Friday, November 14, 2008

How to have an effective swap

I had a swap I completed today and it got me thinking about how many people have asked me how I conduct my swaps. So I decided to take photos of the process. Now this is how I do it. It doesn't mean this is the right way, or the only way, but its the way that works for me.
The photo above shows all the items (quiltlets) to be swapped. I never open my packages until I get ready to swap them. That way I don't lose anything from an open envie. The quiltlets and return envies have been removed from their envelopes that they came to me in, and placed on the table in a very specific way. This is very important because if you get things wrong here, you'll have problems all the way through. Also, note the rock in the middle of the table. If you are a first time swapper, you should use something like a rock to keep your place.
I have laid out each swapper's items in the same way. First, I lay the envelope that the swap items came to me in, on the bottom. On top and to the right of that envelope, I lay the items to be swapped. These are all from the same person, or what that person has sent to be swapped. On the left is the new envelope that the swapper's items will be returned in.
Why do I lay the envie someone sent me under the swap items and return envie? Because this gives me one more safeguard that I have the right return envie with the right swapped items. After all, the person's return address is on his/her envie to me, so I can double check. Also, if I end up not having the label or something, I can go back to the envie the swapper sent me and check it again. It never hurts to be overly cautious when it comes to others' artwork.
I keep the stamps and label tucked inside the folded return envelope, or attached to the return envie in some way if it has not been folded when it was sent to me.
Since I made a quiltlet for everyone, I swapped mine first. Had it been that everyone sent the same amount, I would have started with the closest person's swap and worked my way around the table clockwise.
As you can see, I have laid my quiltlet (the swapped quiltlet), on top of each swapper's return envie. Now I have the original envie sent to me on the bottom, the swapper's items on the right, her return envie on the left, and the first swapped item on top of that envie. All future swap items will go on top of that envie, too.

Note the rock where my quiltlets had been. The rock shows whose swap items I'm working on at the moment. Once a few of these get dispersed, it will be hard to tell where you are, if you aren't careful. This is especially true for new swappers and is just one more safety check to know where you are.
You can see from the photo, that I'm in the process of distributing all of my quiltlets. Each one is placed on top of the return envies and the person's swap items are in clear view on the right of my quiltlets. You can easily see whose I have yet to give a quiltlet to, also.
Next, I swap the person's quiltlet below mine. Note the rock is now in the spot where her quiltlets had been and hers are on top of mine. Note also that my quiltlet is the one showing to the left of the rock. This is another safeguard. The swapper's items you're working on should now be on top of the swapped pile, but not on her own pile.

Continue in the same manner with each swapper's items. Move the rock each time you pick up a new set of swap items. When you have swapped every one's items, count and recount before placing them in their return envies. At this point, if the count is correct, place the swapped items in plastic bags or bubble wrap that has been sent to you. By that I mean, wrap or place the swap items in the same materials they were sent in. If the swap items did not come in a baggie or bubble wrap and the count is correct, you may now place them in their return envie.

If it's a large swap, I count every one's items before I place anything in any envies, then recount them as I place the individual swaps in their envies. Just one more check to be sure I gave each person the right number of swapped items.

Do NOT seal your envies yet. Place the label on the envie and weigh it on your scales. Figure out the right amount of postage and place it on the envie. Place all unused postage into the envie, then seal it.

You have now completed a successful swap.

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