What are You Wearing on Your Head this Winter?

It certainly is a COLD winter so far for most of us. We’ve been seeing single digits for days with days to come. Some have it much harsher with double digit negatives. I hope everyone is doing their best to stay warm and keeping their fur and feather friends warm as well.

With it being so cold, it is a good time to talk about the nitty gritty of wine get bonnets or hoods. Well, some of it. I need to save so e stuff for the up coming book.

Let’s talk about silk verses wool. One of the most common questions I get about winter hoods is if silk is better than wool or wool better than silk. The answer is “Yes”. 

Both silk and wool are found in original bonnets from 1840 through the 1860s. Without tallying up those I’ve surveyed, including my personal collection, roughly 65%-70% of extant hoods have silk on the exterior and roughly 35%-40% have wool exteriors. Other materials show up as well.

Silk is nice for wet snow. Think about how an umbrella made of silk protects against the rain. In a wet snow, silk will hold up against the wet for a while. Eventually, the water will soak through. This happened then as it will now. Water marks can be seen on some originals. (There is a difference in water staining for when a bonnet was worn verses damage in storage.)

Wool helps with moisture for an extended time as well as providing insulation. Wool needs to be a smooth, tight weave though. A fuzzy wool, such as flannel, will act like a snow magnet, inviting it to cling to the fuzzy bits. Wool also needs to be very light weight. Thick or heavyweight wools are not regularly found on original hoods.

Left: Original hood with a solid color silk exterior. Right: Original wool hood with a plaid wool exterior. 

Moving on to the inside, the batting or wadding – The vast majority of originals use some type of wool for the wadding or batting. A significant number are natural, just cleaned and combed off the sheep. I’ve seen a nice mix of colors inside some hoods. Some originals are lightly filled, while others are quite densely filled. Some thinner hoods have a thin batting more similar to 100% cotton quilt batting. Yet a couple others have a layer of fulled wool inside, completely covered (not as a visible lining.) Wool batting is by far the warmest option, over cotton batting. I have not yet determined if the thicker, fluffier, lighter wadding is warmer or less warm then the denser, tighter wadding/batting. I can tell more wool does seem to be more warm. There is also a point where there can be too much warm.

Left: Original wadded silk hood with fluffy wool wadding. This is sometimes called a pumpkin bonnet/hood. Right: Original silk quilted hood with wool batting. 

I am going to leave the lining for the upcoming book. Linings are just too varied and fascinating for a single post.

How about wind? Some of us live in areas with amazing winter winds. There is a quasi-local event each February that sees frigid, harsh winds coming off Lake Erie and picking up some extra speed off a frozen pond before walloping us on the overlooking porch. For this type of event, I want both warmth and wind protection. A deep brim that reaches in front of the face with minimal rise will help keep the wind off the face. A long bavolet will help protect the neck. Another help can be longer sides or the long, lappet like sides.

Left: Original wool and silk hood with long lappet like sides. Right: Original silk and silk hood with long lappet like sides. 

I will be working on some new hoods soon-ish. In the meanwhile, you are welcome to make your own hood from one of my patterns. They are available for instant download through my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on December 31, 2017 at 10:44 am  Leave a Comment  

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