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Waste Not, Want Not... A Little Goes A Long Way...

Hawaiian style ule hala

I was helping Chantal at Māʻona Community Garden last week. We pruned a bushy puhala. I forgot to take a "before" picture.  While all the branches and leaves we cut were put aside to compost, it seemed like a waste to let it all go without trying to make something of it.  I saved some green lau, which I will write about it in another post, and four ulehala (aerial roots) pictured above.  When making papale, we weave in a string at the beginning of the brim to hold its shape and fit.  When I first started making papale I used cotton string.  Then Kumu Pohaku Kahoʻohanohano and Margaret Lovett taught me to use hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) string.  Later, at the ʻAha Puhala O Puna weaving conference in Hilo, I learned from Marques Hanalei Marzan how to process ulehala to make cordage.

EH helping me pound the ulehala to soften and fray the fibers (pictured above and below).

One of the ulehala split in two.  We could have kept pounding more of each root but our arms and shoulders were getting fatigued.

Plunged and rinsed (above) each ulehala. Changed the water and plunged. Repeated until the water in the bucket stayed clear.

Then let it hang to drip and dry for a day or two (above).

I gave away two of the ulehala. I kept the shortest and longest for myself, pictured above on an old sheet.  While sitting and watching TV I separated the fibers and then wili (twist) them into kaula (string).

Kaula ulehala. There is about 15 feet of cordage in the picture above.  The ends/tails of the adds need to be trimmed.

There is easily 30 feet of cordage and yet less than one fourth of the ulehala fiber is used.  A little goes a long way.

A closer view of the string that I trimmed and bundled, and more string yet to trim. (above)

 Pictured above is an example of how I will use my ulehala cordage.

June 29, 2021 Update:  

All told I was able to wili (twist) 130 feet of kaula ulehala. Will be using it for future papale.


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