Machine Mayhem

Well, as I’m laid up with the flu at the minute, and I don’t do inactivity or boredom well at all, you get the next installment earlier than I was planning!

Note: Laid up =sat up with a very moany Persian in the living room rather than in bed (the sofa is my bed, I mean our bed, as he refuses to let me be alone). He’s screaming his protests at being separated from his girlfriend who is desperate to meet a boyfriend as it’s that time of the year when she feels that kittens are a must! Never mind that my neuter was neutered as he refused to perform. Oh no. Now he’s the male jiggalo of the cat world, happy to take one for the team and bonk anything, and I do mean anything, that even looks like it needs it! Who needs the family jewels for that? Everyone knows that you’re more manly if you refuse to act when you’ve got ’em, then go all out to prove a point when you don’t! Only in this house! I swear, I live in a world full of crazies!

So, it’s my birthday! Yaaaay! That means I get presents! Oh wait, it’s not my Birthday and there are no presents here! Damn those flu driven hallucinations! I really wanted that pony!

So, we decided on the spurr of the moment (as we often do) that if I wanted a sewing machine, then we would jolly well go and get one! Right now! This instant! Well, after I could be bothered to drag my lazy, but very pert and beautiful and not at all wobbly or jiggly in any way, bottom out of bed! It was my Birthday after all. But where should we start?

Well, logic won out there. As I’d mentioned, Mr Fantastic (he can be called that today as he’s brought me honey and lemon in bed and told me he would cook tonight!!!) had a machine of his own and came from a long and distinguished line of sewists (no, I am no longer going to call us sewers… We do not stink, we are not a drainage system, and despite my post yesterday, we certainly don’t have anything to do with rats!). There was a little place in sunshineland (the happy clappy fictional name for the very boring town where I live, in an attempt to make it sound lovely and appealing and an awesome place to be!) that did all the servicing on their machines and did it well. Moreover, it was beside the premises of a seamstress who, I was sure, would also give tips on machines, and would fall all over herself in her agreement to teach me when I politely asked the question! After all, what seamstress doesn’t give lessons for a handsome pay out on the side? As if that wasn’t good luck enough, the chocolate on the cake (I refuse to say cherry as cherries are fruit, fruit is healthy, and healthy does not pass my lips!) was that they were both old neighbours of Mr Fantastic before I dragged him away to move into a new house so he could bring me honey and lemon in bed for the rest of his life!

So off we trotted, full of the joys of spring (Ok, I’ll admit to my exaggeration there as my Birthday’s actually in the thick of winter) and confident that our search would be over very quickly. By mistake, we ended up at the door of the seamstress first rather than the machine people. We knocked, politely of course as manners cost nothing, then waited. And waited. And then waited some more just for fun!

When she eventually opened the door, I explained my situation. In brief, it went something like this.

New sewist, wants to learn, oh, is blind by the way, wants recommendations on the best machine, wonders if you teach, if you don’t, who does?

The response I got was just like those cartoons where the deer in the headlights look comes over the character’s face and you get a long, drawn out “huuuuuuuuuuuh?????” She was clearly thinking “Whaaaaaaat? Um, what am I supposed to do here? I’m outta my depth and I don’t even have a flamin swimming pool! And it’s winter! Even if I did have a pool, why would I be in it! Oh right, back to the question at hand. Huuuuuuuuuuh?”

“Sorry, I don’t know of what machine you should use. And I don’t know anyone giving lessons in the whole of Sunshineland.”

What, really? Someone who uses machines all day every day, someone who makes a career out of using machines, couldn’t have an educated guess, a stab in the dark even (my punn genius knows no bounds!), at an appropriate beginner machine? And a seamstress, someone heavily involved in the sewing community, couldn’t think of a single sole person in the whole wide world who might give lessons, or know of someone who gave lessons, or who had an old friend of their aunt’s uncle’s cousin’s dog who gave sewing lessons? Riiiiiiight!

I quickly, but again politely, walked away before my ever so active tongue could give voice to any of these very prominent ruminations. Mr Fantastic must’ve done the same, as we both set to again with renewed viggor. Giving ourselves a good mental shake, and, in my case, a stern talking to that not everyone in the world was like this, we bravely ventured forth and knocked on the door of the servicing place. Here, we knew, we would find more sense. They knew machines inside out, intimately even *legal note, I do not have evidence to back this up, but who knows!*. They would be sure to know what I needed, or at the very least, could give some sort of recommendation.

A man came to the door. Let’s call him Machine Man, or MM. Again, I went through my little speech, feeling like a seasoned performer at this point. Sealions have nothing on me!!!

Again, there was a long, very pregnant pause. “It doesn’t exist,” said the lovely MM shortly.

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked in no little confusion.

Helpfully, he clarified, adopting a professorly, man of the world, experienced tone. “Well, the machine you need doesnt exist. I mean, how would you even thread it! It would need lasers or something to tell you where your thread was so you could thread the machine. And it wouldn’t even need 2 it would need 4 so it could pinpoint it exactly. And I’ve never come across one of them. It doesn’t exist.”

I promise you, no word of a lie, I am not making this up! I’m not even exaggerating things in the slightest to make them funnier! This one has commedy value all itself!

“Um right,” I said slowly, sensing the increased tension in Mr Fantastic beside me, who does not like it when someone tells me I can’t, particularly when that someone is very, very wrong! Don’t explode, Mr Fantastic, I thought frantically as I continued to speak in what I am proud to say was a very calm, very reasonable tone. “But my mum sews and she’s blind. And there are some other blind people that I know of that sew. All I want is a recommendation for a simple beginner machine that isn’t too complicated to use. Can you recommend anything?”

“No,” he said firmly. “I’ve told you, it doesn’t exist, and I’m not going to recommend something you can’t use. That wouldn’t be right.”

And thus endeth my fashion career all over again! What is it with me and my short lived fashion explorations! Is it something I said?

We walked away from the house, returned to the car and sat in silence for just a moment. Then I ducked, covered my head with my arms, and attempted not to get in the way of the deluge of nuclear fall out as Mr Fantastic hit the roof. (Please note, no cars were hurt in the making of this purely hypothetical statement.) As I am hoping that this will remain a reasonably family friendly blog, I can’t possibly repeat what he said. Well, I could, but there are probably a million internet laws against content of that nature, and I like the internet. Suffice it to say that he was not a happy bunny at all. Nor was I to be honest. I’d only recently found out that sewing was a possibility, and now, here was I, facing the same kind of silliness and resistance to me trying something new that I get in almost every walk of life. I won’t whine about it as that’s not the purpose of this blog, but it happens time and time again, and is just one of those really, really annoying bits that goes with being blind. It sucks, but it’s as constant as my need for chocolate, which is about as constant as a human’s need for oxygen (probably more actually), so you need to just suck it up and get on with it.

And that’s exactly what we did… Along with a McDonalds milkshake. Well, it was my Birthday! But now, there was a fire lit under Mr Fantastic, and when that happens, there is only one outcome; the achievement of whatever it is that is proving so difficult. “Right,” said he, with the force of a hurricane, “We are going to the fabric shop.” I meakly complied, being that I’m so meak and mild mannered and wouldn’t say boo to a goose! Actually, I’d quite like to do that just to see what would happen! Just for fun, you know? Has anyone got a goose I could borrow?

So off we trundled to perhaps the only fabric shop in Sunshineland. It’s actually a cool place if you’re looking for cheap fat quarters, but that’s another story.

I did my little speech all over again, and this time it had extra flare if I do say so myself! I had a good grasp of my lines by this point and could add a certain je ne sais quoi to proceedings. I often do that, but at least this time, it was a positive one!

“Well,” said she, “I don’t know of any teachers, but I’ll take your details in case I do.” Well, that was very slightly more positive! I dutifully gave her the necessaries, then asked about sewing machines, but as she didn’t sell any and worked mostly with one brand, she didn’t have the rounded knowledge that I was after. She did, however, give me a bundle of scraps to practice on after I’d asked nicely if she had any. Given that Mr Fantastic was determined I’d get a machine, I knew I’d be needing these later on!

They say that Google is a man’s best friend. Oh wait, isn’t that a dog? Or diamonds, considering that I’m a girl? Well, Google sounds almost like Diamonds, so it’ll do. We did what all good, propperly taught, hip young people of today do (yes, I am young, and I’ll not hear a word to the contrary thank you very much!) We got out our phones, started typing furiously, and came up with some results of other nearby places that we could look. Who needs recommendations from actual people, huh? Who needs to ask actual real live people where we should go next! That’s so last century, dahlink.

I’ll admit, I was feeling thoroughly disillusioned by this point, and really couldn’t be bothered phoning around to be told the same thing over and over again. But on the other hand, how else was I to get my machine?

Armed with a list of numbers, we got dialing… And struck gold. Well, I did. That’s why I’m rich, rich I tell ya! I wish I was!

It’s amazing how things just fall into place, but they do. The first number I tried was a shop named Creative Hands in Worcester. See, I can give you the name of that place because it’s not where I live, so all you mad stalkers won’t be able to find me there! Well, unless you turn up when I happen to be there… Hmmm, didn’t think of that little problem! If you come, please could you kill me with chocolate rather than that big insanely sharp knife that most stalkers use? The posh type would be preferable. Thanks! No cheap death for this classy gal!

Anyway, for the 4th time that day, I performed my speech, adding just a touch of dejection into the tone. I’ll pretend it was for the audience’s benefit, given that I’m a stellar performer and all, but to be honest with you, I was so fed up by this point that I was feeling a little sad! As I finished, there was another one of those pauses. Oh, here we go again I thought, and had resolved that I was going to hang up on these horrible, rude, awful people without even listening!… When the lovely lady on the other end of the phone said, quite matter of factly, “Well, we’ve never been asked that question before, but we’ve got a lot of machines here, so I’m sure we can find something that’ll work. Tell you what, give me a bit of time and I’ll pull the team together here. We’ll have a conflab and come up with some options for you. The person who runs the shop does the servicing and he’s in today, so we’ll get him in on it too. Come in this afternoon when it’s quieter, and I’ll sit down with you and go through them all. Then, if you like one, you can choose!”

I was shocked. What a turn around! Had she actually said that or was I just imagining it? They didn’t even say “But, but you’re blind! You can’t do that! What about health and safety!”

I stammered my thanks, hung up the phone, and relayed the news to the simmering volcano beside me. Thankfully, the eruption which would have rivaled Vessuvious was curtailed by this news, and the sunshine returned to Sunshineland! Well, it did if you could see past the wind and rain to glimpse it. And as I can’t see my own hand in front of my face, what hope did I have!

I duely showed up when I was told to, and there I found a shop full of happy, smiling people who were not only willing to help, but actually eager to explore things with me and were more than ready to accept the challenge of finding a machine for a new sewist who didn’t know what she wanted or needed, wanted something accessible, but couldn’t tell them how to make it accessible because she didn’t know what would be accessible and what wouldn’t because she was a beginner and didn’t know her arse from her elbow yet! (and breathe! Wow, that was a mouthful!) From the start, I loved their can do attitude. It’s right up my street. I’m happy to accept that I can’t do things, but only after we’ve explored all options first, and these guys hadn’t even begun to explore them yet! And oh boy, did they have options!

I was promptly deposited in a chair and the session began.

There followed a dizzying array of machines, with all the features being explored in detail, right down to lady H teaching me to thread and set up each one to see how easy it was to do. There was everything from baby basic beginner machines to massive bells and whistles embroidery ones. I’ll admit to some machine envy every time I see these. Ok, a lot of machine envy! Ok, enough envy that I want one, now, desperately, maybe even more than chocolate every time I see them. And that’s saying a lot!

Gradually, the choice was narrowed down, and eventually, I’d found it. The Brother Innov-Is 55 was my new baby. It didn’t cry, it didn’t wet its nappy, it didn’t even poo itself, so naturally, it was love at first sight!

I then very tentatively asked the elephant in the room question. “Is there an elephant in the room?” I said.

Nah, only joking!

“So, I noticed on your website that you offer lessons and, um, courses and stuff. Do you think I could, um, you know, join…?” My voice trailed off. I didn’t think I could hear the N word one more time without either blowing up or crying with sheer frustration, or both!

“Well,” said she slowly, “I don’t see why not. Maybe you should have a lesson with me first to get used to the machine. Then I can ask our tutor about what patterns would be best for you to start on. Then we can decide together whether you should do those in class or on a 1:1 basis.”

“What?” I asked, “You’re serious?”

“I’m serious,” said H, who had just taken on angel status with me for even contemplating this. I have since learned that H is no angel! Joke, joke! Don’t hurt me, H!

With my head still in a whirl, I paid for my machine then carried it out of the shop (Ok, I lied, the knuckle dragger carried it. After all, there needs to be a reason to keep one around, doesn’t there?). And then, just because we’re right classy, we celebrated with a meal in a rather posh Italian, sewing machine in toe! Yep, we know how ta rock that fashion scene! Oh yes we do!

But now that I had the machine, I actually had to use it. It’s one thing using a machine in a shop, on a nice big, clear table, with loads of supervision just in case something goes wrong or you forget something. It’s quite another when you do it on an old dining room table in the middle of a room full of boxes (we were still unpacking stuff at this point) with only your admittedly engineer partner for back up who cheerfully says things like, “Ah, it looks all right. Just see if it works. If it doesn’t we’ll try it this other way that looks right too. Manual? Who needs one of them? They’re for sissies!”

And so, the saga continues.

Speaking of elephants in the room, I’m sure I saw a pink one over there a minute ago! Flu halucinations are great!

Until next time!.


6 thoughts on “Machine Mayhem”

  1. Just finished reading your blog and I feel as if I have been on this search with you, so pleased you found your machine , waiting to hear what’s next….hope you feel better soon


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