The Maiden Voyage

Tonight I finally sat down at the sewing machine that I've inherited--Mom's Janome MemoryCraft 6600 Professional. The "professional" simply means, in this case, "more machine than Sandy can handle." It's a little intimidating. My other machine--my former only machine--was also a Janome; I am, after all, Shirley's daughter and she was a Janome girl so I became a Janome girl. But mine was slightly-better-than-purely-functional. It's computerized, it's got a few fancy stitches and nifty do-jobbers and thingies, but it's a pretty straightforward machine. I really like my usual machine; I was quite ready to use it for several more years. At least until we finish paying college tuition, anyway.

But now I've got one of Mom's machines and my former machine has become my portable-take-to-class machine, tucked away in a corner with its dust cover. I guess it's earned a bit of a vacation.

I've had the 6600 installed in my sewing cabinet for about a week now, the new plastic insert in place, the knee lift inserted...but it took me awhile to get up the courage to sit down and start playing. Part of it is emotional, of course. But part of it is also hearing my Mom's voice every time any of us got near her machine when we were kids..."Be careful! That's not a toy!" For years, any time an offspring used her sewing machine, we'd manage to jam it. Mom got understandably a bit gun-shy about us coming within breathing distance of them. Even after I had been quilting for years, I maintained a bit of a fear-factor when it came to Mom's machines. I've known she had some pretty cool new machines for some time, but I never asked her if I could try them out. What if I jammed it???

I read the manual cover-to-cover yesterday over breakfast. I reviewed it again this evening sitting at my desk. Finally, carefully, I approached my sewing cabinet, sat in my chair, opened the manual at my side, and addressed the machine. I began to familiarize myself with all the buttons, toggles, do-jobbers and thingies. Finally, I was off and running--playing with embroidery stitches, writing silly messages with the monogramming features, setting it at high speed and letting it rip just to see what happened. Yes, I could still hear Mom's quick intakes of breath as she nervously watched me messing with buttons and craning my neck to see behind the needle as the patterns developed ("Honey, be careful!"), but I could also see her smile as I figured out all the nifty new tricks this puppy does. "Isn't it great? I was really excited to get that feature when I bought it." And that very satisfying whisk and thunk of the automatic thread-cutter? Our hearts were both pounding with excitement over that one.

As I shut down the 6600 a few minutes later, figuring that I hadn't jammed anything yet and probably ought to quit while I was ahead, I felt a bit sad. This is Mom's machine, and Mom should be using it. But I also felt inspired--challenged--motivated--to work on my technique to be worthy of having it.