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!

9 comments: TN said...

You outdid yourself!!!!! I think they are beautiful!!!! Wish I had those books!!!!

Vashti Braha said...

Kathleen, this is my favorite internet destination today! Now I can see why people crochet leis (I had heard about it a few years ago and I know a crochet book or two has been published in Hawaii). It's partly your amazing work and partly the displays associating a flower with an island that make this an amazing post.
Thank you! I hope you will add to your blog.

Mokihana said...

Aloha! The lei are lovely, all of them. Because of my name, I would love to make a mokihana one; are the directions available? It would help this homesick island girl to not feel quite to far away if I could make one for myself...


Wendi said...

What really nice lei! You did a great job. How super duper that your lei were for a public display!

Anonymous said...

Aloha! Thank you for this post, which I just found today. Having just returned from the Big Island, we are having a Hawai'ian themed dinner and I want to make leis for my guests. Very much appreciate all the hard work you did. This is a good motivator. ~ Ruth

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