Thank you for all your advice. As you can see I went for the 12 needle Babylock in the end. I had a look to see if there were any local stockists and found that there was a large sewing machine store I had never heard of in Eccles. That's about 30 mins from me and, by co-incidence only 1.5 miles off the route I was taking to work on Friday.
So I went and had a go on the Janome and the Babylock. I went for the latter because of all the brands it has the fastest motor, most needles, a yarn guide that when I tested I at once realised was a good thing and it also has easily removable needles. It is easy to clean too. However, whilst I do agree with supporting local shops - especially those who let you play on their machines, I actually bought from Sewings Machines Direct as they were a full £100 cheaper than the shop! I ordered on line at 1pm and it arrived at my door at 9.30 this morning with a free carry case. That was too big a differential to ignore.
So today I got to play. Samples first then a bag I am very proud of! My Best Quilting Buddy and I have a 'thing' for Aboriginal art at the moment and she set me off with ideas when she commented that the dots commonly used in such art could be done on the embellisher:
The piece is made of boiled wool scraps, french knots from knitting ribbon and stitched with Perle thread then mounted on an A4 sheet of felt.After playing a while I chose to use the 'fuzzy side' as the right side. That is the side that was underneath when I felted the scraps down. I discovered that if you make the French knots on the right side but embellish them a little they go slightly fuzzy but you still get the raised texture which is a nice contrast to the flat fuzzy scraps.
This sample is (bottom layer up) boiled wool, a piece of silk separately embellished to felt and then attached to the bottom layer, a strip of boiled wool later stitched with King Tut, and on top a piece of crinkled dress making fabric already embellished to felt.
It is very rough and ready but for some reason I want to call it 'Egoli' -the name for Johannesburg meaning City of Gold. In real life it is lustrous and would be worth working up into more than a sample.
This one is just lots of yarn on felt then mounted on a larger felt piece. The photo is not good but it kind of looks like tree bark.
Then I started a sample which grew like topsy into this bag. Again it is all boiled wool scraps stitched with Perle thread in running stitch and french knots ( not embellished this time) and with Aboriginal Art as inspiration.
I sized it so that it operates as a light pouch slung across my chest to hold my pens, brushes etc in easy reach when I am sketching in a museum because I am sick of juggling them or sticking them behind my ears! The flap just folds backwards to give me a kind of tool belt. The strap is just machine wrapped yarn. All the greens in these samples are much brighter - photographing late evening under house lights does them no favour!
Now, I am off to mail order felting wool and a book to tell me how to do this properly.