand-stitching that you did blew me away, Nicole!

  3. I didn’t have a blog when I filled out the questionnaire but my sister has been letting me join hers. I just wanted to add it here because one of the first things I wrote was a post about the lovely belly dancing scarves I got from the exchange 🙂 Julie M, I brought them to class last night and the ladies were pretty disappointed that they were handmade. It meant they couldn’t buy some too! (See them here: )

    1. Oh, I loved the scarves – Julie did an outstanding job! And how fun that you’ve started blogging. I will try to add into the list soon! Thank you, Kathryn!

  4. Thank you for the wonderful post, Sanae! The slideshow rocks!!
    I love that you included the quote by Thích Nhất Hạnh, to me it beautifully captures what was so special about this exchange! I was quite moved to see how thoughtfully each present was choosen and created. So many little stories were told, connections made… And many of us were moved to tears when they received their gifts. I truly believe that every minute spent creating beauty and trying to make someone (in most cases a total stranger!) happy, makes the world a better place! I hope this will become an annual event!

  5. Yes, thanks Sanae and Ute for organising the exchange. So much fun, not just to make but also to check out what others were making in the flickr pool! And thanks also for that very long list of links up there! I just spent the past hour and a half reading new-to-me blogs!

    1. What a great group of women, right? I’m so glad you enjoyed participating, Fiona. Loved the pouch/scarf/necklace package you created!

  6. Wow, very thorough list! Thanks for hosting. Can’t wait to really look through the blogs on the list.

    I would definitely do it next year. February is the perfect time to stretch your creative self (when your physical self is stuck in the house!).

  7. I hope you do this again next year. It was so much fun both creating for someone and waiting for my own package to come!! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Kristi! I was so impressed that despite the busy schedules, so many folks went above and beyond. Great, great fun!

  8. What a wonderful round up, Sanae! Very techy of you:) I look forward to spending some time exploring all the links you provided. What a fun experience this was, and I’m so grateful to you and Ute for making it all possible. Such a neat way to make something as impersonal as the the world wide web seem so much more intimate and tangible.
    Plus, it was just plain fun to receive something for Vday that wasn’t the requisite chocolate (dark, of course! preferably with sea salt:) from the hubby . . . a neat way to celebrate friendship among creative women instead!

    1. Trust me, that slide show was far out of my comfort zone and I just found out that it’s not displaying all the images so I’m trying to figure out how to fix it. Anyway, we feel SO lucky that you were part of the exchange, Lucinda, and as for the gifts you created? Blown. Away.

  9. yay. Thanks so much for the list of everyone who participated. It has been an absolute delight watching everyone explaining their gifts and being so happy with what they’ve received.
    I also noticed how many of us had the mid-project crisis of confidence. Aren’t we dills?! None of us will ever be as hard on each other as we can be on ourselves.
    All the gifts were beautiful, as are all the gift givers!
    Thanks again Sanae and Ute. I’ll be back for next year’s love-in for sure.

  10. So many beautiful things and such talent and creativity. Thank you for sharing the photos! It made me feel like I was perusing an issue of Victoria magazine just for the eye candy! (I had to go to the flicker page to see them on my ipad.). I am hoping for a do-again so I can participate next year!

    1. I’m not familiar with Victoria magazine, now I’m curious! Yes, ipads and iphones don’t support flash, which is what the slideshow is made with – glad you got to check it out, Beccy!

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