Well, hello there! I wanted to take a quick peek out from behind my self-imposed hiatus to say a few things. First, I miss you all! But, this hiatus has been really good for me, and I’m sorry to say that it needs to last for a little bit longer. My fingers are crossed that I’ll be able to join you again here in September. My dissertation writing is going well, and the truth of the matter is that many days I start writing at 8am and don’t stop until 10pm. Unfortunately for you, that means that I’m all out of writing mojo by the time I get a moment to myself. The good news is – I have all sorts of fun ideas to write up for you when my life gets a little more balance! Even better for you, I’ve still been crafting here and there to keep myself sane, so I’ve got some projects that are just waiting for a good tutorial. Like the Wallace and Gromit quilt below that I made with the help of my Silhouette! I have files ready to share with you and everything! So please accept my apologies for the longer than anticipated disappearance, but rest assured in the knowledge that I miss sharing with you here and have some cool stuff in store for when I can spare an ounce of my brain for you again. And if you want to see what I’m up to, check me out over on instagram. I’ve been really active there with my crafting as of late (spoiler, it’s because it doesn’t require much, if any, writing), and I look forward to coming back soon! Oh! And I wanted to give you the heads up that there’s a silhouette challenge coming up on Monday. Check out my friend Michelle over at Weekend Craft to get yourself started on Monday! I happen to have some insider knowledge that she’ll be participating.
The other reason I wanted to pop in really quick is to outline some of my thoughts on instagram swaps. I’ve been so grateful as to how quickly I’ve been integrated into the swap community there. So, if you’re not really interested in swaps or my thoughts, then I wouldn’t be insulted if you stopped reading here. If, however, you’re interested in what I’ve been doing with swaps and my general philosophy in regards to them, well, then read on!
What I love about swaps
The biggest most important thing I love about swaps is that it creates a place for us all to geek out about something together. Spoiler alert: I’m a geek. A nerd. A gamer. And I don’t hide it. I’m many other things as well. I’m a wife. A lover of pets. A sister. A sewist. Yada yada yada. I think that above and beyond anything else, I’m a maker. I love to share what I’m doing. I love to see what other people are doing. And that is, at the core of it, my favorite part about swaps. My mind is not like anyone else’s in the swap community, and the things I come up with and can do are very different than what other people do. I love that diversity! For me, the single greatest joy is the sense of communal excitement and sharing in the swap. That is what I love about swaps.
Most of the swaps I participate in are craft swaps that focus around a certain theme. For example, I’m part of two swaps that center around Joss Whedon (the creator of Firefly, Dollhouse, and recently the mastermind behind Shield and the Avengers), one for all things Alice and Wonderland, two for Tolkien, and two for Harry Potter (among others). I stuck to needing to ship 2 packages a month through the summer, and have a few scheduled through the fall, but am in the process of scaling back. I may have gotten a little… overly excited. I can still keep to the commitments I have, but scaling back is certainly in order. That being said, since I don’t have much energy for writing and am in need of a lot of creative outlets at the moment to keep sane, it actually worked out pretty well for me.
I’ve done one swap that doesn’t require making something. While I enjoyed it and am glad to have met my partner, I’ve decided to stick to craft swaps. What that swap showed me was that I really like making things. I even decided I had to make a bag for my partner in that swap, because the package did not feel complete without something handmade in it. To my delight, she loved it and references it frequently. I’m so glad. It was made with the same fabric of the bag I use all the time. Now, I just stick with craft swaps to begin with. Some are general craft swaps, and others are specific swaps (mostly mini quilts).
If I’m sending you something
I will spoil you if I can.
I would say I’m sorry, but I’m really not. I will insta-stalk you. I will spend hours planning. I will probably change my mind several times. I will come up with more than one thing I want to send you, and I will probably make just about everything in your package. Why? Well, I have a habit of going a bit overboard. And it’s a great opportunity for me to be creative and step outside of my normal activities. I love to make things, and I love to make things that other people want to have.
If you’re my partner, I want you to feel special. Because you are. I only know as much about you as you share on instagram or through your swap form, but the simple fact that you’re part of the community makes you special to me. I hope that my excessiveness does not make you feel bad in any way. Please know that it is not my intention to compete for the biggest, baddest, bestest package. Rather, it’s simply an outpouring of my exuberance for our mutual love of the swap subject. I want you to have something that I’ve done my best to tailor for you, that you’ll appreciate, and that you’ll enjoy. And I want to make you feel special. Even if it’s just a slight unexpected smile when the package comes in the mail.
If you’re sending me something
If you’re sending me something I ask only one thing: Make something that inspires you.
Once, when I was in a particularly bad mood, I made the mistake of mentioning something about a fandom that I didn’t like. In the end, I felt like a total tool. Why? Well, I realized that even though I didn’t care for that particular character, it didn’t matter to me. What mattered to me was everything I love about swaps. Did you notice that I didn’t put any qualifiers above in the section about swaps? I found that by putting qualifiers on what I like and don’t like about a fandom, I’m removing what I love about swaps – the excitement of creating something for someone else who loves the things you love. I realized that all things aside, being in a supportive, creative, giving community is so much more important to me than anything else. And in the end, had I received a package focused around a character I didn’t like, I would have been ecstatic for no other reason that someone I had never met, and who had never met me, cared enough to put their time, effort, and emotion into something that was meant for me. And that is what I care about.
Which leads me back to the only thing I want – for you to have fun, make something you love, and enjoy yourself.
I try to put many ideas of things that I do like so that you’re not left floundering without any direction, but they’re just ideas. For the most part, the swaps I’m part of have a specific theme. If it fits that theme, I’ll be happy. Whatever your craft medium is – go for it. If you make something that’s not on a mosaic, or isn’t about one of my favorite listed characters, or is a tiny bit part – that’s ok! I’ll still love it! I haven’t received a package that doesn’t fill my heart with joy. Just follow the one rule above, and I’ll cherish your project. It will find a place to be used or displayed in my home.
I only mention this because I’ve seen a few people on instagram worried that someone wouldn’t be happy with the quality of their work or their package in general. And here’s my thing – did you follow my one rule above? The one about making something you love? If so I’m happy. In fact, I’m beyond happy. I’m ecstatic.
I don’t care if you’ve never tried the craft before. I don’t care if you made it with your three-year-old. I don’t have kids and happen to have had several childrens’ drawings on my fridge which take me years to take down. I don’t care if you’re an expert in your field. Well, ok, I do care if you’re an expert simply because that’s just cool, but hopefully you get my drift. I only care if you had fun making it and loved the process. That’s it.
I will do my absolute best, but know that I have a habit of trying new things all the time. I like focusing on the little details, or trying something completely new. I hope that I do a decent job on them. That Wallace and Gromit mini above? That was my first mini quilt, my second applique, and my second ever finished quilt. I think it came out ok. In fact, I love it and plan to make one for myself. However, I’m sure there are all sorts of issues with it that even a novice quilter would pick up on. I make things up as I go along, so I probably did things in a weird way. I hope my partner is ok with that. And I’m ok if you send projects to me that aren’t your best work or the best in their field. Just have fun, and it’s all good.
Here’s my feeling on extras. They are extra. I will love them every bit as much as the main craft, because you picked them out for me. I may not use them myself (I don’t happen to drink coffee, but my husband loves it when he gets to indulge in the extras I don’t want). Some swaps require a minimum value to the package, or that you add in 1/2/3 small extras. The only thing I expect in my package is what the swap requires. If there are extras – yay! I will enjoy them. If there are no extras – yay! You made me something! Seriously, this is not a place where you should stress out. Know that unless the swap restricts me from sending extras, I probably will. I will do so only for the same reason stated above – I get excited and want to share / make / buy all the cool things for you. I’ve probably been thinking about this swap since the day I signed up and have kept my eye out on things (even restraining myself from getting them for you in some cases). In the end though, it’s not the extras I care about.
I’m gonna show off now
Take a look at all these amazing packages I’ve gotten through swaps! You can click each image to make it larger, and my apologies for where the phone photos are not the best. Shout outs go to the following amazing people who sent me these packages (in the order they are shown below) – @hartley2s3b (favorite things with cupcake tea towel), @madamerouleau (princess bride), @rebeckyboodles (sherlock / dr who quilt), @quilty_joyjoy (tea lover’s mug rug), @happimadkewpie(both bee images), @zombiequilter (luna quilt), @trishar517 (1 hour basket), and @theboredzombie (dragon pouch). If you want some fun swappers to follow, I recommend them. I can recommend many others as well, but these are special to me. As are those I’ve made packages for – but I’ll show you those later, in another post.
A quick update on the packages – The favorite things package has found it’s way into various parts of my home. The Princess Bride cross stitch, Luna mini quilt, and BBC mini quilt are hanging on my hallway wall. The mug rug sits on the side of my couch and is used constantly. The bee embroidery is sitting on my bookshelf mantle, and the other pieces have been integrated to various other parts of my home. The one hour basket is being used to hold our snack foods on top of the fridge. The dragon bag is being used currently as a project bag. It may become a dice bag at a later point. I’m ecstatic with each package I’ve received and am grateful to be part of such a fun, creative, and supportive community. And thank you to all the Instagrammers who spend their time organizing these things. I’ll be sure to share their info with you as I share the projects I’ve made along with the people I’ve made for.
And with that, I shall bid you adieu for now. I’m hopeful that this next stretch of no posts will not be as long as the last, and am greatly looking forward to getting back to some sense of regular blogging. Thank you for reading. Thank you to the Instagram community for embracing me. Thank you to the silhouette community for continuously providing me with inspiration.
Continue to be awesome everyone.
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