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Hawai’i – a Beautiful Culture Like No Other

Hawai’i is a rich tapestry of natural beauty, cultural diversity and historical richness. And while we go there for its sun, sandy beaches, water adventures and relaxing beauty, Hawai’i also offers a vibrant heritage. For me, that heritage is more than luaus and lei’s, it’s the Hawaiian quilts! The intricate patterns of Hawaiian quilts, reflect the deep connection to nature and storytelling that is embedded in Hawaiian culture.

Determined to have a Hawaiian quilt making workshop for Celebrate Hawaiian Textiles retreat taught by someone who is a local and Hawaiian, I searched for a year and then I discovered Poakalani & Co. On Saturday’s they have an open quilting class. I attended and had such a lovely time.

For over 35 years, Poakalani, an accomplished quilter, and her husband John, a Hawaiian quilt pattern maker, conducted workshops, seminars and exhibitions locally, nationally and internationally. Now their daughters run Poakalani & Co., honoring their parents desire that the “art should be taught to all who were interested whether they’re Hawaiian or Hawaiian at heart.” I’m delighted we will have a two-day workshop with them!

I also checked out fabric stores so I know which ones to include on the retreat. Each fabric store displayed a kaleidoscope of fabrics that capture the spirit of the islands – from the serene blues of the ocean to the fiery reds of volcanic lava. One, a warehouse, I learned prints their own fabrics as well as imports from Asia. Another just carries Hawaiian patterned fabrics, while another mostly upscale designer fabrics especially from Japan. Some carried batiks, quilt fabrics, specialty silks and lace, Asian and African prints and more. But no two were alike nor carried the same fabric. I bought a big stack, so much so that I shipped it home in two boxes. Yikes!

I did not spend all my time in fabric stores. One stop was the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, housing artifacts that whisper tales of royalty and respect for nature. One thing of great interest to me was kapa. Kapa is cloth pounded from tree bark, then stamped with inked and patterned bamboo. Hopefully, we stamp kapa on the 2025 retreat.

Much more was researched and discovered. Like a Kona coffee farm, big sea turtles on a black sand beach, manatee’s swimming, King Kamehameha historic landmarks, lots and lots of lava, shopping, the local art scenes, a lush rainforest, food like pineapple fluff and Giovanni’s food truck’s incredible and famous garlic shrimp. I left Hawai’i so mahalo – Hawaiian for thankful. To explore Hawai’i is to embark on a journey through time, nature and creativity, leaving me with an appreciation for the islands' enduring allure.


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