Many people first encounter poi in the form of fire spinning, but fire spinning is just one form of this highly varied art. Modern poi borrows significantly from other physical arts, including various schools of dance and many object manipulation arts. Poi refers to both a style of performing art and the equipment used for engaging in poi performance. As a performance art, poi involves swinging tethered weights through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns. Poi can be made from various materials with different handles, weights, and effects.
Poi originated with the Māori people of New Zealand, where it is still practiced today. The expansion of poi culture has led to a significant evolution of the styles practiced and the tools used. Today, most performance poi are made from durable and readily available modern materials. Cores are often made of foam or crumpled paper, while skins consist of plastic or loomed fabrics, such as tulle. Tassels are usually made of wool. Traditionally made raupō poi are less likely to be used by modern poi artists since traditional materials wear quickly with frequent use. I have friends who make practice poi sets by stuffing a weighted ball into a tube sock or stocking.
I do not spin poi, but I know lots about it due to my accidental crochet success. I was crocheting hacky sacks one day and not paying attention to my stitches so instead of being rounded, my pattern came out looking like a teardrop shape. The shape was so perfectly attractive that I did not want to undo what I had woven. I instead found something to create with it, finished the pattern to make a single poi, made a second identical poi and came up with making my first poi set. I was pleased with my creation but honestly expected nothing to come of it when I posted the first pair on my Etsy Page. They sold within the first four hours of being posted! So I made another set and the same thing happened, the instantly sold! I never expected anything from opening an Etsy page, I simply wanted to make back the money I was spending on my yarn addiction. Over the past year I sold hundreds of Poi Sets and other crocheted goods and gained the ability to support myself almost entirely from my crochet art and I love that it was a “mistake” that lead to my success.
You can see what Poi Sets I still have available on my Etsy page Gypsy Sugar Crochet. If none of the colors that I have listed vibe with your taste, I encourage you to send me a message. I love special requests! If you have made a purchase and posted a picture on Instagram please tag me @gypsysugarcrochet so that I can see my stuff in action!