When my beloved sewing machine went in for its annual dusting and cleaning, Mary-the-Crackhouse-Owner noted that I have worn the feed dogs smooth — these are the little guides that grab the fabric and pull it under the needle evenly so that your stitches are the same length. Mine haven’t been working properly for some time, but I always assumed that it was because I was either too picky or I had something set wrong. Apparently not. They had hard use before I bought the machine in 2002, and have had REALLY hard use since. So they weren’t really working anymore.
So then I really started thinking about how to go about upgrading the machine… Getting the feed dogs replaced, while possible, would be likely to cost several hundred dollars, and I’d still have an entry-level machine that’s likely to die in the next year or so (new feed dogs wouldn’t fix the fact that mechanically this machine is starting to sound like an old jalopy — it rattles and squeals and occasionally squeaks from overuse). Not a bad machine, by any means — I’ve made 18 quilts on that machine and my skills continued to improve even though it wasn’t working properly (in actuality, I think that because of the feed dog issues, I’m MUCH more accurate now than I was when I started on this journey because I had to compensate for a significant problem). But buying the Latest And Greatest machine is just a little stupid for people trying to be smarter with their money.
Flash forward a few weeks…. MaryTCHO suggests that she try to replace the worn feed dogs with a set from her “parts machine,” so I take my trusty companion to the Crackhouse for surgery, receiving a loaner machine so that I’m not stranded at home (Mary is good to her loyals that way). A few days later, MaryTCHO calls to tell me that the patient has died on the table, and will have to go to Cleveland for a transplant. So my machine gets packed up in a box (with various accompanying Ziploc bags with parts and screws) and leaves on the FedEx truck.
And I keep working with the loaner, realizing just how crippled my machine really was, and how much easier my sewing life is now that I’m working with a fully functional machine.
This week, my machine was still in Cleveland. I went in to see MaryTCHO before a doctor’s appointment, and she had a deal for me. She’d sell me the loaner that I have been using for a very very nice price, and keep my machine when it’s fixed and sell it to someone with a kid that wants to learn how to sew — a good machine for not a lot of money. The loaner has more stitches on it, and is pretty much just the upgraded version of my machine — about 4 years newer, with less mileage on it. The person who owned it only had it for a little over a year, maybe two years, as she learned how to sew. But she wanted to do embroidery, so she traded it in for a machine that could do that.
The loaner machine has a name: Platinum Peg (Platinum because that’s the model name, and Peg apparently because the previous owner’s mother’s name was Peggy). Everyone in the Friday Night UFO Club knows — and recognizes, which is really kind of freaky — Platinum Peg. They saw me carry her in and set her up, and asked how she was doing. I’ve never anthropomorphized a sewing machine before, but tonight was really kind of funny… They all spoke fondly of Platinum Peg, and I started to do it, too. I really adore these women — we laugh and laugh and help each other with projects and it’s just SO much fun.
I sat across from Peg’s previous owner, and she told me that she had loved that machine and was kind of sad to give it up. And others talked about Platinum Peg’s “pedigree” and how I was getting a well-cared-for machine if I chose to buy it.
Platinum Peg came home tonight to stay, and is looking forward to years of service. She has a few more stitches than my trusty old machine, so I know I’ll enjoy that. And I’ll enjoy a quieter machine with feed dogs that actually work. And I told Kathy that I wouldn’t rename Peg — she’d always be Peg for me, too.
Quilters are a silly bunch of people. One of the things that happened tonight is a vote was conducted by secret ballot on whether to let another person into the UFO club and whether to vote me off for being an overachiever. In the end they let me stay (and the other woman, too) since I finished a quilt this February that I started in 2003, so I can’t be THAT much of an overachiever… But there was much laughter all night about whether or not I was going to be allowed to stay or voted off the island. They voted me off the island last month, the bunch of meanies.
I love this bunch of women — it’s a mixed group of backgrounds, ages, and talents, and we always have a great time together. And seeing what everyone is working on is always so inspiring to me. I love the variety the most, I think.