I want gift cards! Lowes and Jo-ann's. That'll keep me busy with projects!
I started looking into cutter several years ago and was really starting to fall for the silhouette. Then my husband surprised me with a Cricut for Christmas! I do love it. I invested in the Design Studio program to design it from the computer, then order the machine to cut accordingly. I think that is totally worthwhile because just running it from the keypad is tricky and it would space the objects out really far when cutting. It wasted a lot of space. The program let me put the cuts exactly where I wanted them. Not only that, but I could add all my cartridges to an online library and mix them together to cut all at once.I think they might have a free program for that now.
Also, discovered the cartridges go for half the retail price when you buy them off of ebay. The $80 cartridges were going in the $25-30 range if you timed it right. That was a huge relief to paying retail. I thought I would be really bummed by the cartridge thing, but actually it has been just fine. I have acquired enough font cartridges that I have a nice variety now and can play around with that, and they do have some great artists designing for them. Also, if you examine the cartridges, some are graphics only, some are fonts only, and some contain both. I try to only purchase cartridges that do double duty as they are more bang for the buck. I've picked up just a few font cartridges for less than $15 new, and I can justify that. There used to be a program you could purchase (sir cutsalot) that would bypass the Cricut computer and let you use your Cricut as a silhouette and use any kind of .png file or font file you have. It is no longer available online, however. There is some kind of legal issue. They really pulled the rug out from under Cricut making the cartridges obsolete and such, so I think they have agreed to no longer market it to work with the Cricut machines. You can still find rogue copies on ebay for like a million dollars.
I am happy with my cricut. Honestly, was a little disappointed at first because it didn't have the expanded capability like the silhouette to cut anything, but now I'm sorta relieved. I am such a perfectionist, I would probably get so hung up on designing my own images that I would never get them cut! Now I just pick a cartridge that is attractive to me and I am just as pleased with the results. Especially for themed things like scrapbooks and party decor; the seasonal cartridges are great for that. They've been around long enough that there really is a cartridge for everything.
I've also found some yahoo groups of gals that figured out how to import their own designs as cricut files. They have developed some really intricate designs like boxes, envelopes, and 3 dimensional images. Also borders and larger pieces. It is a file sharing thing, and they often post them on their blogs for free downloading. So I guess The Cricut isn't completely limited.
I just don't think I could design things as cute as the cartridges. The artists who make them do a good job keeping up with decor and crafting trends too, and the designs reflect that. Of course it makes you want them all. I love my little woodland animal cartridge, cutest hedgehog ever! Like I would ever design a hedgehog "just because."
I've gotten into my other hobbies these days, but it is nice to have around for special events.