Monday, June 15, 2015

Craft Swap Tips and Basic Etiquette - UPDATED!

I've been doing online handmade swaps since 2009 and I've probably done 30 of them. Lots of different themes, all different craft mediums, and various minimum requirements on several social media platforms. I've received some truly amazing packages and some that weren't so great but I have learned a lot. So, I thought I'd share my handmade swap tips and etiquette to hopefully help you have a successful swapping experience. I've also added some photos of packages or parts of packages I've sent. :)

Reducio Mini Sock Swap on Ravelry  - Hogwarts Headmasters and Headmistresses themed

Swap Mod: The person organizing the swap!

Swap Mama (or Papa!): Underlings of the Swap Mod. When a swap becomes a beast, the Mod will enlist the help of people to take a smaller group of people under their supervision. Sometimes it's one person, sometimes it's ten!

1 / Participate and SHARE!
I'll tell you right now, it's really rough to get paired with someone who fills out the bare minimum on a questionnaire and then is basically MIA for the entirety of the swap. If you want a package that suits your tastes, you have to communicate what those tastes are. I tend to share a lot on my questionnaires because that gives my spoiler lots to work with. Several of the Instagram swaps I'm in right now have me paired with people who have barely put anything for their preferences and it's really hard to make a package off of that.  If you say you're up to receive anything... be prepared to get anything! If you don't like something (in my case, coffee and white chocolate) say so! I can assure you, your spoiler won't be offended if you aren't into the exact same things they are.

2 / Make mosaics or get to pinning!
Mosaics and/or pinterest are great visual representations of what you like. As crafters, we are generally visual people so take advantage of that and give clear inspiration. I use the app Pic Stitch for my mosaics but there are tons out there to choose from. This goes along with the previous tip and will help you get an awesome package. You can't blame someone for sending you a package that isn't to your tastes if you don't give them anything to work with!

Doctor Who Craft Swap on Instagram

3 / Send your best
Getting a half-assed package or one that isn't anything that is you, sucks. I've had it happen and it's not fun. If you sign-up for a swap, make sure you have the time to do all that participation entails. You need to stalk research your partner, come up with plans, buy materials or stash dive, and then actually have time to make something of quality. Don't scramble to get something done at the last minute that's shoddy work or send your partner a box full of pink when they clearly say they hate pink. You end up looking like a jerk and a lazy one at that, when you don't put in any effort. Now, if you have someone who doesn't give you much to work with, it's hard to tailor a package to their tastes but you can at least send something you'd be proud to show off. Use quality materials, too. If you're knitting or crocheting, don't send something made out of cheap acrylic and if you're sewing, please for the love of God don't use Walmart fabric.

4 / Flex your creative muscles!
Craft swaps are a great opportunity to try something new. Whether it's a technique or a whole new craft, go for it! I have stepped far outside of my crafting comfort zone the past few months and I am extremely grateful for it. I've learned basic embroidery, foundation paper piecing, applique, and I'm getting better at sewing zippers! You don't have to spend a ton of money to make a package that someone will go crazy over.

Nerds Craft It Better Swap on Instagram - zombie apocalypse, Star Trek, cartoons, and rainbows!

Nerds Craft It Better small handmade items

5 / Communicate with your swap mama!
If you are going out of town near the send date or you know you won't be able to get your mail, drop a message to whoever is hosting your swap or in charge of your group, and let them know. It's frustrating to send a package and have it sitting for days saying "delivered" while hearing nothing. If I'm doing a Ravelry swap, I'll just put up a note in the swap thread but on IG I find it easier just to email the swap mama. Think of it as common courtesy.

6 /  Mind the minimum requirements!
Most of the IG swaps I've been in have had requirements like "one handmade item plus one extra" while the Ravelry ones tend to include a handmade item plus a monetary minimum. Those price minimums never cover shipping! That is always an extra cost. I prefer to send to the US only for that reason as international shipping is ridiculously expensive. You do need to be aware of the minimum requirements though and realize that just because you went way overboard (ahem, like me) that doesn't mean the person sending to you will. You may get the bare requirements for the swap so don't be disappointed if that happens. We all love extras but sometimes that's not possible for everyone swapping.

Hogwarts Swap 2015 on Instagram

7 / Say thank you!
It's sad that this even has to be said but have some courtesy and say thanks for your package. Your spoiler spent their time and creative process on you and you should have the decency to thank them for it. Even if you aren't over the moon with what you got, be polite and courteous. The only time it's ok to not tag a person in a thank you is if they have accidentally left out their username. You should still post a photo and express your thanks though! Usually if you put it under the swap hashtag, the sender will pop in and claim responsibility. ;)

8 / Know When To Speak Up
This goes back to communication and it's very, very important. If you are having problems with a swapper,  you need to speak up. Let's say they sent you a package full of rabbits, despite saying repeatedly that you're allergic to rabbits. Obviously, that's not good. Let your Swap Mama know that you are having issues because that's what they are there for. If you only have a Swap Mod, let them know. Now, if you are having issues with your Swap Mod and there are no Mamas, speak up publicly. This actually happened last month with an IG swap. The Mod paired herself, her wife, and her dog with people... TWICE. Yes, her dog got two packages and someone had to spend their crafting time doing it. To make matters worse, they didn't send out packages to the people they were supposed to. It was a mess and downright infuriating. Lots of people got screwed but because people spoke out about it, an amazing amount of fellow swappers volunteered to make angel packages. If you are in a swap that has no Mama and the Mod is either MIA or misbehaving, you need to speak up about it!

So, those are my tips! In short: participate, be prepared to fulfill your commitments, and send something that you're proud of!

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