S is for Swaps
I love getting mail! But that's not really the reason I do swaps. I like the clearcut deadline that a swap gives me for my creative endeavors. I have crafts on my crafty To-Do list that have been there for over 5 years. The reason they don't get done? They have no deadline. A swap has a definitive end date, a specific day when it MUST be out the door. And I strive to always abide by the due-date as should you.
Swaps also give me a starting point. I often get caught up in the first stages of a craft project, wondering if I really want to do the project, whether I picked the right yarn or paint colors, if it will turn out like I dream it should. And sometimes these worries lead to me putting the project away on a shelf never to work on it again for fear it will turn out terrible and I will have wasted my time. Most swaps (at least the ones I pick out) give me at least some idea on where to start. They give me a color pallet to use, or a medium such as embroidery or Popsicle sticks. With at least one decision out of the way, I feel more confidant to begin the process.
The swaps I most enjoy are swaps where you are clearly creating something special, just for your partner. Yes, I swap craft supplies and teabags and books sometimes. But I really like the ones that take some thought, some research and some good old fashioned time and attention to create a very special object that the recipient will cherish. Two recent swaps come to mind that I really enjoyed were a doll clothes swap I hosted on Swap-Bot. We each made an outfit for our partner's doll and the outfit I got was SUCH a lovely, handmade dress complete with bonnet and bloomers AND a doll quilt! Such thought and time went into all these pieces to create such a lovely gift for my doll. I hope she thought the same of her outfit that I created. And the other was the Trash to Treasure swap on Swap-Bot which entailed sending your crafty trash bits to your partner, then they created something and sent it back to you. My partner made me the most lovely book, I didn't even recognize my "garbage"! It had pockets and tags and beads and was just amazing. And I sent my partner a pirate-themed diorama that she flipped over. It was not anything I would have wanted but with a little help from a friend, we looked over her profile and got a good feel for what she might like, brainstormed a creative use for her scraps and it turned out SO well and I was so happy when I heard from her that she loved it! So I swap yarn and postcards and cocoa mix to get mail but I swap truly handcrafted items for the boost to my crafty productivity and for the sheer thrill of deciphering what my partner would truly treasure.