The Hoop on Stand Comes of Age
For quite some time Ive advocated the Q-snap rectangular lap hoops over round hoops because the grain of fabric run north-to-south and east-east-west. And Ive been wishing for a hoop-on-stand with a square hoop.
Well, its here, made by one of the foremost names in quilting floor frames, The Grace Company (http://www.graceframe.com) designed the new GraceHoop2 TM from the ground up, and they seem to have thought of everything -- well, everything I want in a hoop on stand. They seem to have anticipated just about everything on my wish list.
In a play on words, the GraceHoop2 TM uses the mathematical superscript for "square," and they refer to it as "The Grace Hoop - Squared." This may be cute, but it describes the product fair and square. <groan>
From the ground up: As you can see in the photo, the GraceHoop2 TM has a low-profile base that conveniently slides under most sofas, chairs, and stools, so you can position the whole rig just where you want it. The vertical post is sturdy, as befits a stand that holds a hoop and will undoubtedly support many heavy quilts for many years.
Moving right along, the arm that supports the hoop is a masterpiece of functional design. As you can see in the photo, a rachet system enables you to tilt the arm to get the hoop at just the right height for anywhere you might choose to sit and quilt. On the other hand, if you prefer to stand, you can do that, too. Even tall quilters will be able to quilt standing up, and if you prefer to quilt while sitting on the floor, the lowest setting would permit you to do just that. (A knob on the unseen side of the vertical post lets you adjust the ratchet.)
The swivel gizmo
At the business end of the arm theres a really slick invention that holds the hoop. Its responsible for hoops swivel and tilt and for its unrestricted 360-degree movement in both vertical and horizontal planes. The hoops movement is not impeded in any way by the arm. The manufacturer claims that "The entire package provides quilter with an easy-to-adjust quilting system that will tailor-fit height, reach, and quilting position." A big claim, but the GraceHoop2 TM makes good.
Finally, the hoop itself. Well, Im blown away. Rather than making the 18" and 24" square hoops of bent laminated plywood, the Grace Company designed and built theirs from scratch. Its made of solid wood that is joined by a mortise-and tenon system. Good joinery for good function and durability. Theres a round nut that loosens and tightens the outer (square) hoop, and the inner hoop has at its lower edge a lip that keeps the outer hoop from slipping floorward while you fiddle with its adjustments.
The cut-out at the far right of the arm not a decorative detail. Its a convenient hand-hold when you go to move the arm, and it functions as a carrying handle when you fold the whole stand down onto its base! Notice the little slot below the ratchet. This allows the arm to fold into carrying position. A feat of engineering, the stand folds easily and weighs about 18 pounds. Once folded, its flat enough to stash in the trunk of a car, easy to carry (remember that handle!), and easy to set up once you get where youre going.
Grace is just starting to make accessories for the GraceHoop2 TM, and those currently available include EdgmastersTM, Graces name for handy gizmos that provide extra side tension on the work area so your quilt stays straight and square. Theres also a hole in the top of the stand for a swing arm lamp (which they also supply). The hoop-and-stand set-up is shipped unfinished unless you specify that youd like a Danish type oil finish in cherry, fruitwood, walnut, or natural (at additional cost).
What I especially like
The square hoop, the square hoop, and the square hoop. In that order.
I always thought that was the most logical way to quilt, glad others see it that way, too.
The way the hoop swivels anywhere I want it.
The way the arm adjusts to whatever height I need.
The way the whole rig folds up for storage or travel -- it really is portable .
That cutout handle.
Is there anything Im not crazy about
Yeah, those of you who know me know Im going to tell you that, too. The GraceHoop2 TM is functionally but not visually elegant. I think its functionality wins out over appearance. I can rationalize. Its a little funky, even quirky, but it is so functional that Id be proud to put it anywhere.
Its not cheap, but I think its worth it. Suggested retail price for the stand plus 24" hoop is $299.95, for the stand plus 18" hoop, $284.95.
Copyright 1998, Addy Harkavy
(c) Copyright 1995-2012 by The Virtual Quilt Company. All rights reserved.
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