Monday, September 19, 2016


Well, I'm back from the long awaited and much anticipated River Rats TOGA, a convention of sorts for those who love people powered sewing machines. There were so many people from the Treadleon forum that I've only read their comments who attended and now I have a face (and personality) to go with it. Now I can share photos and recap the highlights of this wonderful weekend.

It starts with the accommodations that were unusual in the arrangement. Six weeks ago Sally said she had room for two people in her large motor home so Phyllis and I jumped on that offer only to find out Phyllis has allergies and a weekend with two dogs in a motor home wasn't going to work for her. So it was only me. With Sally and Tom. Whom I have never met (or even talked with on the phone) so now this does sound a little crazy! Here is the BUT in this scenario: we all ended up loving each other and agreed we are new best friends! Sally was a wonderful hostess and when my husbands hunting trip was cancelled he came on down and stayed with us, too. Jim and Tom hit it off with hunting and fishing stories as well as how to haul a toy trailer with a semi. That's right, a semi, in bright red!

I arrived at the Lake City VFW to hear the last half of Sally's talk about using vintage linens in quilts. As I listened and watched, I noticed a woman who looked like Cheri, our friend who bought Judy Jetson (now out in Montana with her niece) and several other sewing machines. Sure enough, when Sally finished and I went up to introduce myself as her house guest I grabbed Cheri in a big hug! We were equally surprised to see each other at the TOGA but the last time we sent messages back and forth was during the summer months before either of us had made these plans. Cheri came down with Carole, a quilting and Featherweight teacher, and we got to know each other over the next days, too. The rest of Friday was spent looking at everyone's machines, the items for the Saturday night raffle, and checking out items to purchase.
Universal feed chain stitch machine
 Most of us went on the Pearl of the Lake paddleboat cruise to watch the stunning sunset and I went off with Sally and Tom for dinner afterwards. We stayed up too late talking because Saturday was going to be another busy day but we had so much to talk about and learn from each other!
As the sun sets over Lake Pepin
Saturday was a mix of demonstrations on cleaning, chain stitcher machines, hemstitchers, quilt block exchange, and individual consultations with the experts on how to fix/heal our personal sewing machines. By late afternoon we were warned to get things cleaned up because the raffle was going to begin!
Quilt assembled from a previous years block exchange now up for raffle
All of the larger/valuable items had lunch bags attached to them for ticket drawings but there were hundreds of items that were in the "free for all" category. After only a few items were drawn I heard my name and when I discovered I had won the Boye needle display/container I almost cried:
Boy of boy, it's a Boye
It was perfect: I told Sally earlier I really didn't need a Boye needle tin since I didn't have the type of older sewing machines that take those older needles but this one came without any of the wooden tubes that hold the needles, perfect for display! My time at the TOGA was now complete as I excitedly brought my prize back to my chair. Jim had arrived by then and was happy for me, too. They kept drawing names for other large items and my name was called again, this time for a terrific Elna Supermatic:
Elna Supermatic (it's okay to be green)
I asked if it was okay to be called a second time and I was informed that I could get up to three items this way. Not to fear, I didn't get called again. All of the leftover tickets were now put into a very large bag and they were drawn one by one for people to come up and choose from things still on the tables. Well, I never did get called and there sure were some nice items but I wasn't too envious when I noted my prizes. Oh wow.

After the raffle we had to take two trips back to the campground to get all of the large items Sally won, such as a White Rotary sewing machine in a lovely table, a sewing stand, and even an Elna Grasshopper sewing machine. Too bad I didn't think to take photos of all she won, but they were her treasures now. We came back in plenty of time for the turkey dinner and time for a last visit with our new friends. We had a bit of a surprise after dinner when Helen Howes, our special guest of honor from the UK, gave a bit of a talk about her own journey into sewing and people powered sewing machines. It was a rare moment to hear her story from her own lips, something I'll always remember. Final goodbyes and we headed back to the campground where we, again, stayed up too late!

On Sunday we enjoyed breakfast in the motor home and treated ourselves to a lunch at the Rail House in Lake City where we ran into the last of the TOGA leaders, Cindy Peters, Bill Holman, Helen Howes, Carol, and a few others I can't remember having coffee before they headed off for a dinner at the casino. Another round of goodbyes and promises to come back next year, we headed off to our own homes, most of us only a few hours away. It was quite a weekend and lived up to its promises: no one is a stranger and everyone helps everyone else. So true. Thank you, Cindy Peters, for all the work you do all year long to see that we can have this get together, to Bill and Marcia  Holman for your expertise and hosting Helen Howes, and to Helen for flying over to our country just to visit and share her vast history and knowledge of the sewing machine. You rock!
Anne, Pastor Dave and Cindy with stole made of members blocks

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