I so appreciate all of the comments which have been left, even those from the sales persons. I know that you are biased towards your machine, but the information has been exactly what I was looking for. I had hoped to hear more from actual users to see what led them to select the machine they chose, and why they love it as well.
A little background...I am not approaching this naively. I have tested all of the major manufacturers for which there is a sales rep near me. Perhaps if I lived closer to a large metropolitan area, this might be simpler, but where I live does limit the choices. I tested four machines at the Maine Quilt Show in July, three of which I'd truly consider. The one I liked the best (Gammill) has a rep either 2 states (4-5 hours away) or instate and nearly 3 hours away. I do believe that these are highly reliable and sourcing your rep is not an everyday occurrance, but I also know that I want it available should it be needed, whether this is for a problem or to take a class. I took a 2 hour class on the HQ16, and then spent 2 hours quilting 2 quilts on my own. I was able to get a good feel for the machine's vibration, tendency to break thread, use of groovy boards, stitch regulator, etc. It was mostly smooth, and I could visualize the "kinks" inmy quilting disappearing in a short period of use. This machine made the transition from free motion quilting on a home machine to a LA seem natural.
I cannot say the same for the APQS. Now, I took the same aproach for these machines as well. They were tested at the show too, and were my least favorite ones. It had a stiff, jerkier feeling. I could not make smooth curves, just "rounded" off squares. But everyone I heard from said they loved this machine, and that it comes with practice. Again, it didn't have a rep within an hour of me like the HQ, so it was not a high contender. Yesterday I went to the Road Show, with a very open mind, hoping to come away with a great bargain of a machine. And it was a good deal - $2000 off the Millinium, free motorized rollers and free quilt glide. But even after 45 minutes of playing and testing, I still hated how it quilted. I am not interested in a LA that takes me 6 months of practising before I am qualified to make something for someone else. I cannot afford that from the perspective of paying for the machine or the scrap fabric. I also ruled out the Lenni yesterday, as it has the same stiffness and jerkiness, and has no channel locks whatsoever.
I am struggling over this purchase more so than I would if I were buying a car three times the cost. It's very personal to me, and I know there's likely no "swapping" it or "trading up" three years from now. It's still a shock that my husband said yes to the thing in the first place. So, what do I say to all of you faithful Millinium users, Love what you have. I personally do not share that feeling from my experience, but it is your decision, and this is mine. I feel as though I have done my homework and am not making an uninformed choice.
Doug’s Finished Quilts
21 hours ago