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  • I love this line of the review:
    “But the cookie had an off taste to me, like bitterness and boredom.”

  • Oooh, I love Radio 3! I’m definitely looking forward to that programme.

  • I, too, fell for TJ’s marketing blurb for these cookies. And all I can say is Bleah! I don’t remember EVER throwing away a cookie before (and you’d believe me if you saw the size of my bottom) but these went straight into the trash. I bought them last year and I can’t believe that they were on the shelves again this year. Leftover stock?

  • Awww! I love lebkuchen (the generic name for those cookies). To me, the papery bottom is kind of like the skin on Brie — an acquired taste for sure. Maybe you just need a better batch. The chocolate ones are utterly unobjectionable, as chocolate things always are.

  • The sheep story sounds great, please let us know when it’s available. I’m up for Scotland any time, just let me know!

  • I completely agree about the cookies. We had them last Christmas and I couldn’t wait to try them, … until I actually tried them! I kept asking other people to have one, just to see their reaction. I’ve been convinced that we were eating some kind of paper separator that was meant to keep the cookies from sticking together. Really it was meant to keep us from eating them!

  • Lebkuchen are an acquired taste, I’m convinced. Every Christmas we’d get a giant box (lovely box, by the way, different scene every year, here’s this year’s http://ww2.lebkuchen-schmidt.com/index.php, click on Lebkuchen Truhen if box doesn’t show up) of them from relatives in Germany, and I’d gamely nibble on a couple, but I never really developed a taste for them. I wish I had though, they are so German, but the spices and dried fruit didn’t suit my American tastes.

  • North Berwick is actually even better than Edinburgh–it’s a little seaside resort town, with a links golf course (open to the public for walking) all along the ocean, and lots of cute stuff, and an old ruined castle just outside town. And the best sign ever on the downtown public restrooms: “no washing feet in the basins.”

  • If the frustrating un-cookies are indeed a type of lebkuchen, PLEASE do not let them turn you away from that Bavarian wonderfulness.
    Bake your own from the Betty Crocker Xmas cookbook (if you are lacking a Gma recipe; though my Gma recipe IS the Betty Crocker Xmas cookbook one, so it’s fine). Do not walk off and forget about the molasses and honey – burned, it will smoke up your house. And you’ll have to wait a week for the lebkuchen to get properly chewy from being stored with apple and orange slices. But so worth it!

  • Somehow I read “Parisian Hat” as Persian Cat (photo must have triggered the wrong brain synapses), so then I wondered how you were going to knit a Persian Cat out of Shetland wool. Perhaps you were working on a pattern for your next book? Alas, no. And I was so hoping to sneak another cat into the house and if I used stash, my hubby might not notice it for a while. What’s that? Oh just another knitting project. Pay no mind.

  • OK, so Weissella cookies are “The Official Not Cookie of Mason-Dixon Knitting.” Got it. And that of course leads me to ask: what IS the Official Cookie of M-D Knitting? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Edinburgh?– me! I’m up for Edinburgh! When can we go?
    PS: homemade lebkuchen are an acquired taste, but can win one over eventually. Commercial lebkuchen are nasty.

  • WOW! That cardigan is ambitious, but totally GORGEOUS!

  • Double PS: I forgot to say how handsome the cat looks. What with his ginger coloring, at first I thought he was one of the Scottish friends. . .

  • I totally agree about those cookies! Even my husband wouldn’t finish them. Funny – we had the same debate about the “paper” on the bottom and I usually love anything TJs…
    Beautiful start to your new sweater – have to put that one on my list. Love the colors you’ve picked too!
    PS. I’d back go to Edinburgh at the drop of a hat – it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken!

  • Ginger? That was your first clue those cookies would be disappointing.
    Love the corrugated ribbing.

  • I LOVE Lebkuchen. I move heaven and earth just to find them in the UK at Christmas time. I even tried baking my own but they weren’t the same without that secret ingredient… the base (official name: oblaten) which I can only describe as rice paper infused with marzipan. I guess they’re as divisive as Marmite!

  • I too was fooled by these cookies. My daughter saw them and thought they were Moon Pies (maybe they should be the official Mason Dixon cookie) and I bought them. I thought, “Great! a gingerbread Moon Pie!” Unfortunately they tasted more of styrofoam Moon Pie. I too couldn’t figure out whether you were supposed to peel of the white stuff (too hard) or just eat it (too yucky). I gave these cookies more than a fair chance but also resorted to tossing them.

  • My you have a way with words! I busted out laughing a few times reading this, and I wanted you to know.
    Also, I’ll stay away from those cookies, although they look quite inviting and European, but I hear Trader Joe’s has soft pretzel buns, used for sandwiches. They’re supposed to be great. I haven’t tried them yet, but I plan to. In the near future.

  • No idea about the cookies, I’m quite happy to say!
    I’m glad I haven’t lost my ability to recognize a ball of dimly focused Felted Tweed in the background!

  • That is Some Pretty Knitting! The Shetlandywool looks lovely, and it will be exciting to see the sweater grow. Is it just my monitor, or will Hubbo’s new hat and your new sweater actually match?
    Thank you SO much for the cookie report. That is exactly the type of “special treat” I would find irresistible at TJ’s, and there is nothing like initial disappointment followed by incomprehension ending with throwing out most of the “special treat” to make me feel that I have been stupidly extravagant. Extravagance and stupidity each have their place in my life, but I don’t like it when they occur in the same sentence.

  • I’m going to go ahead and buck the trend and say that I happen to love those cookies and all other lebkuchen. They’re like super cake-y gingerbread cookies. Then again, I grew up eating them and it could just be one of things you can only like if you’re exposed in your formative years. The thing on the bottom is called oblaten (at least it is in German), and it’s much like communion wafers (um, and if you just have to make your own cookies, talking your way into a box of communion wafers is likely your best bet). I’d suggest giving them another chance if you get the opportunity. It could just have been a bad batch.

  • I’m with Hunter (and a couple of others) on this one – love them, went back and bought up the rest of the boxes on January sale just this week. The wafers (oblaten) are indeed basically the same as communion wafers. They’re also critical to the cookie, according to my German immigrant friends. My husband is begging me to learn to make them but the last time I tried, mine were the consistency of a hockey puck, so I’m a little anxious about trying again. Send me your leftovers!
    Also, adding my query to the others – what then IS the official cookie of M-D knitting?

  • Achtung, Achtung, message from Germany coming up. Those ‘cookies’ are an integral part of the run-up to Christmas – drink a spicy, Yogi-type tea with them, or strong black tea if you prefer; they are a little bland if you’re expecting something spicy. The paper Oblaten bit is basically an unblessed Communion wafer (unless Someone’s been telling me fibs). They are a bit chewy in a brownie kind of way (most people over here subject their brownies to more oven time, thinking they’re not baked properly). Maybe you just have to eat them BEFORE Christmas…
    If you’re looking for a nice, crisp, TASTY German Christmas biscuit, look out for SPEKULATIUS, wiki-description in English http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speculaas

  • So sorry that your German lebkuchen (gingerbread) cookies taste so bad. They should be very soft and scrumptious–it sounds like you bought a bad batch or even a bad brand. Gingerbread in Germany at Xmas time is a big deal. We get some sent from the relatives, or go on an annual pilgrimmage to the German Christkindlmarkt in Daley Plaza (Chicago), or drive to a German deli a few towns away). As a child, I always thought the wafer was kind of like a communion host–paper-like and no flavor but part of the fun–you eat it all. My German great-uncle was a baker who made his own lebkuchen and always included this edible paper also. I am guessing the tradition may stem from the need for a stabilizing object to hold the heavy/thick dough, but I could be wrong.

  • Thanks for brightening a day that was dark with the misery of an unfinished report and a looming deadline!
    I love that sweater. Maybe I’ll let my fingers do the shopping during my next “shopping break”. That’s what everyone does when the working-at-home thing makes you crazy, isn’t it? (Or is it just me?)

  • AAaaaarh! Blech! I’m totally having a flashback to my days as a high school exchange student in Germany. The mix between communion wafer and rice paper is spot on! Nasty. Even if the cookie were good, which it won’t be. Someone just offered me a weird green wrapped, Lemon Pledge-tasting confection from Italy with a similar stuff. Just so far off from the American cookie aesthetic. Maybe you can get a decent European biscuity thing now and then, but I’m going to come out as a cookie jingoist here and stick to American cookies. I’d choose chocolates if your going Continental.

  • May I suggest that before continuing with your corrugated ribbing, you try to master Norwegian purling? It should make the whole experience sooooo very much better. (No flipping the yarn back and forth. That’s right. None. You can purl with the yarn in back. Who knew?! I find it a pain to work in cotton, but with wool, it’s great.)
    Also, I have a Germanic husband. From my years of exposure to lebkuchen over the past 14 Christmases, I can tell you, they can be totally delicious; imported ones, however, so far from the source, are likely to be dry and… not so good. (I’m not a fan of the white stuff, either. You can get chocolate-covered ones. Much, much better.)

  • Good luck with the sweater. I love the look, but I don’t have the best history with Kidsilk Haze. The IK website describes this as knit in the round, but it sounds like that’s not so. Can you describe how it’s made?

  • Funny how corrugated ribbing can go so good on a cardi — not so great on a cookie. Maybe they should market them as the perfect weight-loss cookie. One bite is enough!

  • I *love* that color combination. I’m sorry; I’m going to have to confiscate it for my own exclusive use. Hand it over, please. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Oh! What loveliness! The sweater, I mean… the cookies, not so much.
    Gorgeous color combination.. although I sorta thought you were kiddin’ when you said that’s how much you had gotten done. Until I read on. But I can’t wait to start one of these!

  • Oh, I love Edinburgh. We lived there for two years, from ’98 to ’00, and I still dream about it all the time.
    Lovely sweater. Wonder if it would be possible to knit in the round and steek? Or would it be a bad idea to try to steek with Felted Tweed?

  • Count me in on the Mason-Dixon Edinburgh tour! I spent 8 days there a few years ago, and loved the city and the oh, so friendly people. The Firth of Forth always makes me chuckle; it sounds like the title to some Monty Python skit!
    Drink a little grape juice while eating those cookies, and you can have a snack and Communion all in one. By the sounds of it, eating the cookie by itself will make you atone for all your sins!
    Mary G. in Texas

  • OMG!!! you TOTALLY stated EVERYTHING i was thinking when i got those cookies from TJ’s last year. i was SO HOPEFUL. and then? SO DISAPPOINTED.
    utterly. and like another commenter stated, i don’t throw cookies away. but this one? i did.
    the bottoms just perplexed me. i considered floating them in the bathtub with candles stuck in them like those floating candles and flowers people do for parties?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Oh, Ann, you crack me up. I so love reading your blog! Would love to see you sometime. I’ve been on Ravelry quite a bit lately. Love to see you posting again, I missed that this past year.

  • I’m with you on those cookies. Soft gingerbread and chocolate, how could you go wrong? But they did. Huge disappointment.
    I have to ask… since Weisella cookies are now The Official NOT Cookie, is there an Official Cookie of Mason-Dixon Knitting???

  • Those cookies have a naked picture of Trader Joe with a lady other than Mrs. Joe.

  • One word of advice nest time you’re buying cookies at TJ’s: Florentines

  • Ann Ann Ann you lost me when you started in with Kidsilk Haze. What is it with you and that yarn. So tiny so tedious. So time consumming.
    I’m up to head out to Edinburgh any time. I bet there are loads of sales right now on Princes Street. The best fish ‘n chipper in the world is there. And there is sooooo much wool around. Yumm. Can we leave now, like is there a flight soon.
    Mary Sue down and out on a snowy Church Street missing the lunch time knitting at the Library

  • Ann, my late German grandma and I won’t hear anything against these delicious cookies. Not one word. Nein! That’s a wafer at the bottom, BTW. I bought 3 packs of these at Christmas and my boyfriend ate one in one sitting. We also like spice drops and gingerbread and perhaps this might be the measuring stick for taste in off-beat sweets. Meanwhile, love your gorgeous tasty knitting!

  • I lived in Germany when I was 12, 13, 14 – and I never grew a taste for Lebkuchen – even the super fresh, super authentic German variety – It was always so disappointing – they looked and even smelled so promising –
    I found the same heartbreak with marzipan. So cute,
    but so gross.
    So… just console yourself with Trader Joes yogurt stars, or mini chocolate peanut butter cups…
    THOSE badboys are delicious!!

  • What I find with TJ’s is that stuff is either incredibly fantastic or absolutely disgusting. So sorry these were on the disgusting end of the spectrum. But thanks for the warning!

  • The taste for those cookies cannot be acquired.
    That cardi is delightful. It’s definitely in the queue, but Amy’s Feather in Your Cap Cap comes first.

  • My daughter and I love lebkuchen. I do remember the first time I had some and tried to peel off the back-oblaten, found out it was edible and it made eating the cookies so much easier. The back-oblaten is simply an unleaven bread-type wafer. Lebkuchen are an acquired taste and after having some of the best Nรผrnberger Lebkuchen, I am picky.

  • I buy lebkuchen every year for my German in-laws and assorted other ginger cookie treats but I make sure that they all walk out the door with them.
    As for TJ’s I’d stick with the triple ginger snaps. They’re always a winner in my book.

  • I’m making the KSH/Felted Tweed nightmare too! I got the ribbing to 2 and 3/4 inches and thought, “I’m short, I don’t need the last 1/4 inch of ribbing”. I’m on size 3 needles and I must say, you’ll be surprised at how quickly it grows (in both directions) once you get to the stockinette part! Good luck and I can’t wait to see the outcome.
    BTW, I’m about 7 inches into the body…almost 3 of ribbing and the rest…well, you know.

  • there are Lebkuchen and there are Lebkuchen – it does make a difference who baked them. the wafers on the bottom side are Oblaten – sugar and rice-flour. hope you get a better batch next xmas!

  • Anne you need to post your appearance from the news last night. I was already in bed but perked right up when I heard your name! I told Hubby “I know who she is, she’s a knitter, author, blogger, and singer”. I then proceeded to sing “Pardon Me, I Didn’t Knit That For You”. He laughed! Ah, the things the old folks do in bed at night!

  • “United by Knitting, Separated by Sweet Tooth(s)?”
    : )
    Thanks for the anti-tip about the Weisella cookies,as I, too, am in the pro-ginger sweets camp, and might have tried them had I noticed them at Trader Joe’s. Each year here in the maritime Northwest as the weather gets colder and and the days shorter and darker, warming, spicy sweets edge out even chocolate(!) for me. This December I discovered a local candy store that makes its own gingerbread caramels, and found that La Brea Bakery did a spicy-but-not sweet Gingerbread Loaf. Luckily, after the holidays are over I can still enjoy chai tea. (I sweeten it with ginger honey crystals and some cinnamon.) I had to make some after reading these comments.

  • Love the sweater. At TJs, nothing beats the triple ginger snaps in my mind. Even Trader Mings Shrimp shu mai, which I also love.
    And, I think we need a travel agent for the MDK Edinburgh tour!!!

  • Better you than me…on both the cookies AND the knitting. the sweater-to-be is GORGEOUS. but I am pretty sure I would not have the patience for it. As for the cookies? TJs will take anything back. Half eaten or not. Sounds like a good time to try out this policy.

  • keep knitting this sweater…it is the prettiest sweater i have seen in a long time and your colors are perfect.

  • One of the neighbors drops off a plate full of those each year, which we refer to as the communion wafer cookies. Never knew they were officially lebkuchen. Eating them feels very virtuous.

  • I am also in the “love lebkuchen” camp, especially the oblaten layer.
    I like them with coffee in the afternoon.
    Oh well – we don’t all have to like the same cookies.
    Enjoy the new projects for 2011!

  • some kind of papery underpinning
    Could this be actual communion host, as you get on the almondy Calissons or on some Italian nougat confections?
    Yes, there are cookies and then there are the things you get at Starbuck’s, masquerading as cookies – and costing more than a whole batch of fresh shortbreads. Shudder.

  • The ginger bread cookies are very traditional for German Christmas cookies. I love them and look forward to eating them at Christmastime. Maybe you got a bad batch. Lebkuchen is what Christmas is all about.

  • My teenage daughter and I LOVE lebkuchen and we were most disappointed that the German imports store had sold out when we finally made it there last week. But as other readers have commented, it makes a difference what brand they are — look for Nurnburger on the label. We acquired a taste for them when we lived in Austria for three months one fall several years ago.

  • I’m 100% in for Edinburgh!

  • is something wrong with me that I really like lebkuchen (as well as marzipan)? I do think Weisela may be an off-brand, the kind they’d stock at the dollar store.

  • OK I am so in love with that corrugated ribbing that I just cannot care about the Cookies We Hate. I hate them too. I’ve never eaten them but I am going to stand in solidarity with you on this one. You have never steered me wrong on a Baked Good before. I do not have the PointsPlusTM for sub-par cookies!
    But back to the corrugated ribbing–do you remember when I was swatching and swatching corrugated ribbing, knit flat, and you were so negative about the concept? In this case it is so totally worth it. I declare 2011 to be the year of Knitting With 2 Vastly Different Weights of Yarn (I am doing that! Right now! In a totally different way than you are!), as well as the Year of Not Eating Weird Paper-Bottomed Cookies That Taste Like They Might Be a Sachet or Room Freshener!

  • The Official Cookie of Mason-Dixon Knitting is: ALL OTHER COOKIES.

  • That papery stuff on the bottom is probably rice paper – when I was a girl, growing up in England, macaroons had rice paper on the bottom – and they are YUMMY! It’s been years since I’ve been back, and more years since I had a macaroon, so I don’t know if they’re still the same – but they were not at all an unpleasant experience, the ‘paper’ sort of melts on your tongue and then the sugary coconut melts too, and mmmmmm, want one now! TJ’s dunkers are really good with coffee, or tea….just sayin’!

  • Stick with with the Triple Ginger Snaps. I dare you not to eat the entire container….
    Edinburgh is one of my favorite places in the world. My grandmother lived there when she was a very little girl. She used to go on & on about how good the ice cream was. When I visited, I just had to try some & in fact it WAS the creamiest, most perfect vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had.

  • – concerning “these cookies” – somebody wrote that they are not for “American tastes”… well, that’s great that everyone has different tastes and I will defend Lebkuchen as long as I live – if been born in that town that is the center of Lebkuchen baking (Nuremberg)and I just love them. And for anyone who is keen to know, the downside is a very thin wafer and eatable…

  • Dunk in coffee or hot chocolate. That’s the key to edible and even enjoyable lebkuchken. But perhaps it’s not so socially acceptable.

  • When I tried those cookies, a few months ago, I thought the papery bottom thing seemed like it was made of a eucharistic Host. I eat them now and then (the cookies, not so often for the Host…) because no matter how bad they are, I can’t admit that something made of gingerbread and coated in chocolate isn’t any good.
    To your corrugated ribbing, I can only say “most impressive!” That combo of Kidsilk Haze and corrugated ribbing scared me off knitting that totally gorgeous sweater. But golly-gosh, it is gorgeous, and I’ll be following your progress. Love your color choice.

  • I am sorry you didn’t like lebkuchen. Some of us like them a lot. When you come to visit, I won’t serve them.

  • I love your corrugated ribbing. I have a sweater I started last year that stalled out, because the corrugated ribbing was so slow. I really should get back to it. I was almost to the stockinette portion of my knitting!

  • I never expected to learn so much about lebkuchen! I spent a year in Germany, and “acquired taste” was a very important concept. All those peculiar dark breads with unassimilated seeds. I pause to second Kay’s idea of 2011 as the year of knitting with yarns of two very different weights. Have been meaning to try your Scribble Scarf.
    The sweater is gorgeous–can you do the cuffs, at least, in the round?

  • I’m enjoying the heck out of your blog. I’m an old knitter but recently learning new tricks, like how to look for yarn at places other than Wal mart and make more than scarves. My friend and neighbor (www.fluidpudding.com) Is my source for so much knitting expertise and my inspiration for blogging. I’ll need her help to do this double threaded stuff you do so well. About the Cookies. I’ve tried them as my sister in law sent some from Stutgardt while stationed there. Aparently that stuff is on a lot of their cookies. I love her but I wish I had instructions on what to do with the papery bottom part too. It’s like a giant Communion wafer or something. So being a good Christian I ate them but never told her how um, different they were to me. The cookie part was OK. Anyway, nice blog. I’ll be back Can’t wait to see the sweater.

  • Lebkuchen! My godmother would always bring some back from Germany on her visits back home. Never had that brand, but there is a brand that Cost Plus/World Market has that is absolutely wonderful – has a nice powdery spice like hot cocoa (not dusty, but powdery – I don’t know.) The bottom reminds me of the host given at Catholic Mass. And on a side note, in Mexico you can buy big wafers of the host. Heat it up with some dulce de leche. Yum

  • My favorite cookie of the moment happens to be Trader Joe’s (yes, we have one in Athens, GA now, yeah!!) — Caramel and Cashew (think they are called.) Small, and crisp, and deadly on the hips. I love them.

  • Being from Edinburgh, I must agree that it is a lovely place and you should all go visit, but wait for the warmer, less rainly summer. I’d like to nominate the popular-in-Edinburgh jaffe cake for the official MSD cookie. In the US, they’re called Pims and can be found at the end of the cooke aisle near the other foreign-seeming cookies. They’re the perfect combination of dark chocolate (is chocolate from Manhattan?), soft biscuit (maybe a la Nashville) and orange.

  • So happy that there are others defending Lebkuchen, which I grew to love during the 3 years I lived in Germany many years ago. And even happier that someone linked to Lebkuchen Schmidt, which is the kind that I first tasted. I have a couple of the beautiful tin boxes — my circs live in one. I can’t wait for next year to order real lebkuchen from Germany!

  • I have had those cookies and they suck.

  • Just switched on Radio 3 and was able to inform my husband of the details of the programme courtesy of your blog. I am sitting knitting to the sound of sheep – lovely stuff.

  • I’m with Erin, you have a wonderful, amusing way with a turn of a phrase; I love reading whatever you’re up to because of how you say it!
    I *grinned* broadly at MS Rule #93. Yes! Yes! I KNOW that one in my quilting! Thanks for coining the rule. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • That ribbing is GORGEOUS!
    Better you than me, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
    Your cardigan will have the hottest ribbing on the block.

  • Landy and Matt! I’m jealous. Hope they and family are doing well. How wonderful that they brought you yard.

  • We were in Edinburgh this summer (in the Firth of Forth!) and just loved it. I do recall eating shortbread there – delicious.

  • Like Lynn (way up there on 1/12), I also wondered why you were knitting a Persian cat. Amazing how you read what you wanna read…
    Back to blog catch-up… ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • Just purchased the Weisella cookies at Tuesday Morning. They are the MOST DISGUSTING cookie I ever tasted. I took 3 bites of the first one (thinking, it can’t be this bad, can it? then, OMG, it iS) and the whole lot is going into the trash.