I have to take a few minutes to tell you about my SP12 experience and my amazing luck in swap pals.
If you're not familiar, SP12 is a Secret Pal swap, meaning that everyone involved keeps their identity a secret until they have finished their swap (although hint-dropping is allowed and encouraged). You are assigned both a "downstream" pal (i.e., someone who you send packages to) and an "upstream" pal (i.e., someone who sends packages to you). This gives you a chance to meet two new friends, and also takes some of the pressure off of making the gifting "even." In the case of this swap, the time frame was July through September, and during that period it was up to each pair of pals to determine whether one large package or several smaller packages would be sent.
My "downstream" pal and I had a very nice (if somewhat traditional) swap. I sent her a few packages over the course of the summer, which she seemed to enjoy, and I even knitted her a tea cozy (she's a serious tea lover, so that's not quite as odd as it sounds). Her name is Donna, and I very much enjoyed spoiling her. Hi Donna!
My "upstream" pal, however, has kind of put me to shame as a spoiler. I may never join another swap again, since she has done such a very cool job on this one that she's set the bar very high for my future expectations.
Over the course of this summer and early autumn, I have gotten dozens of emails, each with a hint or two carefully dropped. I know she lives somewhere that's warm in the summer... I know she has a young daughter... I know she's a working mom as opposed to a SAHM... I know she's married. I even know (after many months of teasing) that she lives in Pleasanton. Did you know that there are 9 different Pleasantons in the US?
We've had a lot of fun with this dance, she and I.... and some worries. When hurricane Ike hit, I was worried, since one of my theories for her home town would have put her in danger. A true pal, she quickly backed off the game to reassure me that she in no danger and things were fine (aha! another clue!!)
I have developed a wee obsession about trying to figure out who she is before that package arrives (we're likely down to the last few days now). I spent the better part of last Friday evening on Ravelry... stalking. I looked at people from Pleasanton.... I narrowed it down to the most likely couple of the 9 Pleasantons, based on my blog statistics. I looked at people who came from the major cities near those Pleasantons... I looked for people who mentioned work, or who mentioned a daughter (I don't know if she has siblings or not). I learned a lot about a lot of knitters (including the fact that knitters, as a population, have a disturbingly large number of cats... but I digress). But I'm no closer to figuring out her identity.
My most recent revelation came last night, when I realized that she has actually mailed this package to me on a somewhat round-about route of relays, in an effort to further confuse me about where it has come from. At this point... now, just days before all is revealed... she is still playing the game. You have absolutely got to love that!
Thanks, Secret Sis. I'm sure that package will be fantastic, and I'll be sure to post the pix to share with everyone, but know that this swap has turned into something much more than a gift exchange... you are a very cool chick, and I can't wait to get to know you for real!