Thanks for all of the advice and support re: my question about how to keep the needle on my new machine in the down position to pivot the fabric. This is a picture of the little diva above. She really is a beauty. My sister sure knows how to spoil her people. I ended up hand-cranking that needle down into the fabric - which I was originally afraid to do since I thought I felt more resistance than normal and didn't want to mess it up. On the old machine, you take your foot off the pedal at the right spot and the needle stays down...on this machine, you take your foot off the pedal and the needle automatically pops up.
Here is a picture of the 18 yr old machine. Never cleaned her, never oiled her, never had a problem with her. She is an old friend and I am loyal, I will keep her until it's her time to go.
I really enjoyed hearing what others create on - I think it would be inspiring/interesting to see everyone's machines or sewing tables.
Thanks again and have a good weekend!