Have you ever tried a yarn swap? A yarn swap can be as simple as exchanging skeins of yarn (or other related supplies) from your stash with someone else, whether it’s in person or virtually - your craft group, yarn shop, or virtual community may host such swaps from time to time. They can be a great way to find new homes for items you aren’t using, and exchange them for something you’re excited to knit or crochet with!
But there’s another kind of swap that’s a little more involved (and a lot more like gift giving!): this is where a group of crafters send and receive curated packages of goodies to one another, often including more than just yarn or knitting accessories. Many of these swaps involve an element of surprise where swappers do not know who they have (or who has them) and partners do not communicate with each other until after the swap package is delivered.
Some swaps are themed (i.e. book lovers, chocolate lovers, or people who enjoy a specific movie, TV show, etc.), while others are focused on a specific type of yarn, technique, or crafts. The rules of participation vary from swap to swap, so make sure that you read and understand them before signing up for any swap!
Where To Find Them
One of the best-known swaps you’ve probably already heard of is called Fibre Share, which has its own dedicated website and requires a small sign up fee for participants. It’s open to crafters of all skill levels and preferences throughout the globe, and swaps open a few times each year (currently they are closed).
Facebook groups are another good place to search. If you are just looking to destash or trade skeins of yarn, the Yarn Swap Sell Trade Community group has over 4,000 followers. You can search out other knitting-related Facebook groups to join to find other crafters with similar taste with whom you can plan a swap; try looking up a favorite yarn, designer, knitting podcast or area of interest (i.e. sock yarn, lace knitting, amigurumi, etc.) to see what groups are active!
There are many groups on Ravelry which are dedicated to swapping (please note that as of writing this blog post, any links to Ravelry will display the page in the new design, even if you have switched your profile back to the classic version of Ravelry; it is our hope that they will resolve the accessibility issues which have emerged from the update so that everyone can enjoy content on the site once more). Here some of the most active swap groups:
Although there are not currently any craft-related swaps listed, swap-bot.com is another potential place to search for a swap to join, or start your own for others to participate in!
Lastly, if you are a part of a local knitting group or guild, why not suggest a socially distant swap for local members? Not only will you save on shipping, it’s a great way to stay connected with your knitting friends even if you can’t spend time with them in person.
Building the Perfect Swap Package
Building a super-special package of goodies for your swap partner is every bit as fun as receiving the one that someone else made for you! Most swaps will give you some guidance about the kinds of yarns, patterns, and other items your partner enjoys (as well as any allergies they may have), so make sure to keep those preferences in mind as you shop and collect items. They might also have a minimum or maximum dollar amount that you should spend on your swap items. If you haven’t gotten any details on what your swap partner likes or dislikes, try checking out their Ravelry notebook and other social media sites to look for clues!
Anatomy of the Perfect Swap Package:
Yarn (1) (or fiber, or whatever craft material they prefer) should be the star of the show! Make sure it’s something special that they can’t easily get anywhere else - for example, a locally dyed fiber or perhaps even your own handspun is sure to delight!
Knitting needles or a crochet hook (2) which matches the yarn and/or pattern (if included).
Project bag and/or zipper pouch for notions, bonus points if you fill it with some helpful tools and notions!
We suggest starting with our Vibrance Pouch Set (3) and filling it with):
Treats (11) - Coffee, tea, sweet or savory treats are always a nice surprise! Try to add some local flavor with something that is unique to where you live - i.e. a local chocolatier, locally made snacks, etc., and of course, make sure you are fully aware of their preferences and allergies ahead of time.
Wool or fiber wash (12) - include a small bottle or sample packets in their favorite scent so they can use it to block their finished project.
Bonus Items: If your swap package needs a little something extra, you could include something that you’ve made especially for them, or perhaps even some pandemic-related supplies such as a roll of toilet paper, a face mask, or hand sanitizer, which are always useful.
When it’s time to package it up, how will you be presenting your swap items? Using tissue paper, organza bags or gift wrap, can create a giftlike experience only adds to the delight and anticipation your swap partner will feel when they open your package! You don’t have to go overboard, but a little extra effort is sure to be appreciated.
Have you ever participated in a swap? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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