My swap partner was Tonia (Luv2stch) on Ravelry and she was amazing and generous in putting this package together. I know there are a few readers who haven't participated in a swap. You can read about the general premise of the swap here.
I want talk about my experiences with Ravelry swaps. Maybe others will be inspired to join up for the next one, or one in the future.
I have only participated in swaps with the Itty Bitty Knits group. Everyone in this group is so sweet and generous.
My first swap was way back in August. I participated in the Olive You Hat Swap. I received a swap package from Cathcart and since then, she and I have begun swapping packages several times a year. I approached her with the idea because I don't have anyone to make me knit items and as a knitter, sometimes it is so nice to receive knit gifts. Happily (for me at least), she agreed to be my knit-gift buddy. We're wrapping up a Spring themed swap right now!
I digress. I just wanted to point out that great friendships can develop through these types of activities. I don't have any friends in my area who knit. It is truly a treat for me to feel like part of a knitting community.
I always worry a little when I sign up for swaps. Will my partner like my package? Will I spend enough money? Will I like my package? Will I get a duddy partner who just won't send a package at all? How much am I going to have to pay in shipping?
Money has been a little tight for us over the past year. We haven't been broke, but we've had debt looming uncomfortably over our heads and have hated every minute of it. I can't really tell you how much I spend on my swap packages. I usually buy things over a long period of time and stock up on cute goodies I over time. If you get into the habit of swapping, you can always look for sales and buy ahead. While there is usually a theme to the swap, everyone also adds a lot of extra goodies - candy, yarn, toys, knitting notions. I try to make some things too. I often hit up the dollar store and throw in a few things from there as well.
These little dessert erasers were a big hit from the package I sent Rae Lynne (photo borrowed from Rae Lynne's blog). They were a dollar store buy (I really love them for the containers they come in, which are perfect for stitch markers, blocking pins, etc).
Anyways, there are thrifty ways to participate in a swap and not have your recipient feel like they received a bargain basement package. Check out Rae Lynne's blog about what I sent her for the Itty Bitty Easter Swap, she has lots of great photos and I think she was pretty happy with my package.
When it comes to receiving my package, I have always been super happy with what I was sent. The great thing about Ravelry is that you can "stalk" your swap partner and find out things about them which will help you create the perfect swap gift. You can check what they have knit in the past, what they are working on. What is in their queue that they want to knit? You can also read past posts they have made in different forums to learn what is going on in their lives. I hope I'm not the only one who does this, but I'm pretty sure I'm not.
Cathcart put a project page up regarding our current swap and caught me being sneaky...
We both had a good laugh over it.
I think the swaps work because, as I've said, everyone is so nice and so generous. I pack up a gift I would love to receive and it seems that everyone else does the same. All the packages end up being so different and so full of unexpected things, that it is super easy to be thrilled with what you have received.
Shipping tends to vary a lot. I was shocked at how much Tonia had to spend on my package. It didn't seem too heavy and wasn't a rediculous size. Shipping between the U.S. and Canada can be expensive and time consuming so make sure to factor that it. I don't think it's the weight that matter (within reason of course), but more the box size. Keep that in mind and check UPS.com or Canadapost.com for information on how much a given package size will cost.
My swap package this time cost $20 and arrive exactly on schedule 9 days later. $20 seems fairly reasonable to me and should be a good estimate of how much most packages would cost.
Whew, this is a long post... I am going to log off for now and will post photos of my received package tomorrow! I know it's a long time to wait, but I don't want this post to get lost in the shuffle.
If you are a part of Ravelry (or sign up, it's free!), definitely consider participating in a future swap either with Itty Bitty Knits, or with one of the many other Groups offering swaps. They are a great way to be spoiled, to spoil someone else (let's face it, we knitters love to give, that's why we knit, swapping is just an extension of that!) and to make some new friends.
Yay for swaps!