My current work in progress:

1. "T-Rex," designed by Rebecca Danger, knit from Blue moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock in the "Lucky" colorway on U.S. size 3 needles.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Where the hell are my pepparkakor?

821204 4 Where the hell are my pepparkakor?

It’s just a few days until Christmas, and I’ve got a jones for pepparkakor!

Pepparkakor are very thin, crisp cookies, redolent with spices. They are ubiquitous in Sweden at this time of year.

I have it on very good authority that my mom has already made the pepparkakor for this Christmas . . .

Here is a recipe that bears some resemblance to my grandmother’s recipe, which is the one my mom uses. My grandmother’s recipe calls for 10 cups of flour and makes maybe 1000 cookies (the dough is rolled paper thin), so my mom always cuts the recipe in half. Wise woman.

When I was a child, the making of the pepparkakor was a Very Big Deal indeed. Out would come all the Christmas cookie cutters and my brother and I would fight over which ones would get used. There were certain ones that were always used (my favorite was the lamb — predisposed to all things sheepy, I guess). My mom would painstakingly roll out the dough, cut the cookies, and put them in the oven. I’d time them and take them out and put them on racks to cool, and my brother stacked the cooled cookies in tins and kept a running total of how many of each shape cookie we had made. “We need more Santas!” “We need more reindeer!”

When my brother and I reached teen years he, not surprisingly, lost interest in baking cookies, so my mom and I would make them alone. It would take most of a day, and by the end of it we would be nearly hysterical. My father, wise man that he is, learned that to venture into the kitchen on Pepparkakor Day meant there was a very good chance he’d end up being pelted with raw cookie dough.

Fulmar

I finished the sleeve and am currently knitting the shoulder strap to the body. See this mess?

fulmar dec19 Where the hell are my pepparkakor?

It’s Fulmar in progress. Yep. Very awkward to work on with the entire sweater flopping all over the place. Arrrgh! But it’ll be done soon.

And of course, Izzy stands guard over it, as per usual.

izzy dec19 Where the hell are my pepparkakor?

Ah, memories!

I stumbled across these photos on the web yesterday.

pizzaexpress2000s Ah, memories!

This is the tiny village in the U.K. where I lived as a child. Picturesque, no? These photos were taken in December of 2000.

queenshead2000s Ah, memories!

The village is Pinner and it’s just 12 miles or so from London — it’s even on the London subway system.

The first written reference to the village of Pinner was in 1231. In May 1336, King Edward III granted a Royal Charter to the village permitting it to hold two markets and one fair each year.

I’m feeling nostalgic, remembering Christmas in this cosy little place.

Ye Olde Knitted Crappe

voguecables Ah, memories!

From Vogue Knitting in the early 1990s. Knitted in Jamieson & Smith shetland wool.

Ye Newe Fulmar

Second sleeve:

fulmar dec18 Ah, memories!

And right now the sleeve is almost done. Gotta knit the shoulder strap to the body, pick up neckband stitches and knit, then sew this rascal together. It’ll be done before Christmas. Yee haw.

Izzy said to tell you all hey.

Jultomte

jultomte Jultomte

When I was a child, one of the exciting aspects of Christmas was receiving packages from far-away relatives. Heck, it’s still exciting!

The package from my paternal grandparents was always particularly alluring, for, along with everything else, it always contained one gift each for my brother and me from the “jultomte” (literally, Christmas elf).

These little gifts had tags written in what looked suspiciously like my grandmother’s handwriting, but she always insisted that the jultomte sent them to her to forward to us as he didn’t have our addresses.

What was inside when we unwrapped them was never anything very expensive — it would be a little box of maple sugar candy or a small toy, but the jultomte gifts always seemed particularly exotic.

And I know now that my grandmother was telling the truth about the jultomte not knowing our address. We haven’t received any gifts from him since her death over 20 years ago.

So today’s blog entry is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, Ingrid Frantz Johansson, who put a lot of the magic into Christmas for me.

Cute doggie story

Yesterday on the train into work I was lugging my large L.L.Bean tote bag, filled with scones and coffeecake, carefully packed in Tupperware containers. There was a visually-impaired man on the train with his black Labrador guide dog, a pair I often see on my morning commute. When the man got up to exit the train at his stop, his dog rushed over and stuck his head inside my bag, obviously drawn by the aroma of the baked goods. Not bad, considering everything was wrapped up in airtight containers.

Everyone around us had a good laugh and someone said, “I bet you have cookies in there!”

A nice change from the usual commuter morning demeanor. A nice change from Tales of Transit Terror!

The return of . . .

Old Knitted Crap!

You missed it, didn’t you? Go on . . . admit it!

jaeger Jultomte

This is a really old one, 20 years old. I knitted this little gem from sportweight alpaca from a Susan Bates/Jaeger pattern. I remember the leaflet vividly — this was the cover sweater. It’s knitted from the bottom up in pieces, then the front, back, and sleeves are put together on a circular needle and you knit the yoke up to the neck. I finished it one night at about 2:00a.m. (remember, I was young and stupid and NOT TIRED back then) and was beside myself, because there was no one awake to show it to.

Ah, youth.

Fulmar

Here’s a photo of Fulmar with its one sleeve attached.

fulmar dec17 Jultomte

I lightened it up quite a bit to show the detail.

And lastly, Izzy is still waiting for her scone.

izzy dec17 Jultomte

Scandinavian Confessions!

aka . . . Tales of Holiday Horror

Lut’fisk, n. (Nor. & Sw. prop., lyed fish), stockfish which has been soaked for several days in lye water to prepare it for cooking.

lutfisk Scandinavian Confessions!

Yep, you read that correctly — lye.

For some reason, Swedes love this stuff at Christmas. Personally, I don’t get it. Here is a hilarious account of how to eat lutfisk written by a non-believer.

My father is definitely a believer. He considers lutfisk to be the nectar of the gods. So Dad, this is for you:

Ode to Lutfisk

Ah lutfisk, oh lutfisk! You stinky old fish,
To not have to eat you is my greatest wish!
On Christmas Eve we sit down to dine,
In anticipation of a feast so fine.
My father approaches, a gleam in his eye,
That among my family causes great hue and cry!
For Daddy Dearest has brought us a treat,
Something we can’t believe he expects us to eat.
Yes, yes indeed, you must fear your worst fear,
A platter of lutfisk is hovering near.
Quivering slightly in a sauce made of milk,
Strong men have fled from fish of its ilk!
Bravery is one thing, stupidity another,
My family all runs, heading for cover.
We are not stupid, we won’t touch the fish,
For even the cats recoil from this dish.

Okay, so T.S. Eliot I ain’t.

If even after all that you are curious to try this delicacy, here is a link to a recipe. I am not responsible for the results.

Scones, baby!

Look! Look!

scones Scandinavian Confessions!

I made these bad boys last night, for the office party today. My own recipe. And if I do say so myself, They Are Awesome. Do you want the recipe? You know you do!

Wendy’s Chocolate Chip Scones

4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
12 ounce bag mini chocolate morsels
1 cup whipping cream
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400F. Line 2 baking sheets with foil. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into food processor bowl. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in chocolate morsels.Whisk cream, 3 eggs, and vanilla to blend. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; process just until combined into a ball.

Scoop up two generous tablespoons of dough into a ball and flatten to 3/4 inch thickness. Place scones on prepared baking sheets, spacing one inch apart. Bake scones until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer scones to rack and cool slightly. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature.) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 22 scones.

Izzy wanted some scones.

izzy dec16 Scandinavian Confessions!

But I didn’t give her any — chocolate is bad for cats.

Fulmar Update

Did some sleeve knitting. Yada yada yada. Here it is, thrown down casually on the couch.

fulmar dec16 Scandinavian Confessions!

Sometimes you just gotta be casual!

No old knitted crap today, because I was busy making scones last night. But never fear — it’ll return tomorrow!

And the winner is . . .

Yes! We have a winner in the Name the Swatch contest.

On Friday night, my lovely assistant drew a name out of a hat (and please note that it’s a Fiber Trends felted hat):

winner And the winner is . . .

And the winner is . . . Caroline F., a devoted blog ready. Many of you know her from my comments and tag-board.

Caroline was one of 44 of you who got them all correct, so her name went into the hat along with the other 43. Congratulations, Caroline! The Handsome Harry’s Hanks yarn will be mailed out this week. I just heard on the news that today is the biggest mailing day of the year. Ever the coward, I may wait til tomorrow to mail!

Here’s the swatch collage again:

contest And the winner is . . .

And here are the answers, left to right:

Row 1: Pacific Northwest Shawl, Rosendal, Norge 2000, Graceknot, Lake Placid, Fearless Fair Isle, Peace Shawl, Salt Lake 2002, Whiteface Mountain, Summer in Kansas, Glenesk.

Row 2: Elizabethan Jacket, Jubileum, Lillehammer, Legends of the Shetland Seas, Kiltatinny, Kongsberg, St. Anton 2001, Irish Moss, Irish Diamond Shawl, Thunder Bay.

Thanks everyone for playing! It was great to hear from all of you, my old friends, and many new friends who introduced themselves to me in their contest entries.

In celebration, I put on my Fiber Trends hat:

wendy hat And the winner is . . .

See? I look dorky in hats. And that’s the “old knitted crap” of the day.

Izzy was very excited about the whole proceedings, so her daddy gave her some cheese.

izzy dec15 And the winner is . . .

Izzy’s mommy likes cheese too.

wendy dec15 And the winner is . . .

I hope you all had a good weekend. I did. Did some mall shopping (and lived to tell about it), baked a coffeecake for the office holiday celebration tomorrow, and knitted the shoulder strap of the first Fulmar sleeve onto the body.

I documented the shouilder strap progress photographically, but discovered that even with some heavy editing, the pictures don’t really tell the story well enough. I need to do this on a sweater that uses heavier yarn and a lighter color. Sorry ’bout that!

So I’m working away on the second sleeve. This one may take longer, as I’ve got a number of holiday related tasks to do this week.

Have a good Monday, everyone.