Sunday, September 21, 2014

'Swap'-ped Out

This morning we are climbing up on our soapbox to talk 'swap'. I'm sure you've all been in some kind of  'swap' at one time or it with a total stranger on some internet group, or within a guild or club you belong to. How did that go for you?

Years ago I participated in themed swaps in a couple of online groups I belonged to. The theme would be gingerbread, or favorite color, or Spring.  You would send your swap to one person and you would receive a swap from another person.

As the 'swapper' I would carefully check out my swap partner's likes/dislikes/favorites from the swap database, and scan their previous emails for photos and discussions of their decorating plans. Whatever the set price for the swap, I generally spent a little more in order to include something I felt would be well-liked, or something that I knew the 'swapee' was searching for. My swap packages were always well-received, and the thank you's gracious.

As the 'swapee', well, that was generally another story altogether. I would usually receive some random lot of items that had nothing to do with my likes/dislikes/favorites or swap wish list. Most of the time, the items I received didn't even come close to the swap's theme. It seemed that I was always paired up with someone who had an excess of tchotchkees they wanted to dispose of--for all I know, it was stuff they had received in previous swaps. For these ladies, participating in swaps was a great way to get new stuff and save money by regifting unwanted items.

I'd be all excited to receive my package, and then I'd open it and find some lightweight dollar store gardenia scented candle (floral of my dislike list), a ceramic angel figurine with a Bible verse on it, a handful of hard Tootsie Roll miniatures and a notepad with an antique car or a cat in a basket at the top.

I would dutifully get online and send an email to the group that I received my swap and was burning the most wonderful smelling candle,  and the angel was on top of my monitor where I could see it every time I was on the computer, and the candy was extremely yummy, not to mention my favorite. Gush, gush, thank you SO SO MUCH!.

And then I would swear on the Bible that angel's verse was written in that I was done with swaps.

Years have gone by and I broke my 'NEVER AGAIN' swap rule. I recently participated in a fabric swap in a Facebook group I'm in. Billed as 'International', I was envisioning an Australian or European or other exotic swap partner who would send me some glorious fabric I had never seen and wouldn't have easy access to. Yes! Names were drawn and I wound up with a partner in Canada. Seriously. Both of us may as well have agreed to save the postage and just run down to our LQS and buy a FQ suggested by the other and call it a day.

But no, I had a younger quilter who I got the impression hadn't been quilting for long and didn't seem to have access to any fabric other than what was at her LQS. (She does not order fabric online--doesn't use a credit card). I asked if she wanted to swap  more than one FQ (since the postage was going to be more than the fabric anyway), and she agreed.

We gave each other a list of what kind of fabric we liked, were working with, would like to have and off I went in search of the perfect FQs for her. Now, did I have something in my stash that I could have just sent? Yes, but I had no butterflies, and she had specifically mentioned butterflies.

One of the reasons I do these swaps is for the opportunity to give my partner a good swap experience. I like to think I always achieve that, and that I'm a good swap partner. I found the PERFECT Timeless Treasures fabric line that covered her favorite blues/purple/green, sparkly, butterfly requests, so I asked them to cut 3 separate FQs from the line, I sent a surprise third FQ so she could actually make an item with the fabric instead of having to find something to go with it. (The extra 3 bucks is a small price to pay to add a little extra happy for your swap partner).

I came home and wrapped it in tissue, attached a 'scissor bling' (another little extra happy) to my card with a note to her and tucked it under the tissue, secured it with a ribbon and put it in the envelope I had to pay almost as much as I paid for the 3 FQs ($9.54) to mail ($8.80).

A few days later my swap partner receives her package, I get a FB message  "got my package, love them, thanks". Really? Where's the enthusiasm? No  mention of the extra FQ? The scissor bling? How the fabric was exactly what you asked for? That's disappointing.

Over the course of the week she had asked me a couple times if I had received her package, so the minute it arrived, (I was on my way out), knowing she was concerned about it's whereabouts, I whipped out my phone and messaged her that her package arrived, thanks. I'd message her later when I'd opened it.

My partner had asked what I liked and I told her red and white prints, Kaffe Fassett, bright and bold, and 1930s prints...and that Halloween was always good. When I opened my package, one FQ was Halloween, the other was.... interesting...small blue/purple/green music notes on a blue background...not Kaffe, not 1930s, clearly not red/white, but coincidentally her favorite colors. (Perhaps, a re-swap?)

Anyway, while I'm disappointed at her lack of enthusiasm over what she received, I'm going to take the 'glass half full' route...getting one of my likes is better than none--a definite improvement over previous swaps. I'll use the Halloween FQ in Jen's table runner, and the weird music notes FQ as the back of one of the charity NICU quilts for the guild. When I'm finished  I'll message her a photo of her fabrics put to use and thank her again. (And maybe she'll message me a photo of her scissors with the bling attached--ha ha).

This was MY LAST swap, really.


  1. Between deadlines and looking at swap packages and realizing some of it is junk, it just never seemed like a good idea to me. Add a deadline and I'm just not interested. So sorry you've been on the receiving end of a less than stellar swap.

  2. I can feel your pain but your post made me chuckle all the same. Thanks. Your experience is the same reason I never do any sway..Any...not even the oh so famous cookie swaps at work at Christmas time. Everyone says it keeps you from making different cookies. You only have to make one. Last time I participated in one - years ago - I baked my little heart out making apricot roll cookies, they were difficult, time consuming, expensive and delicious- even burned my arm baking them. My group of 4 other women to exchange with brought: 1 brought chocolate chip - ok good but everyone can make chocolate chip. 2 brought peanut butter - it didn't even have the kiss in the middle and 3 & 4 brought store bought. Now not bakery store bought - I can't remember the one but the other was Oreos. They weren't even Christmas colored. Just plain ole black and white. Both the gals said they didn't have time to bake. Why participate then????? Last swap for me. Send me your address, I'll send you something nice as a pay it forward kind of thing and want nothing in returned.
    Thanks for the chuckle.


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