Craft Swaps have always been popular in some places (Ravelry for instance, for those who knit or crochet) but on Instagram they are gaining popularity at an amazing speed. With such a great community of crafters and makers it’s not surprising.
There are swaps for quilters, swaps for sewists, swaps with obscure themes, swaps for holidays – chances are if you geek out on something you will find a swap to join.
Lately I have noticed that with the increase in swap popularity we also have an increase in “naughty swappers”. So this is a simple guide to being a good swap participant. Being reliable is important not only to the partner you get but also to your reputation in the community. If you flake, people are not going to trust you in future swaps.
1) Don’t sign up for more than you can handle. I can’t stress this enough. I know it is sooooooo tempting to sign up for every cool theme out there but resist. Most of us have lives – jobs, kids, businesses to run, orders to fill, limited funds, etc. Think about this before signing up. You want the time and funds to make a good package. For me this means limiting myself to one swap a month (as in, one mail out due date a month). This gives me time to work on each box as well as time to order extras or search for things. I almost always start on the swap well before the final month, but I at least know I have a month spacer between each due date.
2) Plan and Organize – People have all sorts of systems and if you ask around you can get advice. For myself, I have a bulletin board with note cards. Each swap gets its own note card. On the back I write down partner info (name, screen name, address, likes and dislikes). On the front I put the name of the swap, the check in and mail out dates, and then start to write down ideas as they come to me. Then as I finish projects I mark them off. I hang the cards on the board in order of mail out dates. This helps me see progress but also keeps information handy in case I lose an email or anything like that. Projects for each swap have their own bags, and as I get extras I start putting finished items and extras in the box I will ship. This works well for me.
3) Ask Questions. If you are not clear on the theme or rules, ask. DM or email your swap host or team leader and ask them to clarify. If you have a partner who is not posting much and didn’t have a good questionnaire, ask the swap host to poke them a bit so you have something to work with.
4) Make the swap package for YOUR PARTNER. Please pay attention to their likes and dislikes and what they ask for. Put effort into making something that will make them feel like it was just for them, because it should be. If they don’t post mosaics or fill out the form well then that is one thing, but many people do post enough to go on. Even if isn’t much, just work with it as best you can.
5) Ship your package on time. Yes, sometimes life happens. We all get that. But at the same time, most of these swaps last several months. That means you have more than enough time to work on the project, get ready to ship, and save money up to ship. If you know you have a punctuality problem, plan to be done a week before the deadline and stick to that. If you forsee that you will be late, let your swap host know ASAP. This covers you and your reputation, keeps the host from pulling out their hair, and it lets your partner know they are not forgotten.
6) If you need to leave the swap do it sooner rather than later. Again, life happens. If you have something major come up that is going to stop you from crafting or from having funds to ship, please drop out of the swap as soon as you can. If you get a weird vibe from the swap or people in it (no communication, etc) and want to drop out then just do it quickly and politely. You want to give the host as much time as possible to find a replacement and give the replacement time to craft.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, since some swaps have special rules or circumstances, but it’s a good foundation to build your “swap cred” on. Keep an eye out for Part 2 – How to be a good swap partner!