I read an interview with an 18 year old on the BBC News website just before the recent general election here.  In it she came out with a sentence that had me and my colleagues rolling about laughing, paraphrasing slightly: ‘The internet was invented so people could chat to each other, but I don’t think they’re really using it for that these days.’  I’m sure all the scientists that worked so hard on networks to exchange information did not anticipate that this is what all their efforts would be distilled down into, but the reality is that it has been quite useful in the last 20 years or so for quilters around the world to have a chat, and post and share information.  We also discovered (as with many other groups of artistic bent) that as well as exchanging information we could exchange physical items, and so swaps were born.

In the dark ages of the internet, quilting swaps were run on Flickr where there were not only photos but you could also have a chat in the groups, however a new high heidyin came in over there and the photographers claimed it back, so in the last few years they have generally been hosted on Instagram or in Facebook groups.  Swaps are run on themes as broad as ‘A mini quilt’ and as narrow as ‘Harry Potter’, sometimes with specific fabrics such as ‘Solids’ or ‘Heather Ross’, and have been for a range of items, including pouches, bags, mini quilts and more, the only other criteria being that the swaps are (usually) secret, and you have to satisfy your partner’s wish list (based on questions sent out by the swap mama).  I don’t do many swaps, I just don’t have the time to do so, but I do like to indulge once or twice a year as they can be really good for branching out and trying new things.  It also means that you will receive something that you would never in a million years spend the time to make for yourself!

This year’s indulgence was the Heather Ross swap, and I received this fantastic mini from Madeline Bonner, full of mermaids and precious goldfish and hexies:

It came beautifully wrapped, complete with a couple of paintings by her daughter:

And it had some lovely extras too:

And this is what I sent to my partner, Jane, who liked pastels, especially pink and purple, and whose inspiration mosaic had included some envelopes, so I took the theme of ‘post’ and ran with it.  I also included a pouch and a key fob, plus a couple of bars of chocolate that didn’t make it into the photo:

The idea for the mini was an image of post chucked on a table, so the background included a letter, a bill and a newspaper, with the ‘post’ containing pretty envelopes and postcards.

I had fun with the quilting too, and you might just be able to see in this close up another little paper based joke that I had, can you spot it?

So have you taken part in any swaps?  What is your favourite thing about them?