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Friday, July 16, 2010

Crafty on Vacay

Recently I flew beyond the bounds of this little crafty town to a much-needed vacation, hopping from Seattle to Kona and back. Normally when I travel I tend to draw crafters in like moths to a flame. On the plane there is bound to be a knitter in the seat over, the cabby will inevitably have a side business on Etsy, and you can always bet the waitress sews in her spare time. Personally, I am thrilled to encounter crafters in all parts and move on my merry way, but this trip was a bit extraordinary. Everywhere I went crafters were crawling out of the woodwork.

My first stop was Fremont for the Solstice Celebration. If you have ever attended this love-fest you probably just let out a knowing "Oooooh!" followed by a giggle. The unofficial start of the parade running through the streets of Fremont, a free-loving section of Seattle, begins with a troupe of painted (and disrobed) bicyclists. Though a little on the wild side, these revelers really know how to get crafty when it comes down to their canvas, the human body. From green-clad Kermit The Frog bicyclists to an entire train of Where's Waldo painted paraders the craft time involved was evident. And it didn't stop there. A homemade three-tiered multi-bicycle contraption with sail-power came trundling along. Then, the actual parade began. Creativity was the name of the game in parade floats and costume-clad participants, from giant puppets to human-powered vehicles. The highlight of the craft-sanity came for me when out of the corner of my eye I spotted none other than a tree on the move. At second glance I could barely discern the stilted figure masked by a fabric trunk and an entire tree of branches emerging from his waistline. The crafty celebrant perched atop his stilts transforming the Fremont Solstice into the Fremont Craftfest.

My next hop took me to the city of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. As a cheechako to Hawaii I wasn't sure what to expect, but right from the beginning the crafters made me feel right at home. For starters we headed to the farmers market where women were weaving fresh flowers onto handcrafted leis. And we couldn't pass up the friendly fellow in the parking lot weaving long local grasses into hats and bowls and baskets. These bowls turn from vibrant green to a dried cream color and last a very long time (long enough to come home all the way to AK!). Later, during the quintessential Luau, we were gifted a lesson in crafting our own little fish from the same long grasses. And who doesn't love a little craft with dinner? Throughout my stay I was struck by how much the island life reflects our own island-like existence. And of course, you know a culture is crafty when they can turn a single piece of fabric into a skirt, a dress or a shawl with one tuck, known around the island as a pareo.

Travelling home I felt both fulfilled and exhausted. Learning about and experiencing other crafty cultures is fantastic, but is not for the weak-at-hand. I was happy to come home to my needles and yarn, soak in a little sun (or rain) and prepare myself for my next crafty travel adventure.

First published here by the Capital City Weekly . . .

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