Preparing supplies, packing for days and a long drive always make it worthwhile when big smiles and amazing creations make their way into a classroom filled with 16 eager participants. I was in Calgary last week and if you are looking for images of large quilts this is not the place. I delivered two technique workshops. “Machine Embellishment 101”, a two day workshop that makes participants intimately familiar with their sewing machines was fully subscribed (16 participants). The three days class “Cause and Effect” with 15 participants involved burning, slashing, fusing, exploring and general experimentation with materials we often place into the recycle bin or trash.
Each workshop involves a very open mind and I must confess, I was humbled by the commitment and strong sense of adventure every person brought to the class. Participants had arrived from near and far and it is a testament to my friend and colleague Alison from “One Stray Pin” who persevered in advertising, securing a fabulous venue and even managed to get a caterer to supply wholesome lunches to the group. First and foremost: Thanks you, Alison for following your vision and passion in organizing the workshop. And another huge thank you to those who arrived from withing the city of Calgary, the Shushwap region in BC, Canmore, Edmonton and outlying areas of Calgary to fill the classes. Thank you to Ann for making it possible to hold the workshops in a very comfortable setting.
The biggest thank you goes to everyone who persevered in creating samples for 5 days! Much like teaching, participating in a workshop or two to move quickly from one sample to another without loosing heart or energy shows a deep commitment to furthering one’s skill set. I tip my hat to you and if the way I feel is any indication there is a number of tired textile artists catching up with regular life today.
It wasn’t all work and total focus on sampling. The workshop fell on Halloween and on Friday night Alison lifted two large pumpkins onto the counter around 9:30 pm reminding us that these needed to be carved before the goblins arrived on Saturday shortly after we got home from the workshop. We had fun and these images hsow just how we created a unique pumpkin head each. Thanks for this, Alison. It has been seven years since I carved a pumpkin!
Something that was equally wonderful were the daily lunch hour walks around Carburn Park. Wendy joined me and we walked briskly once or twice around the 1 km loop. Along the way I fell in love with the tree by the Bow River’s edge – I am sure this 100+ year old Balsam Poplar has witnessed the growth of the city and the floods of 2013.
I just had to take a photo or two if this witness to time…
And then there was the less than happy moment when I realized that my Bernina 170 QPE would not come home with me. Despite arranging a special appointment and receiving assurances that the machine would be ready for pick up on Saturday I found my machine like this on Saturday afternoon. The workbench was littered with every piece that will hopefully be reassembled again soon.
I had a phone call at noon on Thursday that the machine was not worth fixing… The repair person told me that the foot control was not working properly – it was hesitating. I tried to tell him that this had been the case when I purchased it in 1999. I was told then that this was normal and I was to get used to it. So I did.
He proceeded to tell me that with 22,000,000 (yes, million) stitches this machine was not worth fixing. I told him that the number must be divided over 4 motors. He then admitted that he had not yet opened the machine and did not know this fact. Well, after some back and forth (at which point he told me that I should consider buying a new machine) we agreed that he would fix the machine to a cost of up to $ 500, and he would definitely call me if he could not finish by Friday afternoon (he works Mon – Fri 9 am – 3 pm).
The image above was taken at 5 pm on Saturday afternoon. No apologies, no suggestion on how I can get my machine back. It is a nine hour drive one way. My brand-new machine (purchased in early June this year was also in the same dealership repair bay. While creating me first quilt at the end of August the tension spring broke. On Saturday afternoon it had not been looked at… but with some convincing I was able to get the part replaced and bring the machine home with me.)
What would be the moral of the story? I am still trying to figure it out… At this time I have come to the conclusion that once the sale is made the dealer cares little about ensuring that the customer is satisfied with the purchase no matter how expensive the machine is. I had bought a Bernina 820 based on the recommendation that this is the work horse of the line up and it is the best machine for my situation. On Saturday I was told that this machine is not the best one to purchase when one lives in a rural setting… It was the same person that sold me the machine telling me this fact on Saturday. I am trying not to be too cynical… Thanks for letting me share and rant!
Leaving Calgary behind wasn’t so hard… we woke up to snow and the traffic was slow – seems like everybody in the big city forgets from one year to the next how to drive when winter arrives.
Time for me to unpack my suitcases and get one with the things I have neglected for the last couple of weeks.
Linda Clark in Kenora here. I just moved to a bigger, older house this summer and opened a quilt shop in it. People have been asking if I will sell machines. Thank you for making me feel real good about my decision not to. I am spoiled by my industrial machine. It only goes straight, so I do need other machines for the fancy stuff, but it is my machine of choice for all piecing and quilting. And I guess I am more spoiled because I have a longarm (APQS Millennium). I wish the sewing machine manufacturers would make a real good quality machine…with less bells and whistles, less gadgets we don’t need and don’t want to pay for, more power, more metal, less plastic, and something we can oil and maintain ourselves without a yearly check-up. I’ve had my industrial machine (Consew) for about 25 years and it has never needed servicing. It oils itself while I sew. I keep it clean and it keeps going. Same thing for the longarm. I have been able to service it myself with a little help by phone and videos from tech support. I have even managed to re-time it twice (after breaking needles trying to navigate too close to bulky seam intersections), late at night when even tech support had gone to bed. The featherweights were built to last. But in this throw-away society we live in, we have been duped into believing that products can’t be built to last. The technology was there for decades to make our cars run more efficiently before it was finally applied to get us more miles per gallon. How long will we have to wait until the sewing machine manufacturers realize we don’t all want more stitches, we don’t all need thread cutters, we may prefer to backstitch, not use their lame “lock stitching” technique. I have been sewing for more than 50 years…everything from bridal to swimwear to upholstery, leather and denim to knits and chiffon, and now quilts. I know what I want. I know what I need. And I have to buy a pre-1990 model to get it.
Linda, thank you for this!!! Congratulations on your new store! I have to make a point to stop in next year on my way to Ontario to teach. We will be driving.
Back to the sewing machine: I am so with you – it has been a roller coaster ride this year and the sewing machine saga was NOT what I needed. I had to rant today and I am so glad you found it a reason to respond with a comment. I also like to use older machines. The reason for upgrading to a Bernina 820… my Bernina 1130 stopped working in May. I never thought a more mechanical machine would not last. As you say, we need less plastic and fewercomputerized sensors. I am limited with what I can get close to where I live and thought going to my former hometown would give me better choices. How wrong I was! – What makes me most frustrated is the fact that I don’t have my older Bernina that I can thread in my sleep and has given me the best stitch quality for 16 years. I have no idea when my Bernina 170 will come home…
Hi Anna, sure wish I could have figured a way to get to the workshop in Calgary. I’m glad that it turned out so well.
I sympathize with your repair person problems!!! When I was working for a Bernina dealership in Sudbury, we had a brand new Bernina 820. The biggest problem seemed to be with threading and how to take the thread out of the mechanism when you wanted to change threads. Apparently it is really important that the thread is cut near the spool, before it passes into the tension discs. Then the thread would be eased out of the machine through the needle.
Our store machine had the same tension problems and it sat opened on a table for over 1 year. The technicians couldn’t find a repair that worked.
But I still want one!!!!!
I was wondering if the country electrical service could be helped by using a specialized surge protector that would keep the voltage stable. Therefore the machine would not be subjected to spikes and brown-outs.
Thanks for commenting, Karen.
My new sewing machine’s issue wasn’t the hread tension or the threading – I had mastered all that. The problem that needed to be addressed was the broken thread tension spring… I had used the machine for less than 5 hours when it broke. I was old that there “was a bad batch” in circulation. I have all my machines and computers on surge protectors – so that is also not the issue with living rural. He tried to tell me that I should not have bought this model since I live so far away from a service. I had put this openly “on the table” when I described my situation I was told that the 820 was the best and strongest machine I could buy for the materials I work with….
While you have been busy with other things I have been having my battles with my own Bernina 820. I was told by my repairman that he had been trained by the person who developed the machine and was told that ‘operator error: caused 75% of the problems. Can you imagine what colour I saw when I heard that and with my machine sitting yet again on the repair table. This time it turned out to be thread stuck in the take up lever. I am very careful with my machine and do know something about sewing machines after sewing for over 50 years. Essentially I was told that this is not a sewing machine but a computer. I love some parts of this machine but not all. Haven’t had the courage to even try it since I brought it home from repair a month ago. Trade in value – nil compared to what I paid.
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I feel your fear and your disappointment, Elinor! So frustrating, isn’t it?
Hi again, Lynne Sward here. Under (today’s post), “New post Good Times, Good Friends and Snow”, there is a photo of a woman doing “free-motion” embroidery using a hoop. Can you tell me if that is a Solvey technique where the plastic is “rinsed” with water, and you are left with only the threads? thanks, Lynne
Lynne, there are two images with the similar technique. The free motion multi-coloured images is done on Solvey and the image with the pumpkin is done on Brush Away – a heat soluable product. Both of these images are from the Machine Embellishment 101 workshop.
Hi Anna, My name is Lynne Sward, and I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Are you teaching at the Mancuso Bros. Mid Atlantic Quilt Show in February 2016? They haven’t posted their teachers, and if possible I’d like to take one of your classes. I do follow all of your emails, and am a huge fan. Thanks for a possible reply, Lynne Sward firstname.lastname@example.org
I am scheduled to teach in Hampton at the end of February. I am teaching the same workshops I am offering at World Quilt in Florida in January.workshop registration should open soon. I am not teaching the classes I just taught in Calgary. I am open to lead workshops in the area just before or after the Mancuso conference – travel expenses will be much reduced as they pay for half… maybe talk to your guild(s) and let’s discuss details. Anna