Monday, November 26, 2007

tough love and swaps

Wow - swaps are happening all over the place and the number of people joining in seems to be increasing. I love my swaps - that's for sure. It's quite a commitment for me usually (just in terms of postage, not to mention finding the perfect stuff according to my partners likes and dislikes) as there aren't that many Aussie swappers. I actually prefer receiving a parcel from somewhere else in the world. The coolest things arrive that you'd never find here.

It's also quite a commitment for anyone partnered up with me too - they'll also be landed with a potentially expensive parcel to send. Sometimes you just don't realise how heavy something is until you get to the counter at the post office and the damage is done.... (goodbye $45 on the last box I sent - $35 is pretty standard these days). I find that all up, I'm looking at spending around $50 to $70.

What I'm leading up to, is that there's been a bit of discussion about swap etiquette and ethics, that I have found really interesting and important. Ellia (green bean baby) wrote a post about the dark side of swapping, and Mary Ann (follow your bliss) has also let go and vented her frustrations on her latest swap issues.

They both describe some pretty terrible swap scenarios - some of which I can relate to, some which seem almost funny. I gave up swaps on swapbot a long time ago because of the frequency with which I didn't receive from partners (and got verbally abused when I posted a poor rating to one such swapper after waiting more than a month after the swap date and never got anything - there was nothing on the way - give me a break).

I now join in swaps organised in Flickr and sometimes swaps organised directly through blogs.

I only join swaps organised by people I trust - through their blogs, their flickr and previous swap experiences.

I prefer direct swaps - that way at least you can create a dialogue and relationship with the person you're swapping with. Also, if you don't hear from them it's probably easier to re-match you with another person.

I don't like being partnered with people who don't have a thorough flickr profile or many photos available to view. I get a bit cautious when I can't see much of a swap history (everyone starts somewhere, but if they claim to have participated in many swaps, where are the photos?)

I agree that if you are agreeing to participate in a swap, you are basically signing a contract to deliver certain things. Here's my understanding of 'the rules'.

Read and follow the guidelines carefully and consider this before signing up.

Make contact with your partner as quickly as possible. Exchange addresses and read their blog/view their flickr etc and find out as much as you can about them to get a good idea about what they would like to receive. Sometimes I find this tricky as they have different interests and likes, but that's also what makes it a challenge!

Keep in touch with your partner, so they know you are interested and let them know if your situation changes or you'll be late etc.

Take photos of the parcel you are sending before you package it all up. Should anything happen to it, you'll at least have a record for your own history (or swap CV as MaryAnn has called it).

(sent to Jo last year)

Wrap the items like presents so it's more fun for your partner to open everything bit by bit.

(on it's way to Silvia right NOW!)

Include a little note to your partner (sometimes I forget this - oops).

Email your partner when the parcel is on it's way. It's really fun to come home each day knowing something may have arrived!

Email your partner as soon as the box they sent has arrived! Even if you're not able to take photos straight away (I always seem to open boxes in the evening and don't have time to take photos until the weekend).

Take photos of everything you received and post them onto Flickr and your blog - the sooner the better. Again, time is so important in this situation and also a killer for me sometimes.

(received from Sara last year)

Also post to the swap forum etc as required by the swap organiser to acknowledge you have sent/received/posted photos, etc.

That's it! So simple - and yet so difficult to achieve sometimes. It's true - things happen, but if it's likely you're going to be too stretched to follow through - don't join in! There's always other swaps going when things aren't so busy. I wish I could have joined more swaps this year, but I wanted to do a good job, so I limited myself to the ones I knew I could do.

I don't think I've ranted much before on here. The girls have obviously got me worked up! Anyway, this is just what I think. It would be nice to know if anyone agrees or disagrees, or can throw anything new into the pot! I've almost finished swapping for 2007 and am looking forward to more in 2008.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

serious swap goodness

I've been so very lucky recently with the swaps I've participated in. I have been very slack, however, at posting the wonderful stuff here on my blog. If you look at my flickr photos at all - you'll see everything there. I've been finding it so difficult to get my act together posting here as well.

So - my apologies to my wonderful swap partners who've been incredibly thoughtful and generous.

Starting from the most distant swap I haven't posted...

The September Kaleidoswap theme was "back to school" and I was partnered with the organiser Isabelle. I received the most amazing box full of great things - sweets, notebooks, pens, perfumes, games. I absolutely love everything. Isabelle really took notice of all the things I like and dislike and everything was great. I think she has a real talent for choosing gifts for her partners!

I had posted the wrapped parcel of the things I sent her, so here it all is now before I wrapped it. I also tried to make sure I put things together that Isabelle would really enjoy.

Here's a close up of the sterling silver and czech glass beaded earrings I made for her. They seem to go perfectly with one of her favourite necklaces! Perfect!

The next swap I received recently was in the Sweetpea "Something Old/Something New" swap. I was matched up with Julie (aka sewitsforyou). Julie has a shop in Etsy which you must check out too.

The teatowel Julie embroidered for me is so perfect - to the extent that the teapot is eating a DONUT! Wow - I didn't realise my 'Homer'ness' was so evident on the internet...And the buttons are just beautiful! And the embroidery patterns are so cool - in fact I'll be starting a tshirt project today if I get the time.

Here is what I sent to Julie. I must admit that time was an issue for me and I didn't get the time to make something for Julie to post with this. However, I did find the cutest Japanese print fabric, and over did the chocolates to (hopefully) make up for it a bit.

The final swap I am posting today is the "Vintage Christmas Stocking Swap" organised by the wonderful Jo and MaryAnn. Unlike the swaps above, this isn't a direct swap. I was sent a parcel from Beth, who has a really beautiful blog and shop on Etsy.

I was completely in love with the beautiful handcrafted gifts I received from Beth. The style of vintage Beth made for me was (again) just perfect! The Christmas Angel is adorable - and my grandmother was very impressed with her. Here's a photo of all the good stuff.

The stocking is just beautiful.

Here's a peep inside. The fabric lining the stocking is very cool. I wish it was easier to see it/show it!

And finally, the beautiful corsage. I can't wait to wear it! I've decided to wear it to all the Christmas parties and Christmas drinks I go to as well as on Christmas Day.

I have sent my Christmas stocking and goodies off to Cheryl nearly 2 weeks ago. So far it doesn't seem to have arrived. Of course I hate the waiting part - I hope it gets there soon and all OK! Once I've got her confirmation it's there, I'll post photos I took.

Happy Season Swapping everyone!

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