My sock kit swap partner has now recieved her packages (two in the event, to avoid £10 extra if it was all in one box!) Sadly the rhubarb and ginger jam and pumpkin pickle I made for her didn't make it in one piece - the jars broke on the journey. I may send her replacements. She was very pleased with the rest of the stuff, and as she has now got it I can, at last, post pictures here of the things I've been busy with since Christmas for the swap.
The rules were quite prescriptive regarding the main contents of the kit: sock yarn and a handmade bag in the partner's house colours, stitchmarkers, sock needles, and a sock pattern. Other extras were, of course, permitted.
Putting it all together has been quite a journey of creativity for me. It started with the bag, for which I had chosen a pattern (free from a link in Ravelry) even before I knew what house my partner belonged to. I also ordered fabric for lining the bag before partners were announced, as I thought it would work for all houses. After the e-mail arrived with my partner's details (a Slytherin) I hotffooted over to Texere and bought green cotton yarn, and some silver, glittery yarn for the bag. Using my newly acquired i-cord skills, a witches hat button from an e-bay purchase, and my new harmony circulars (:D), I created this:
I had to adapt the pattern somewhat for a different yarn weight to that specified + I used a full cable technique at the corners instead of the narrower crossed-stitch element in the original pattern. The metal eyelets were also my idea - I thought they would balance the silver elements in my version of the bag.
In the same trip to Texere that procured the bag yarns, I also purchased some undyed silk yarn, because the e-mail with my partner's details communicated the then devastating news that she is allergic to wool. Devastating because I had already bookmarked wool sock yarns in all the house colours at my favourite online supply shops. The best-laid plans of mice and men... and all that! So I had me a little adventure in dying yarn. The green I got with little trouble, handpainting the skein with a mixture of greens I created using the acid dye kit I bought at the Harrogate show last autumn. I named it 'Salazar' as that is the first name of the fictional founder of the house of Slytherin at Hogwarts. 'Silver' proved much more difficult though - none of my greys seemed to work with the green I'd created. I remembered reading about angelina in Spin-off and did a little research about it before buying some and carding it with silk to spin some yarn which I then dyed a greeny black and named 'Darke Sylver'. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you'll see the sparkle:
The stitchmarkers were lots of fun - an enquiry on Ravelry gleaned several links to tutorials for making them, which I did using beads from texere and other bits and pieces from ebay. I presented them on a card decorated with the Slytherin crest, and packaged them in a little green organza bag. For the pattern I printed a copy of Durmstrang socks and presented it in a folder I embossed with my partner's name and decorated with the Slytherin crest. Needles I got from Get knitted - Knitpicks Harmony of course (I am in love with them after all!!), and made a case to present them in, again embossed with my partner's name and decorated with the Slytherin crest. I also included a book of sock patterns I got at a reasonable price from Amazon. It has some cute patterns for childrens' socks I think will prove useful as my partner has a 3-year-old little boy.
And that just leaves goodies. What does someone in the UK, a desert when it comes to proprietary Potter sweets, do for goodies in a Potter-themed swap? Make it up! I exploited the fact that the books were written in the UK by a British writer and include lots of references to British goodies to create my own brands! Spotted Dick appears in the books, so I relabelled a Heinz tin of itand added some custard to serve it with. They purportedly come from the 'Hogwarts Kitchens'! I very cheaply bought sherbet lemons, mint humbugs and treacle toffee (all mentioned in the books) from local supermarkets, and repackaged them also as 'Muggle Sweets'!!