I nearly hyperventilated the first time I picked up squares of fabric to sew together for a quilt. It was a church group project. The quilt showcased new decorator fabrics for an interior designer and earned us a donation for the church. That was the early 80's.
I made my first real quilt in 1986 by trial and error and consulting a book when stuck. Cardboard templates. Hand pieced and appliqued. Hand quilted and bound by turning the muslin backing around to the front. I was so proud of my 6-block wall hanging that I entered it in the Minnesota State Fair. Impossibly, it did not win a ribbon. But it came back with nice words from the judge written on a piece of paper and pinned to the corner.
I moved on to a pieced pansy wallhanging for my mom. She was thrilled and hung it above her bed. She bought matching sheets and thought it should be entered in the state fair. I knew it was not as perfect as my first quilt, so I started another wall hanging instead.
Work became all consuming in the 90's, so I put my sewing machine away. I rediscovered my passion for quilting during a 2000 trip to that quilting mecca: Sisters, Oregon. I felt like the guy who woke up after 20 years to find himself in a fabulous new world. Quilting tools, techniques, and fabrics had revolutionized. I came home with itchy fingers and a satchel full of fat quarters - the beginnings of my still growing stash.
Since then, I've picked up the pace - taking classes to learn techniques, graduating to bed size quilts, and creating an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all the projects in the works or waiting in the wings.
Now, I can't imagine not quilting. They'll have to pry my poor arthritic fingers off my rotary cutter!