My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


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.


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


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.



  1. My neighbor brought over a plate of pepparkakor last night! Come on down to Henrico and I’ll share! Fulmar looks like it’s alive! Good Izzy!–keep an eye on that thing before it takes over!

  2. If I wasn’t stuck at work, I might take you up on your pepparkakor offer. 🙂

    I hope Izzy doesn’t kill Fulmar before I get home!

  3. Karen Berglund says:

    Wendy, what yarn did you use for Fulmar again? I was looking at my copy of Aran Knitting last night, and of course all of the sweaters use AS yarns, so I don’t know what would be comparable. What would you recommend?

  4. I’m using a 5-ply guernsey wool, which is what Scottish Fleet is. AS is now selling Scottish Fleet again on VirtualYarns. My 5-ply guernsey wool came from Frangipani Knitwear in the U.K. There are several links to their website throughout my blog.

  5. I’m enjoying sooo much reading about your Holiday rituals and memories! My family didn’t do much of this, so as an adult I’ve kind of floundered at Holiday ritual making.

    Can’t wait to see Fulmar whole. Will you be posting during the Holidays?

  6. Hi Teresa, thanks!

    I’ll be posting intermittently over the holidays, so do drop by when you can!

  7. Funny. I was just this year introduced to pepparkakor. Scrumptious! I see how they could easily become a tradition along with other family favorites (bourbon balls and a sort of caramel fudge called “yellow candy”). I too am enjoying the little holiday vignettes, Wendy.

  8. hi Shelda! Thanks! And thanks to everyo9ne who’s told me they are enjoyng my holiday ramblings. I do get some knitting content in there every day, so I feel justified!

  9. On my Grandfather’s side we are Finnish/Swedish but I never got to know him or any of their traditions. I think I will introduce some pepparkakor into our family traditions to honor that side of who I am. Thank you so much for the link… I just love your site.

  10. what the heck is a dl of water? and 2 spoons (teaspoons I hope) will wait to hear from you before I start cooking. thanks, L

  11. My great-grandma’s cookies were always some variation on gingersnaps. A couple of years ago, I made some inquiries, and one of my aunts came up with a few of her recipes. One of those vague, “add flour to make very stiff dough”, type recipes. Well, that was about 7-8 c. flours. (Yeah, I shoulda seen it coming.) A MUCH longer baking day than I had intended!!

  12. I’m going to add my hard-won experience with metric and Scandanavian measurements here:

    1 msk is 1 “matsked” which is 15 ml which is one American tablespoon, NOT teaspoon. A teaspoon is 5ml. and likely to be a “tesked” in Swedish. (Teskje in Norwegian.)

    A dl is 100ml. There is 240ml in a cup, so it’s a little less than half a cup.


    Off to work on getting pepperkaker ready for kids to cut out. A popular thing here is to make a gigantic pepperkake heart with a hole near the top, thread red ribbon and hang it in the window for decoration. I ought to take a picture of that…

  13. Oh, and! Lots of the shops around here had pepperkaker out for their customers while Mom and I were shopping yesterday! Yum! :O)