Saturday, 3 December 2011

Some Exciting News! Imminent Arrival of a New Kitty!

---but not one to make Beatrice and Phoebe jealous!!

For some time now I’ve been getting increasingly fed up with my Cricut. First of all, I was really hacked off over the court case between Provocraft (the manufacturer of the Cricut cutting machine) and the designers of the excellent software Make the Cut (and subsequently, I believe, SCAL) which meant you could no longer design your own cut files and cut them with this machine. I was OK because I had the old firmware, but anyone updating the firmware, or buying a new machine, would be stuck with the very expensive Cricut cartridges only, and no possibility of cutting their own designs.

That’s absolutely fine for a lot of people who are more than happy to cut other people’s designs, and more power to them – at least they can cut different shapes and continue to make their cards and other projects, but for many of us, that is far from being enough. I’ve had a taste of designing my own stuff and wouldn’t want to give that up.

Also, as usual with any of my technology, I push it to the limits and make huge demands on it! I have been finding that cutting simple shapes is no longer enough for me. I want to be able to cut small and intricate pieces, and more complex designs and projects, and quite honestly, the Cricut is simply not up to the job. What brought it to a head was when I made the Christmas roses for my altered boxes – I used Penny Duncan’s lovely Christmas rose pattern, and on her superb instructional video, she showed how beautifully her Black Cat Lynx cutter had coped with the delicate centres of the flowers – not a single “spoke” was torn. I was really jealous of this! She’s been singing the praises of her wonderful new machine for a while now. When I attempted to cut these flower centres with the Cricut, less than half the spokes survived. I had to print Penny’s pdf file and cut them out by hand.

My hubby was in my ARTHaven the other day when I was cutting something, and he could see that the result was far from perfect. I’ve been moaning about it for a while in his hearing, but didn’t think he was that interested or even listening to my ramblings!

The lack of accuracy and cleanness of cut leaves much to be desired. For example, in the spring, when I made Wonderwoman’s mother’s 70th birthday card, when I cut the window for the box lid, I cut a second window in the box lid lining so that I could sandwich a sheet of acetate between the two layers, and the cut was “out” by about 1/8 inch when I came to align the layers. I had to trim the aperture in the lining, and cover the inside edge with a narrow gold peel-off strip, which actually finished it off nicely, but that wasn’t the point!!

Another example. I designed an svg file of a “bracket” style frame a while back, and used this to embellish the box I made a couple of days ago for my mum’s Christmas present, cutting it in the silver card.

Superficially I suppose it’s OK, but examine it closely and the inaccuracy of the Cricut cut is revealed.

The two paths of the cut file for the frame have moved out of alignment during the cut, making the frame slightly asymmetrical. Also the cut itself is not quite clean, having a ragged edge, and this despite having a new blade in the machine.

I brought the finished box downstairs and showed my hubby, and pointed these deficiencies out to him. Despite my thinking he hadn’t been that interested, he’d obviously taken on board what I’d been saying over the past few months, because he said, “I think you should just go ahead and get that new machine.” I couldn’t believe my ears! Music to them, in fact. I felt I now had “permission” to go ahead and invest in a new machine that I knew would do what I wanted.

When Penny got her Lynx I was very impressed indeed, but looking at the details, I decided it was worth getting the higher spec machine, the Cougar, which will cut much thicker material than the Lynx. For a long time I’ve wanted to be able to cut shapes from mounting board (mat board) which is far too thick for the Cricut, and quite impossible to cut anything complicated by hand. I thought I would eventually get this machine, but when my hubby said that, and with the frustration I’ve been feeling of late, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it!!

A few days ago I signed up for the UK Black Cat forum and had a browse around, and read what people on there, and elsewhere on the net, have been saying about the machine and its capabilities. Having searched extensively, I have to agree with one person who said they hadn’t been able to find a single negative review of this machine anywhere online. It’s beautifully engineered, heavy, sturdily built to enable it to cut with the pressure needed, functional, metal not plastic, built to last and will do what I require it to do. It is not tied to any particular software or cartridges – in fact it was designed with people like us in mind, who want to do our own thing and do it well, without any hassle.

So… yesterday afternoon I put down a deposit on a Black Cat Cougar cutting machine! The model I want is out of stock at the moment, and apparently the new machines will be arriving later this month, and they are already selling fast, so it was suggested that I reserve one with a deposit.

If I had known then what I know now, I would not have bought the Cricut, but gone straight for the Cougar. However, I didn’t know, and at the time the Cricut seemed a big enough investment. As an entry level machine it was very good, particularly as I was still able to cut my own designs with it, but since then I feel I have moved on and require something more sophisticated. I am hoping to be able to sell the Cricut; it has an embossing kit with it (hardly used) and a couple of cartridges (not used, apart from the fact you have to have a cartridge in the machine in order to make it work at all).

I’ll keep you posted about when my new kitty arrives! I’m very excited about it! Meantime, it’s back to the forum, and Youtube, to learn as much as I can about it before it comes. It’s a sharp learning curve and not for the faint hearted but it will be well worth the effort, to have such a superb tool at my fingertips.

Here, kitty, kitty, kitty!! GRRRRRR. Big FIERCE kitty! Cut that out!! Lol!


  1. Oh, I'm so happy for you, Shoshi! You will have so much fun with it and create more magnificent items. Can't wait to see what you do!

  2. How exciting! You will have so much fun playing with your kitty. I had not heard of this machine until you mentioned it on the flower making post. It is more than I need and I didn't want to push my luck having just had a new wide-bed printer and a computer, so I settled for the silhouette cameo to replace my dead craft robo. It uses similar files so I shouldn't have too much trouble using it. It is ordered and I am hoping it arrives before Christmas. Unfortunately it won't emboss like the Cougar, but it will do most other things. Aren't we two lucky girls! Kate x


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