Yarn Swaps, good idea or bad idea? That is the question. Yarn swaps scare me as a community level but it may be reasons that you might not consider.
Firstly, I think yarn swapping amoungst friends is not a bad idea. Our assistant, Colleen and ourselves swap yarns all the time. Most times, she has a colour I need and vice versa. Occasionally, we just swap brands of yarn for whatever projects we are working on. We never analyze the cost of the yarn ball to ensure our swap is equal retail value to each. The fact that we are willing to swap isn’t amount monetary value but more of a sense of a desire to do or complete a project.
Remember Playing Marbles
Before I tell you my story about a couple situations where I have seen yarn swapping go south really quickly, I want to take you back to childhood. I will assumed you may have played marbles. I really sucked at playing marbles. I could never get the marble in the pot and though I tried my best, I lost most of the time and I would be left with no marbles. Unfortunately, other players who played me were relentless. They knew I was game over but was happy to take my marbles leaving me with nothing.
My parents would buy me the small alley marbles and it was up to me to win the big marbles with other kids.
- 4 Alleys = 1 Alley Boulder
- 4 Alley Boulders = 1 Shiner or Spectacle Boulder
- 2 Shiner Boulders = 1 Gas Boulder
- 2 Spectacles = 1 Alley Jumbo
- and so on and so on.
Being the queen of losing all the time. I always had the smallest alleys. For those who were winners, they wouldn’t exchange or play me as they didn’t want to win the small alleys. I lost my interest in the game primarily because I was growing up marbles were just a passing phase but also because I was unable to play with what I had.
Value of Yarn Damages Morale
We are raised to have this need to cross compare and to seek value and expect value for what we have gathered along our way. When I hear the words Yarn Swapping, I hear the game of Marbles in my head.
I have been present a two events where yarn swapping was part of the program. You bring your yarn, I bring my yarn and we exchange. In both cases, due to myself being far from home, I didn’t bring any yarn as I didn’t want to pack it in my suitcase. I didn’t take any yarn for the record and I certainly don’t expect free yarn at these types of events to be given to me.
Out on the tables were yarns from many people. You had a big difference between quality, colours, and brands between everyone. From what I gathered and seen that one woman brought exquisite yarns from independent retailers versa another person bringing value yarn from a boxed retailer. Both yarns are fine but I think it’s our human nature to crave and have this cave man need to have what our neighbours have.
The exquisite yarn lady became popular and basically she is holding the chips of bartering which established an unwritten rule of valuing the yarns for an exchange. The unbalance of this, in my opinion, ruined the the swap. Everyone wanted to exchange with her as most people brought similar stuff but of course, if you have someone that has exquisite yarns, you aren’t going to look beyond her table with much interest. It was interesting to stand and watch the human condition play itself out. Instantly, I knew where this was heading and trust me, the yellow brick road was long behind us.
The exquisite yarn lady was hoping to swap with someone with equal or comparable types of yarn. However, in this case, she was the only one.
The swapping instantly turned from just swapping skeins for skeins but a value of the balls were applied. Maybe this is a normal thing and should be considered… but this can turn a swap into three ring circus where people are left upset and the purpose of it is defeated.
It’s almost like yarn swapping has to be regulated and say it’s a skein for a skein. Yarn skeins should be between $3 – $5 dollars max. This way, the bartering and the attention to retail pricing can be sidelined so that the fun of the swap can continue. For me, I would like my more higher end yarn at home knowing something like this and bring yarn that I am willing to part with that is within the dollar value.
Online Yarn Swapping
I am sure someone online has made yarn swapping successful where you have to mail a stranger some yarn and you get yarn from another stranger. To date, I have never seen a successful campaign of this. This is very similar to exchanging granny squares.
The problem is that people get excited and a number of things typically happen:
People are Happy and and Honour the Commitment
- Rules are followed and the exchange is a great experience.
- Person receives her package, she then gets her yarn ready or in some cases regifts the yarn back out to the next person.
- Person has honoured the commitment.
- Great Scooby points all around.
The False Sign Up
- People agree to do it but then don’t realize the cost of shipping and/or whatever excuses they may think of. In some cases, reasons may be valid but lets face it, there are some people who see this as an opportunity to get free yarn with no intention of contributing in the first place.
- They receive their package but then don’t honour shipping out their package.
- Essentially, they have just received free yarn ruining the whole concept and the program goes sour as it means someone is not going to get their swapped yarn they were expecting as the chain has been broken.
Value of Yarn isn’t Honoured
- A person gets their package and are disappointed in it. Wrong colour, hoping for a different brand and the price of the suggested swap isn’t what it supposed to be.
- This person may decide not to bother shipping anything and/or due to the experience, she decides not to honour the right suggested price of yarn swapping because she felt screwed over. So she essentially passes that on to the next person.
- People get sour and this is a failure.
Don’t Like What They Received
- In some cases, the exchange can be really tough if the yarn has been damaged, has an off-smell and/or other reasons that make the exchange unbalanced.
- I have actually received yarn from a friend that was from Sears in the 80’s. Though you would not know and there was no smell to the yarn. There was actually a mouse nest in the middle of the yarn ball. I wasn’t upset about getting it but once I discovered that, I threw everything out that was in the same box. Bottom of the box was mouse droppings and it appears there was just a box and they gifted me the box without going through it first. If this was in a yarn swap, you can bet your boots the gloves would be off, especially when exchanging with a stranger. Between friends we can laugh about it… with a stranger, it appears to be intentional and unfair.
The Crochet Crowd Yarn Swap
I have been asked countless times to run a great global yarn swap and I instantly say NO. There are several reasons, as I have noted above. It’s a slippery slope and though I think most people would honour the commitment, the few that don’t honour their part will ruin the good intentions turning the entire concept into a tangled mess that cannot be unraveled.
The mess really begins when social media comes into play where people complain about the unfairness. They felt wronged and are vocal about it. Truth is, if they have been wronged, I don’t blame them one bit but then it can turn a fun community idea to a concept that we wished we would have left in our brains instead of starting it in the first place.
What’s your Opinion on Yarn Swaps?
Have you had experiences with yarn swaps? What do you think of them? I’ve said my two sense, you can share your two sense with me?
If you have had the similar issues, how did you solve them?
Would you participate in a yarn swap?
Leave me your comments below in my website because I am curious on what you think of this topic? I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a long time but thought maybe I’ve just been in the wrong situation twice. Let me know how you feel.