Hand Knitting, Warm Clothes, and Other Barter Agreements

An Ohio woman who traded her hand knitting skills with a neighbor for paperhanging and a Colorado couple who exchanged a couch for warm clothes are among the barter agreements profiled in this installment of an regular feature.

| July/August 1979

Bill Wodraska shared some of his thoughts regarding one of mankind's better ideas — barter — and offered up an interesting suggestion: "I'd like to see a continuing feature on barter agreements and skill-and-labor exchanges," said Bill. "You're on!" MOTHER EARTH NEWS replied. 

Hand Knitting for Wallpaper

My kitchen walls had a bad case of the drearies, but I didn't have the money to pay for a wallpaper job nor did I know how to do the work on my own. I had just about resigned myself to another year of bleak baking when barter came to the rescue. It seems that a friend of mine who is a professional paperhanger had once admired my homemade afghan and wished she could make one for herself. So I called my chum and proposed a swap, which she accepted as soon as the words were out of my mouth! I bought the yarn—a total outlay of $13—and crocheted up a storm while my friend purchased the paper and pasted it up. The end results were an artful afghan and a spanking new kitchen.

Some time later, the bathroom needed papering. I called my barter-mate again, and soon had a beautiful bath, while she earned two hand-worked shawls.

An added bonus evolved from our trading, too: While assisting my friend in her measuring and pasting, I learned enough about paperhanging to be able to tackle a second bathroom all by myself! And I couldn't begin to put a price on the pleasurable hours of company as the two of us worked together.

Karen Besecker
Arcanum, OH

Warm Clothes for a Couch

When we got our chance to relocate from southern California to the Colorado Rockies we jumped at it! We very soon found that our opportunity had created a couple of problems, though: We needed to sell most of our furniture to purchase some good warm clothing.

As the day of the move approached, we had not found a buyer for our sofa—which a MOTHER EARTH NEWS article had inspired us to reupholster—and without that money we couldn't afford the clothing. Then a fellow worker told me that he was interested in the couch but didn't have the $200 we were asking for it. I mentioned that we would consider trading for some warm duds, and the next day my friend showed up with two down jackets, a down vest, a pair of fur-lined boots, some rain gear, and $100! Needless to say, we made the swap and moved to Colorado in toasty comfort.

Karina Koenig-Johnson
1/18/2013 9:02:51 AM

when we lived in the UK we swapped our decorating skills for a couple of wardrobes, and more recently jobs around a friend's house for some curtain material for the lounge. Happy days!

1/16/2013 7:18:07 PM

I have bartered with piano lessons and guitar lessons. I received a large basket of fabric from a friend, art lessons for my children, rent for the piano lesson spot, and hay for my goats. Wonderful! We are still sewing with that fabric. I love these stories - they give me new ideas.

Donna Hendry
1/16/2013 5:39:57 PM

I have done many barters over the years. My two favorites though are regularly trading my jams for fresh milk that I would make into yogurt and cheese, and traded tutoring (I'm a teacher) for a roof repair. I've also found that holiday gifts are great barters. I make jewelry, but after all this time, my family has more than they can use; I've traded jewelry for homemade clothing, homemade candy, blankets, etc.

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