Friday, June 23, 2006

On Being a Secret Pal & Book Reviews

I've never been a secret pal before and I'm not sure if I am any good at it. I don't know where people are finding all the cute little doo-dads to put in packages. Maybe I don't shop enough. I am seeing people display the packages they receive on their blogs and I'm astonished by the sheer volume. Are they going over the price limit or are they just really talented shoppers?

Of course I will never know if either of my Secret Pals like the packages I've sent them because they almost never update their blogs. I'm trying not to be bitter about this, one is a terrific correspondent as she always replies to my e-mails. And like me, she is spending most of the summer watching children play baseball.

The SPs that are spoiling me in SP8 and the One Skein SP exchange have been wonderful! I feel super spoiled. I know that my One Skein pal is in England right now, vacationing and yarn shopping. And here is a horrible confession, I think I've found my SP8 Secret Pal. I know, I let my inner Nancy Drew get the best of me. I could be wrong about who it is, but I don't think I am.

I'm hoping that I can find some cute little things to include in their next packages. Any tips would be welcome.

Meanwhile, both my Vogue Stitchionary Volume 1 and Knitting From The Top arrived this week from Amazon. I haven't had the chance to thoroughly read them both, but I can tell already that neither book will languish on the shelf as many of my knitting books do. I've seen a lot of comments about the green used in the Vogue book, but I've gotta say I don't mind it at all. Sticking to a single palette gives the book a sophistication that I don't think could have been achieved with lots of colors. I tried some of the stitch patterns out on my Katrina last night and I think I found one that works. The Katrina has some texture so some of the subtle stitch patterns just don't work as you lose the definition in the inherent texture of the yarn.

The Barbara Walker book is wonderful. It reminds me very much of an EZ book in that the style is very prose-like rather than pattern-like. I'd highly recommend it, as it is very freeing to let your imagination loose. I loved the top down on the Picovoli (yeah I know I owe you all pictures of this one) because I like the whole idea of really being finished when you finish the knitting. No sewing seams. Trying on a garment as you go is also great. I cannot tell you how many times I've knit something and wondered the whole time "will it fit?", "should I have gone up/down a size?" Take the time to put a top down sweater on as you go and you'll be very happy you did.

In other news, we had no police at the house about the dogs yesterday. As an added bonus, I did not receive a single call from anyone at Little League crying, yelling, quitting, or complaining. As I have received three or four of these types of calls per week lately, it was a huge bonus and relief to have a night off. This weekend I'll be running back and forth across town as both my son's team and our top LL team compete in tournaments. You can find me in a camp chair knitting at the fields.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kate,

I'm back. I'm also doing the SP8 in addition to the One Skein Secret Pal. I did a sock exchange prior to this. You are right. There are many inconsistencies. Some people go overboard, while others are barely there. I never received the socks from my sock exchange pal. (Oh well.) I'm finding the spoiling part to be just as fun as the receiving. But, it's difficult to know if you'll like what I send. Unbelieveably, I did not find one yarn store in England or Europe. But, I found a few other things. In the meantime, my LYS is having a birthday celebration tomorrow. I'll be there picking up the finishing touches of your next package and hopefully starting the One Skein pattern for the grand finale.

Sorry to hear about the dog issues. Some neighbors just don't have anything better to do than obsess over "heaven knows what". Maybe someone else's dog will poop in their yard and they'll have a new reason to call the cops.

Your OS SP.

Beth said...

I've been wondering the same thing about where everyone shops. I guess I don't shop much, but even when I do, I don't see the cute things that pop up on the knitting blogs. As far as suggestions, maybe some flavored tea, scented handsoap, cute note cards? Good luck!

trek said...

Some things for SP pacakges: special soaps, handknit washcloths, stitch markers, retractable tape measures, bath salts/bubble bath, notecards, journal books, knitting books, chibis, trek made sock bags (just kidding), dpns (if they knit socks), small zipper pouches for knitting notions, chocolate/candies/nuts/coffee/tea that is available where you are but they are not (works very well for overseas pals)...

On the amount spent, I know that the boxes I send are always over the minimum. But I like to be generous and not disappoint my pal. For shopping - I know that AC Moore, for example, carries a lot of knitting and other books and they have coupons every week for at least 40% off a single item. They even accept competitor's coupons. So a $19.95 knitting book can be $9.98-$11.97 - a very hefty savings, IMHO.

Chris said...

Dye-O-Rama was my first "real" exchange - receiving was wonderful! My SP turned out to be a blogfriend. My "target" pal rarely updates her blog and never posted pictures, so I have no idea if she liked the yarn or not. Oh well... But I have the sense that the Knit Sock Kit Swap is going to be different...

I've started wandering around with swaps in the back of my mind and will pick up little cute yarn/sheep/cat things wherever I come across them, just in case. World Market, Michael's...

renee said...

Swaps are definitely a mixed bag. I've been involved in a lot of them, because I think they're fun. Sometimes it's not so much fun, though. I pretty much always go over the minimums set because I like to shop and it's easier to justify buying something for someone else than for myself.

The Bibelot and Patina are two great stores to find really cute smallish things for swaps. Kowalski's and Lunds also have cute gifts sometimes. The Target dollar spot and Michael's dollar section sometimes have stellar, really cheap gifties. Michael's also has the 50% off coupon in the paper every week, for one bigger item. On Secret Pal swaps, I also try to include at least one hand-crafted item.

Kelly said...

Great, I think I am going to pick up the Barbara Walker book. I have just heard way to much about it.

Zee said...

What an excellent post! I like your review of the Vogue book, as I had similar thoughts myself.

I was recently on vacation, and emailed my One Skein Swap party that here package will be on the way this week. She is very busy, and doesn't update her blog much, but I'm hoping she'll like what I send.

My camera was ruined during my vacation, and I feel bad because I wanted to shoot pictures for the pal that spoiled me, to let her know how much I'm enjoying here gift.