Hats By Katrinka

Kate Brown Pernia is a Milliner on sabbatical in Switzerland. She has been designing hats and teaching millinery under her Katrinka label since the 1980s. Kate is also the founder of Houston Hat Net. View Katrinka hats and hat patterns at www.hatsbykatrinka.com.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


We are just back from a quick business trip to Geneva (hubby’s biz). I love Geneva tho’ it is a big city with lots of noise and traffic. The reason I love it is the French influence, I think. The beautiful language is music to my ears and, though out of practice, I understand more of it than I yet understand German. The other aspect that I love is the way Geneva women dress - more French influence, I suspect. Look at this pair enjoying glacé at our favorite Bourg de Four plaza in the Old Town. I’m guessing this is a Grandmama with her grandchild. The heat wave was still in full force but these ladies look cool and happy!
Kate Q:-)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

35 C. and the Hottest Day of the Year (so far)

So yesterday we headed for the Bodensee (a/k/a Lake Constance). We purchased day passes at the Bahnhof and took a Postbus to Rorschach, had a light lunch (I had crisply fried fish - Sonderfilet) with local beer by the lake then hopped on the boat for Lindau on the German side of the lake. What a cool and delightful trip! How do you like Brittany's new Fendi Sonnenbrille? The water is an amazing shade of clear green and no wonder there were lots of sailboats out and about. We sipped another beer on board after we convinced the waiter to take Swissfrancs. (We’d remembered to bring passports and a German/English dictionary but every one of us forgot to bring Euros!)

When we arrived we headed for Maximillianstrasse for an atm machine then Italian gelato. Here’s what I had - 2 kugels, one apricot and the other Campari orange. Perfection. It was so hot that it was challenging to eat the gelato fast enough. When John told me my Campari orange was dripping onto my blouse I looked down and my hat brim hit the cone spreading orange gelato on the brim as well. What a klutz!! Good thing raffia straw cloth can be wiped clean with water. We strolled around for a couple of hours getting hot and sunburned. Brittany found the souvenir gifts she’d been hunting and I spotted several hat shops.

We also found the Stadtmuseum and looked in on the small Louis Tiffany exhibit.

When we headed for das Boot at 16:00 it seemed that everyone on the island had decided to do the same. It was crowded but still delightfully cool and breezy on the water.
K Q:-)

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Good news arrived in our mailbox this week! This little newspaper Anzeiger has a cover article about Countess Diana Bernadotte. Countess Diana is 24 years old and a Milliner out of passion, so says the headline. She lives and works in a Schloss on the island of Mainau near Konstanz on Lake Bodensee. I have not yet been to Mainau but it is nearby and so I have added it to my To Do List. I haven’t figured out yet whether she has a shop or whether she works at home (she’s married and has a 2 year old). So, I will keep plugging away with my German dictionary.

Meanwhile, it is 33 C. here today (91.4 F.) and I’m seeing more hats on the street. Mine still get a few suspicious and/or disapproving glances from the frowners but that’s ok. I’m cooler than they are. Who looks the coolest on Multergasse today? These charming young ladies and the street musicians in their Hüte! So, keep cool and don’t forget your hat!
Kate Q:-)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Switzerland Swelters Under Heat Wave!

So says the headline on http://www.swissinfo.com/. It was 34 C. (93.2 F.) yesterday. So, it’s not so hot as Houston nor, for that matter, many places in the USA. We don’t have air conditioning tho’.

Nevertheless, stores here are getting ready for Fall. Here is a lovely Max Mara Jacke I spotted in Globus’ window this morning at 319 CHF. The good news is that McCall’s has a pattern #5007 (see Threads latest issue) that is practically the same jacket with just a change of pocket and buttons. Replace the patch pockets with in seam (princess seam) pockets and find some wonderful buttons and I’m good to go! Well, I do have to find some fabulous textured wool but I love that challenge. Thanks, Jill, for doing some pattern shopping for me. We hope to see you soon!
Kate Q:-)

P.S. The Sonnenbrille (sunglasses) are Calvin Klein and over 200 CHF each.

P.P.S. We beat the heat with an evening glass of Gewurtztraminer (Vin d'Alsace) in lawn chairs on our roof where there’s a cool breeze mixed with the faint aroma of cows and a spectacular view!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


We have more company this week. Sherman’s colleague Kim arrived on Sunday with her 19 year old daughter, Brittany. This is their first trip to Europe. In fact, the ride from the airport was their first train ride! They’ve adapted well. Brittany has mastered the Swiss German greeting (above) and they have both decided they like Proseco and my favorite St. Galler fast food, Olma mit Burli. After a couple of days here they took off this morning on their own to Venice, then Florence, Rome, Milan and back here to St. Gallen for another week. They’ve gotten the hang of it and already are talking about Spain next year!
Kate Q:-)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More Swiss Lace

Here are a couple more window views from Geneva. I continue to be in awe of the beautiful lace curtains here - seemingly an endless variety.
Kate Q:-)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Geneva Shopping and Dinner

Window shopping has been one of my favorite pastimes ever since I lived in New York. Sherman enjoys it too where watches are concerned even tho’ he already has a nice Swiss watch. It is truly amazing what some go for these days - in the five figures! I do not understand the appeal of the status watch or of wearing someone else’s logo on your chest. Perhaps it’s because I sew and value unique rather than status. Oh well, I know I’m in the minority. Here are some of the windows we peered into in Geneva. The carved wooden clock is an old Swiss wind-up. No price in the window which means it’s really expensive but aren’t the carved wooden birds wonderful? The purse was in Gucci’s window - rather shrine-like don’t you think? Yikes! Again, no price and if you have to ask....well, you know the rest. Of course, another status item. There is lots of money in Geneva so there are many window goodies. I also saw more dresses, cute little skirts, heels and hats in Geneva too. Don't you just love the cut of this little jacket? It was raining when we set out or I would have worn one of my dressier straw hats. Perhaps I need a 'do over'?

Saturday night we had dinner with the parents of one of Sherman’s colleagues who live in Geneva. Hannalor and Gustav are lovely, gracious people and served us a fine European style meal Hannalor made in their home. We began with champagne then sat down at table. Sherman warned me to count the silver at our place settings as it was an indication of how many courses were in store. First, we were served a cold and creamy cucumber soup with toast points. Next came Saucisson en croute, a tangy Geneva sausage wrapped in feuillete pastry and served with an arugula (Roquette) salad and a local Rosé wine. I thought the Saucisson was the main course but was mistaken. Out came a platter with perfectly cooked roast beef in a delicious herb sauce, accompanied by carrots, green beans and Rösti, a Swiss potato dish which is one of our favorites. Oh dear! I still had silver to go. Next came the cheese course, a creamy Boursaullt and a hard Spanish Manchego served with French bread and another glass of the Rosé, then a sundae glass full of strawberries and raspberries in berry sauce topped with whipped cream. No! That was not dessert but the fruit course. At last came a Spanish San Marco torte served with coffee. I thought I would burst! The men had a postprandial ‘digestive’ of an anise flavored liqueur served over ice but since licorice is not a favorite of mine I did not indulge. We were at table a full four hours. Back at our hotel later, we each drank a liter of sparkling water at the Café to give ourselves time to digest. Delicieux!
Kate Q:-)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Geneva Weekend

We are just back from a weekend in Geneva. Sherman had a meeting there on Friday so we took off by train in the morning arriving in the French Swiss city 4 hours later. This is about as far as one can travel in Switzerland and still remain in the country. It is amazing how "at home" I felt hearing French again. Tho’ I have never been fluent, French is so much more familiar (than German) to my ear that it was positively relaxing to function in French for a weekend!

Once checked into our hotel we strolled through the Old Town, ate ice cream at a sidewalk café and called our friend Marie to wish her Happy Birthday! I ordered a Coupe Framboise and they had to go out to the market to fetch fresh raspberries for me so it took a few minutes. We were in no hurry and it was well worth the wait! Much later we found ourselves hungry again so stepped into a tiny neighborhood bistro, Les Agapes, for a lovely dinner of Lotte on a perfect salad with potatoes and a regional white wine.

Saturday we had perfect weather for window shopping and indulged in a boat ride on the lake. Here are some views of Geneva and Lac Le Man. More later about our 4 hour dinner with friends on Saturday night.
Kate Q:-)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

OK Here are the Shoes Too

Can you blame me? They're COMFORTABLE too!
K Q;-)

Forever Plaid

Here are a couple of my recent sewing projects. For the bolero I reworked a very old Vogue pattern ($2.00 so that tells you how old!). I made it in that 20 CHF/meter denim and appliqued it with some of my red plaid scraps, old lace and pieces of a vintage Swiss batiste hankie. The embroidery was inspired by Appenzeller men's vests and the lining is indigo dyed cotton I found in the US (and wish I could find here). I DO miss my stash! The cap is my own Katrinka Kenan pattern made with the same fabrics.

I won't wear the bolero and cap together - a bit too costumey - but I do have other pieces they will work with - a straight skirt I made out of the same red plaid fabric, a denim dress and, of course, jeans. I also have a red plaid Jill cap and - just so you know how truly obsessed I am with this plaid - I found a pair of Tommy Girl round toed pumps last year made from the same plaid!

And I wonder why they stare at me???
Kate Q;-)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

St. Galler Stickerei

I just finished a little article on finding St. Gallen fabrics and laces. Thought that I would share with you a few of the small pieces I bought at the Bischof outlet. There was a bin of lace scraps selling at 10 CHF per kilo and I had a time accumulating a full kilo of these airy beauties. Here are just a few since I can’t get them all into one photo frame...but you get the idea. Some of these are cotton, others are polyester and many are netting embroidered with rayon threads. I’ll use these for collage or crazy quilting or for trimming hats. Of course, you can buy yardage (meterage?) of most of these as well. Prices depend on the intricacy and width of the embroidery motifs.
Kate Q:-)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

It’s Independence Day! I’m feeling just a little bit homesick today since there will be no fireworks or friends gathered for our backyard BBQ. Sherman is off at work - business as usual today. My 4th of July cap is in storage in Texas or perhaps it sold in my liquidation sale. I can’t complain tho’. Stores are open until 6 so perhaps I will fry up some chicken, make a potato salad and plan a rooftop picnic. (Peach cobbler is already made.) We’ll toast our friends and blow bubbles from on high to celebrate. My (big little boy) Sherman has laid in a huge supply of bubble stuff from Zolli Bolli across the Platz. Fireworks will have to wait for Swiss Confederation Day August 1 and we’ll have a grand view from our roof.

Happy Birthday USA!
K Q:-)