I heard this comment again today. I was admiring all the lovely quilts at the St. John's Mint Festival Quilt Show this evening, when I overheard another admirer comment, "that is a lot of work". So, I said, "you're not a quilter?". And, the response - "I'll learn to quilt when I retire."
Ladies & Gentleman - don't wait until you retire to start quilting.
I have been sewing since I was 9-years-old and made a pair of black slacks in 4-H. I sewed clothes, crafts and learned to quilt as a teenager. I helped make a quilt as a gift, then made a quilt for myself when I was only seventeen. The quilting bug got me early. I read everything I could get my hands on at the local library. Even though I didn't have much spare income, I always found a way to make quilts. I hit JoAnn's for sales, picked up someone else's scraps at yard sales and estate auctions and gladly accepted someone else's no longer wanted UFO's.
Over the last 30+ years, I'm telling my age, I have improved upon my stitching ability immensely. I believe that if I had waited until I retired to take up the art of sewing and quilting, I would likely not have kept doing it. I am already experiencing decreased vision that requires bifocal lenses for close-up work. And, that doesn't even take into account the need for more and more light. I can stitch much better during the day and with a light right over my hand work or sewing machine. My hands are beginning to feel the affects of lots of use. Besides quilting - which includes rotary cutting, pressing fabric, hand applique, FMQ, and hand quilting - I spend a great deal of time typing on the computer, and I decorate cakes. This puts a lot of wear on your hands, shoulder and neck. I don't have carpal tunnel, but I have developed some degeneration in my joints. Waiting until you are older requires overcoming these obstacles while learning a new skill. If someone isn't as enthralled with quilts as much as I am right now, they are not likely to take up quilting in the fashion that I already do.
I don't just "make a quilt". Quilting is my passion. Browsing patterns, magazines and books gets my creative juices flowing. Going shopping for fabric is an opportunity to fondle lots of different fabric, even if I don't buy anything. And, actually cutting into the fabric and stitching it back together into a pattern brings a great deal of pleasure. It is pure joy to watch a quilt come together into the finished artwork that I envisioned. There is no way that I could "wait until I retire to learn to quilt". There are far too many quilts waiting to be made and I'll never be able to get them all done. Which is likely why I have so many projects going at once and such a long list of UFO's.
I attend quilt shows to see what everybody else is doing. I take time to read the story behind the quilt that is posted on the side of the quilt. I draw out block patterns that I like. I get up close to look at the quilting stitches. I step back and take in the entire quilt. A quilt show is the final step in making a quilt - the chance to show off your handiwork for others to see.