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TOPIC: Advice for running an exchange.

Re: Advice for running an exchange. 11 Sep 2012 16:22 #88248

  • PosyP
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crocus999 wrote:
I ran (am running) an exchange at the local guild. Although not international, I have really learned a lot about doing such a thing, even if not International. And, I may not ever do it again...
One lady said my directions were like a 'work of art', which pleased me. In fact several were impressed with my detailed pages of directions.

However, personalities get in the way of a smooth process. First thng is that when the evening came to do the first exchange (it is month-by-month) everyone who was a participant came running, hopping and skipping with excitement and anxiously and hilariously started to exchange their HST's. It went out of control! Being a teacher, I had in my mind that there would be a particular time during the meeting when we would calmly gather in one spot on the side and exchange orderly, with me having a master sheet to know who gave and who recieved, and people could keep track of their own give-and-takes, especially if someone was not there that evening, then they 'owed' . HOWEVER, I did not say explicitly that! I did not tell them in advance to wait until we were all gathered, together, and everyone present. The ones who came in a tad late were out of it.
So communication is the most important thing, right down to the type of baggie we used, because there was a problem with that also, there was a problem with what was written on the outside of the baggies (ex. clear baggies had to say " Batiks", if batiks were in the bag, and the other groups 'scrappy', had to say scrappy' ). I thought it was obvious, seeing it was a clear baggie - but not so for everyone - those doing both Batiks and Scrappy. People came up with all sorts of ideas how it could be done 'better'. One evening, I was absent,and apparently there was a rather 'expressive' verbal exchange and one of the ladies went out crying and slamming the door. Oh dear, Probably International is easier, because you don't get all the people into one building and if they don't like your way, they can only send you an email, which you can read and ignore if you like.

Generally, I'd say it has been fun, but my advice would to be extremely specific about exactly everything you want to do. Walk through it in your mind and write down every little detail, even if it seems silly or obvious.

There. My 2 cents. I knew that I needed to get that experience off my chest someday...
Glad you managed to get that off your chest.

Excellent additional advice - I suspect that what you were missing was a 'Margo' to help soothe things along :wink: The advantage of postal exchanges is that, as you say, you don't get a clash of ideas from other people standing around putting their '2 cents in' and demanding that it is done their way. I just promised to send back the same number as I received, ideally all of them different.


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Re: Advice for running an exchange. 11 Sep 2012 12:12 #88205

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Yes you've both convinced me it's something I will never do. I have arranged a secret santa craft swap on another forum which was great fun but not without the odd firework and panic. :D

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Re: Advice for running an exchange. 11 Sep 2012 10:44 #88190

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I ran (am running) an exchange at the local guild. Although not international, I have really learned a lot about doing such a thing, even if not International. And, I may not ever do it again...
One lady said my directions were like a 'work of art', which pleased me. In fact several were impressed with my detailed pages of directions.

However, personalities get in the way of a smooth process. First thng is that when the evening came to do the first exchange (it is month-by-month) everyone who was a participant came running, hopping and skipping with excitement and anxiously and hilariously started to exchange their HST's. It went out of control! Being a teacher, I had in my mind that there would be a particular time during the meeting when we would calmly gather in one spot on the side and exchange orderly, with me having a master sheet to know who gave and who recieved, and people could keep track of their own give-and-takes, especially if someone was not there that evening, then they 'owed' . HOWEVER, I did not say explicitly that! I did not tell them in advance to wait until we were all gathered, together, and everyone present. The ones who came in a tad late were out of it.
So communication is the most important thing, right down to the type of baggie we used, because there was a problem with that also, there was a problem with what was written on the outside of the baggies (ex. clear baggies had to say " Batiks", if batiks were in the bag, and the other groups 'scrappy', had to say scrappy' ). I thought it was obvious, seeing it was a clear baggie - but not so for everyone - those doing both Batiks and Scrappy. People came up with all sorts of ideas how it could be done 'better'. One evening, I was absent,and apparently there was a rather 'expressive' verbal exchange and one of the ladies went out crying and slamming the door. Oh dear, Probably International is easier, because you don't get all the people into one building and if they don't like your way, they can only send you an email, which you can read and ignore if you like.

Generally, I'd say it has been fun, but my advice would to be extremely specific about exactly everything you want to do. Walk through it in your mind and write down every little detail, even if it seems silly or obvious.

There. My 2 cents. I knew that I needed to get that experience off my chest someday...
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Re: Advice for running an exchange. 11 Sep 2012 05:39 #88168

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Addendum from point 6 *

Lorna & I had some queries from Alice about help to run her exchange and these are the emails that went between us on her particular variation. As with e-mails, they start at the bottom.

Hi Alice,

Lorna has been forwarding your queries to me. My reaction is that 30 members should be pretty easy, however you then say that each member is sending in different amounts, not so easy.

my suggestions are
1. Do make it clear to the participants that a) they will probably get 1(some) of their own back, and b)those that put in the most will be getting the most duplicates and that it cannot be helped or avoided!
2. have a baggie per member, not too small! easy to put your hand into - half letter paper should do.
3. write each member's name on the baggie
4. write the final number to be in the baggie, on it nice & clearly.
5. Starting with the batch with the smallest number of hsts, do '1 each apiece all round'. Any spares put to one side.
6. then sort the next batch, '1 each apiece all round'. Any spares put to one side with, but not 'mixed in with' the first batch.
7. Continue until every baggie has 30 different hsts. If any one wants less than 30, start by removing their own hst(optional), then however many others to get down to the amount required.
8. Continue going '1 each apiece all round', trying to make each round by one maker. As you come to the final number stated on the Baggie, seal & remove it from the open ones. Then carry on as before, until you run out.
This way of doing things will presume having all the hsts in before starting any sorting, but it will probably not be too bad.

Do think out clearly what you want to achieve, then break it down into simple steps of how to achieve it - imagine you are writing up a recipe or set of instructions - actually write up the stages you intend to do at least a week before, get your assistant (if you have one) to read through and ask questions if anything is unclear, I did and it helped to be sure of what needed to be done. This thinking time can save 'messing about, trying to decide what to do' when you come to actually getting on with doing the sorting.

Do clear away any extraneous bags, envelopes or notes etc that are not needed for the specific task in hand, they just get in the way and slow you down.

Separate boxes to store 'baggies to be sorted', ''baggies partly sorted' and 'finished & ready to go home baggies' can help to keep things under control - but a lot depends on the amount of space you have to lay things out in and if it can be left out for any amount of time.

Ritzy's Bats-R-Us exchange was 124 members, and was '1 each apiece all around' and took a total of 22 hours to sort, this was divided between, if I remember rightly, 4 people. and done on one day. IT TAKES TIME! to handle all those pieces, and it is very easy to put down 2 instead of 1, perhaps make them into piles of 10s for easy counting and spot checking, but don't necessarily go by height, I had 2 piles of reels both with the same number in them and a difference of about 3/8" in height!

Try and enjoy yourselves! It is fun really (for a given definition of 'fun' ;)

let us know how you get on
Cheers
Rosemary



Well thirty people aren't too bad. What is the range of numbers that they are sending in?

Lorna


From: Alice Borge
To: Lorna
Sent: Sunday, April 1, 2012 3:55 PM
Subject: Re: Your reels have been mailed

About 30, but everyone did a different amount of HST's depending upon the project they wanted to do. That is where I'm not sure how to organize the sorting.

Alice



On Mar 31, 2012, at 11:47 PM, Lorna wrote:


Rosemary really is the one who worked out the details of the sorting. I know she had spoke with the others on TQS who had organized the previous exchanges. I think sorting as they come in was the biggest hint to make it go smoothly. But that may be harder to do with large numbers. How many are participating in your exchange?

Lorna


From: Alice Borge
To: Lorna
Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2012 10:19 PM
Subject: Re: Your reels have been mailed

Thank you so much.

I am helping with a half square triangle exchange and would be grateful for any advice as to how to sort and exchange.

Thanks for your efforts and hard work.

Kindest Regards,
Alice


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Advice for running an exchange. 11 Sep 2012 05:32 #88167

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It is apparent that there are some members of the TQS who are becoming exchange junkies and are eagerly hoping and waiting for the next one to be announced.

This post (and it will probably be very long) is my recommendations and suggestions on how to go about organizing one, based on the information that I gleaned from Debbie & Ritzy, and then put into practice for running the Wot Rott exchange.

1. Set a size limit of how many you are prepared to deal with – also see point 5 - Originally I was planning on swapping 2 lots of 41 because it fit with my design plan, and I was expecting to just be on my own doing this, then Lorna volunteered to help, particularly with the USA element, because of her base address. We then agreed that we could probably push it up to 3 lots of 41.
2. Be clear & specific about what is being exchanged.
3. Set a deadline for when things should be in by – members get overly excited for getting their goodies back.
4. Have a spreadsheet check list to keep track of members & current status of what is happening. Be prepared to be almost permanently on the computer, for a couple of weeks or so, keeping track of people signing up and then asking what to do next – having a ‘Margo’ to help on the website, reminding people to read the instructions post, and giving ‘how to do it’s’ is also exceptionally useful, if not an utter necessity, especially for dealing with international time differences.
5. It is useful to have one person doing the spreadsheet co-ordinating, however this does not mean that there only needs to be one person being in charge of post & sorting. With a bit of planning for the spreadsheet, it would be possible to work different smaller groups, so that if masses of people (500) want to join, once you reach the limit of the size of the group you wish to deal with(100?), you could find (twist someone’s arm) to become a second group leader. It could even be that the person in charge of the ‘Master Spreadsheet’ does not have anything to do with parcels & sorting at all.
6. Sorting – It is far easier if it is one each apiece all around*. I elected to collect large used envelopes (they don’t slip about as much as plastic bags) from school, where I work, labeled them with individual numbers and kept them in boxes – one per group. Then as the reels came in I would sort them as they arrived. Lorna, who had more space than I, elected to lay them out on the floor, a pile per number, and again sorted them as they arrived. Both methods worked well, and because we sorted as they came in we were not overwhelmed with humungus quantities at the end. I would suggest keeping individual groups to 100 or less but be sure that it is an easy number to count & divide by, multiples of 10 for preference.
7. When the parcels arrive, empty them, if they contain a stamped addressed envelope/address label & postage, put them to one side – their own box or bag – separate any ‘swag’ to another box/bag, sort the pieces and then get rid of the envelope it came in! You do not need to keep them, and they will just clutter up your remaing space, and slow you down. It is amazing how much volume these pieces can take up
8. For returning, I thought that it would be easier to buy in all the return envelopes and just have the members send a return address label, particularly since I would be dealing with various international countries, this would cut down on weight. Another advantage of this was that since all the parcels going out all looked the same it is easier to be sure that we did not mix up the different groups of envelopes. But this is an optional idea.
9. For international postage, it has been found that the easiest way to transfer money from one country to another is by paypal, although, I did have some £5 notes stuck in the baggies, and they came through safely.
10. If you are supplying the envelopes, address these in batches and add their group number to it. Make sure that you keep track of what has happened on the spread sheet. Using the member’s number to track things is vitally useful – rather than just their screen names/names
11. Record screen names as well as actual names, together with their number. Someone is bound to miss putting on either their number and/or screen name to their baggie, and it can be a hunt to track them down.
12. If there are 2 of you who will combining 2 sets into 1 larger group, in the way that Lorna & I did, make sure that you think through what you want to achieve, and how you are going to achieve it. Write out a plan of action, ahead of time, pass it to your buddy to double check and amend if necessary. If you do this then you will save a lot of umming and aaahhhing on the day of your combining sort, and will have time to (a) enjoy yourselves doing other things as well and (b) deal with strange happening that you didn’t expect to happen – like losing/gaining an extra baggie.

I hope this clarifies some of the organizational things that need thinking about for running an exchange, and helps for future exchanges. I wouldn’t mind being involved in sorting again, it was great fun especially getting a preview of all the luscious fabrics.


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