I am about to venture into new prayer caps. I made a black triangular kerchief for someone last night, and a lace mantilla attached to a headband. The latter reminded me of the little lace and floral headcovers we wore as children to church, a bit of net, maybe a few artifical rosebuds, sewn onto a narrow plastic toothed headband. They were rather Roman in look, but served the purpose of getting a number of small girls properly clad for Church School and the long, long sermon during the Baptist morning service.
I have been wearing the plain white cotton or natural linen caps I began to make about three years ago. They have an Early American or even Elizabethan look, with no ruffles or ornament, and they serve well. But I’m interested in using a lighter fabric, especially for summer here in southern Ontario, where I’m afraid I’ll melt in the heat and humidity.
I have a natural coloured chiffon I’m going to try. (Chiffon doesn’t have a “natural” colour, I guess, but it’s the colour of linen.) I bought some tulle netting to try to make a stiff cap, but I need to locate powdered starch. Spray starch won’t work. Liquid starch seems to be a thing of the past, unless I send away to the States for it. When we needed it for liturgical linen while I lived in Maine, we used to buy it in Canada!
I never thought about how I wear my hair under the cap, except that other women have asked me the best way to put up their hair. My own hair is very long but baby-fine. I can brush it back from a center part, twist it into a bun and hold it in place with four bobby pins. I’ve noticed that some of the Mennonite sisters use clippies at the crown to hold the front hair back, but my delicate hair gets broken that way. Another way to put up one’s hair is to pull it into a ponytail at the back of the head with a covered elastic band. I’d avoid the kind that have a metal clasp, as the hair catches in it. Then slightly twist the hair and wind it against the head. For thick hair, one might try the long roller pins that look like big bobby pins. The Amish make long U-shaped pins, which can be mail-ordered. Some Amish girls braid their hair into two plaits behind the ears, and wind them around the back of their head, then pin it in place. The question is how heavy and thick one’s hair is; some women may need a snood or net to contain long, uncut hair.
Another headcovering I will make soon is the sun or prairie bonnet, yes, like Sunbnnet Sue or Laura Ingalls or Holly Hobbie. I have worn them in the past but found that they were often a bit too gay for me. That is, in the Quaker sense of the word: too bright, too ornamental. But for someone like me who burns easily and is allergic to sunscreen, they are a very good choice for summer. Sunbonnets, meant to be worn at home while working outdoors, are often a little brighter and more colourful than the outing bonnet of black or navy blue. I have a very small shepherd’s plaid of black and buff cotton for my own, and I plan to make some more colourful ones for other people or perhaps to sell.
If thee is making thy first prayer coverings, then the triangular scarves or kerchiefs are the easiest, but the construction of the traditional cap or bonnet is not all that difficult. Patterns are available, or follow the directions that the sisters at Shepherd’s Hill give.