Certainly, no one would argue that turning 40 is a milestone. It is a time to reflect on the person one has become, the life one has built, and one’s accomplishments. It is a time to celebrate life’s successes and to put life’s challenges in proper perspective; a time to look back, but more importantly, to look forward and to make a change that can set a new course for what lies ahead. What then do you get someone turning 40 that can change one’s life and personifies everything this milestone encompasses? Jewelry is nice and is a special way to tell someone how much they are loved. A trip to an exotic location where you can share the adventure of a lifetime is something that can be remembered for a long time. But I had a different idea to commemorate this important birthday as my wife, Amy, approached 40.
Amy has a degree in Fine Arts and has always had an artistic flair. Her career, however, took her into corporate marketing that, while requiring creativity, does not utilize much of her artistic talent. Slowly Amy began to get involved with various crafts. While Amy was recovering from a surgery, my mom taught her how to knit. She began making beautiful sweaters and afghans and soon there were projects of varying degrees of completion. My mom called her a knitting machine and couldn’t believe how perfect her stitches were.
The next step was sewing on an old machine and creating elaborate costumes for school plays and Halloween. Amy had sewn when she was younger, learning the skills from her mom. A major upgrade in her sewing machine led to quilting classes where she learned all the basics. Armed with most of the tools needed to create beautiful works of art, Amy threw herself into quilting. Using her artistic talents and eye for color, Amy soon began winning contests. However, all of her projects were of a scale that allowed her to quilt on her sewing machine. When asked why she didn’t create larger pieces, she explained that she would need to send it off to have someone else quilt it and it wouldn’t feel like her own piece if she did that.
Amy and her mom attended many quilting shows and seminars and classes always learning new techniques. She would come home and excitedly tell me about what she saw and learned and about all the tools and machines she saw. One day, she told me about long-arm quilting machines, but the discussion never got past the price tag or the size of the machine.
Amy continued quilting, but seemed to have a hard time considering herself the artist that everyone else saw. Was there something missing that was holding her back? Was there something that could get her over this hump?
As Amy’s 40th birthday approached, I started researching long-arm quilting machines after finding ads in the quilting magazines Amy would get. A review of Handi Quilter’s website led me to Kari Newell of Kari’s Sew Unique in Whitewater, WI. Kari patiently went over the specs of the machines and the frames and basically told me everything I needed to know about long-arm quilting machines. I placed the order for an HQ Sixteen and soon 5 large boxes were delivered.
The day of Amy’s big birthday, she unwrapped one of the boxes with a picture of the machine on the outside and the look on her face was priceless; I think it was the last thing she expected. The next day, we assembled the machine, table and frame, put in new lighting and flooring and now a big chunk of our basement is devoted to Amy’s Handi Quilter.
With the Handi Quilter, Amy’s quilting has gone to the next level. As Amy explains it, quilting with a sewing machine is like an artist who is trying to paint by moving the canvas against a stationery brush, but with the Handi Quilter, it is more like the artist moving his brush.
So was getting a Handi Quilter life changing? Well, Amy seems more confident in her abilities, can take on bigger projects, but most importantly, seems to truly consider herself an artist with all the tools needed to create her works of art.
So to all of you quilters out there, if you have a big day coming up and would like a long-arm quilting machine, leave this article in a strategic place where your husband might see it. Who knows? Maybe he will get you a Handi Quilter and it will change your life!
I own the following HQ machines: