My experience of Fibreshare

I signed up and did the Fibreshare swap as an experiment. Several people I know and trust are quite keen on it so I thought I’d give it a whirl. My experience has been highly variable, mixed and obviously subjective in many ways. I received my parcel this morning and my partner received theirs a week or two ago. Tracking of my outgoing parcel wasn’t really helpful for updates on anything significant. Tip for next time, don’t pay that extra $7 for tracking on international parcels.

The box I received was beautifully packed, contained 2 skeins I am looking forward to using. A ball that’s nicely coloured though isn’t to my fibre preference, and a couple of unlabelled yarns that I hope my partner can fill me in on details-wise. I like to maintain a detailed stash inventory on Ravelry. The extras are all things that I know I’ll use. I’m also particularly tickled that I sent my partner coffee and received coffee from my partner.

I’ve organised my thoughts about the swap into rough categories, it’s not all good and it’s not all bad.

The good

  • My partners both are really great people from what I’ve got to know about each of them in the last month or so. Unlike mystery swaps, you’re really encouraged to communicate and share with your partners. I have been more chatty with one than the other but that’s just how life goes sometimes.
  • I am really excited to see my partner receive their parcel. I enjoyed putting it together for them and maximising the space and weight limitations I was working within.
  • The swap is well put together. The organisers provide a lot of support, tips and advice for people who’ve never done a swap before and dedicated a lot of time to answering questions and providing explanations.
  • Organisers also stuck to dates that they cited things would happen on.
  • Vendors they have participating to offer discounts included a wide range of countries. The vendor page clearly stated which country each vendor was from.

The less good

  • I found it really odd, that the swap had absolutely no presence on Ravelry. For a yarn or fibre business targeting knitters, crocheters and weavers it is strange. It was run through Instagram, their own website and Facebook.
  • Only one of the vendors for Australia had anything I was remotely interested in. I didn’t end up buying from them in the end. The others seemed to be empty Etsy stores or sold handspun (unappealing to me as I’m a spinner also).
  • I don’t believe that paying to participate makes you more accountable. What the signup fee does buy you is an insurance policy of sorts; if your swap partner doesn’t deliver, then you still receive something. Swaps I’ve done before are free, there’s never been a shortage of angels to cover missing parcels if folks can’t or don’t deliver.
  • The Instagram stories from the main FS account are a combination of legitimately helpful information and really irritating visual and audio effects. I stopped looking after a while. I wasn’t getting much from the helpful hints and the other content made me less excited to participate rather than more.

The yeah no

  • Many pictures of various people’s parcels were posted to the group. A lot of effort had clearly gone into compiling them. They showed people going way above and beyond the requirements of the swap (send at least 200gm of fibre). When somebody pointed out that this sort of post is showing a level of privilege that all participants may not be able to replicate it was pretty grossly reacted to. Sending somebody 3-5x the minimum is an immense gift, and also kind of overwhelming if you can’t do that. It certainly left me concerned that though I sent 1.5x more than the minimum and nice extras; that maybe my partner will be disappointed.
  • After the above blew up there was a mod post implying that all participant posts in the group need to be ‘happy happy joy joy or GTFO’. If somebody can’t provide visible honest feedback that isn’t 100% positive, then that’s a problem with your company not the audience. Deleting all the posts reinforced my souring opinion. It was stated that folks are free to write about the swap elsewhere, just not their group. Fair enough, at least they didn’t try to police what folks did write elsewhere. Maybe they’ll come across this post too. I’m not somebody who just wants to read about the shiny happy so I opted for gtfo.
  • The FB community group is called “The FibreShare Tribe”. From day 1 I found this problematic. Sorry folks I know knitters feel intense bonds of kinship and closeness towards most other knitters, still I’m sure you can find different term to use to refer to the group. I was a member of the group and have since left; its usefulness and benefit to me was an ever-diminishing thing. I also didn’t want to be associated with it or have it visible on my profile.

So overall my Fibreshare experience was mixed and I don’t foresee that I’ll participate again. I’ll stick to Ravelry based swaps in future. I also have learnt I need to be more direct when answering survey questions. Softening language leaves things open to misinterpretation and I have a feeling that has happened to some extent with this swap.

Like some things though, it pays to do a round. Only then I can see firsthand if the general fanaticism is worth it to me or not.

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