Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Renewal, it's in the air. The early spring bulbs have pushed their heads towards the sun and are showing their colors. It's amazing, too, what a few days listening to the ocean can do for one's soul.

Every trip to Hawaii seems to bring a few new surprises. This time around, it was delving into some of the more cultural aspects of the Hawaiian people. We learned to start each day with the Oli Mahalo or the Chant of Gratitude. You can see the words of it and hear the students of the Kamehameha school saying it here. It's very nice, I highly recommend.

I also took a short class in Hawaiian quilting. It had to happen eventually. Years ago when quilting classes first appeared on PBS (or I noticed them for the first time), the only one that ever appealed to me was one short series on Hawaiian quilting. It's different than regular patchwork where you cut up and reattach different pieces of material. In Hawaiian quilting it's all handwork, and generally only two colors.

Here's my class piece. The pineapple symbolizes friendship. The whole thing is appliqued as it is worked--just turning the raw edge over with the tip of the needle. And then, it's quilted in a series of waves around the center. Generally the piece is symmetrical with the pattern folded and cut out as we would when making paper snowflakes. It's then basted on the background fabric. My first small project is this eyeglass case. I figured it was the equivalent of a knitted hat and something small enough to finish before I forgot how to do it. The pattern is the Ulu or Breadfruit symbolizing happiness.
Next up was Lauhala weaving. I had never heard of this before and my teachers said it was something generally taught in an oral tradition. The Hala tree isn't really a palm but that's the closest thing I can think of to describe it. The leaves are dried and cleaned (they have pretty sharp barbs or thorns on them, too) and then woven into some of the most gorgeous products. The hats are absolutely amazing! And, the hand sewn feather bands used to adorn them are more beautiful than anything I've ever seen.

As beginners, we didn't do anything too intricate. Made a simple pattern for a bracelet.
The teachers were quite the taskmasters and insisted on precision. I'm really happy with how mine turned out. I would have loved to have made a fan. The examples of those were so beautiful.

In case you're wondering if I did any knitting at all, let me tell you, I did. Lots of it. But since I took so many different projects along, none of them are finished. I didn't want any technology with me so left my laptop at home but took my Knitter's Journal with me to record the new designs. It was with me every early morning as I sat on the beach and watched it come to life.
If you've not seen the inside of one of these journals, here's a couple of pics. Pages of graphs of different sizes are scattered throughout, and
many pages show lines drawings from Meg and EZ along with many of their quotes.
They're very nice books and I highly recommend them. Sometimes it's just nice to have a book in your hand and work things out the "old fashioned" way.

But, sometimes the old ways are the best ways. They allow you to slow down and stay right there, in the moment.


At 12:47 PM, Blogger June said...

Ah, so you are quilting now. . . too cool! I love your woven bracelet and hope you can wear it often! Thanks for showing the Knitter's Journal, I have thought about getting it a few times. So are you back from your wonderful trip?

At 4:19 PM, Blogger vanessa said...

love love love your bracelet!!!!!

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Melanie said...

I'm so glad you went technology free. The journal is very nice - I bet there's stuff in there you haven't shown us! I really like your bracelet - the work does look very precise.


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