Wednesday 13 February 2019

Secret Valentine Exchange play along

For the last five years I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Secret Valentine Exchange (all blog posts linked here). The exchange was hosted by the wonderful duo of Sanae Ishida and Ute. They assigned a gift receiver to every participant and you would get a brief description of the kind of thing they were into and then make them something, posting it off in time for them to get a Valentine's day gift.

Ute has had a hiatus of social media this year and while I strongly considered throwing my hat in the ring and offering to help Sanae organise the gift exchange, it was all about those two and it didn't seem right to think, for even a moment, that Ute was replaceable. Just as I was emailing Sanae to that effect she was wondering if asking for another partner would be appropriate and had also decided that it wouldn't. SVE was on hiatus for the year.

But that left me with a January holiday by the river and nothing to do with my hands. Previously I've ridden my bike in the morning, played, swam, eaten all day and then done some little hand crafting thing in the evenings. How could I not "make stuff" on my holiday?

So I put out a call on Instagram: Did anyone have an idea of what I could make for them? The only rules were that it should ideally use things from my stash, and it had to kind of interest/excite me, but I was happy if it challenged me or was something that I couldn't actually do... yet.

I got lots of fun ideas, and it was hard to choose where to start.

In fact, it was so hard, that I've decided that I'm going to "Celebrate" the SVE hiatus and create a gift every month for the 12 months until the official SVE2020 kicks off. Keep those ideas coming!

Anyway, the gift idea that I ran with while on holiday was this one:

Saskia* said her sister was about to have a baby and perhaps I could knit or crochet a baby hat...

*Saskia is in the Netherlands and takes the most wonderful photos of her kids, beautiful light, stunning compositions and very real situations :) - Instagram here

The baby hat gift idea didn't excite me much, but oh, the idea of Saskia on-gifting to her sister, something that "some lady in Australia" had made, and having to explain, that no, she has no idea who I am... That part?! That part seriously cracked me up. I really wanted to make a gift for the baby of a woman whose sister had never met me, but kind of knew me through social media. Too funny.

So I made this little baby rattle

What on earth is that? you ask. Why, it's a bunyip!

A book that I absolutely adore is The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek by Jenny Wagner and Ron Brooks. There's a Youtube read of the book here and if you search and subscribe you might get the added delight of either Tim Minchin or Nick Cave reading the book.

A bunyip is a mythical Australian creature, so they can look like pretty much anything you care for them to look like. This one comes out of the swamp and is quite concerned with what he is and his appearance. He asks all the other animals and their answers are none too flattering. His existential angst is not helped at all by the only human he encounters who simply states that bunyips don't look like anything as they don't exist.

I love this book for children as we all just want to know what we are and whether we're lovely. And of course, he does exist and he does find some peace contemplating his appearance having decided that he is quite handsome after all. It's very much a book of the late seventies but still fabulous today.

Anyway, back to my bunyip rattle: He needed to be brown with pink ears, muzzle and face. I combined the patterns for the Dog (ears) and Frog (mouth and eyes) from the book More Softies.

I'm only just learning to crochet with a written pattern and it was a fun challenge. The brown yarn is a gorgeous cotton cashmere from a new-to-me local shop (the Yarning Place) as was the white, while the pink was in my stash. I salvaged a rattle from inside an old stuffed toy that was being "retired".

My kids thought he looked  a bit scary - I think I stitched some angst and baffled concern into that expression, but not scary, no? :) 

Saskia's kids thought he looked a lot like a monkey. But I say that's just because they've never seen a bunyip. One day, if they're lucky enough to see a bunyip, I hope they'll think to themselves "that looks just like the weird toy we gave cousin ---- from that crazy Australian lady we didn't know"

So, the book and toy arrived safely, and hopefully by now, so has the little baby.

Happy Valentine's Day to all.


  1. Much more fun than a hat, both for you and the recipient.

    1. Thanks Barbara. I thought so. If I'm making things just for the heck of it I need to amuse myself

  2. I also haven't met a bunyip so did think it was a monkey at first. A wonderful gift and I'm certain the baby will love everything about it.

    1. With rounder ears it will make a perfect monkey pattern. I should remember that should the need for a monkey rattle ever arise. :) As the ears are, I suspect they will be perfect for sucking on. here's hoping I stitched them on firmly enough

  3. What a sweet idea - and I agree - way more fun than a hat. Isn't crochet great?! You should try a 7-legged octopus next (because according to my son, sometimes that JUST happens, but they're still an octopus...). :)

    1. Ha ha, love the idea of a pedally challenged octopus. I've just discovered the book of crochet sea creatures and WANT it. There's an octopus in there, and a puffer fish... This could be all consuming! :)

    2. Oh puffer fish!! That would be huge hit in our house. We should exchange patterns some time - I have a book of strange and exotic birds (and some run-of-the-mill ones too). Plus assorted animals (wild and domestic).

  4. I missed this on Insta!
    You are lucky I have stopped sprogging or I would have demanded one.
    Very cute, you are kind.

    1. And I would definitely make you one, but no more babies sounds like a good plan!


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