Since I’ve only recently gotten into knitting podcasts and the more social aspects of Ravelry (even then I’m just dipping my toe in the water) it’s only within the last year that I learned that yarn swaps are a thing people do. So, when my first knitting podcast foray rolled around to their second anniversary in May and they decided to do a swap, I knew I wanted to participate. It’s a video podcast so I’d gotten to see them showing the spoils of yarn swaps past and it just seemed like a really great way to potentially experience a new yarn or local goods from places I’d never been and to just connect with some of the people you only communicate with via the internet. I was excited to try to share my local flavour with someone else and have someone share theirs with me.
Interestingly enough, I ended up with one of the hosts of the podcast as the person I was buying for (it was a round robin swap so you weren’t getting the same person who got you), which I thought was pretty great. I’d been watching her progress in knitting and life over the past two years and I felt like I had a good handle on what she liked, so I hoped I could put together the best possible package. I knew also that whenever possible I wanted to give her something uniquely me or uniquely Minneapolis. I got two kinds of tea from my LYS (because they have special tea blends and they are both phenomenal and I enjoy them whenever I’m there knitting or shopping or winding 50 skeins of yarn on their swift/ball winder because I don’t have one), yarn that was the exact colour of green she’s always showing off on the podcast (I conquested hard for it) that I picked up from a local independent dyer at the fibre festival, a pattern I also picked up at the festival, a stitch holder that she had requested, and a reversible project bag I made myself. Which I guess isn’t a knitting first per se, but is a first. I’d never sewn a project bag before (or really a bag of any type … I’m a garment sewer almost exclusively), but it was a quick and mostly painless process and I hope to make many more of them for friends or for myself (though I don’t really use project bags) or to sell on Etsy or anywhere else I might find myself selling things. The best part, I think, was that since mine went to one of the hosts of the podcast I got to watch her open it on the show and see her reactions to everything. It was really special and it’s a bit tense and also a bit exhilarating to wait with anticipation to see if someone halfway across the country likes the things you sent them.
Also amazing was receiving a package in return. We had to fill out a short questionnaire to tell our potential swap partners more about us, and my partner really seemed to have a knack for taking the short info I provided and really putting together something truly special. She sent me two kinds of tea (divine vanilla black tea and the most bergamot-y smelling Earl Grey I’ve ever had) from a local-to-her tea shop, two sachets of lavender (one of my favourite smells) from her bushes in her back yard that made the whole box smell lovely and are now residing in my yarn trunks and hopefully making my yarn smell lovely as well, my first ever real, actual stitch markers (so I guess that’s the Fourth First – up until now I always just tied scrap yarn around the needle to mark the stitches) which are jeweled and beautiful and I can’t wait to get back to a point in a project that needs the stitches marked so I can use them and smile because I feel like a real knitter, a needle size/gauge checker (a really awesome one) because I mentioned that I lost my other one somewhere in my flat and I’m banking on it never returning until I move) and a skein of yarn from an indie dyer that I stalk on Etsy but have never purchased anything from. This yarn is SO VERY EXCITING to me, both because it’s inspired by one of my favourite fandoms (Welcome to Night Vale) but also because it’s even more beautiful in person and it’s not very expensive so it’s telling me I should just buy yarn from this dyer instead of just favouriting all of it and then being moderately sad when it sells out. I’ve found a new dyer and that’s amazing. So I suppose this is my Fifth First—it’s my first fandom-inspired indie yarn. It’s also my Sixth First because it’s 100% Blue-faced Leicester and I’ve never owned any BFL before.
Yarn swap … stressful, but INCREDIBLY FUN. Let’s do more of them!