I do my fiberwork by hand - knitting, crochet, spinning, cross-stitch, embroidery, and some others. I do have a sewing machine, but it's not used often. Mainly sewing the hems on blue jeans (until I found a tailor nearby who does it quickly and well). It's not that I hate machines - I spend the day on the computer, and I have a microwave and a PDA and other electronic toys and gizmos.
But for fiberwork, a machine doesn't feel right to me. I've seen absolutely gorgeous work done by people who really know how to use a sewing machine, but I'm not intrigued enough to try it myself. Using a machine, I always feel a bit out of control. Debi, on the JCrafts Yahoo email list wrote recently: "I hate to say it but the machine embroidery is too perfect for me and doesn't feel like I am doing anything but operating a machine...I think anyone can produce the same. If I hand make something, it is truely one of a kind."
That very much put in words what I've had trouble saying before. The machine is doing the work, I'm not. I like doing the work - sure, sometimes the work is a royal pain in the you-know-what, but it's something I physically did.
There's also a related (to me anyway) slippery slope from hand-made to machine made to sweat-shop. If I take the time to make 100 whatnots on a sewing machine as a hobby to give as gifts - that's my creative outlet. But a woman making the same 100 whatnots for an insanely low wage in a sweatshop in a 3rd world country - that's not a creative outlet? In both cases it's a person using a machine to make 100 whatnots. I'm doing it freely, so that's ok? But she's doing it as a job to support herself & family, that's not good? ( I'm not saying that the horrible working conditions that you hear about in sweatshops are ok - I'm talking JUST about the making of the 100 whatnots can be thought of as a creative outlet for one person but not for another.)
probably more to come on another day...