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Tension in Ulana: Cup & Saucer - from April 5,2019

[Originally from an earlier blog at]
Pa’u 2004. Cup & Saucer Lauhala Hat. Photo by Sherry Holloway.

Cup & Saucers are vintage style from the early 1900s… probably much, much earlier. In lauhala, they require weaving from the piko, down the ipu, back up and out to the brim. The picture above is my first Cup & Saucer papale. Margaret Lovett of Kaua’i, my kumu, taught me how to weave that Cup & Saucer at the Ka Ulu Lauhala O Kona annual weaving conference in May 2004. I wore it riding as Pa’u Queen the following month in the Kona Kamehameha Day Floral Parade. Many years later I wore it again, re-creating that look, riding with past Pa’u Queens in 2016.

2016 Pa’u riding with my original Cup & Saucer papale lauhala. 100th annual King Kamehameha Day Parade. Photo by FunkyHulaGurl Photography

Cup & Saucers make nice “formal” wear for events like weddings, parties, and brunches that also shade your head from the sun.

Tension is extremely important to create the shape of the hat. One wants a nice graceful curve. The two hats picture above are the same head size. Same ipu. I had been out of practice since I hadn’t made a Cup & Saucer in a while. In the first attempt (Pic. 2) , I wove too far down the ipu which created a deeper “cup.” The nice thing about that is it sits deeper on the head like a conventional hat. The difficult thing is that it uses up the lengths of the koana (strands). One needs long koana so that splicing isn’t necessary. Splicing makes “tension” even more challenging. For me, the main reason Cup & Saucers are difficult to make, is that there is no set formula to how much to add in certain rows. As each weaver’s “hand” is different, so is their tension. Much of weaving a nice Cup & Saucer is checking the shape often as one is weaving and being willing to hemo (take off) when it doesn’t look right. You can see comparing pictures below (Pic. 3 and 4) how the hat with the deeper cup has a tighter curve in the brim, while the Pic. 3 hat has a more gradual slope.

While a shallow Cup & Saucer is elegant sitting on top of the hair, fastening it so that it doesn’t fall or blow off easily becomes a challenge. People use hat pins, bobby pins, elastic strings under the chin or behind the ears. I stitched hair combs with elastic as anchors. The elastic allows “give” so that pulling on the combs does not damage the koana. In the papale below I also stitched a piece of sweatband. Sweatbanding keeps the forehead from itching and protects the lauhala from make-up and sweat.

Hair combs wrapped with elastic stitched inside to anchor the papale to one's hair.

The papale below was originally woven in 2004 while I was still learning the impact of “tension.” My tension was even but flat. The brim was flat and the hat looked like a giant disk. The recipient of the “gift” didn’t wear it. I didn’t blame her. It was awkward and she was too nice to say so. A few months later I gave her a purse and took back the papale. Seven (yes seven) years later I re-blocked it with ideas from these books: Vintage Hats & Bonnets 1770-1790: Identification & Values, 2nd Edition by Susan Langley and The Mode in Hats & Headdress: A Historical Survey with 198 Plates (Dover Fashion and Costumes) by R. Turner Wilcox. The resulting “ruffles” makes for a unique papale that sparks conversation. Just FYI, I don’t receive referral perks for products mentioned. I add the links so readers can “click” instead of having to “search.”

Originally woven in 2004, it was re-blocked with rufflles in 2011.

Cup & Saucers aren’t the only style used by Pa’u Riders. Below is a photo of Pa’u Riders on Oahu showing various beautiful papale lauhala.

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