I've mentioned the website www.ravelry.com a number of times on this blog. Basically it's a social networking and database site for knitters, sort of like crossing the sharing and searching aspects of Flickr with a social networking site like Facebook. Aside from being able to share information about projects, patterns and yarns, there are groups on Ravelry for almost every interest.
One of the bigger and more active groups is the Australian Knitters group, and like lots of the other groups on Ravelry one of the fun activities Australian Knitters holds is Swaps. Basically you get matched with a stranger, you stalk them a bit through Ravelry or their blog, they give you some hints about what they would like, and then you knit them something as a gift. So long as you don't exceed the spending limit ($30 in this instance) you are free to make them up a little care package of goodies they would like to go with their knitted item.
This is my haul of goodies from Meika in Tasmania. I love the beanie in a tweedy grey yarn with green trim, and Meika put in some co-ordinating tweedy yarn (destined to be mittens or gloves I think), some nummy dark (yay!) chocolate and a packet of gourmet coffee. My parcel went off to a woman in Victoria, and I've already heard from her that she liked the purple cabled fingerless gloves, scented candle, handmade soap and organic drinking chocolate I sent. Paying it forward so to speak.
I spent this afternoon knitting with the group I knit with at a cafe once a fortnight, and it was such a lovely afternoon. Tomorrow I'll knit with my pub knitting buddies. And now I have a connection with a couple of other knitters that I have never met, and probably won't ever meet in person. I started knitting for relaxation and a creative outlet, but it was the discovery of a whole community of like minded friends that has been the big pleasant surprise.