Yarn swap!

Posted in FO, fun, knitting by tchemgrrl on January 15, 2010

I’m not very good at out-of-the-blue inviting people over to my place without a purpose. I always need to find some kind of excuse for a get together. I like having people over, though, so once I think of an excuse, things happen quickly.

A while back my local group on Ravelry was having a spate of “Anyone want to trade X for Y?” types of messages, and it seemed like the kind of thing that would work better in person. The vast majority of fiber people have stash that someone would love, but which isn’t doing it for them–maybe they already used some of the yarn on another project, or they’re just tired of looking at it. So why not have a yarn swap? I’m including some notes on what worked and didn’t here, both for future reference and for ideas in case you’d like to try it.

The way I arranged it was to set up my dining room table on one side of a room with as many leaves as would fit, then have chairs in a circle next to it. One piece of the table was taped off as “for free”, for things that people didn’t want to take home with them (we collected unwanted orphans at the end and donated them). The rest of the table was for sale or trade. This was a late afternoon to early evening get-together, so I made two quiches, thinking that other people would be more likely to bring chips or desserts (which was right on the ball, it worked out perfectly.)

About 10 people were able to make it. This was a really good number. If there were many fewer people there might not have been enough stuff to get a free-flowing trading setup going, while if there were many more, it would have required more organization to sort out whose yarn was whose. It was a good mix of huge and tiny stashes, larger and smaller pocketbooks, more and less experienced knitters. Everyone knew at least one person, and everyone didn’t know at least one person (even me!), so it seemed like a decent social mix as well.

I seriously underestimated the amount of yarn that would show up. Some people made multiple trips up my stairs to carry it all. The table was pretty much instantly full, then there were bags under the table and around people’s feet. I did like having it all together rather than next to the owners, which could have made it feel too much like people were protecting their yarn. If I did it again I would kick the cat out and pile the yarn up in the middle of the room on the floor, maybe on a sheet so it was kept mildly organized.

Straight-out sales (as with a gorgeous Hanne Falkenberg kit) seemed to settle at about 50% of retail. One thing I worried about beforehand was whether people would be trying too hard for a 1-to-1 trade, but after the first person said “Eh, you can keep it,” the whole room really opened up. I think everyone passed along whatever generosity came their way: I gave something to S without a trade, who gave something to R, who gave something to M, who gave something to me. It all worked pretty well. This is something I’ve found at Share Tompkins; the presence of generosity makes everyone feel good and generous.

Having a computer handy was useful; my desktop is in the room we met in and there were occasional checks on Ravelry or yarn sellers to find out the fiber content of something, or the retail price, or to remind someone what weight yarn they needed for that gorgeous scarf they saw the previous week.

Overall, I think it went really well. A few people talked about making it a once-a-month thing, but I feel like a less frequent meeting is more likely to work out so we don’t all see the same unloved yarns all the time. I might do another one when the weather warms up, as a spring cleaning.

Yes, yes, all very nice. What about the LOOT?

At the end of the night I had a fabulous pile of Dale Baby Ull, to replenish my colorwork stash, a skein of kettle-dyed bright green sock yarn for socks for JJ, and some chunky wool yarn in a colorway that matched chunky wool yarn I already had a small amount of. The chunky yarn was so that I could make a cat bed for the wool-obsessed cat. Once I had enough yarn to make the bed, it came together really quickly.

punky bed prefelting

punky bed postfelting

See? Wool obsessed. I put it on the floor and she pretty much instantly claimed it.


2 Responses

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  1. fillyjonk said, on January 15, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    “the presence of generosity makes everyone feel good and generous.”

    That is so very true, and I wish more people realized it. (And I wish I knew enough knitters in my area to do this with.)

  2. […] had a yarn swap at my house over the weekend. I had one at my old apartment a while back, so I had a pretty good idea about how to set things up. A few notes that may be helpful to anyone […]

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