26 July 2013

Do you swap?

In the world of knitting (for those not initiated), there's this thing we call swapping. A swap is (usually) a one time event, spanning over several weeks, in which participants swap things. It can be single skeins of yarn, a basket of supplies and fiber, even tea towels that have nothing to do with knitting.

Knitters love a swap.

Most of the time, people are randomly assigned another swapper. They sometimes post a wishlist, a series of general preference guidelines (colors, fibers, disliked), or sometimes, you just stalk the person online and try to determine things they want. I've done a swap before. Just one. It was a little one, with things that could only fit in envelopes. I sent stickers and confetti, a poorly-printed pattern (before I knew how to gift patterns- ugh, that was embarrassing). If you're out there, person who got my swap stuff, I'm sorry I sucked at it. So sorry.

Swaps seem to be a drama sieve- people will collect from their secret swap Santa, but then send nothing out to their swappee. This is obviously rude and awful, and you shouldn't do it. There's also quite a bit of drama about quality. Like any gift giving occasion, there may be a cash limit, but some people break the rules and make others uncomfortable. It stinks to get a cheapo swap from someone, where they've obviously given you some of their castoffs or spent way below the cash expectation, but to me it's even worse when I get a gift of something that was so far above and beyond the initial swap that I'm now feeling like I did a bad job at my own gifting.

During that swap- the one with the things that could only fit in an envelope- a few people sent each other GIFT BASKETS FULL OF YARN. Sweaters' worths of yarn. I'd like to know exactly what envelope was capable of holding all of that stuff, because I'd like to invest in some for my own shipping needs. Magic Mary Poppins-purse envelopes.

I got out of the swap with a nice collection of little things, but feeling sheepish about my poor first-swap-performance. I'd have done better to post-stalk the swap group, or found similar swaps in the past to pattern mine after. Or, I could've waited until some of the initial swaps started coming in, so I could see what kind of things people sent. Either way, it turned me off of swaps, and I haven't done one since.

But how about you? I love a good swap horror story. Tell me them, please. Let's all relive our nightmares together!
- YX


  1. My swaps stories are mostly good memories. Do you know The odd Ducks of Ravelry swap group? I've been in two of the swaps (I have to stop because, well, sometimes reality happens) and it was like Xmas in July. Best swaps ever. I was too in another swap group, book swaps, twice. First time completely in awe of my package, second time, not that much.
    It's kind of a gamble, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose....
    But I can't wait to be swapping again!

  2. I have only swapped once with a group, a stitchmarker had to be handmade just one with a post card. Great idea but I am like you worried I would over do it or not do enough. Sent mine (5 different beads) thought it was good I would have been very happy with it. Got my exchange and it was a dozen elaborate markers made me feel totally cheap!

  3. I used to swap on a regular basis on Ravelry. Most of the time it was tons of fun, but after a few burns it just wasn't worth it anymore. Worst for underswapping? 2 cones of awful walmart chenille and a handful of re-wrapped dollar store acrylic yarn in a 'nice yarn' swap. Worst for overswapping? $35 max budget fiber swap, huuuge box stuffed to the brim landed on my doorstep. Easily retail of $70 in the box. Felt horrible for sending a nicely curated swap but at half the budget of what I received. Now I'll only do swaps where both parties see what they're getting first. Otherwise it's too easy to end up unhappy.

  4. I've swapped a couple of times and been happy with it as far as the person I've swapped with went, but postage is pretty much cost-prohibitive at this point. Someday I'd like to live in a place where I could do swaps in person.

  5. I'd love to take part in swaps. but alas, shipping is prohibitive. I do stalk those threads though and feel happy for everyone. :D