Unfortunately, my experience is limited. The only round robins and swaps I have participated in were through the Crazy Quilting International (CQI) Yahoo! Group (a great group of people!) so this post will be about CQI Round Robins. (The group does have more detailed guidelines for their round robins that group members should read before participating in a round robin. These guidelines may be found in the Files section of the main group and in most of the subgroups (the gallerys, novices, etc.) This post is just designed to answer the questions I have been asked.)
There are two main types of round robins on the group: Traditional and DYB (which I understand means "Do Your Block.")
Each round robin (RR) has/requires:
1. A coordinator (the first person to sign up) that helps the group decide on a starting date (the 1st or the 15th of the chosen month) and puts a rotation schedule together.
2. Guidelines and a rotation schedule that lets everyone know which person they will mail blocks to each month.
3. A booklet to travel with the blocks. (Sheets of paper each participant puts together including the guidelines, rotation schedule, and - most importantly - what the block owner wants or does not want on their block.)
4. A database to track where the blocks are throughout the round robin.
Traditional RR1. 5 people sign up.
2. Each participant makes a 12-inch square block and a booklet (as mentioned above.)
3. On the beginning date of the RR, the block owner sends their block and booklet to the person they will mail to throughout the round robin.
4. The first stitcher will complete one-fourth of the block, following the wishes of the block owner. This sets the tone for the entire block, as other stitchers will strive to balance the block in color, theme, etc. To determine one-fourth of the block, the number of seams are counted and divided by four. (For example, 12 seams would mean each stitcher embellishes 3 seams.) The same is done with open spaces on the block.
5. Each month, the other stitchers also complete one-fourth of the block.
6. The block will be completely embellished when it returns home. And, each stitcher should have left a note in the booklet that accompanied the block.
DYB RR1. 6 people sign up.
2. Each participant makes 6 6-inch square blocks and a booklet (as mentioned above.)
3. On the beginning date of the RR, the block owner sends all 6 of their blocks and their booklet to the person they will mail to throughout the round robin.
4. The first stitcher will choose one of the bare blocks to embellish, following the wishes of the block owner. This sets the tone for the blocks for the round robin, as other stitchers will strive to make the blocks coordinate well together.
5. Each month the other stitchers will also choose one bare block to complete. There will be one less block to choose from with each rotation.
6. When the 6 blocks return to their owner, 5 will be embellished and the 6th will be bare for the owner to embellish. Again, the booklet should also return home with a note from each stitcher that worked on the blocks.
Which do I prefer?
I like the DYB round robins best. Why? I tend to prefer smaller blocks. I do not have to fold the blocks to mail them, and I get to complete a full block. I like that. Others prefer the traditional round robins. They only have to make one block, it is lighter - so cheaper to mail, and they only have to complete part of a block.
If you are interested, but have never participated in a round robin, I encourage you to participate in one! (In the CQI groups, the Novice RRs use the traditional 12-inch blocks and are a great way to learn about the process.)
Why join a round robin?
1. The eye candy we enjoy in photos is beautiful, but I have not yet seen a picture able to truly capture the beauty of a block.
2. There is nothing like holding the work of someone else in your hands. Seeing the work of others opens my mind to new techniques and ideas.
3. It is a great way to learn.
4. It is a fun way to meet new people that share your crazy quilting interests.
At the beginning of this post, I also mentioned swaps. These are not to be confused with RRs. In a RR, your block or blocks return to you at the end. In a swap, your block is traded with someone else. CQI currently has a "snowball" swap that I have participated in, and will be again next month. There is a database for participants to list their preferences in size, shape, colors and themes (not to exceed 4-inches.) Members may see someone has listed preferences they would like to stitch and individually contact that member about a swap. Or, they may ask the whole group if anyone wants to swap. Once a swap is agreed upon, the two members privately email one another to exchange addresses and to set a deadline for the swap. These are small, quick and - in my opinion - very fun! (I know, my To Do List is huge already, but I just could not resist a snowball fight or two in June! So, I will be sharing more snowballs with you before too long.)
I hope this information adequately answered the questions asked. (Sorry, I tend to be horribly verbose...) I am certainly not an expert on the subject, as I am only in my third round robin right now. So, if anyone noticed any errors in this post or important bits I may have forgotten, please let me know.
There are other crazy quilting groups out there that have round robins and swaps. Again, this post relates to the ones I have actually participated in. (Other Yahoo! groups I have joined are CQ for Newbies and World Wide Crazy Quilters. I am sure there are even more groups out there!)
*This post was edited on 5/30/14 to add where the CQI round robin (RR) guidelines may be found on the CQI Yahoo! group sites to the information above. If you missed it, they are listed within the "Files" section on the main group and within most of the subgroups. The way Yahoo! groups are set up, more than one group site was needed to hold all of the databases and photos, etc. CQI members should join all of the CQI groups in order to enjoy all the group has to offer.