So, sadly, I think it is time to admit something I've been trying to deny for quite a while. I think the timing on my sewing machine is off, and I think it may be time to take it in for a tune-up of some sort. The issue may not be timing exactly, but something is definitely wrong with this poor machine.
See those brown scratches around the hole where the needles goes in? I am pretty darn sure that those are scratches from where the needle scrapes the faceplate (is that what it's called?) instead of going into the hole cleanly. There were some of those scratches when I got the machine, but there are now more of them, and my needles do go dull pretty quickly.
This picture is much harder to see, because my camera doesn't do very good close-ups, but inside that red box is a little dark line. That dark line is a dent. That dent is new. I think the needle dented the bobbin case.
Now, I have several questions for you. First of all, does this seem like a timing issue to anyone else? My sewing machine has been getting crankier and crankier, and it also started working much more poorly after the trip back from Montreal (which may have been a bad idea, in retrospect). If you don't think it's a timing issue, what might it be?
And, the main question: Do I have any hope of fixing this myself? The affordable machine repair shop in the area closed, and I am looking at a bill of $90 just to look at the thing from the only other store in the area that I know of. I don't think I have any local readers, but any suggestions for a sewing machine repair shop in the DC area would be gratefully appreciated, especially if they're cheap. But, again, if I have any hope of fixing this myself, please let me know!