AHIQ Linkup – In Search of Wai’ale’ale (Rippling Water)

The Inspiration

We were lucky to spend a week on Kauai in March, and I’m holding on as long as I can to the sensory treat of being on an island in the middle of the South Pacific; the warm, fragrant, soft breezes, the green of the land and the blue of the sea. It’s all about water out there, everywhere you look. We traveled to the ends of the roads to catch glimpses of one of the wettest spots on earth, the top of Mt. Wai’ale’ale, which receives over 400 inches of rain a year on average. The top of the mountain is actually a crater, so it’s not all that easy to pinpoint the exact spot…but there are clues. This one was at the end of the road, and start of the trail at the top of the Kalalau Valley, in Koke’e State Park. We were in tourist mode, not hiking gear, and all of the people finishing this trail were covered in mud up to their waist.

DSC00671Usually, it is shrouded in clouds, but we got lucky one day driving through the Waimea Homesteads in the hills to the East of the mountain. When we looked back, the clouds lifted just long enough for us to snap a shot in the general direction. DSC00891

Anyhow, I have had an idea for a water piece in my head for months and months, and I found a beautiful little collection of nine fat quarters in my donation store. These were mostly from a line by Andover called “Jewels of the Sea”.IMG_2136 I wanted to experiment with different ways of depicting falling, flowing and rippling water. Since I had only spent about a dollar on the fabric (half-off Friday) I figured I could be brave and if it didn’t work out, I’d always have a few pieces I could use for a small bag or something of that sort. In other words, I gave up my expectation that it would result in an actual quilt, and just started cutting. As it turns out, that was a good call, because I did not succeed in realizing my vision!

I did not take a lot of process photos. I started by cutting each of the FQs up into several strips, between about 2″ and 4-5″ wide.

Image_2The first set of blocks (right) I made by putting sets of three strips together lengthwise with freehand cut curvy seams. I originally intended these to go vertical, but ended by putting them into a horizontal orientation and joining them end to end, representing a river.



The next set (left) I made using essentially the same technique I used for my “improv bargello” piece a few weeks ago, and this yielded a panel more or less representing falling water (rain or waterfall).



For the third set, I cut approximately square pieces, stacked them in fours and cut a curve horizontally across the middles, then shuffled the layers and re-stitched them. These I put together in rows to represent waves.

Water Three Ways

Here are the three panels together.



I tried to let the prints in the various fabrics provide needed value contrasts in this exercise, since my intention was really to work on piecing methods and to create some pieces that imitated the movement of water. I think the various prints in this set of fabrics did help to contribute light and reflections, but there are still too many straight lines here for the look I’m after. I like the colors but am not satisfied with the piecing. I think that these may go into the ‘made cloth’ pile as potential material for some other work later. Meanwhile, I’ve had another brainstorm how to accomplish what I’m going for, but I’ve been busy with other projects and haven’t tried it yet. While pondering all this, I read Kaja’s recent “What if?” post where she said

“There are so many techniques in quilting and indeed in other forms of sewing, like garment-making that we could regard as options for improv, tools to enable us translate the ideas in our heads into fabric – let’s be encouraged to keep pushing the boundaries.”

This is very timely advice for me, because I keep trying the same things expecting a different result…and we know what “they” say that means!

Linking up with AHIQ and cannot believe that April is almost gone by!



6 thoughts on “AHIQ Linkup – In Search of Wai’ale’ale (Rippling Water)

  1. Sue, what a wonderful place you got to visit, it looks stunning – I adore mountains! I think you’re being hard on yourself regarding the panels – they really do capture the flowing movement of water. I understand why you want to keep on experiment though, it’s pushing ourselves to the limit that often brings the best results 🙂


  2. Chuckling at your ending. How often we do do that! Putting the disappointments into the made fabric pile is a good option. More experimenting sounds like more fun. That way you get the best of both worlds: improv and surprise/improv with intention.


  3. I love the different intensities of blue fabrics in your pieces, and admire your decision to use these panels for something else and to try again to realise your plan. They are sure to be exactly what’s needed in another project. Re-purposing is not failure; it’s succeeding where you hadn’t expected to!


  4. I tried a water piece once: never did get it right. I like your experiments – I agree that the colours/values work fine, but movement is so hard to capture. I do think the rain (or waterfall) piece has something – maybe if it was long and thin, like a waterfall, rather than wide? I will be very interested to see where you go next.


  5. I’ve been to two others but not Kauai. Thanks for sharing the photos. The mountains were almost always covered with fog or cloud for us, too. Thanks also for sharing your process with us. Have you looked at Maria Shell’s blog, especially her Root Glacier quilt? That may have some of the effect you want. And quilting will add some more texture, too. As you and everyone else have said, the values and scale of your fabrics are great. Thanks for linking this helpful post with AHIQ.


Comments are closed.