Yesterday I took a lesson in long arm quilting. The gal who has done a few of my quilts offers her machines for rent, but she says, "You cannot drive my Porsche without taking at least one lesson."
It was humbling, to say the least. I love free-motion, making up the pattern as I go with a rough idea in my head or a sketch taped to the wall in front of me. But following a design marked on a quilt is another story. I can't stay on the lines. Of course, my lesson lady thought this would be the easiest for beginners, so gave me four hours of about 95% following lines.
As I tried to follow the patterns and "loosen up" as she suggested, my mind was working the same way it does when I write by hand. I cannot write with my whole arm like you are supposed to without really thinking about it. This is not natural. Same with the rhythm of swimming and dancing. It is not easy for me and requires a certain way of concentrating, not "letting myself go" as most would suggest.
My husband says golf is a "muscle memory game" and I'm now convinced that long arm quilting is the same. This will require lots of practice --- unless some of you long arm quilters can give me a quick cure for my preference to color totally outside the lines!
However, it was fun in a tormented sort of way. The result is the ugliest quilt I have ever seen... and sorry, no photograph. My pride is bruised and bleeding so I didn't take one.