06 Jul

I’m a Threadologist!

Last weekend was Quilt Hawai’i on the Big Island. Many, many, months ago I heard that the Superior Threads people would be holding their School of Threadology there and so, of course, I had to sign up. I even convinced three other friends from the quilt guild to join me. We were so happy we went.

Waialea (69) Beach

We arrived early (really, really early) on Wednesday because Rowena had a morning class. Susan and Debby opted to help the organizers set up, and I escaped to the beach with local Flickr friend Anika! She took me to Waialea Bay (AKA Beach 69) where we chatted, snacked, and swam a bit. This being in Hawai’i stuff is rough, but someone’s gotta do it.


Thursday was all about thread. In the morning, Dr. Bob, professor of Threadology, gave a lecture on thread composition, uses of various threads, needle types, sewing machine issues, and pretty much everything you ever needed to know about using thread in a quilt but never thought to ask. Class included a huge goodie bag of Superior threads and needles, and a book with all the information covered plus handy dandy charts. Then, after lunch, it was play time with Annie.


We used this cool product called Texture Magic. Basically, you stitch your fabric to the Texture Magic sheet (and using cool threads adds to the fun) and then steam it to shrink the Texture Magic, thus crinkling your fabric. We used our crinkly fabric to make cute handbags.


After class, Susan had arranged for the four of us, plus three other Guild ladies who happened to also be there, to visit Quilt Passions, a lovely quilt shop in nearby Kona.

Quilt Passions Shop

Karen, the owner, is doing a wonderful job with the shop. She’s got patterns from local designers and lots of classes. They specialize in batik fabric, but have a nice selection of other things to choose from as well. They’ve even got their very own fabric (which she’s cutting for Rowena here)! Not only did Quilt Passions have a booth at Quilt Hawai’i, but they offered to shuttle people down to the shop and even included a small dinner for our group. Definitely making the most of opportunities both for the shop and for us visitors. Kudos.

Open Thread Bar

Friday was Open Thread Bar. We had the whole day to play with all the lines of Superior threads. This was a great opportunity to get expert help troubleshooting any issues with our machines and the tricky threads. It was also great to try in person the threads I had only seen online.

Mother Superior

Mother Superior showed us a nice couching combination with an uneven zigzag stitch and Razzle Dazzle thread. Our Bartender Cindy was great with tips on adjusting our machines and the best uses for each thread.


I never thought I would be stitching feathers with metallic threads, but I did — and I liked it!

Thursday night was Quilt Hawai’i’s fantastic Fabric Bingo, where I won an amazing amount of swag. Friday was Superior quilt show and tell (I’m ready to make a whole cloth quilt in dupioni silk now), a project with fusible thread, and then graduation with highly coveted, much sought after, certificates. My friends and I are now a Certified Superior Threadologists!

Waikoloa Petroglyphs
(I think this guy is waving goodbye, which I am too, until the next post.)

11 Jun

Hawai’i Weekend

So the weekend after we were on Kauai, we turned around and went to the Big Island of Hawai’i. It was supposed to be the kids and hubby meeting me there after four days at Quilt Hawaii, but I got the month wrong. With time off of work, we decided to go anyway and check out all things lava.

We stayed at Kilauea Military Camp in Volcanoes National Park. If you are military, this is the way to go. The beds sucked, as did the restaurant on site, but staying in a cabin with a full kitchen and two rooms was way better than a cramped hotel room.  We cooked some meals at “home” and went out for others and it worked great. Besides, we were literally steps from this:

And from the Jaggar museum at night, you could see that steam glow just like a witch’s cauldron. Although the volcano has been erupting for something like 26 years and it is currently spewing ash from this crater and lava from a lava tube outside the park, there was absolutely nothing going on the weekend we were there. We had taken the plunge and booked a lava boat tour as it was the best way to see lava, but there was nothing at water’s edge on our day. We did get to see some wonderfully weird cooled lava formations though.

The tour guys were very knowledgeable and very enthusiastic, so it was a good trip even without the red hot stuff. We learned all about lava tubes and then found a collapsed one to explore in nearby MacKenzie State park:

We also visited Thurston Lava Tube back in Volcanoes NP. The kids and I walked through it while on our inter-island cruise last summer and were very excited to share the experience with daddy.

Weird shapes abound:

The lava makes a great palette too. We drove down Chain of Craters Road to the petroglyph field. Everything along the way was amazing.

There was a honu (sea turtle) on the black sand beach too. Actually, there were quite a few — one basking and several swimming.

Honu wasn’t the only one who basked.

All in all, it was a fun weekend and great to explore more of our surroundings. For teh curious, there’s more photos on Flickr.

01 Jun

Kauai Weekend

I marvel at the industriousness of my fellow bloggers who stay on task completing projects, swaps, challenges and entering shows and publishing things. My story, and I’m sticking to it, is that I’m just on permanent vacation. There’s far too many shiny distracting things in this life!

Like pretty beaches.

Friends to visit.

Gifts to give. And beach parties.

Canoe races to watch.


Geckos to catch.

Books to read.

Holes to dig. Pools to swim in. Oceans to float in.

Hikes to hike.

Sights to see.


And Nene.

Movie locations.

Zip lines to zip!

27 May

Tiki Toile

I’ve been dabbling in Spoonflower. I first used their services to create fabric with my kids’ drawings to use as lining for the Army  Daddy messenger bag. I used them to print the Hawaiian themed fabric I designed and used those samples to propose the designs to several fabric and paper companies (nothing came of it, but it was worth a try).

Part of the fun of Spoonflower is that not only do they provide a wonderful service printing custom fabrics, but they are also creating a community — and part of that includes fun weekly fabric contests. I was soooo disappointed that their Mixed Martial Arts Smackdown theme was just an April Fool’s joke — I was totally ready to design some kickboxing fabric and then use it to make a tote bag for my paddles and boxing gloves! But I digress. A while ago they had a toile contest and I thought, “how fun would it be to continue my Hawaiian fabric theme with a tiki toile?!” I didn’t get my act together in time, but I didn’t give up the idea either.

Then, Spoonflower announced “Tiki” as an upcoming theme. Fate was telling me I needed to make the time to create this design! So here it is, Tiki Toile — from an alternate reality where the French colonized the Hawaiian islands instead of the Americans and English. Where tiki kitsch is early 19th century instead of mid 20th.

The tikis are roughly based on the Hawaiian gods Ku, Kane, and Lono, and are surrounded by plants, flowers, lei, and artifacts appropriate to ancient Hawai’i. Hopefully, one can appreciate the fun I had in combining such disparate art forms as tiki and toile and not take any more offense at my use of them than one would take at tikis in a mid-century beach shack party bar setting.

I had hoped to have a picture of my actual sample fabric, but it hasn’t arrived yet. Please do take the time though to go vote for my Tiki Toile, and/or your other favorite tiki themed fabric designs over at Spoonflower! Please cast your vote by June 3rd.

01 May

Lava (in summation)

For anyone who might not already know, I belong to a wonderful online group of 12 quilt artists who challenge each other every two months to create a 12″x12″ quilt interpreting a new theme each time. This time, it was my turn to choose the theme. I knew I wanted to do something that related to my being in Hawai’i, and with the current twelve challenges, we’re focusing on color. So I chose the volcano Kilauea and gave a few photos and a palette as a jumping off point.

I wasn’t exactly sure how I wanted to interpret the theme myself, though I did know I wanted to go abstract as opposed to literal, and I always strive to connect my interpretation to works in cloth, if not quilts specifically.

Serendipitously, about a third of the way into our 12×12 timeline, I taught a class to my quilt guild on how to marble fabric. Bam! There it was — the undulating lines of cooled lava in a classically textile media.

For my first attempt I used the red, orange, black and two greys from my palette (and snuck in a yellow). Although the patterning was fantastic — looking both like classic european book papers and swirling, oozing lava at the same time, it didn’t have the richness I was hoping for. In my mind the fabric should have been black and grey with veins of red and orange running through in cracks as if it was just below the surface. I also found that after washing, the painted surface looked scuffed and faded and I didn’t like that.

I realized that I should have started with hot lava colored fabric and then marbled the cooled lava blacks and greys over it. Rather than start from scratch, I decided to try over dying my marbled fabrics as I had nothing to loose (they were pretty, but not what I envisioned for my Kilauea quilt). Great! Here was the rich color I needed, but it was too bloody looking and not lava-like yet.

To get more variation in my color, I tried discharging it. With hand dyed fabric, discharge can often uncover surprising hues. Not this time. Now my fabrics looked tired and washed out.

Starting from scratch now, I changed tactics and experimented with marbling using discharge dyes. The long story is here and here; the short story is that I made interesting fabrics, but none were quite what I wanted to use.

In the end, I went back to traditional marbling and used red-orange fabric s my base. Nearly perfect. I’d still like to go back some day and experiment more with dyes and marbling, but for now I have just decided to rinse, but not wash my painted fabric.

For the quilt itself, I used a simple traditional squares and let the fabrics speak to the types of lava and hawaiian setting. Onto that base, I added chartreuse triangles edged with french knots to represent the uluhe (false staghorn) fern so predominant at the Kilauea Caldera, and a few beads around the edge to symbolize Pele’s Tears often found near eruptions.

To see the whole quilt, and everyone else’s interpretations of my color theme, Kilauea, check out the 12×12 blog!

14 Feb


While most of the country is enveloped in snow, I am here to bring a little sunshine (or make readers insanely jealous). As part of my ploy to hang out with Deborah as much as possible we met her and her crew at Hanauma Bay for some snorkeling.

We had not yet been, and this snorkeling mecca was on our must-do list. The water is pretty clear and we actually saw a wider variety of fish than we had on our Molokini snorkel day last summer.

There was interesting coral and some anenomes, and the cutest little polka dotted box fish:

And what’s this we’re pointing at?

That’s our state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa! Which sounds even funnier when screamed excitedly through a snorkel. The kids were thrilled to see and instantly recognize the fish who’s name they’ve been practicing so enthusiasticly.

My big excitement was going further out into the bay with Deborah’s husband and brother in law to see even more fish on the back side of the reef. And, like all good tourists, we were really hoping to see a turtle. And we did! After a quick sighting, it reappeared a few minutes later and we floated with it, very relaxed, for a good 20 minutes. That was cool!

That was the best Furlough Friday yet!

21 Jan

Plantation Days

I’ve posted a few times about the ancient Hawaiians and the Polynesian influence here in Hawai’i (click on the Aloha tag in the cloud over there on the right), but not really about the other main cultural influence — the days of the plantations. I’ll leave you to research on your own, but I wanted to share some photos of a historic area not too far from where I live (it wasn’t too long ago that where my house is located would have been in the middle of a cane field, with nothing but more cane as far as the eye could see). You can click on the photos to go to my Flickr set with a few more details.

Manager’s House

General Store?

Cane grabber-lifter thingy.

Ewa Community Church

Nifty part on the train that used to carry cane, but now carries people on a secnic tour (betcha didn’t know there was a train on Oahu, did you?).

More historic trains.

Rich businessman Dillingham’s private, parlor car.

28 Dec

Hi There!

Long time no talk. I’ve been busy.

We have family here and have been pretending to be tourists at a beach hotel. No internet or computer, and I have to admit I really didn’t miss it. I have been thinking a bit about what I could blog about since there has been no shortage of fodder, but I have not been motivated to actually write anything. I’m thinking about what the year ahead might bring and that will undoubtedly become a blog post. For now though, I think I’ll just share some photos of what we’ve been up to the last week or so.

We stayed at the Hale Koa in Waikiki

We walked around Waikiki and swam in the oean and in the pool.

We enjoyed some music.

We did a little hiking.

We did a little watching.

We finally made it to the sights at Pearl Harbor.

We looked for turtles.

We looked at each other.

We looked at the Pali.

We went to a Luau.

And we’re generally just enjoying ourselves (see the rainbow over Honolulu?).

See ya later.