The Stitchmaster seat stand

Well, last Friday my Stitchmaster Seatstand (one word, which looks a little odd I must say) arrived, and although I had expected it to need assembling, I was a bit taken aback by how flat and in bits it looked! Still, I have been known to put together a flat-pack bookcase virtually single-handedly with only a few screws left over, so I figured that as long as I took my time and didn’t rush things (especially as it would need to be pristine should I decide to return it) I should be fine.

The seat stand, as it comes

You may feel that the “should I decide to return it” was a little pessimistic. The reviews on Sew & So’s website are almost entirely positive, and even the one person who didn’t like it seemed to blame herself rather than the stand. Even so, I bore the possibility in mind.

The first step was to unpack everything and read the instructions to see if all the bits were there. They were, but what immediately struck me was that they didn’t look particularly well finished. Not that there were big splinters or anything, but several of the slots were rather rough on the inside and one of them looked as though the movement of the securing screw when adjusting the part’s position might well take a thin strip of the wood off. I also found that the holes for the long screw that kept the upright to the base didn’t quite line up. This was a bit of a problem because forcing the screw in would probably make the thing unreturnable, something which I was now seriously beginning to consider. I decided to leave that part for the moment and to assemble all the other parts first. Oddly enough the instructions showed some of the bolts going in one way, while the picture on the box clearly showed them going in the other way round. The bolts all had a “shoulder”, a slightly thicker part just underneath the head, which wouldn’t go into the holes. My husband assured me that this was fine, they would sink into the wood when tightened sufficiently, but again I didn’t really want to try that for fear of damaging the wood.

The seat stand, still in bits Which way do the bolts go in?

Bearing all this in mind, the stand I put together was undoubtedly not as stable as it would have been if I had forcefully tightened all the nuts and done up the bottom screw right into the wood. Even so, I wasn’t convinced. The Millennium is not the lightest of frames, and needs something pretty solid to support it. And notwithstanding my husband’s reassurances about the bolts he did think it would probably need a shim to keep the horizontal bar from drooping a little – even without the frame on it. Then there was the wedge that supports the slanting arm which is attached to the upright. From the pictures I had expected a much gentler angle, but this was very steep, and when I tried the stand (very carefully, what with the various nuts and bolts not having been done up at their tightest) the frame had very little tilt backwards – almost like having it on a fairly upright easel.

The supporting wedge is much steeper than expected

Finally, there were the supporting arms. I realise that the Millennium is not an everyday frame, and that it is quite chunky compared to others (though not much more so than, say, Q-snaps), so I wasn’t too surprised that the little dowels on which the frame or hoop sits were a bit on the short side for it. What did surprise me was that the frame seemed to stick out rather on the right-hand side. The box says that the seat stand will accommodate frames up to 53cm, which is about 21″, and I’ve got 16″ bars, so it should really have room to spare, but it didn’t.

It won’t surprise you that the seat stand has by now been disassembled and neatly put back into its box. When Sew & So let me know how they would like me to return it it will be on its way back to Stroud. But that leaves me with the problem I had before – how to handle frequent flips on the Millennium frame.

The obvious answer is to go for Needle Needs’ Aristo lap stand after all. But the noticeable on-the-lap wobble in Nicola Parkman’s excellent demonstration video worries me. I rang Needle Needs to ask whether they would be bringing one to the Knitting & Stitching Show, and if so whether I could try it out there, but they told me they don’t do shows any more as they are practically overwhelmed with orders anyway. I could, however, come and see (and try) one in their workshop if I wanted, and if I gave them a few days’ notice. And would you believe it, when we next visit my husband’s sister and parents, we’ll be more or less passing by Needle Needs’ front door. So I’ll have my Millennium frame with me, ready for a bit of lap stand stitching.

For now I have set the Lowery slightly higher, and my husband very kindly cut a bit of superfluous thread off the lever that controls the flip, so that it doesn’t quarrel with the arm of the chair any longer. If in action the Aristo’s lap wobble turns out to be too noticeable for me, this set-up will work quite well (if a little laboriously with undoing and re-tightening, and managing the Meccano prop). And if the lap stand turns out to be ideal, I’ve got my Christmas and birthday list sorted smiley.

Relaxation or challenge?

At the moment I’m working on the stitched model for Join The Band, and finding it very enjoyable – a band sampler with alternate bands of Hardanger and guilloche stitch, it has enough repetition to be soothing and relaxing, and enough variation to remain interesting. But this post mentions “challenge” rather than “interest”. So do I ever want my stitching to be challenging? Yes, within reason. I love learning new stitches and new techniques, and that surely is a challenge, doing something you haven’t done before and trying to do it well. But if it becomes a struggle, and puts me off my stitching, then I am quite happy to decide that this particular stitch or technique is simply not my cup of tea. After all, when it comes down to it embroidery is my hobby, and I mean to enjoy it!

Fortunately Join The Band is giving me just the right amount of challenge; and working with a lovely palette of purple, blue and green just adds to the pleasure (although I must say I’m also looking forward to working the alternative version in three shades of coral red).

A little preview of Join The Band

Incidentally, there is quite a bit of frame flipping while working this design, which with the Millennium frame on the Lowery isn’t very easy; because of the width of the frame the mechanism for flipping it gets stuck on the arm of the chair, and anyway it’s a bother having to undo and fasten screws every time, not to mention having to push my purpose-built Meccano prop out of the way. So I’ve been looking at the Stitchmaster Seatstand which is like Needle Needs’ floor and lap stands in that the frame rests on it rather than being clamped to it in some way, but has the advantage of being smaller than the floor stand, and I suspect less wobbly than the lap stand (because you sit on the paddle rather than perching the whole thing precariously on your lap). My one concern was that the frame wouldn’t sit high enough, as I couldn’t quite gauge the size and height from the pictures. So I rang Sew & So and asked them whether they knew what height the upright post is. The very helpful lady called Claire whom I spoke to said she would measure it and call me back. She did, I did a bit of experimenting with a 12″ ruler, and I’ve just ordered my seat stand smiley – expect pictures soon!