before we go any further i think i need to introduce you to my partner in sewing endeavours - ellie. she's an elna top special from the star series, born before i was in the late 60's or early 70's and made in switzerland. i grew up sewing on one of these wonderful machines as my mum still has the one her parents gave her for her 21st. they're solid (and incredibly heavy), simple to use and i love them. so i was thrilled to find one in mint condition on ebay last year and am looking forward to many many more creative adventures with ellie (or ellie celeste when she's naughty!). hmmmm, wonder if there are other people out there who name inanimate objects too...?