Is your craft stash out of control? Are you after a new project? Then head on over this way because we’ve got just the thing for you — craft swaps.
From swapping craft supplies with other makers, to creating something for a stranger, they come in all shapes and sizes. Craft swaps are a great way to connect with other makers and get fresh materials, plus they give you an excuse to make something new. Finding the right swap is easy, too.
“There are many types of swaps. Some have a theme, maybe to do with colour or a popular film or programme,” explains Emily of @make.e, who runs craft swap host Technicolour Crafters with @ollie.and.bella.
“Some you sign up to and you are teamed up with a swap partner, who you put together a gift for and vice versa,” she adds.
How a craft swap works
The two main types of craft swaps are a closed or an open swap. “A closed swap is where the host gets you to submit a form with details about your likes and dislikes and your level of experience. They then organise you into a team which will include your partner, although you won’t know who they are,” explains Jennifer Jackson of @jenniferjacksondolls, who started taking part in swaps last year. “With a closed swap there are strict guidelines, such as creating a mood board, interacting with your team mates when they post progress shots and posting regularly yourself,” says Jennifer.
According to Jennifer, when it comes to an open swap, you’ll register you interest with the host, they’ll pair you up with someone and your partner will get in touch and share their preferences.
Ashley Thurman who runs Fibreshare, which connects yarn addicts across the globe, says making new friends is at the heart of any swap. “Originally Fibreshare was for weavers only. We were drawn to the idea of making friends and being able to flesh out our stash a bit more with special yarns we couldn’t get locally,” explains Ashley, who runs the business with @swiftandbloom.
“As interest grew we opened it up for other crafts and it hasn’t slowed down from there. We like to think our focus is on the people who participate and the relationships that are introduced and encouraged to grow, partnered with lifting up our fellow makers as we go. It’s what sets us apart from other craft swaps.”
Spring clean your stash
Some swaps aren’t about making something for your swapping partner and instead focus on clearing your stash. You can send out those materials you just had to buy, but now think someone else could make something fab from instead.
Sherrie of @ollie.and.bella says, “We run our swaps differently. We set a theme, then on the day of the swap everyone uploads what they are willing to swap using a unique hashtag, and it’s a case of being quick to see what everyone is offering. It’s so much fun!”
Don’t worry if you can’t find any materials to swap either, as you can also share your ready-made makes. Emily says, “I have a stash of things I’ve made over time and I can’t find a home for, as well as craft materials I’ve hoarded, so the idea of swapping my bits for something else made perfect sense. That way we get to share our work and you can be introduced to new crafts and materials that maybe you wouldn’t have found otherwise. It’s a perfect way to share and come together as a community.”
How to find craft swaps
Instagram is a great place to start your search for swaps. Use hashtags like #craftswap to find swaps that are coming up, or more specific terms such as #quiltswap, #yarnswap or #hexieswap to narrow it down to the crafts you love.
Check out @trademymake if you want to swap something you’ve already made for another pre-made item . If you’re all about knitting, crochet or weaving have a look at the boards on Ravelry, where there are often swaps taking place too.
“Christmas always brings out some excellent swaps, secret Santa swaps or open swap shops,” says Emily. Sherrie advises keeping an eye out locally, “You should also check out your local craft shop, as they may organise local swaps where you can make new crafty friends.”
Ashely also suggests getting out there and starting your own with friends. “If there is a friendship you’ve developed on Instagram or in a Facebook group, reach out and ask if they’d be interested in swapping with you,” she says.
“You would be surprised how many people are into the idea – we aren’t even halfway into 2018 and I’ve sent and received four packages.”
Ashley’s top five swapping tips
- Don’t use the swap as an excuse to get rid of leftover, tangled, old or brittle yarn. If it isn’t worthy of your stash, don’t send it for someone else’s.
- It’s not a race to the finish line. Take the time to get to know your partner first before collecting goodies. Sometimes I see folks putting together a package before they get their partner’s details. My heart sinks because while they have good intentions, chances are their partner will be disappointed with a package filled with goodies they’re not interested in using.
- Make sure you give the swap the time and attention it deserves. If you can’t sit this round out, there’ll be other swaps.
- Don’t publicly complain about your partner or their package. Email your hosts if you have a concern, so they can advise, handle this discreetly and improve the swap for future rounds. Signing up for a swap is a risk. Sometimes your experience won’t be great but 90% of the time it will be.
- Put some extras in if you can. I love putting other bits and bobs besides yarn into my partner’s package. Snacks, handmade items, artwork, tools, and much more are all appreciated and really take the experience to a whole other level. I always include a handwritten note, too. It’s personal, thoughtful, and gives me space to explain why I picked each item for my partner.