In the summer of 2008, I went to my 20th high school reunion. Along the way, my Mother and I stopped for a quick tour of the AQS show in Nashville. I knew that a long arm and frame were far from feasible for our apartment... on the 3rd floor of a house built in 1863 in the Hudson Valley region of New York...where the bathroom was so small that the door hit the commode... and where you had to unplug the computer if you wanted to use the iron.
On a complete whim, I decided to try my hand at the long arm machines on display. I don't do much in the way of traditional quilting, and I hadn't done anything BUT free-motion since I took a design class with Katie PM in 2006 at Quilting by the Lake and fell in love all over again with the doodles of my adolescence. I think I tried every brand on the floor at that show. It still felt like something 'in the distance', but when I finally got back to NY I started the Dreaded Research Process. Sure, no frame (most likely) would fit in any single room of our apartment (either by size or by budget), but that didn't mean I shouldn't start looking!
That Fall, I flew to Houston for IQS. I met my mother-in-law (who had driven down from Dallas with friends) so we could spend the week together. My father-in-law went to NY the same week for some Father & Son time. My mother-in-law doesn't quilt, but she's crafty and we had a blast.
In one of my classes, I met Gillian Connon. We hit it off instantly. Then I met her friend Betsy Sweigard. Somewhere in there I had been playing on the long arm machines on the vendor floor at the show. I had stumbled upon the HQ Sixteen Sit-Down, and I was instantly enamored. I went to another class, and who should be there but Gillian and Betsy. (I won't tell the part where we disrupted the class because we were laughing so hard. Whatever other people might remember, I'm sure it wasn't us!)
I whipped out my notebook about the long arm machines, and with my mother-in-law nowhere to be found, proceeded to engage these two lovely ladies in the decision process of buying something insane, in the heat of the moment. They came with me to play with the machine. I loved it. I took to it pretty fast, if I do say so myself. Betsy loved it too. In fact, SHE BOUGHT ONE AS WELL. Neither of us had come to Houston with that intention, but we left the show having placed orders, signed paperwork, and were ready to get started!
I own the following HQ machines: