And today this post is brought to you by the official social secretary of this year’s Fat Quarterly Retreat, Trash!

Yippee! Nearly time to start an official countdown to FQR 2014. Feeling quite chuffed, have got my roomies sorted, my transport identified and now it is time to let loose my inner Big Sister and throw open the swappages.

There are two sorts of swaps – sign up in advance/turn up on the day and we’ve got both kinds! The ever popular Nametag and Sample Swaps are in sign up in advance ones while things like the Fugly Fabric Swap and the Colour/Scrappage Pack Swap are turn up on the day kind of ones. So let’s start with the advance party shall we?

NAMETAG SWAPALOOZA – this is an upstream/downstream swap. The person you make for is not necessarily the person who makes for you, it is secret and it is posted out BEFORE the event so requires a little bit of time management.

The dimensions of nametags are set because no one wants to have to peer closely at a fellow sewist’s boobs to try and read the titchy stitchery OR have to take guesses at who is hiding behind the world’s bigggest nametag. It can be whatever shape you want but it ideally no bigger than 9 centimetres/3.5 inches in any direction. Lanyards seemed to be the most popular way of wearing tags so please include one, mostly because having to a balance a nametag on your forehead just looks really odd.

Sign ups are from now and can be done by looking at the FQR Flickr page, leaving a comment on this post expressing your interest or by emailing me at trashalou@googlemail.com. I need all the basic swap info – likes/dislikes, postal address, name to go on your tag.

SAMPLE SWAPSTRAVAGANZA – this one is a group swap. You make 3/4/5 of the same thing to swap in your group and come home with 3/4/5 individual things made by the others. Does it make sense? I always have trouble explaining this one but the upshot is you make stuff that you love/are good at/enjoy to share out and get back things that people love/are good at/enjoy sharing.

This one requires slightly more thinking to avoid the Zakka-based situation from 2012 so when you sign up I ask that you give me an idea of what you are making - soap, soft toy, knitted item, Queen size medallion quilt, whatever. I don't need full details, just an idea so there can be groups without overlaps.

Same as above, you can sign up on Flickr or send me an email to trashalou@googlemail.com or leave a comment on this post so I can contact you.

ON THE DAY SWAPS - so then we have the turn up swaps. These are pretty straight forward and just involve bringing along whatever the swap dictates and sharing it out. I really enjoyed the way John managed the Fugly Fabric in 2012 so I forsee another round of 'Pass The Parcel' with those getting a layer unsure whether they are actually winners. *rolls eyes with evil genius glee*

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

HELP HELP HELPETTY HELP HELP

I am also on the lookout for people who might be able to help with creating an extra blank nametag. It is way more fun to be able to join in so we wanted to have some lovely handcrafted tags available on the day for people who missed out on sign-ups for whatever reason. If you would like to, please mention it in the comments or email me; no pressure but there could well be some of my world famous BEST BROWNIES EVER in it for you.

Also while in asking mode - do you fancy being a best friend over the FQR weekend? There is nothing worse in the world than feeling alone in a big group of people and it would be ace to know that we had roving bands of sewists keeping an eye out for each other and making sure no one was left talking to the wall because she didn't feel able to break into a group. I am hoping we can get light-up hats for the BFFs but failing that you will have my undying gratitude and quite possibly access to the world famous BEST BROWNIES EVER . Contact me by all the normal channels.

- with thanks to Floh Stiche, Bianca Wood and Quiltova for letting me pilfer their pictures from Flickr