December Swap (8th!) recap

Swap Nº8 came and went. Remembering my exhaustion and despair after the previous one, I (a) was going to do my best to be the most relaxed possible around it and (b) was on a lookout for how it went if I didn’t have other high-stress commitments bookending a swap. After that last recap post, several people gave me advice on how to do it better. Most of that centered around ‘ask for more help’ and ‘stop cooking’. Ha! I can’t do that. My inner grandma insists on feeding people. And as nobody has offered herself to cater for this event just for tips (that this time did not even cover the cost of food and tape), it’s a bind I see no exit from.

To try to stay sane took the previous two days off work (hello, thesis that has to be handed in by X-mas) and made sure I had no plans for Saturday evening or Sunday. Shopping happened, taking the seed suitcase to Ateneu happened, cookies and tortilla happened.

The monster-size vegan bread cookies…

And it went fine. People came and swapped. There was tea and snacks. I beamed at the opportunity to shrug off all the ‘oh, what a great idea!’ with a ‘yeah, I’ve been doing this for more than two years’. I was accompanied by an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers from the very beginning until the very end. Thank you all!

On that positive note I am toying with two ideas for the next one (9th of February, btw): (1) to skip the Banc Expropriat thing and just bring it all to the Roba Amiga container, and (2) to insist that tips are actually ‘taquilla inversa’.

As for Botiga Gratis of Banc Expropriat, I went to ask if they were still OK and accepting stuff as rumors about their eviction come up all the time. The answers are, yes, they are open and active, but their backroom is full to the brim with bags and bags of garments. While the idea is wonderful and clearly working, it is not working enough. The Botiga Gratis has clearly become a guilt parking for the socially conscious graciences who share the stigma of the containers but then do not acquire their stuff exactly where they bring the old garments. I’ve noticed this spark in the eyes of Swap uncustomers when informed that the leftovers go there, they feel great about it! No, dude, your worn out fast fashion jersey is not charity. It’s garbage you refuse to dispose of properly.

So my new plan is to add another didactic dimension to this work and educate people why Roba Amiga is the thing to do. First of all, that is the official municipal response: used garments and textile waste go to Roba Amiga containers, and those people take care of sorting and figuring out whatever can still be done with that. If any other alternative would appear – ganchillo crochet enthusiasts, patchworkers, pillow stuffers, etc. – I’d be very happy, but they haven’t yet. And organizing a whole different shift (and people don’t want to do this; fuck, I don’t want to do this) of bringing bags and bags to Botiga Gratis when they already have bags and bags wastes both my and their nerves and time.

And, yes, I have to give this thing a bit more of a capitalist spin and suggest that everybody who benefits from this event considers paying me. If every person who passed through the event last Saturday would have left an euro in the tip jar, I wouldn’t be complaining, because that would have covered all the food, all the tape and then some… but it is not the case! So taquilla inversa – i.e. ‘pay what you want/can if you consider this a good idea’ – is the big poster I’m preparing for the next Swap.

The leftovers.

The magical team that wrapped it up, swept, washed up, and locked the door. Thank you!

As for my commitment to stay calm and do less. Well… it started well. We had a very late lunch after the Swap with C and some friends, I was happily decompressing and munching seitan. At home I had Pride and Prejudice and drawing waiting, so it seemed perfect. But instead I got what seems to have been my first migraine, leading to going to bed at eight and just staying there. Miserable. And the shitshow continued on Sunday when I woke up with pain in my left foot that made it hard to walk. On Monday at the GP they confirmed that 8+ hours on foot is not a good idea, especially for my apparently not well healed last year’s sprained ankle. Bah! The ‘don’t overdo it’ part clearly didn’t work out this time. But I’ll try again…

The little pink jersey was the only garment that left my wardrobe. And I even know who has it now!

On the bright side, what did I get? A pair of Vans-like slippers and an off-shoulder dress in 100% black lyocell. Neither of them is a whim. A pair of sneakers is always a good idea because I burn through mine. These are my size but I expect them to give a little to become extra comfy. My current plan is to wear them around the house to break them in. The only problem there is that my May swap slippers (thank you, Margareta, for spotting them!) is now at the comfiest point before they break… These are the new ones:

And the dress is a shape I call Mucha dress, although poor Alphonse is probably rolling in his grave because of it. But for me they do recall his heroines: off-shoulder, generous and drape-y cuts, florals and ruffles, and playful about tiptoeing between a nightgown and a dress. Not full length, though. I’ve had two such pieces so far that I wore to threads… which was easy given the flimsy fabrics and my constant tugging of the dropped elastic waists and/or shoulders. This is the spirit of a Mucha dress in my mind:

My Pinterest wishlist featured a couple of Mucha dresses:

I had never imagined one in black or any solid color for that matter, but here it came: no signs of previous wear, Zara, made in Morocco, 100% lyocell. This one does not have an elastic dropped waist to tug at which will probably prolong its lifespan and has pockets! The Zara thing is starting to worry me a bit because of 9 second-hand garments I’ve adopted in 2018, four (!) are from Zara. But to hell with them, I have a new Mucha dress for once it gets warm again… Or maybe even for January with tights or leggings?


Do you have any swap experiences? Have you ever organized a swappy event? If yes, how did that go? Or do you have any other routine sources of quality hand-me-downs: family, friends, etc? What’s your best-ever (or just latest) swap find?

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