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Most of Molokai‘i's prime ‘opihi grounds are only accessible by boat. Jordan Spencer, just offshore of Wailau Valley, September 2006
Vol. 9, No. 6
December/January 2007

  >>   Hearts of Palm
  >>   On the Rocks
  >>   Top Flight

The Shrug Queen 

story by Julia Steele
photo by Gerlinde Gorla


Pam Sandridge loves color. And texture. And movement. Years ago she combined all of those passions in dance and became one of the Islands’ top choreographers. Then she dropped out of that world and waited to see what would come next. The answer—like so many—was unpredicted, surprising and perfect. On a January 2005 trip to Seattle, Pam visited a yarn shop and was astonished at what she found: yarns that had grown up and tarted up, yarns that were vibrant, complex, glitzy. Inspired, she knitted a “shrug,” a garment that is not quite a sweater, not quite a scarf, but rather a fast-forward throwback to the days of clothing as confection. It stirred oohs and aahs from all who saw it and marked the start of the next chapter of Pam’s life; before long she was designing and knitting shrugs in all colors and forms. One thing, though, was uniform: the ease with which Pam’s shrugs wrapped around women’s shoulders to evoke a seductive glamour. Think Ava Gardner meets Marilyn Monroe. Pam herself likes to call her creations “gift-wrapping representing the radiance of what is to be discovered within. … Anybody who tries them on, they get a whole different sense of themselves,” she says. “There was a woman in the bank yesterday who put one on. Her eyes started to sparkle, she stood tall and she looked majestic.”

Pam frequently sells her shrugs off her back—on a plane, in the store, at a show (“mobile marketing,” she calls it). Since that fateful trip to Seattle, she has knitted so many creations that she earned the nickname “The Shrug Queen” from a friend’s young daughter. In July she celebrated that title by holding a fashion show at Honolulu’s Café Sistina to introduce her collection; she’ll hold another this January. She’s had inquiries from Florida, Texas, Colorado. But she doesn’t like to take credit for any of it—she sees the shrugs as part of a master plan. “It’s not about me,” she says. “It’s about magic. It’s about the imagination of the women who wear them. I’m in awe of it.”

The Shrug Queen
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