Monday, May 7, 2007

Lei Contest

Flush with success after making so many lei for Lei Day at work, I decided to enter the lei making contest at the local Lei Day festival, held on the first Sunday in May.

Anyone could enter a lei, and they had about 50+ entries! Including two from yours truly! Having never seen such a contest before, I wasn't sure what to expect, and I was totally outclassed. Almost all the lei entered were real flower lei, so beautifully put together you could weep. I wasn't the only one who entered an artificial lei, there were a few done by kids out of things like M&Ms and origami birds. I think mine were the only crocheted entries. I was pretty pleased with them, but no way anything artificial could compete with the gorgeous flowers, ferns, and seeds of the real thing.

Here's a shot of some of the entries on display. Remember, these are all real flowers and leaves:

Here's my two. I wasn't pleased with the display of the maroon on on the right - they hung it up kind of twisted. Still, I felt I could hold my head up among the other artificial lei makers! LOL! I just experimented until I came up with something pretty, I wasn't trying to emulate a particular flower.

The one on the left is made of a strand of fun fur and a strand of some old Red Heart Sport pompadour in a color they don't make anymore, Parakeet, which is like a bright turquoise. I just did a simple tube of sc going around in a spiral, seven sc around. The maroon one is a base chain of heavy rattail cord, the "leaves" made of two strands held together - some dark green chenille (it came without a label from my local LYS) and some Moda Dea Jai Alai fun fur type yarn in a beautiful variegated in shades of maroon and greens. The "leaves" were just three dc clusters with a picot on top of the middle dc. It actually looked very Christmassy, at least that's what the lady who was taking in the entries said! LOL!

Here is one of the six winners. Look how perfect and round and gorgeous it is. These are real flowers, orchids of some variety, I think. Pretty much all the lei in the pictures are made of real flowers - some of them so perfect they don't look real at all! However, you can see an artificial origami lei behind the winner.

The six winners - they all basically tied for first, there was no first, second, third and so on - were announced before the entertainment started and came up on stage to claim their prizes, which were, naturally, lei! But special lei, consisting of rolled up dollar bills strung together! Each winner got a $100 lei!

After they announced the winners and the entertainment began, all the lei in the contest went up for silent auction, with proceeds going to the Palace Theater. So I didn't get to keep my two lei, but it's for a good cause. I left right after the bidding opened, so I didn't get to see if anyone bid on, or bought, my two. I hope so!

I'm already plotting for next year. Besides suggesting that there be two contest categories, one for real flowers and one for artificial lei (LOL!), I think that elaborate is better. My preference is for more simple designs, but if I want a $100 lei, I better get fancy! I'm thinking of a doing something very dense and intricate using thread instead of yarn - think kind of a doily lei. Not that I ever make doilies. But I'm picturing dark green thread "foliage" and lots of tiny flowers in pink, purple and white thread. Hmmm.... at least I have a year to think about it! This year, I made both my entries the night before! LOL!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Lei Day 2007 Display

Since 1929, when a couple of Honolulu newspaper writers thought it up, May 1 has been "Lei Day" in Hawai'i. The idea is to celebrate the Hawaiian tradition of giving and wearing lei. The main celebrations are in Honolulu, with a Lei Day Queen and Court, lei making contests, and concerts. And all the newscasters were lei on the air that day!

At the library where I work, our Hawaiian Collection Librarian, Helen, decided to create a display for the lobby display cases based on Lei Day. She found lots of old books, magazines, and newspaper articles about Lei Day through the years. When she put out a call for artificial lei to put in the cases (no real flowers, since the display is for the whole month!), I volunteered to crochet some lei.

Right after I moved here, I bought two books, Hawaiian Lei in Crochet and Fancy Hawaiian Lei in Crochet. They're really great pattern books, beautifully illustrated, with instructions on using worsted weight yarn and regular crochet stitches to make all kinds of lei. (Both books are available on Amazon, by the way.) Needless to say, the lei are so much fun to crochet and I got a little carried away...

Helen wanted a lei for each of the eight Hawaiian islands, using that island's "official" flower. It turns out that my books had patterns for all the flowers, so I was good to go. I made seven lei, for all the islands except Ni'ihau, which is represented by shell lei. I didn't have a pattern for shells! Helen arranged them in the cases with a nice label that the lei were made by me. I'm famous! LOL!

Here's some photos of the lei in the display cases:

The orange one is Kauna`oa vine lei representing Lānai, and the other is the Kukui, or candlenut tree lei, representing Molokai. Orange yarn is TLC Essentials in Persimmon. Green yarn is Sugar 'N Cream cotton and off white is Caron Wintuk. I blocked and blocked the green leaves, but they would not stay blocked and curled up. They're supposed to be flat, they would look much better!

An `Ilima flower lei for O`ahu, made with yellow Caron Pounder yarn and green Red Heart:

The red Lehua flower for the big island of Hawai`i, and the pink Lokelani from Maui, all with Red Heart. That red lei was the biggest pain to make - the "flowers" are basically pom poms, tied in sequence on green yarn and twisted with the crocheted leaves. I hate making pom poms, especially when they're tied together like that!

Mokihana, twisted with a strand of maile, found only on Kaua`i, made with TLC essentials in Light Celery. The maile leaves are from some pretty dark green chenille that I bought at my LYS. It didn't have a label.

And finally, gray Hinahina from Kaho`olawe, gray Red Heart and green Caron Wintuk.

Of course, I didn't stop with the Lei Day display! Our library social committee asked us all to wear lei that day, so... I had to make lei for everyone, right? Here are most of the ones I made for my co-workers, festively displayed on, er..., my ironing board. Most are made with worsted weight acrylic from my stash. The fuzzy red one is a strand of Red Heart and a strand of some faux fun fur from the dollar store several years ago.

They did turn out well, if I do say so myself! I gave one to everyone in my department, who liked them enough to pose for pictures without protest!

Left to right: Cynthia with a bleeding heart flower lei, Laura with anthuriums, and Kristin (seated) with orange/gold cigar flowers and purple orchids. Kristin was one of several people who brought back the lei I had made them for Christmas (also crocheted from my books) to wear again.

Left to right: Brian in something with red fuzzy yarn that I just made up - not meant to represent any particular flower! - Avis with white daisies (and her blue Xmas lei that I can't remember what flower it's supposed to be), and Lynn with white ginger and her Christmas yellow ilima.

As you can probably see, the crocheted lei are meant to represent the flower, not duplicate it exactly! Some of them, you have to really use your imagination!

Of course, I wore one of my own lei, pink yarn roses, which my boss liked so much I gave it to her after Lei Day was over! The rest of the lei I made went to co-workers, including Helen who put together the display. She told me that the display lei were going to be stored in acid free boxes for future displays - ooh, la, la!