The Side-Tracked Hawaiian Quilter

Well, if only I had all the time in the world and didn’t have to work! My creative energy seems to have taken a different path for awhile. I was with a group of my wahine friends, knitting away on a blanket that I’m making, which contains my very first handspinning (from my own sheep!) and knitting efforts.

We meet once a week and twice a month spend a good part of the day together, each wahine pursuing her own creative inclinations. My friend “Snowflake” had come hoping to learn how to crochet a hat, but unfortunately the wahine who was going to teach her couldn’t come.

So there was Snowflake, looking so bereft at the thought of not having anything to do during this creative time… and there I was, knitting away on my blanket. I looked at her and asked, “Would you like me to teach you how to knit?”, (well, I could’ve taught her how to crochet, too, but I wasn’t into crocheting hats). Her eyes just lit up like sparklers, and in less time than it takes to say “wikiwiki”, I was giving her a first knitting lesson. By the end of an hour, she hardly needed any help at all.

I was glad to help her. It didn’t matter that I hardly got anything done on my blanket. I loved sharing the process with her, and watching her “get it”, even though her first efforts were clumsy and her fingers felt all hamajang.

Two weeks later, she was pau with her first scarf! She wore it excitedly to our group, who showered her with compliments as she modeled it, twirling around the room with joy.

A couple of weeks later, Julie, (who I’d taught to spin), announced that it was time she learned how to knit as well, and within a week she was happily working on her first scarf. When she was pau and modeled her own creation, something happened within our group that I wasn’t expecting. Suddenly, everyone else wanted to learn to knit, too.

Two weeks later I looked out at what appeared to be a sea of faces (actually only about 8 ) looking at me as if I really knew what I was doing. Having never taught a whole class before, I was a bit intimidated, but managed to get everyone started. And before I knew it, almost the whole group was knitting away on their scarves. Snowflake learned to do new stitches while the next bunch of wahine learned the basics. One older woman told me, “I want to learn, but I know I can’t. I’m so clumsy”. She was defeated by old messages as she looked longingly at the yarn in others’ hands. “If you don’t try,” I encouraged her, “then you’ll never have a chance to find out. If you don’t try, you will never learn. But what if you’re wrong and you really can? Would you be willing to risk it?” After a little hesitation, she agreed to try… and soon, within a mere 10 minutes, she was knitting, the yarn flowing through her fingers as though she’d been doing it all her life.

One little question, “Would you like me to teach you how to knit?” begun what has turned into a knitting frenzy in our group. Snowflake has knitted and given away at least 7 scarves, and my other friends are beginning to do the same. Recently, one of the women in our group was diagnosed with breast cancer, and all of us have knitted squares in whatever yarn we felt led to use; I’m going to put them all together for an “Alohaghan” for her, so that while she’s going through chemo she’ll have a tangible reminder that we’re all praying for her, loving her, and supporting her.

I’ve learned that just as two sticks and a length of yarn can be used to fashion something beautiful, the lives of my friends and I are being knitted together to form a bond that grows stronger with every week that we’re together. The colors of yarn that each wahine chooses are as varied as our personalities, skin colors and backgrounds. While we’re knitting, we talk, seemingly in rhythm to the click of our needles, sharing our fears, our joys, our triumphs, our love for God and His presence in our lives. Teaching my friends to knit has embodied, for me, the real meaning of aloha: to share, to give, to encourage.

So although I am temporarily on a “knitting journey” instead of a “quilting journey”, my heart is warm with the knowledge that creativity knows no bounds, has no rules, and is always full of possibilities for those who will stop to ask the question, “Would you like me to teach you?”

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2 Responses to The Side-Tracked Hawaiian Quilter

  1. Dee Olsen says:

    I am sidetracked on a reqular basis, I knit at night so that I can be in the house with my husband. I quilt during the day so I am able to be alone in my studio with a creative influnce and love in my heart for all who receive my quilting projects and my knitted projects. My love is socks, but I am going to be a great grandmother in 2005 and have new projects in mind. I love knitting and quilting.

  2. Linda says:

    could you give step by step ON the website… ur soooo difficult!!! ):<

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