25 August 2022

Elephant Rocked

Back in 2020, when Lizard was recovering from knee surgery, I pulled out one of the wide backing combos I'd bought to teach him how to quilt many years earlier, possibly the year we moved into our house and actually had room to work on sewing and quilting projects. When I bought the fabric, I fully intended for him to doodle with my domestic sewing machine. He had drawn some of the most wonderful doodles!

Parkinson's later robbed him of his steady hand. After his diagnosis in 2018, he did a lot of coloring with pencils because that actually helps people with Parkinson's manage their symptoms. At least in the early stages. I'm not so sure it's helpful now, but we do keep trying.

Lizard's Colored Pencil Therapy

We bought Ringo, our longarm, in 2019 I think, specifically for him to be able to doodle on fabric. We thought that might be even easier for him than colored pencils. Plus, with a stand-up machine, you almost can get in a full-body workout! If you try... I would be able to use the longarm, too, and words cannot describe how thrilled I was with that prospect. However, the main reason we invested in the machine was to help slow the progression of Parkinson's. Lizard quickly finished a quilt once the machine was set up and he'd completed the tutorials.

We didn't know at the time his back was getting worse and worse; we thought it was the Parkinson's. Ultimately, he was forced to undergo emergency back surgery and was unable to maneuver Ringo. I'm still hoping to one day get him back into quilting because I do think it will help. But for now, I pulled out the black and gold wide-back quilt sandwich I'd put together for him, fulling intending to practice my own doodling before I conquer Matthew's quilt. (I have other wide-back quilt sandwiches ready for Lizard to quilt when he's ready. When he feels like quilting again. Fingers crossed for when and not if.)

Lizard's Elephant Quilt, all ready to go in 2020, but he was unable to work on the project at all that year.
(And now I see I used the wrong color on the black!!! Lizard had picked out greens, not the gold I used!)

Last week I loaded the sandwich back onto Ringo and got ready to begin quilting. I positioned the gold fabric on top because I thought I would be more inspired by using a dark-colored thread on the light background than if I used a light-colored thread on the dark background. (And easier for my old eyes to see!) As I was loading the bobbin thread, I noticed chalk outlines on the black fabric on the bottom of the sandwich. I'd totally forgotten I'd chalked an elephant onto the black fabric for Lizard to quilt. I'd totally forgotten he had requested the elephant when I'd expected him to ask me to draw a lizard.

2009 Elephant Rock

I think Lizard wanted an elephant because we were hoping to ride Elephant Rock, one of our favorite charity rides. Neither of us expected all the upcoming 2020 organized rides to be cancelled. Neither of us knew at the time Lizard's charity ride calendar may not happen again. Neither of us knew a second year of ride cancellations would result in Elephant Rock being sold (along with many of our other favorite rides). And neither of us knew 2022 would end up being the final year of our beloved Elephant Rock because the new owner isn't going to offer that one again. I do expect the new owner will come up with an alternative ride - likely a gravel ride - for next year, possibly even called Elephant Rock, but for now, Elephant Rock the way we knew it is just a memory. Or many memories. Many exhilerating memories.

So, I decided to turn the quilt sandwich over and quilt the elephant I'd drawn for Lizard two years ago. Our first 15 years together were powered by cycling. Maybe I should have quilted bicycle gears or wheels into the ground areas of the quilt instead of waves of sand...

2013 Elephant Rock

I had to roll the loaded quilt back and forth on the longarm many times to complete the longest vertical lines without having to cut the thread and bury knots. Yet, the quilt worked up quickly. I had it done in two nights.

The quilt was bound over the weekend as planned, then washed on Monday. Finishing the quilt kind of felt like an Elephant Rock weekend all over again, just without the sweat and miles.

You really can't see the yellow elephant on the black back of the quilt, but the back is flannel, so very warm and cuddly. Just like our Elephant Rock memories.

I don't have to wonder what I'm going to do with this quilt. Lizard wasted no time making fast friends with his new reversible companion.

Linking up with Alycia Quilts.


  1. what a great story for this wonderful quilt. He looks so happy to have it. Love this

  2. What a wonderful story - and I love how you fulfilled the elephants creation!! hugs to Lizard.... stay warm and comfy with your new quilt!!!


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