Thank you all for your valuable advice on sewing machines. I have asked many knowledgeable people and perused the net in search of good advice. (Admittedly I gave up on the net bit after finding a blog which detailed how the blogger spent $1200 on a sewing machine that would give her slightly more perfect straight 1/4" seams when quilting than her old $1000 machine. I am not that much of a perfectionist. Although I admit to being tempted by jelly rolls, so I might cave in to quilting some day soon)
I am now considering a mechanical Elna machine (hopefully getting to do a trial run soon) which is roughly the same price as the electronic Janome I had previously been eyeing. I am a bit cautious about getting a machine I cannot quite poke around in with a screwdriver (which is also why I prefer my computers to be desktops built from various spare parts rather than going out to buy a fully-formed laptop) and I think the Elna might fit the bill better than the Janome. I have a few more months before I need to make a decision. I am also planning on doing a few intermediate sewing classes at The Life Craft which will hopefully give me enough confidence to do a Colette pattern (I want to do both a Crepe and a Ceylon).
Knitting-wise.. phew, I have a slew of finished objects lately. I have been listening to a lot of dreadful audiobooks and these have helped me focus on my knitting rather than anything else. I have finished a self-designed garment (I will need to write this out as a pattern - let me know if you want to test-knit something for me 'soonish'), a big shawl, and a hat. Weather permitting, I will get some photos on this blog this week. Now I only have the sleeves for my red alpaca cardigan to do and I have a complete blank slate*
* obvious lie: I have so much I should be knitting that I feel faint just thinking about it
Finally, hey, a public service announcement for friends and family trying to think of a present for me. This year I've been a tad more organised! I know, I know .. wonders never cease..