Janome’s Memory Craft 6000 is the only electronically controlled machine in my collection – I usually shun them as I cannot repair electronics. But this one has a reputation of being relatively indestructible, so I made an exception. 🙂 Made in 1986, it has fairly modern reliable electronics, but no fancy graphical parts and no sensor-driven automatic tension that always ends up wrong. I still can’t fix it if any of the components fail, but I trust 1986 hardware controls far more than 1986 computers. 😉
This is the last model of the Memory Craft line not to have an LCD display. It just has a two-digit number display to show currently selected stitch, as well as a bunch of LEDs to show other selected bits. To most people the lack of a more informative display is a clear disadvantage because it’s hard to see what you’ve got programmed in your stitch sequence. True, but that’s what you’ve got memory cells in your brain for – to remember things, and there’s also pen and paper for backup. 😉 I just don’t want screens and computers in my sewing – they are already everywhere else! Sewing is my sanctuary, and computers are not invited. (Well, except may be for my PDA/phone, to write this blog, to print title pages for my patterns, to read manuals in PDF, to look up sewing-related things on the Internet, to… oh dear!)
The stitch patterns on Memory Craft 6000 are found on three pages: front page I which is always present right before your eyes, and two additional pages shown at the top – you can only have one open at a time because the stitch numbers on the top pages are the same. When making a stitch sequence, you can combine stitches from page I with either page II or page III, not both, and you can’t combine stitches from page II and page III in one sequence. But all this is forgiven because she has manual controls! 😎
Those dials are completely analogue, they can be activated and deactivated by pressing the centre button. The top one controls stitch width, the bottom one is for stitch length and pattern elongation. Stitch width is pretty obvious – it’s the width of the embroidered ribbon. If you change it, the design shrinks or stretches in width only – this is one way to change proportions. Stitch length has a similar effect but along the length of the ribbon – decreasing it will squash the design, make it denser. Satin stitch designs can also be elongated – this increases the number of stitches in each repeat of the pattern. This way you can embroider very dense satin stitch designs on very short stitch length putting stitches close together, yet not have your design look squashed. When you combine different patterns in a sequence, the dial settings are applied to all the patterns. You can turn the dials while sewing, and the patterns will be adjusted dynamically, so you can embroider ribbons of undulating width without changing the programming.
All stitches can also be mirrored left-right, and you can mix mirrored and non-mirrored stitches in one sequence. Of course, some stitches are symmetrical, then mirrorring has no effect! 🙂
This machine has a good selection of utility stitches, many of which are also decorative!
Page I has the usual straight stitch and zig-zag, regular and stretch, stitched zig-zag, blind stitch, mock overlock, feather, but also less common stitches such as staggered zig-zag, double zig-zag with stretch, blind stitch with zig-zag and straight dense overedging stitch. In between these, you find even more interesting stitches that could equally be seen as embroidery: snowflakes, leaves on a vine, long scallops, stitched scallops and shells.
There are more utility stitches on pages II and III along the top.
Page II has basting (77), darning (78), overedging (79), two types of straight stretch stitch (80 and 83) and two types of applique shading stitch (84 and 85). The other stitches are more decorative than utility: a double curl (76), cross-stitch (81) and fine honeycomb (82).
Page III has stitched overedging (72), stitched blind stitch with zig-zag (77), wide cording (78), imitation hem stitch (79), four smocking stitches (73-76) which also make excellent borders, and Bulgarian cross stitch (80).
These are found on page I, so they combine with everything else. Satin stitches can be elongated, so they don’t look squashed on dense stitching.
Fun stitches and motiefs
Some stitches are just great fun – how about a parrot or a string of dogs? These stitches are found on pages II and III.
Page III has a curve with flowers and one with leaves, dogs and flowers. These curve patterns combine nicely between themselves and with stitches scallops from page I (23), while the dogs and flowers combine with long scallops (22).
I already sneaked one in above. 🙂 There are two alphabets: one in script on page II and the other in Helvetica on page III. Letters, numbers and some common punctuation marks. The two alphabets cannot be combined in one sequence, unfortunately, you’d have to do it manually. Good thing that width and stitch length adjustment can be carried over on their dials!
There are also three types of buttonholes! A straight one on page I, a teardrop shaped one on page II and rounded one on page III. They can be adjusted in width, length and density, but I forgot to stitch some samples.
Making continuous pattern sequences
When you play around with different stitch sequences, you discover that some combinations work better than others. If you want to make a continuous pattern without obvious jerks, you need to combine stitches with the same starting point – left, right or centre. If you have a stitch ending with the needle left and the next stitch starts with the needle right, there will be a connecting stitch right across the ribbon. It may be a part of the design, that’s fine, or it may look decidedly out of place.
Remember that each stitch can be mirrored right-left, which also flips the starting and ending points (they are always the same).
The manual has a lot of tips and details on making stitch sequences as well as how the different stitches can be used. If you haven’t got one, you can download it from Janome website.