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Topic: How to make sure you and your partner are on the same page?  (Read 3085 times)
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dustyfro
« on: April 17, 2011 06:34:59 AM »

I put a lot of work into my craft swaps.  I don't send anything out unless it's my absolute best, because anything less would be embarrassing.  There are times when I have spent days on end working on an OTT to get it perfect.  I pour over wist lists and try to get things as close to what they like as possible.  I check on sizes and color preferences if they haven't been listed, and if someone asks for something they can use, I make sure it's something they will use over and over again.
And some of those times, my hard work has been rewarded with something that looks like they threw together in 10 minutes and stuffed in the post, not looking at my wist list or considering that I hate dust collectors that just sit on shelves.
I recognize that I'm an experienced crafter and I've been doing this sort of stuff since I was nine years old for 4H, where you are judged for the quality of your work.  I don't make things to sell, so when I put a lot of time and sometimes a lot of money into something for someone else, I don't expect to get something back that I can't really use.

So I'm restricting myself to OTTs until I return home from overseas (because international shipping in addition to new materials I have to buy is prohibitive) and trying to come up with some strategies for making sure my swapping is fair.  Here's a couple.  Add some if you've got some advice.

1.  Get a wist list.  Before you get your partner, search for goods related to the swap theme and tag them for the theme, so they're easy to find.  Put the wist link  in your questionnaire.  Tell your partner a couple times in the questionnaire to check it if they're stuck for things to make.

2.  Send early.  If your package manages to get to your partner before they send, they'll know you mean business and can match your level.

3.  Communicate.  If you forgot to mention something on the questionnaire, send a PM.  If you plan to send extras, make and agreement with your partner.  Accurately represent your skill level.  If you are a master seamstress, say so.  If you are a mediocre knitter, that's fine, say so anyway so your organizer will be able to match people of similar skill levels.  If you are like me and put a ton of effort in, say so.  If you haven't got a lot of time or money to make really amazing things, that's fine, just SAY SO.
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puzzler
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2011 01:04:46 PM »

I thing you are onto something here.  I like the list.  I too would rather receive nothing, than something I didn't mention in the questionnaire (or something that is done with materials or colors i hate).  I think less is more in those cases especially.

 I'd appeal to everyone to just focus on communication- If someone says they hate things without purpose, don't send them any!  If they say they hate yellow, try to avoid it!  I do think communication is the key to making both sides happy. The problem seems to be that not everyone agrees with it. 

I do appreciate your list though.  Thank you.
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dustyfro
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2011 03:13:05 PM »

It's nice to be surprised, but I'd rather have an idea of what's coming rather than be unpleasantly surprised because someone didn't ask first.
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christyross
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2011 04:41:21 PM »

Some great advice... I just signed up for my first swap!!
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2011 09:27:43 AM »

I mostly kinda sorta agree with the first post. Communication is definitely important.
Having enough info out there for your partner helps too, but wist vs blog vs etsy fave vs something else doesn't matter so much, I don't think.

Send early.... I'm not so sure. I've had swaps where I (or my partner) send early and you can tell that a lot of care & time was put into the project. I've also received items that were sent really early and looked rushed (I've noticed this tends to happen when someone wants to 'free up' a crafting swap space). I know if I receive early from my partner, I'm not going to change what I'm making just because my partner over or under sent. And if my partner's quality level is noticebly higher than mine, that's going to add to the swap anxiety but I'm not sure it'll improve my own quality level  Cheesy

Depending on the swap, the "what would you like/not like to receive" question is a starting point, not a definite list.  After all, it's a swap, not a special-order commission request  Smiley

Quote
so your organizer will be able to match people of similar skill levels

From what I've seen in other posts, skill level isn't one of the top matching points.  Things like allergies and mailing restrictions are higher up the list. Smiley
« Last Edit: April 18, 2011 09:28:17 AM by ThreadOrYarn » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Antidigger
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2011 10:11:31 AM »

I would be very embarrassed if I received a medium or small item that had had many hours spent on it. As a newcomer to swaps I find that I believe what I am told, so being in a small item swap, I have sent items that have taken 1-2hrs to make. Sometimes that is a disappointment to me: I wanted to make a book cover, but on an assessment piece (not counted in my hours) I worked out that it would take me over 6 hours to make, so I had to find something else to make that didn't quite match up in my head. Sad

I also find it unreasonable to spend longer researching a partner than I do in the crafting, or for that matter finding materials. If I add all of these up, it means I am willing to spend up to 6 active hours on a small item (not counting aborted attempts), and correspondingly more on larger items. Am I wrong here? Am I being stingy? Should I be spending more time in research? I don't know what the expectations are, so I've had to invent my own rules of thumb.
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« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2011 01:02:12 PM »

I don't know what the expectations are, so I've had to invent my own rules of thumb.

I think everyone has to do that to some degree. Depending on the swap, the items I make are knit or crochet, so even a small (by size) is 2+ hours. I figure a small (by time) is one evening of craft time, a medium is 2 or 3 evenings, and a large is 3+. (One evening is 2-3 hours or so)

Quote
I also find it unreasonable to spend longer researching a partner than I do in the crafting, or for that matter finding materials.

I'm not sure how much time I spend researching or deciding on the specific details of an item. Sometimes it's less than an hour, other times it's a lot longer.

Quote
Should I be spending more time in research?
Only if you think you're sending items that aren't 'right' for your partner. If they're a good fit for your partner, then you're researching enough.

Quote
As a newcomer to swaps I find that I believe what I am told, so being in a small item swap, I have sent items that have taken 1-2hrs to make.Sometimes that is a disappointment to me: I wanted to make a book cover, but on an assessment piece (not counted in my hours) I worked out that it would take me over 6 hours to make, 

But that's if you only look at time as the only measurement of small/medium/large. You can also look at the materials cost and the actual finished size. Or just ask your partner if they consider a book cover to meet the swap requirements.

I make beaded crochet bracelets. By material cost, it's a small (less than $10 US materials). By size, it's a medium (bracelets are usually considered mediums). By time, it's a large (they take me 6-8hours to make once I decide on the beads and pattern). I"ve asked a few of my partners what they think this project is - small medium or large. No one said small, it's about split even between medium or large.

Quote
If I add all of these up, it means I am willing to spend up to 6 active hours on a small item (not counting aborted attempts), and correspondingly more on larger items.

Recently I spend maybe 4 hours working on a jumping-doll ATC (artist trading card - they're a little larger than business card size - 2.5" x 3.5" or about 7.5cm x 90cm I think) and I don't know how many hours researching jumping-paper-dolls online to figure out how to make one. And about 2 yrs ago, I crocheted a shawl for a swap that took easily 20 hrs to make, if not longer. 
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Antidigger
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2011 02:00:08 PM »

Ok, thank you, ThreadOrYarn, for your reply. Now I know more about what is expected, I guess I'd better not be involved in any more swaps, there's clearly a lot more commitment than I can make.
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« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2011 08:39:27 PM »

I would say that the biggest swap expectation is that swappers have fun, both in researching and making swap items for their partner!  I think that ThreadorYarn was stating her own way of researching and crafting rather than stating general swap expectations.  Crafting is a creative pursuit and it is really difficult to quantify exactly what a small, medium or large is when creating because so many things come into play-skill level, speed of crafting, availabilty of materials, interest in the topic.  That is why the minimum guidelines were established by time AND/OR price.  Its different for everyone Smiley
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teraspawn
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2011 04:09:57 AM »

Well, I've never had a bad parcel in a swap! I find the crafting to be the funnest thing, and then to get something in return is an added and exciting bonus. I'm sorry you've had a bad time with swaps.

I agree that having a wist is a really good way to be a helpful receiving partner.

Antidigger: I have pm'd you too but I wanted to say here as well - don't stop swapping! Going by time as a guideline seems like a fine thing to me.
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puzzler
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2011 05:11:15 AM »

I find the crafting to be the funnest thing, and then to get something in return is an added and exciting bonus. I'm sorry you've had a bad time with swaps.
I still have this great feeling when i make something for someone and that is why I participate.  Getting things is definitely a bonus.  What I was saying earlier is that if in life I am trying to get rid of useless things, i would prefer my partners to sent me either something i want or will like or nothing at all.  It's like if you are a vegetarian and people send you meat...  Anyway...  Thankfully it hasn't happened that often, because most people are thoughtful and do the research (read the questionnaire).  Smiley

Antidigger: I have pm'd you too but I wanted to say here as well - don't stop swapping! Going by time as a guideline seems like a fine thing to me.

I absolutely agree.  I think stopping completely is a very drastic choice.  You can always do one small swap at a time and go by whichever definition of small you can accomplish.  If it's fun- don't stop doing it!  Also, i believe some people do personal swaps and in those you can define what you will do and how much time you will have to do it, that could be a great option if you feel that organized crafts are too much of a commitment.  Either way- Keep crafting.
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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2011 07:25:44 AM »

Ok, thank you, ThreadOrYarn, for your reply. Now I know more about what is expected, I guess I'd better not be involved in any more swaps, there's clearly a lot more commitment than I can make.

Aaaack! No, I didn't mean you need to spend the same amount of time that I - or anyone else - does. This is just what I do, and I've had some swaps that reading my partner's (really detailed) questionnaire and sending a couple of questions by PM is all the research I do, so that's what, maybe 15 minutes plus however long it takes my partner to answer the PM. Just because I use 'crafting evenings' as small/medium/large time frames doesn't mean you (or anyone else) need to do that too.

I hope you find a balance so you can enjoy swapping here Smiley


I would say that the biggest swap expectation is that swappers have fun, both in researching and making swap items for their partner!  I think that ThreadorYarn was stating her own way of researching and crafting rather than stating general swap expectations.

yes, exactly!! Thanks!
« Last Edit: April 19, 2011 07:26:58 AM by ThreadOrYarn » THIS ROCKS   Logged

A2JC4life
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2011 03:54:40 PM »

I thing you are onto something here.  I like the list.  I too would rather receive nothing, than something I didn't mention in the questionnaire

Really?  Did you really mean precisely what you said here?  That you don't want to get anything in a swap that you didn't specifically ask for?
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puzzler
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2011 04:08:49 PM »


Really?  Did you really mean precisely what you said here?  That you don't want to get anything in a swap that you didn't specifically ask for?
Absolutely.  I am trying to de-clutter my life and if people send me things i don't use or want or can't give away, then there is just more work for me.  I'd rather get a thank you note or completely nothing than things that i don't use. 

Every questionnaire is a little different, but most of them ask what things people don't want or what they do want, so the person who reads it should be able to follow those wishes.  If they can't, i'd rather get nothing from them.
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A2JC4life
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2011 06:44:06 PM »

Wow.  I would be terrified to be partnered with someone who is quite that particular.  I definitely aim to make things that my partner could could and appreciate and, hopefully, LOVE.  But I would totally be scared that my crafting skills in whatever specific area my partner wanted items weren't up to par.

And I have never, ever seen a swap questionnaire that specifies, when they ask about specific items, that the particular items someone does want are absolutely the only things they would want, so now I'm wondering if I've sent swap partners stuff they hated because they didn't ask for it - because that's not at all what I would assume that meant.  I automatically read those as suggestions of some things that I could send.
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puzzler
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2011 12:43:36 PM »

Wow.  I would be terrified to be partnered with someone who is quite that particular.  I definitely aim to make things that my partner could could and appreciate and, hopefully, LOVE.  But I would totally be scared that my crafting skills in whatever specific area my partner wanted items weren't up to par.

I don't think you understand me.  I said nothing about skill level.  I don't care if someone can't do a craft on a specific level.  I would actually appreciate them trying.  But if I ask not to get food and they send me food?  Skills don't matter.  Lack of comprehension does matter.  What if I am allergic to something and they put it in the food?  Should I be happy that they sent something or would it make more sense for me not to get a thing and not have to throw out and waste that food?

Or, to give you a non-allergy example.  What if I ask to get knit or crocheted items, but not hats, because i don't wear them.  Should I be happy even with the best made hat?  no!

I hope you are getting what I am trying to say here.

And I have never, ever seen a swap questionnaire that specifies, when they ask about specific items, that the particular items someone does want are absolutely the only things they would want, so now I'm wondering if I've sent swap partners stuff they hated because they didn't ask for it - because that's not at all what I would assume that meant.  I automatically read those as suggestions of some things that I could send.

I don't think that your partners necessairly hated the items you sent.  I think that they most likely liked them.  You can always ask them, if you are not sure if they like it.

I think most questionnaires (and if there are any organizers reading, please tell me if I am wrong) have questions along the lines: "what would you like to get?"  "What wouldn't you like to get?" "What colors do you like/hate" "Are you allergic to anything?"  Etc.   Those are the guidelines and I believe they should be followed, otherwise what's the point of answering those questions. 
Also, in most swaps, you can contact the person to ask what they like or don't like if you are unsure, to guide you.  Those ways should be enough to help you (or me, or anyone) make their partners happy.

If i answer questions saying that i hate pink, polka doted fabrics and dogs and someone sends me a pink polka doted dog collar....   You get the picture.

p.s. There is also an option to ask the organizer not to be partnered up with a particular person, so for example if we were in a swap, you can ask them not match me as your partner.  I'd understand.
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A2JC4life
« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2011 01:56:11 PM »

I totally get not sending something someone asked not to get.  That's different, though, than not sending anything other than what they specifically asked to get.
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« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2011 12:30:50 PM »

Ok, thank you, ThreadOrYarn, for your reply. Now I know more about what is expected, I guess I'd better not be involved in any more swaps, there's clearly a lot more commitment than I can make.

You should try the 10 minute swap if it pops up again. The item/items should be made in an hour, so it was very low stress and good for those with limited crafting time.

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dreadlocklove
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2011 11:01:02 AM »

When I organize swaps, I actually don't set a point-system.  Here's one reason why: So many participants tend to change the original "page" created by the organizer anyway because some may have more crafting time, money, or skills than their partners and wish to do some spoiling.  The guidelines as to what constitutes a small, medium, and large seem to confuse many and create stress.  Etc, etc, etc...

I do encourage regular communication though, so that the crafters can tell their partner what their progress is and have an idea of the type of gifts they will be receiving.  This seems to help avoid huge imbalances.

When taking part in a swap, one of the most important things I can do is to try to remove all expectations from my partner.  Because the point-system essentially tells me nothing but the very minimum I have to give, I put in as much time, money, and energy into each package as I can until the idea of a large imbalance and/or receiving a "thoughtless" package no longer makes me feel comfortable.  Or until I just naturally run out of time, money, and energy...  

If I choose to change the organizer's page in the first place, is it fair to expect my partner to hold up to my higher standards?  

Touching on the idea of the wishlist being strictly followed, I'll say that I don't expect that either.  I try to take the gifts as they come.  Sometimes they're really not my style or all that practical practical, and at times they've come in colours I stated I don't necessarily like...  

But I realize that:

A - My partner has a style or their own that they may not be able to switch on the flick of a dime.  Just as I can't always do that.

B - My preferences aren't necessarily realistic for my partner.  I prefer fabrics like hemp and bamboo and well, not everyone has the access or the funds to meet my wishes.

C - My ideal partner just may not have signed up for the swap.  I've been an organizer.  My themes aren't very popular here on Craftster to begin with and the number of participants is low.  Sometimes it's hard to get that perfect match after allergies, international swapping, preferences, etc, have to be considered.  I think organizers do their best and whatever challenges I encounter as an organizer may be what another is facing.

For the above reasons, a few of my previous partners told me they felt they would please me and felt stressed out because of it.  I always make it known in my questionnaire now that my wishlist is just that, preferences.  I share with them honestly what really turns me on in case those wishes can come true.  But if they can't, I encourage them to feel free to be inspired to craft anything that they will have a good time creating for me.  Yes, please do some research but ultimately, I'm open.  

I do believe there is a difference between a wishlist that states:

A - Crocheted/knitted mitts and scarf (but I don't have a need for hats)
   - Handmade food items (but no sweets because I'm diabetic)
   - No animal products because I'm allergic or have an aversion
   - Wood buttons

B - Crocheted/knitted scarf, hat, mitts BUT NOTHING ELSE.
   - Lavender seeds, MUST BE ORGANIC
   - Buttons, ONLY WOOD
   - STICK ONLY TO THIS LIST!

If a list has nothing but items with restrictions, like list "B," then I do feel that it's a little strict.  If I was partnered with someone like that, I would ask to leave the swap.  As much as I don't want my partner feeling stressed about my list, I don't want to be feeling miserable about theirs either.

Though I don't mind being a regular participant when something catches my eye or I have the time/energy/funds to sign up, taking the initiative to start organizing swaps, with my own guidelines and themes is a good way for me to stay excited about swapping.  Being an organizer is a good way to "set the page."

Being open to the circumstances and receptive to my partner also keeps things good.  If I didn't mostly feel that way but instead experienced mostly unsatisfying results, I think it would be time to ask myself whether I should still be swapping or not.  It's like a job or relationship, if I don't like the terms, it's time to change things or get out.  

« Last Edit: May 30, 2011 05:53:38 PM by dreadlocklove » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2011 07:49:16 PM »

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience faemystique, but maybe you are setting your expectations a little high? Not everyone's skills are going to be at the same level - I know I spent about 6 hours today working on something that I would never guess took more than an hour if I hadn't tried it myself. (hopefully I will get faster with practice!) While it may look like a small to someone who hasn't done it, or even be a small for someone with a lot of experience at the craft, by swap rules, it could be considered a large.

Making plans to spoil is a slippery business. Everyone's opinions of spoiling are going to vary. To some it may be including one or two smalls over the swap guidelines, to someone else it might mean spending 20 hours on an extra large item. You are not always going to get back the same amount of time, effort or money you put into a swap package, especially if you go way above and beyond. 
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