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.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I'm Moving!

I'm moving over to Typepad where I can again post pictures for your viewing pleasure. Who has time for all the workarounds? For the time being I will leave this blog up since I don't yet know how to move everything. Still learning the new format so please bear with me. My new address is the same except you type in typepad instead of blogspot. So come visit me at www.hatsbykatrinka.typepad.com.

Thanks for visiting!
Kate Q:-)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Still no Pix

Took another awesome walk this afternoon and many, many more photos. Unfortunately cannot share the Winter Wonderland as this whizbang *new* Blogger won't let me upload pictures. Have downloaded their new photo Bot Hello program from Picasa which is supposed to make it quick and easy and - Guess what? It doesn't recognize me with the new Google account name and password and won't let me use the old one since I've been migrated to the new. Thanks a LOT, Google. Now what? Does anyone answer my queries for help? Of course not. But it's got all these wonderfully useless features. What happened to the ability to add photos in Edit mode? No answers. Guess we get what we pay for.

I'm shopping again for a new host. Frustrating!
Kate Q:-0


Monday, December 25, 2006

No Pix

Well, I was forced to move to the New Blogger and now my editing features and the uploading of pictures has failed. Have already spent too many hours fiddling with it! Will not let it ruin my day. Maybe they've all taken Christmas off and for that I can't blame them. If it's not up and running again next week will let you know where I've moved. Stay tuned for the tale of the Christmas Party that began after Midnight Mass (standing room only at the Kathedral) at 12:30 a.m.

Merry Christmas!
Kate Q:-0

P.S. Did you know that if you Google *Blogger sucks* you get more than 700,000 hits? Guess I've been warned.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

In Search of a White Christmas

It’s almost Christmas and we’ve been hoping for snow. After the warmest winter in centuries our temperature has finally dipped to 0 C. so it could happen. If not, however, it looks as if we may still have a white Christmas. I awoke this morning to see a freezing fog enveloping the Kathedral towers. The roofs of Old Town were gradually getting a white dusting of hoarfrost which is what happens to fog in freezing weather. On Gallusplatz someone had brought in a truckload of snow and constructed a nativity scene.

This afternoon I hiked up the hill to Sankt Georgen and Dreilindenweg to see how the trees were turning white. Isn’t it gorgeous? I was not alone. Many families were out walking and enjoying the misty, cold afternoon. There was a stand at the top of the Wanderweg selling Glühwein and roasted chestnuts. So long as I kept moving I was not cold.

It’s Sunday and Christmas Eve. The Weinachtsmarkt is closed, the groceries are bought and the presents wrapped. It’s time to enjoy our blessings ... and it still could snow.

Merry Christmas to you all! K Q:-)

P.S. Sorry but Blogger isn't cooperating on the pictures tonight. Maybe later ...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Last Minute Gifts

Yesterday was the last late-shopping night (open until 9) before Christmas so we went out after supper to buy a few more gifts. What a party was going on! It seemed as if the whole town was out shopping - not frantic or stressed but in quite a festive mood. Tagblatt, our local newspaper, had a stand in the Bärenplatz handing out free punch. We didn’t indulge since we had a lot to do but perhaps the punch and all the Glühwein* stands were contributing to the merry mood.

Ist das Geschenk? One of my favorite local customs is the free gift wrapping. They do it year round but go into high gear at Weinachten and with great style. In fact, a friend pointed out Alpstein Drogerie and Parfumerie (the smaller package) as being the best in town. We made a small purchase there yesterday and they spent a careful several minutes dressing it up such that it will be difficult to open this little item.

The Body Shop occupies the ground floor of our building and has been a beehive of activity for the past month. These ladies work all day at this table and they spend most of their time wrapping gift packages. (The shop is thru the door at left.) When you make a purchase to be wrapped you are given a number and it is handed over to the wrap table. You continue your shopping and come back later to collect your perfectly wrapped Geschenk. No wonder shoppers are in a merry mood!
Happy Holidays to you all!
K Q:-)

* Drinking age for beer and wine is 16 here which is not so shocking when you realize that the Swiss are very polite and most teens do not drive. Public transportation is excellent and to get a driver’s license they have to take an expensive year-long course. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Advent Calendar

When we were kids we had Advent Calendars to countdown the days to Christmas. I hadn't seen them in years in Texas (not that I was looking for them) but here they are quite popular and we see them in store windows all the time. I thought you would enjoy this one put together each year by a grammar school. I believe each class takes charge of a day and they are uncovered one day at a time.

Clearly one class has a great sense of humor! K Q:-)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas Trees

We haven't bought our Christmas tree yet but will probably do so today. Meanwhile, I've been enjoying the variations on Christmas trees in the shops. This wee tree is made of polyester fiberfill. The display is actually in the doorway of a closed jewelry store. Shops here arrange nice displays in the doorways as they lock up for the night. Smart use of their limited display space.
More fiberfill trees and a package tree outside a clothing boutique.
Another florist. K Q:-) Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 15, 2006

Mein Engel

The building we live in is called Engelburg which means something like Angel Fortress. This garden angel was our Christmas gift last year from John and Novella. He keeps a sharp eye on our staircase so I don't fall down the 15 curved wooden steps to our frontdoor. One broken tailbone in my lifetime is enough! We are just under the roof of the building. The beams far left in our dining area are 14 cm (5.5 in.) square and have met my head on more than one occasion. So you see, I need my Guardian Angel.
This little doll is no angel but my latest Christmas Ornament. She also keeps an eye on the stairs and has Swiss Mistletoe for her backdrop.

Merry, Merry!
K Q:-) Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Digital Camo Digression

Erin over at Dress a Day www.dressaday.com/dressaday.html posted some digital camo fabric she's making skirts out of today. We must be in synch! I have been working all day on a camo hat for a friend who is heading to South Africa for the holidays. I couldn't find the digital camo fabric I wanted here but did find ordinary camo in Zurich.

Thought I would post this golf cap I made last year for my nephew David. The cap is my own pattern inspired by my Dad's walking cap which I kept after he died. I call it Kenan after him and have made myself quite a few variations including one in ten different black and white prints. This style of cap is all over the magazines (and Europe) these days.
K Q:-) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dear Santa ...

Well let's get serious about window shopping in Switzerland for a moment. After all, this is the land of the Goldschmid and Uhrmacher (watchmaker) ... well now it's more bankers and investment consultants but bear with me a moment.

In 1970, when I first came to Europe, I'd planned on buying a movie camera but got sidetracked by a gold watch at Bucherer. I bought it. It seemed expensive but not nearly so pricey as they are these days! Within months of moving to NYC after grad school my apartment was burglarized and the watch was gone.

For my birthday last year my Sweetie bought me a Swiss watch that (unknown to him) is very much like that original Bucherer from the '70s.
I wear it every day now.

Lately I prefer to eye the pearls. They go so well with hats! Don't you think? K Q:-) Posted by Picasa
P.S. Did you know that the German word for jewelry or ornament is Schmuck?!

Fashionable Windows

I think when you’re wearing clothes that are this expensive (fur, leather and cashmere) you have to look BORED to pull it off. Or is that haughty?

Sutter-Michel is one of my favorite ogles. Their fashions are quite avant garde (and expensive) and my Sweetie hates them. I am fascinated by the interesting textures, whimsical knits (hence my passion to learn how) and offbeat cutting lines. Love this jacket!
The little hat is pretty simple but the extension of the couched yarn off the corners reminds me of pigtails. Pure fun!
K Q:-) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Still More Christmas Windows

Roggwiller's windows are always delicious looking. They have a tearoom in the back of the shop serving goodies with tea, coffee and other beverages. The last time I was there I spotted two other ladies in hats.
Lebkuchen are shaped in molds depicting traditional scenes and locales in Switzerland. My German dictionary describes Lebkuchen as gingerbread but it doesn't taste like the gingerbread I grew up with. For one thing they don't use molasses or our type of brown sugar. Personally, I'd rather have the wooden mold than the rather dry cookie. Is that like people who collect hat blocks to put on display instead of blocking hats? I'm told Lebkuchen is better spread with butter. And what isn't?

I love the wooden Santas in this florist's window.
Shaka's windows are amusing this Christmas. They juxtapose traditional Christmas themes and Swiss crafts with snowboards, helmets and riggings. I wouldn't mind owning that pretty brown table cloth but don't want a snowboard in my stocking.
K Q:-) Posted by Picasa

More Christmas Windows

No snow pictures to post yet as what little we got on Saturday has melted away. I can still see a light dusting on the hills through my window tho' so have hopes for a White Christmas. They are now saying here that we're having the warmest winter in 1300 years. Meanwhile, I am enjoying the shop windows. This one is Schwyter Backerei with a display of Grittibänz breads. These are traditional Sankt Nikolaus (Samichlaus) Day gifts.

Here is Interio's display of Christmas ornaments. I love to wander this store to buy kitchen things as most of mine are in storage in Texas.
Isn't this contemplative Engel just adorable? He is gracing a hair salon's window. We have lots and LOTS of hair salons here. I stay way from them being salonphobic.
This is our local Tabakhändler where the gents can purchase their Cuban cigars. For all their concern about clean air, the Swiss are notorious smokers (No. 1 in Europe, I think).

I really like the gold wire ornaments ... not unlike the method I use for making lace hats. Hmmmm!

Enjoy! K Q:-) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Shopping in St. Gallen

This is the first time St. Gallen shops have been open on Sunday. They're doing it just two Sundays this month. It looks as if everyone thought it a great idea!

This antique shop is on our street, Marktgasse. I love the idea of bare branches hung with tiny ornaments.
Spotted this interesting shaped fabric hat with felted trim in the window of a clothing store. I have a sack of felting supplies just begging me to get busy. So what am I waiting for? I especially love the line of the hat at the back.

This is Zollibolli, the toy store across the street from us. The Zollibolli boy has moveable arms like a dancing Jack. A long attachment at the bottom tempts people - especially little ones - to pull it to make the arms go up and down. He's only around for the Christmas season so die Kinder make the most of it giving him a regular workout. K Q:-) Posted by Picasa

Christmas Shopping in Zürich

Finally got my Sweetie back from his business trip to Brussels - only a day late. So we set out for the Zürich Hauptbahnhof where we knew the Christkindlimarkt had more of a selection of what we were looking for. It seemed as if everyone had the same idea. The place was too crowded but it was all very festive.

This is a grand old train station and it was full of these booths selling a range of things from Swiss Raclette to Hopi Indian dream catchers and other paraphenalia. After an hour or so we headed home to St. Gallen to shop our local vendors. It's a beautiful one hour train ride with (today) snowy peaks in the background. K Q:-)

Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 08, 2006


This week I have been living in St. Gallen for a year. It doesn’t seem that long and yet I have been thinking these last few days about how much easier it has become. I am nowhere near fluent in German but I can communicate in most simple situations - even ordered our Thanksgiving turkey entirely in German. It really helps that we have made some wonderful friends here.

Last night was another gathering of our SAGA group - that is, the Swiss Anglo German American group who cook and share a meal from time to time. Sherman was in Brussels on business so I rode with Starr and Holger up the mountain to newlyweds Karin and Bryan’s house for a Thai feast. We share the work and each contribute a dish to the meal. Karin and Bryan made a delicious green chicken curry along with an eggplant dish. Holger made his fabulous chicken in coconut milk soup and I tried out a new recipe for a cucumber peanut salad with Thai peppers and mint. New parents Anne and Stefan brought dessert and their little son Thomas to the party. We were all so focused on the food and the camaraderie that I completely forgot to get my camera out to take pictures. What a loss! Stefan and Anne will soon be moving to Wales.

Today is Friday and my chance to get back to cooking class at Simi’s in Richterswil. Instead of our usual Indian delicacies Simi taught us some of the Persian dishes she’d learned when she was living in Iran for a few years. What a treat! We made Toss Kebab, a lamb stew with onions, carrots and potatoes and (my favorite) Mirza Ghasemi, eggplant cooked in olive oil with garlic, eggs and tomatoes. Maast-o-Khiar was made of yoghurt with grated onion, cucumber and mint and the grand finale was Tah-Cheen, a layered rice, chicken, onions, saffron and egg dish that was baked in the oven to form a delicious crust on the bottom. We couldn’t wait the usual 1-1/2 hours of baking time and tied into it as soon as any crust had formed. Our day with Simi is always a delicious treat not only because of her generosity and excellent taste in food but also because of the fun we ladies have working together, learning and sharing a wonderful meal at the end.

When we have friends we are rich, indeed! K Q:-)

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

St. Nicholas Day

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Here is our Kathedral with this year's Christmas tree in early evening. We hear the bells every fifteen minutes day and night.

This is a view of our street, Marktgasse. Each of the main streets in Old Town have different shaped Christmas lights. Now, all we need is some snow.
I spent time today assembling burlap St. Nicholas goodie bags for neighbors and the office ladies. If you are good, you get candies, peanuts, chocolate santas, chocolate Swiss coins, clementines etc. If you are bad you get twigs.

If he can't decide Samichlaus gives you chocolates packaged with twigs, I guess. Those are the long boxes on right and left in this Confiserie window. After all, nobody's perfect.
K Q;-) Posted by Picasa